Why are There Particles Floating in My Water?

So, you’ve just discovered miniature flakes floating in your glass, and you’re not sure what to do. All you know is you want those particles in the water gone.

The good news is we can help! Read on to learn:

  • What those particles are
  • The problems they can cause
  • And how to get rid of them!

What Those Particles Are

To identify the particles, answer one simple question: What color are they? Usually, the particles are either white, tan, brown, orange or black.

Let’s take a closer look at what each of these colors means.

White or Tan Particles in Water

If the particles look white or tan, then you’re probably dealing with calcium or magnesium carbonate in your water. These minerals occur naturally in hard water. They can also precipitate from water heaters.

However, if the particles have begun clogging your plumbing, they could also be from a malfunctioning water heater. Many old water heaters develop this problem as their plastic dip tubes begin disintegrating.

Brown or Orange Particles in Water

Brown or orange flakes are usually either dirt, sand or rust. If you have well water, then the particles are likely dirt or sand from your private well. If the pieces are hard and irregular shaped, they could be rust from the pipes in your home or municipal water mains.

The brown flakes could also be a symptom of a malfunctioning water softener. Inside softeners are small beads for filtering water, and sometimes those beads can break off into the water. If the beads are a uniform size and spherical, then this is likely the cause.

Black Particles in Water

Black specks in water typically indicate something needs repair. If the particles are very hard and small, then your water filter is probably malfunctioning. Water filters use granular activated carbon as part of their filtering process, and sometimes specks of carbon can break off into the water.

If the pieces are solid and rubbery, they likely come from a degrading faucet washer or gasket. However, if the particles are tar-like and easy to smear between your fingers, then a disintegrating supply line hose is probably the culprit.

The Problems They Can Cause

The good news is none of these types of particles pose any serious health risk. However, they can be quite a nuisance in the home.

White or tan particles can cause dry skin, scale on dishes and clogged plumbing. Brown or orange flakes can also damage your pipes as well as cause unsightly or bad tasting water. And black particles in water will likely lead to issues down the road as the malfunctioning equipment continues to disintegrate.

How to Get Rid of Them

There are many simple solutions for getting rid of these nuisance particles. Here’s how to deal with each type of colored flakes:


How to Remove White or Tan Particles

Depending on these particles’ cause, you will either need to get a water softener or fix your water heater. If the particles are calcium or magnesium carbonate, then a water softener will clear up those flakes with no problem. Otherwise, repairing your water heater’s dip tube should do the trick. A licensed plumber can help you with either of these issues.


How to Remove Brown or Orange Particles

Here’s how to fix the issue if the particles are sand or dirt from your private well. If you have a new well, let the water run for a few days. The problem should work itself out. However, if you’ve had the well for a while, then repairs may be in order. You could try replacing the screen if you have a sand and gravel well or, if you have a sandstone well, change the liner.

If the brown particles are rust, then how you fix the issue will depend on whether the rust is from the pipes in your home or the city’s pipes. Rust from the pipes in your home will typically only show up when you run hot water. In this case, the best solution is to contact a licensed plumber to address the problem. The licensed expert will likely recommend installing a water filter to remove the rust.

However, if the rust particles show up even when you run the water cold, then the city’s water mains are probably to blame. It could be that a pipe burst or nearby construction impacted the mains. If the problem persists, contact your local water department and report it.

Finally, if you determine that the flakes are from a malfunctioning water softener, you can contact a licensed plumber to perform the necessary inspection and maintenance.


How to Remove Black Particles

There are a few straightforward ways to remove black particles. If the particles come from a malfunctioning water filter, then a licensed plumber can help you fix the issue. Otherwise, you can solve the problem by replacing a disintegrating water faucet washer, gasket or supply line hose.

Need More Assistance?

We hope this page has helped you remove the particles from your water. If you still need assistance, please contact us at 847-382-7800 or fill out the form below. Our licensed experts would be happy to answer your questions and help you fix the problem. We provide water treatment solutions in Barrington, IL and throughout the Chicagoland region.


Bacterium can be eliminated with the following processes:


The Illinois Department of Public Health recognizes only Chlorine as an effective method of eliminating this bacterium and mentions that either chlorinating the well or continuous chlorination is the proper method for eliminating this issue. Chlorinating the well is only a temporary fix to the issue.


CONSIDERATION: Treatment is tricky and many factors must be considered when filtering this contaminant. Flow rates of the well, type of well system and size of plumbing. These bacterium create a “slime” in your water which coats the water molecule and makes treatment very difficult. Bacterium feeds on oxygen and or the organics in your water. Removing the organic without the assistance of chlorine is exceptionally difficult because the bacterium coats the filter material, making it ineffective.


Chlorine injection of potable water is the most successful method of treatment for these bacteria. However, chlorine injection may be cost prohibitive and the system requires regular maintenance.

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