How to Eliminate Odors and Freshen Well Water with Hydrogen Peroxide
In today’s Episode, I am talking all about hydrogen peroxide for well water and how great it works to eliminate odors in well water. This is the same hydrogen peroxide found at the local pharmacy or supermarket but in a slightly higher concentration.
Four years or so ago i put up a post on our blog called “Eliminate Well Water Odors: Four Reasons Why Hydrogen Peroxide Water Treatment Is Best”. We have had a lot of folks call and email us regarding that article and asking about peroxide systems, and I wanted to do a podcast episode explaining it simple terms: why peroxide can often be the best option to kill sulfur odor in your well water!
Why Hydrogen Peroxide for Well Water Works Great:
- Peroxide works faster than chlorine, so often no contact tank is required
- Unlike chlorine, peroxide will not leave a chemical residue or chemical by-products after treatment.
- Peroxide works over a wider pH range
- Does not affect taste, and actually, it often improves taste compared to chlorination
Like chlorine, hydrogen peroxide is a strong oxidizer and can quickly eliminate the odors. Unlike chlorine, however, hydrogen peroxide leaves behind no trace of chemical by-products. After injecting peroxide it quickly breaks down into oxygen and water.
When hydrogen peroxide is injected into water, a large amount of dissolved oxygen is released and a strong oxidizing effect takes place. Odors are eliminated, microorganisms are destroyed, and tannins can be oxidized.
Ep 12 Hydrogen Peroxide for Well Water Treatment:
How to Eliminate Odors with Peroxide
You’re listening to the Clean Water Made Easy Podcast Episode 12.
Hello. Thanks again for tuning in to the Clean Water Made Easy podcast. My name is Gerry Bulfin. I’m a Water Treatment Contractor and WQA-Certified Master Water Specialist. I hope you’re having a fine day wherever you are listening to this.
In this series, I give useful easy-to-follow tips and information all about well water, well water treatment systems, and how to improve the quality of your well water.
Hydrogen Peroxide for Well Water Disinfection
In today’s episode I’m going to talk about hydrogen peroxide for well water. Hydrogen peroxide is the same brown little joggy fine in drugstores and that’s 3 percent concentration, there’s a higher concentration, but that’s the chemical that I’m referring to.
4 years ago or so, I put up a blog post called Eliminate Well Water Odors: 4 Reasons Why Hydrogen Peroxide Water Treatment is Best. A lot of people looked at that post and got a lot of comments and emails and calls about it. I posted a link in the show notes of this episode about that post. It’s got pictures and colors and diagrams, and resource links, all about peroxide systems. It’s a good thing to look at it if you want to get more information about it. You can see it by going to cleanwaterstore.com/blog/podcast and look for episode 12 or you can email me directly at [email protected]
Well Water Odor
If your well water smells like rotten eggs you’re not alone. Well water odor is a common problem. Many home owners on well water battle the stinky hydrosulfide. Rotten egg hydrosulfide-laden water not only has an objectionable odor but in higher concentrations can be dangerous to health. It’s corrosive to plumbing fixtures and appliances because when hydrosulfide’s formed or gets into your water in the ground you get sulfuric acid so that makes the water tarnish fixtures and eat up the pipes. This unique rotten egg odor hydrosulfide is usually found in both hot and cold and sometimes can be worse in your water heater and hot water. It can be a problem. It not only foul and ruin water softeners and filter systems if not properly treated but it’s corrosive to pipes and fixtures and just generally a nuisance.
Historically, aeration or chlorine treatment, chlorination, has been a common way to get rid of the smelly water. Chlorine, however, has some undesirable byproducts and can be __ odor if not properly set up right. Also, the pH of your water is over 7.5 to 8 and you have alkaline water then you have to use a lot of chlorine to get it to kill that hydrosulfide rotten egg odor. We found, as a lot of other folks do, we found that hydrogen peroxide does a better job.
Aeration can work well too but if you have iron or sulfur bacteria present sometimes the bacteria can still create odors after aeration system. In other words, it can develop in your water heater and plumbing system. Aeration systems can also be more expensive to set up at times compare to peroxide injection. Peroxide, if you have the right concentration, can kill these iron sulfur laded bacteria.
So the 4 reasons hydrogen peroxide works:
- It works faster than chlorine, so often no contact tank is required
- Unlike chlorine, peroxide will not leave a chemical residue or chemical by-products after it’s injected into the water.
- Peroxide works over a wider pH range
- Does not affect taste; it often improves the taste compared to chlorination
Over the last 10 years or so, hydrogen peroxide has become a preferred method of treatment for odor by many well water contractors, water treatment specialists all across the U.S. and Canada.
Peroxide and Chlorine
So you might ask: Hey if peroxide is so great would you ever use chlorination? Well yes, because chlorine has residual; Chlorine works better to disinfect your water throughout a distribution system, plumbing system, if you have a chlorine residual. That’s why it’s used in communities, municipal systems because you want a chlorine residual to kill bacteria in the pipeline.
Chlorine is cheaper too as far as home systems go. Chlorine is less expensive, peroxide can be more expensive. Chlorine taste? You can remove the chlorine taste, can be the carbon as well, but generally, peroxide is kind of the de-luxe way to go. Usually it’s better than chlorine when you have a smelly odor problem and you’re trying to eliminate a sulfur and iron-laden bacteria in time.
One thing you can try if you have smelly water in your house—take 2 cork jars or large glasses and fill them with your untreated well water add a teaspoon of household bleach in one and add a tablespoon of that 3% store-bought peroxide in the brown jugs and other one, shake them up let them sit for a few hours then smell the water.
You can take a taste of it, you want it wouldn’t kill you. The one with bleach you might smell chlorine, but anyway, you’ll find that depending on how much sulfur you have in your water you might have to add more peroxide or more bleach, you’ll find that the one with peroxide smells and tastes much better than the chlorination one.
How it’s set up
So for big home systems, peroxide is usually set up so that it’s automatically injected into the water before your pressure tank. Most folks will use a backwashing carbon filter after the pressure tank or at the house to filter out any residual carbon and to remove that odor. With the carbon systems (there’s more information on this on the site as well) For carbon systems, we use activating catalytic carbon. That works really good with peroxide. As the catalytic reaction occurs, this peroxide residual in the water along with the hydrogen sulfide you get a very high level of oxidation occurring right on the carbon itself. After it flows to their home the result is really clean odor-free water.
So that’s a simple system. Well turns on, injects into automatic injection peroxide into the pipe, in pressure tank, after pressure tank goes the carbon filter, and you have clean water free of odors.
One thing that comes up a lot is contact tank. In chlorination we often use contact tanks, like a pressure tank where the water goes in, you give it some time for the chlorine or peroxide to come in contact with water. The reaction takes place, the result is, in this tank over a few minutes, say if you have 1 or 10 parts per million of hydrogen sulfide and you are just using hydrogen peroxide, you can use hydrogen peroxide without contact tank and just it run it straight into the carbon filter and the reaction takes place right at the carbon filter and you have clean water without odor.
However, there are some cases where you might want a contact tank. If you have iron or sulfur laded bacteria. It doesn’t kill bacteria instantly. You’ll need a few minutes of time for the peroxide and you’ll need a little higher dose as well over more than what the hydrosulfide is in order to have any effect on the bacteria. That’s why we do often recommend a contact tank but it’s optional. Some people use the same though.
So one thing that comes up is: What strength or concentration of hydrogen peroxide should I use?
This hydrogen peroxide comes in many strengths. Store-bought is 3%. That’s generally safe. You can put it on like disinfecting the, people use it for different things. The type that we use is, and we can ship safely, and still considered relatively safe is 7%.
Mainly because it’s safe to handle, it’s not hazardous. You can often find 35% commercial peroxide locally and it is cheaper usually. Much cheaper by the way. However, a lot of people still don’t do it because 35% can be very dangerous to work with, you have to be very careful. If you spill any, it’s a disaster. Don’t to get any on the skin. It’d be a disaster to get it in your eyes. You have to be careful with. But some people do use it. If you have a commercial application for your farm, or poultry, hog farms. Sometimes they high flow, like __ for a home.
Very high flow rate it’s much more economical to use at 35%. But 7% works good. But you know, even 3% of course you have to be very careful It’s something you want to keep out of the reach of children. You don’t want it soaking on your skin. Anyway the concentration we recommend is 7%.
How to Set up Hydrogen Peroxide for Well Water
I’ll talk a little bit about where the peroxide system is installed. I put some links to the diagrams on the podcast show notes as you can see how it’s set up. The lowest cost way, most folks do it, is you have a simple metering pump and it’s wired and set to turn on, so it turns on whenever the well pump turns on.
Your well pump turns on, say 30 or 40 psi, it turns of at 50 or 60 psi , the common way, That’s almost how folks have it, a single speed well pump when it turns on you have it set so that the minimum pump is wired it turns on the same time it turns on and jacks up the pump and injectHow s a tiny bit of peroxide into the pipe right before the pressure tank. That way, that water right there much the same flow rate you know.
What happens is you can easily control your residual that you’re injecting. So you want to put in enough peroxide to do the job. You don’t want to put in too much. So you can easily regulate that and calculate that if you put it in a known stream of water. So the injection point is actually an injection check valve.
The medium pump is pumping in the peroxide It’s pumping it in through the injection check valve but when the system builds up the pressure and shuts off, there’s no water that can come from your pipe into the peroxide pump solution tank.
So some folks have a variable speed pump or sometimes called the constant pressure pump. Well pump systems these are pretty popular so if your well pump is that type you don’t have a traditional large pressure tank, but a tiny pressure tank. Basically it keeps that type of flow system keeps your pressure in your house the same all the time.
Proportional Feed Hydrogen Peroxide System
For that you need a proportional feed hydrogen peroxide system which is also very simple and some ways it’s easier to set up than the other type which is the standard one. It’s the cheaper, you have to wire it, you have to do a little bit of wiring. So you can wire it in the pressure switch which should be the same voltage. Most folks have a submersible pump 220 volts. You get the medium pump and you have it wired into your pressure switch.
It’s pretty easy to do. You can also have an electrician do it if you don’t know how to do it. That won’t work with a variable speed pump or a constant pressure type of system.
So what do you do? Well, very simple. You set up a proportional feed system. And that’s very simple. The water meter that you install in the pipe. In this case you could put a wire in the house. You have to have it at the well and basically what it is, it’s a flow meter. When water flows through this water meter it sends out a pulse and turns on your pump your peroxide to pump more or less depending on how fast the water’s flowing. Somebody’s brushing teeth, some take a shower, 5-gallons a minute then you got to wash thing coming on.
Whatever the flow rate is, you’ll still have the exact amount of peroxide all the time. Some ways, those systems are a little safer to use because you’d be pretty aware. Of course it does happen where you have a situation where your well pump died and you say your well pump is off but you’re still getting voltage to it, and the peroxide system doesn’t know it and so the peroxide when you’re gone for the weekend, you’re away for the day, whatever and the thing just stuck on and just pumps the entire solution tank right into the pipe.
Then if nobody knows and they pull the breaker and turn the well pump on back by by accident, then they start to use the water, then you get a bunch of peroxide. It’s not likely to happen but there you go. It’s having a problem proportional feed system and that type of thing It’s one more advantage expensive so most likely get the standard one.
Peroxide dissolves the iron
One question that comes up when discussing hydrogen peroxide for well water is: Okay I’m talking a lot about odor in the water smelly water, what about?
Seems like a lot of folks, a lot of sites, and my local water treatment guys talks about peroxide for iron removal. Well, usually it does work good for iron too. Peroxide can definitely oxidize the iron. Iron is often dissolved in the water and may look clear but tastes terrible like rust and then when it gets exposed to air or it gets heat with peroxide it turns to rust .
…but you still need to filter the dissolved iron
So what you can do is you can have, you can use peroxide injection and have that be filtered out by an activated carbon filter or better yet an iron filter. That’s usually what we recommend. In other words, if you have really bad iron and odor or not say you have high iron level then you just use peroxide with carbon then you have to have a set pretty carefully.
It has to work just right for it to remove all the iron. And if anything ever happens to peroxide, say you forget about the peroxide you can add it maybe the peroxide you got is old it’s not working right then you got iron water ran into carbon filter and then that does not work. You know it doesn’t take out much iron. It could flow right through it because you got dissolved iron in the water.
What you need to filter the dissolved iron in your water
In our experience, it’s better to use a we have our PRO-Ox which is manganese dioxide filter media but there’s Fi-lox, pro-lox, different brands that are available so basically that works well.
We usually do recommend a contact tank with that. Basically what you’re doing is you’re injecting the peroxide, you’ve got your contact tank, the water is with oxygen being put in the water and then the Pro-OX or the manganese dioxide works really well. Then if something ever happens to the peroxide, actually the Pro OX will still work. It just works better with some kind of oxidation like peroxide, chlorination but it’ll still work on its own so it’ll give you a break.
If something ever happens to your system, however, there are a lot of people that do use the peroxide with carbon. It does work so that’s another way to go. But we don’t really recommend it. If you have really high iron and odor, we recommend, and if you want peroxide, is a 2-stage system where you got your peroxide and then 2-stage filtration where you got your Pro-Ox, then you got your carbon. That will last for years and you have really great water- no peroxide residual in the water and it’ll clean out all the odors and sediment and work really well.
Will Peroxide kill coliform bacteria?
There’s a question we get a lot of. Hey, what about hydrogen peroxide for e-coli? I have coliform, e-coli in my well.
There’s a lot of controversy about this as some water treatment professionals will say Yeah, hydrogen peroxide works great for coliform.
Generally though, I put a link to this. I’ve gone through a lot of references but. Hydrogen peroxide itself is rarely used in drinking water or treatment as a stand-alone process. In other words, hydrogen peroxide is a pretty weak biocide compared to chlorine, ozone. The EPA for instance, it doesn’t recognize hydrogen peroxide for drinking water treatment or as a disinfectant. It can work but you have to have a very high concentration of it and it doesn’t last long.
So that’s kind of advantage for residential use. There’s not a chemical residual in it. There are advance oxidation processes where we use hydrogen peroxide with UV light or we inject hydrogen peroxide before ozone that for instance very high level of hyroxil radicals that are really effective at killing bacteria. But it also does __ pharmaceuticals or other weird organic — but that usually is not necessary for most homes.
So if you know you got coliform, and still want to use hydrogen peroxide, but you want to follow it up after filtration you want to have ultraviolet sterilizer. At least, that’s my opinion. You don’t want to rely on hydrogen peroxide alone. In fact, generally, if you have e-coli or coliform (I talked about this in another episode) you want to find out what’s the source of it? Don’t just try to treat it. Find out what’s causing it and then fix that. If it’s possible effects let’s say your well is next to a river and it’s always going to be in the influence of surface water, then you need a very careful type of treatment system that will really deal with that.
Okay so that’s the peroxide we don’t recommend for treating is effective with iron and disinfecting bacteria. If health is in play like coliform, we recommend chlorine.
Test to see if the peroxide works
Another thing that comes up a lot is : How can I adjust the peroxide? How do I know it’s working?
These pumps come in different sizes then inject the peroxide and how many gallons per minute you’re trying to treat. You want a couple of different sizes for residential use but here’s the basic overview or basic idea: What you want to do is you want to inject enough peroxide to overcome the hydrosulfide and interact with any organic bacteria so when it does that it’s gone.
So the peroxide gets used up. So you want to keep injecting enough so you have a tiny residual either after the contact tank or in some cases right after the carbon filter. You’d be looking at somewhere between .2 and .8 parts per million peroxide. You don’t want a high level peroxide in your drinking water. So if you have a very tiny amount or you have none that’s good. That’s the best.
If you have a contact tank, you have a hose bib and you want to test your contact tank and your carbon filter and you want to see if you have enough residual there say between 1 and 2 parts per million.
If you don’t have a contact tank then you want enough so that it does the job. But if you have no residual. Now that sounds kinda too general. There are ways you can actually figure it out with simple test kits.
For example, if you test your water and you estimate you have 5 or 8 parts per million of hydrosulfide, say 1 per million of iron then you can look at a table and figure out and say Now I know I need 8 or 10 parts per million of hydrogen peroxide in order to do the job.
And that’s kinda what you’re looking at. Usually you inject somewhere between 2 and 10 maybe 15 of hydrogen peroxide and then you can simply get a peroxide test drop or test kit and test it in your house and after your treatment system you don’t get a residual cause you don’t want to drink water with hydrogen peroxide.
Alright, that about covers it. In this episode we talked about how great maybe peroxide is for well water odor, how to set up a basic system, how peroxide can be effective in killing bacteria, when to use the contact tank, and how to test the peroxide to make sure it’s working.
Thank you for listening and I hope to talk to you on the next podcast. Hey if you’re listening to this on iTunes, I really appreciate a rating and an honest review over iTunes. That helps a lot and I really like your emails and questions regarding the podcast so please do send and email if you have any questions or emails. My email is [email protected]. If you want to read more about peroxide, go to our site cleanwaterstore.com/blog/podcast and look for episode 12. Thanks to the along with the great links and resources. Have a good day. Thanks again for listening.