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Water – The Elixir of Life

Updated: Apr 19, 2022

Water sometimes has a ‘Sulphur’ smell ~~ this is normal throughout Vancouver Island – Land of Volcanic Activity and Earthquakes.

If you’re a carbon-based life form, you need water. If you’re a perpetually dehydrated carbon-based life form, like me, then you probably need a lot of water. You may have noticed the delicate whiff coming from the hot water whilst showering. I still recall the smell coming off of my first glass: a trace of iron mixed with the acidic notes of decaying organic matter. It wasn’t overly strong, but it wasn’t too appetizing either. I know that the smell isn’t indicative of anything unsafe, and that the water is perfectly potable.

Before drinking water from the tap, let the water run cold for 10 seconds or 10 minutes or however long it takes to get rid of the smell. Alternatively, the fridge offers filtered cold water. Open the left-side door and voilà.

Sulphur water (or sulfur water) is a condition where water is exposed to hydrogen sulphide gas, giving a distinct “rotten egg” smell. The correct word for what you smell is “sulphurous” (rotten eggs), the odour of the gas hydrogen sulphide (note, NOT sulphite!). This is usually present in geothermal waters and is often associated with volcanic eruptions. The human nose is very sensitive to this gas and detects minute quantities. Bathing in water high in sulphur or other minerals for its presumed health benefits is known as balneotherapy. These are said to give a person bathing in the waters ageless beauty and relief from aches and pains. Think of the hot springs in the City of Bath in the UK; called by the Romans Aquae Sulis (“the waters of Sul”) c. 60 AD when they built baths and a temple in the valley of the River Avon.

There appears to be some confusion about “sulphur” allergies.  By far the most common is a “sulfa” allergy – a reaction to sulfonamides in prescription drugs; nothing to do with our tap water.  Some people have sulphite (sulfite in the USA) allergies, but these generally have rather mild symptoms, although a few people can show severe reactions. Sulphites have been used for centuries as preservatives.  Sulphur is an element, chemical symbol S, and is an essential part of our body. Every one of us has sulphur in our bodies and without it, we would die. It is the third most abundant mineral in the human body. 

Live Long and Prosper.

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