Monday, October 21, 2013

Why Use Chlorine, Ozone, or Peroxide vs. Aeration for Smelly Well Water?

We have a type of iron filter that uses an air compressor which aerates our water in order to kill the sulfur odors.  It does work, and we were happy with it, until recently when we had to start to travel for work.  My wife and I are away for 3 – 5 days once a month, and when we return, the first 10 minutes or so of water in our house is almost unbearable with a very bad rotten egg smell.  I am looking into alternatives, would a chlorinator work for us?
Jimmy S.
Fayetteville, NC

Hi Jimmy,
Odors are often the result of sulfur and/or iron bacteria.  As your water sits in your pipes, bacteria are converting sulfates in your water into odorous hydrogen sulfide gas.

Common methods for dealing with bacteria and odors include aeration, chlorination, ozonation, or hydrogen peroxide injection.
Aeration will remove the sulfur odor, but not disinfect the water of the bacteria.  Injecting chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, or ozone into your water will destroy the bacteria and ensure that they cannot reproduce.
We often recommend chlorination because it eliminates rotten-egg odors in water as well as killing iron and sulfur bacteria.  Chlorination is effective and low cost, but will require that you leave a small chlorine residual in your system - not to worry, this residual can easily be removed with a carbon filter.
Ozone Boy Ozone Generator
Ozone Boy Ozone Generator
Ozone will also kill odor-causing bacteria in your water, but ozonated water must have time to sit before ingestion or prolonged contact, and point-of-entry, whole house ozone systems can be rather expensive to install and maintain.  (For a low-cost, low-maintenance ozone system that can be affixed right to your faucet for point-of-use ozonation, consider the Ozone Boy.)
Lastly, consider hydrogen peroxide - it is a popular choice because it is equally effective at removing bacteria and odors, and it will not leave a residual in your water.  Hydrogen peroxide systems also require very little maintenance and will remove iron and manganese from your water, in addition to iron and sulfur bacteria.

We hope this answers your question.  If you have any further odor or bacteria issues, please don't hesitate to contact us again at, or on our Facebook page.  Thanks for the e-mail!