Public Lab Research note

Copper rod test for H2S

by Sharon Wilson | | 3,701 views | 2 comments |

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Instructions for copper tubing H2S test


  • Type L copper tubing and I suggest a size less than 3/8 inch so it will fit in your drill bit for ease in sanding.
  • Polishing strips available at hardware stores—80 to 100 grit—that are used for polishing copper tubing for soldering and 200 grit for finishing.
  • String
  • Copper pipe cutter –(about $3 - $5)
  • Hammer for flattening
  • Drill


  • Tubing comes in a coil so you need to straighten it out and cut into approximately 6 inch lengths.
  • Use solvent (MEK or Goo Gone, etc.) to remove coating used by manufacturer. This de-oiling only needs to be done once. (Solvent is flammable so use caution and do this step outside where you have plenty of air.)
  • Use a hammer to flatten one end of the copper tubing.
  • Drill a hole in flattened end for mounting to a string.
  • Polish the center section as described below leaving ½ to 1 inch on each end unpolished. Polishing is easier if you put the copper tubing in the chuck of your drill and run your drill at low speed while holding the polishing cloth against the tubing. • Use polishing strips with 80 to 100 grit until surface is shiny like new copper. • Finish with 200 grit. • Make sure all coating from factory is removed and the copper rod is shiny. • DO NOT TOUCH THIS PREPARED SURFACE WITH YOUR FINGERS! * Hold the copper rod at either end.
  • Tie the string through the hole.
  • Hang rod in the path of the suspected plume 1 to 3 feet above the ground.
  • Check the rod each day looking for darkening—dark reddish, purple or black—of the prepared surface.
  • After 3 days, or if you get a detect, polish the rod until it is shiny and re-hang.
  • You can use the same rod over and over.


  • Keep good records of weather conditions, odors and health effects. 8 Take pictures of the rod when you first hang it.
  • Take pictures of the rod when you get a detect .

An easy way to keep track is to place the rod on a piece of white paper with the weather conditions, odors you detected and any health effects experienced written on the paper. Take a picture.

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Wow, so is the attached picture a positive identification of H2S? What does a negative test look like?

Do you have any photos of hanging it over a suspected H2S plume?

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@sharon-wilson check out this time lapse photography of the copper rod corrosion monitoring from @ErikHanley

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