Drinking Water Odor & Discoloration

Iron & Manganese
Elements such as iron, manganese, and sulfur are non-hazardous naturally occurring elements that can be a nuisance in a water supply because it may cause discoloration, unwanted affects to flavor, and odor problems. Iron will cause reddish-brown staining of laundry, porcelain, dishes, utensils, and even glassware. Manganese acts in a similar way but causes a brownish-black stain. Soaps and detergents do not remove these stains, and use of chlorine bleach may intensify the problem. Iron and Manganese deposits will build up in pipelines, pressure tanks, water heaters, and water softeners.

Sulfur & Hydrogen Sulfide
There are two forms of Sulfur commonly found in drinking water supplies, sulfate and hydrogen sulfide, that can cause homeowners problems. Sulfate minerals can cause scale buildup in water pipes similar to other minerals and may be associated with a bitter taste in water and can make cleaning clothes difficult. Hydrogen Sulfide gas produces an offensive "rotten egg" or "sulfur" odor and taste in the water. In some cases, the odor may be noticeable only when the water is initially turned on or when hot water is running.

Element Removal
While iron, manganese, and sulfur rarely create a health hazard, these elements can be a real nuisance to homeowners. Several methods of removing these elements from water are available. The most appropriate method depends on many factors, including the concentration and form of iron, manganese, and sulfur in the water and if iron, manganese, or sulfur bacteria are also present. The option you choose also depends on how much water you need to treat. Check out these websites for more detailed information on nuisance water quality problems.