Drinking Water Testing for Sulfate

High levels of Sulfate can make our water stinky. Safe Home has several kit options that provide drinking water testing for sulfate in city and well water supplies.

Parameter Type: Drinking Water Testing for Volatiles

Parameter Name: Sulfate

What it is and Where it Comes From:

Sulfate is a combination of sulfur and oxygen and are a part of naturally occurring minerals in some soil and rock formations that contain groundwater. The mineral dissolves over time and is released into groundwater. Sulfate minerals can cause scale buildup in water pipes like other minerals and may be associated with a bitter taste in water. Sulfate produces an offensive “rotten egg” odor and taste in the water, especially when the water is heated. Elevated sulfate levels in combination with chlorine bleach can make cleaning clothes difficult.  Sulfur-oxidizing bacteria produce effects like those of iron bacteria. They convert sulfide into sulfate, producing a dark slime that can clog plumbing and/or stain clothing. Blackening of water or dark slime coating the inside of toilet tanks may indicate a sulfur-oxidizing bacteria problem. Sulfur-oxidizing bacteria are less common than sulfur-reducing bacteria. Safe Home offers two platforms of drinking water testing for sulfate. The first platform in drinking water testing kits for sulfate is Do-It-Yourself, this allows you to perform testing in the comfort of your own home. The second platform is a Laboratory drinking water testing for sulfate, allowing you to collect your water sample and ship it directly to our EPA-Certified Laboratory. This platform of drinking water testing for inorganics will give you an accurate level based on the lowest level of a parameter our instruments can detect (Method Detection Level). Safe Home drinking water testing for inorganics can be used for city and well water supplies. Drinking water testing should be done any time you notice a significant change in your water quality.

Health Effects:

Sulfate may have a laxative effect that can lead to dehydration and is of special concern for infants. With time, people will become acclimated to the sulfate and the symptoms disappear. Sulfur-oxidizing bacteria pose no known human health risk.  Animals are also sensitive to high levels of sulfate. In young animals, high levels may be associated with severe, chronic diarrhea and even death. Animals tend to get used to sulfate over time. Diluting water high in sulfate with water low in sulfate can help avoid problems of diarrhea and dehydration in young animals and animals not used to drinking high sulfate water. 

Solutions to Contaminant Levels:

Four types of treatment systems that will remove sulfate from drinking water. Reverse osmosis pushes water through a membrane with tiny pores. The membrane stops many contaminants, including sulfate, while allowing water to pass through. Reverse osmosis usually removes between 93 and 99 percent of the sulfate in drinking water, depending on the type of treatment unit. Distillation is a process that boils water, making steam. The steam rises and leaves contaminants, such as sulfate behind. With proper operation, distillation units can remove nearly 100 percent of sulfate. Anion exchange is the most common method of removing large quantities of sulfate from water for commercial, livestock, and public supplies. It is not commonly used for individual household water treatment. It is a process that replaces negatively charged ions (such as sulfate) with sodium chloride or potassium chloride (salts). Adsorptive media filtration has a charged media bed that can force ions of the opposite charge (such as sulfate) to be pulled out of the water and attach to the media.


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