Author Topic: First mold, now SULPHUR!  (Read 980 times)

Offline enso

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 449
  • Northeast Kingdom, VT
    • View Profile
    • Bristle Bros. Brewing Blog
First mold, now SULPHUR!
« on: July 29, 2010, 09:13:17 AM »
So the house we are renting has a moldy/mildewy basement which I posted my concerns about earlier.  Well, I am over my concerns there.  With the dehumidifier running it is actually a much nicer environment than our old house now that I am in there.  I will still use caution but I am not as worried.

My new concern is the water.  It is from a well and is WICKED sulphury!  I will not be using it for my liquor as there is a really good spring just up the road.  I am concerned though about rinsing kegs, carboys, bottles, etc. with the water.  This stuff is harsh!  Wicked rotten egg sulphury.  Will I end up with some residual in/on my equipment that will f##k up my beer?
Dave Brush

Offline bluesman

  • Global Moderator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 8678
  • Delaware
    • View Profile
Re: First mold, now SULPHUR!
« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2010, 09:28:22 AM »
The rotten egg smell in well water is a somewhat common problem.  Sulphur smell in water or Sulfur smell in well water is normally a result of a Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) gas in the water.  I am not an expert on this but my guess is that once the water is completely evaporated so is the gas.  Maybe others can chime in on this. 
Ron Price

Offline beerocd

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1400
    • View Profile
Re: First mold, now SULPHUR!
« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2010, 09:41:23 AM »
Get your water tested, there's probably more wrong with it than just the sulfur smell. Put a pot on the stove and boil it a good long while to see if you have stuff precipitate out. Since you're a renter you probably don't want to invest $2000 for a system to clean up your water. They work great but... it's $2000.

Bomb the well with chlorine, you should probably do this 3 or 4 times a year anyway; or try and make the landlord do it.  There's lots of sites on the web about this. Just google sulfer smell well and you'll get a ton of info.
The moral majority, is neither.

Offline hamiltont

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 972
  • Location: Somewhere in the Middle of Nebraska
    • View Profile
Re: First mold, now SULPHUR!
« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2010, 09:46:13 AM »
I don't have any experience with this specifically but we had some friends with a well with the same issue.  When you ran the hot water it would about knock you out. Everything touched by the water was yellow or brown. That might have been iron in the water??.  Anyway, they added some sort of filtration system & cured it for the most part. I believe a water softener was the last stage of that system, which isn't recommended for brewing but work fine for cleaning.

You definitely have my sympathy. It's just plain nasty!!! :(
If Homebrew & BBQ aren't the answer, then you're askin' the wrong questions... Cheers!!!

Offline euge

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 7225
  • Estilo Casero
    • View Profile
Re: First mold, now SULPHUR!
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2010, 12:10:47 AM »
I remember when our city well water was so bad as kids that if you drank it your teeth would grow out a nasty brown. We always had bottled water.

I have softened water that then goes through a RO unit. Comes out nearly pure like 14 ppm (or less). I did it for cheap. Less than $600. But then again my water isn't nasty just hard. :-\

Sulfer smell well returns bacterial infection! :P

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline beerocd

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1400
    • View Profile
Re: First mold, now SULPHUR!
« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2010, 05:33:42 AM »
Sulfer smell well returns bacterial infection! :P

Yup, the chlorine is to kill that bacteria.After a few bombings if it doesn't get better, then maybe the wellcap has an issue in that it's not keeping out ground runoff, rain, and bugs.
The moral majority, is neither.

Offline sienabrewer

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 75
    • View Profile
Re: First mold, now SULPHUR!
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2010, 11:11:02 AM »
Where I brew has the same problem, although I wouldn't describe it as bad or as strong as you are.  How do you draw your water; straight from the tap or a garden hose?  If it is a garden hose like me, then just buy an RV water filter that connects to a garden hose.  It greatly reduced the sulpher to barely negligible.  Also, I would think the 1 hour boil precipitates out the remaining sulfer.  I don't have any science to back my theory, but what I do know is that in drinking the final product you would never know the water had sulpher smell/taste to it.  Sent a few beers for comps and not one returned with a comment of sulpher smell/taste. 

Offline wingnut

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 236
  • Plainwell MI
    • View Profile
Re: First mold, now SULPHUR!
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2010, 12:01:09 PM »
My well needs bombing once or twice a year. 

If brown staining is an issue in toilets/sinks (browner than rust...), you likely have bactria that eat iron in your system.  The bacteria secrete a slime that over time clogs the water pump screen and protects the bateria the cause sulpher smells.  Both are not harmful to humans, but they can make the water tast/smell bad.

Bleach in the well once to four times a year will keep the populations in check.  I used to filter my water, and after bleaching the well three times in 9 months, I am down to once a year (for the past three years) and no more filter (still a softner for some of the house though).

If your bad smell is only from the hot water, however, the sacraficial(anode) rod in the hot water tank may be causing the smell.  My father in law removed his anode rod and it took care of his nasty smelling hot water.

As for sulpher smells, the boiling should kill the bacteria, and yeast creats a ton of sulpher itself, so I would not think a little extra in the starting wort would be too big of a deal for them, they are used to it, and most of the sulpher smell will off gas with CO2 perculating thorugh the fermentation, if it was not already eliminated during the boil.

Good luck!   
-- Wingnut - Cheers!

Offline enso

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 449
  • Northeast Kingdom, VT
    • View Profile
    • Bristle Bros. Brewing Blog
Re: First mold, now SULPHUR!
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2010, 08:09:06 AM »
I have read up a bit on sulfur smell in water.  To the poster who mentioned the problem came with the use of hot water, check the sacrificial anode on your hot water heater.  Apparently that will cause sulphur when it is completely corroded.

Yeah, I can't do much about changing things as I am sadly a renter for the time being.  The landlord lives in another state, but comes up once a month.  There is a filter after the pressure tank but it does not do much.

To reiterate, I am only concerned about using this water for rinsing.  I have an excellent source of water for the the brewing liquor, but it is not feasible to use it in conjunction with bottle washers and such.  I am merely concerned with rinsing equipment from the faucets.  I guess I could blast things out with the bottle washer and then dunk them in clean spring water to do a final rinse.  Kind of a pain to do an extra rinsing. 
Dave Brush