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Is our sulfur well water safe?

Q. My granddaughter lives here and she has three mid-to-large dogs. Her water supply is from a sulfur well and she was wanting to know if sulfur water is bad for her dogs to drink.

Ray Lyons
- Intercession City, Florida
April 14, 2024

A. Hi Ray.
Although several reputable sources say sulfur water is not actually dangerous to people, despite its unattractiveness and its effects on plumbing, we must remind you because vets often remind us: Dogs are not people.

People eat chocolate and onions and garlic, for example whereas they are bad for dogs. You would have to either talk to a vet or find some research having to do with dogs and sulfur. Sorry that I have no answer.
Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

⇩ Related postings, oldest first ⇩

Q. Me & my mom just moved to a house that has black sulfur water. Is it safe? It is well water. Is there anything we can do or put in the well? Is it safe for our dog & cat to drink?

Rhonda [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Melrose, Ohio

A. I suggest you get it analyzed by your Public Health Inspector before you start drinking it or giving it to your dearest pets. It would be a very dangerous thing to confirm over the internet if something like well water was safe to drink unless it has been professionally analyzed and the results are known.

trevor crichton
Trevor Crichton
R&D practical scientist
Chesham, Bucks, UK

Q. I live off of my well water.I just bought a place in the country and have had the well water tested for animal and pesticide contaminants, which all came up negative. So I put a nail in a glass of well water for three days and its getting brighter then new. What gives? Am I drinking contaminated water?

Dennis Handy
Sculptor - Ferndale, California
January 8, 2009

A. Hi, Dennis. Sorry, I've never heard of that method of determining the purity or safety of water by putting a nail in it. Would you feel more confident of its purity if the water had rapidly attacked and corroded the nail?

Nails last decades, sometimes centuries; I wouldn't worry that it didn't rust in 3 days. Good luck.


Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Comment: I noticed someone said something about testing their water by putting a nail in it and letting it sit for a few days. The PE respondent kind of brushed off the person's question because I don't believe he was aware of the science involved.

The nail test changing color in water is looking for iron reactions in this instance by confirming anti-oxidization. There is clearly a chemical reaction occurring here, and the original poster's question is quite valid. There are studies that show elements such as certain organic sulfurs, can cause anemia in felines. in this particular case, I'm quite intrigued by the poster's question, and quite surprised it was blown off trivially, for the sake of both science, and the well being of animals.

I'm still looking for an answer to whether or not my well water (which has some sort of sulfur contaminant, is harmful for my cats to drink. Because I am not sure, I've decided to use spring water by the gallon purchased at a local store for less than a dollar a gallon. It's worth the money for the peace of mind, I think. I would truly love to know if my concerns are scientifically valid or not.

Daron Ezell
- Greenbackville, Virginia, USA
January 12, 2020

thumbs up sign  Hi Daron. You're right that I've never heard of this test; please further explain the science involved as you understand it.
Please feel free to disagree with anyone or anything you see here; but please try your best to offer facts, opinions, anecdotes, humor, comments -- but not ad hominems :-)


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey
January 2020

Q. My well has high pH and Arsenic. I inject bleach [adv: bleach/sodium hypochlorite in bulk on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] , then ferric chloride [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] to remove the arsenic with a filter, but I'm told the pH (8.1) is too high for this to be very effective.
I know muriatic acid [affil links] will lower the pH, but I'm really concerned about injecting acid, followed by bleach, as the warning labels say 'don't do it'. Injecting less than 10 ppm of either seems safe, as the levels are so low, provided I don't mix them directly together.
Any comments?

Mike Skehan
- Lummi Island, Washington
June 5, 2009

A. Hi, Mike. Concenraion matters. I think if you are sure the mixing is good, this would not be much of a problem, and not very different from people adding chlorine to a swimming pool on one occasion and muriatic acid on another occasion. But concentrated chlorine plus concentrated muriatic acid will definitely release clouds of poisonous chlorine gas.


Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

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