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Oily Water: Causes and Concerns

An oily sheen or film on your drinking water could be caused by several natural sources or human causes and may have damaging health effects.

Here, we’ve discussed everything you need to know about water with an oily film, including what it is, what it’s caused by, and how to remove the contaminants responsible.

Oily tap water has an oily film floating on the water surface. Certain contaminants can cause oil sheens on water, giving water a glazed, filmy, or discolored appearance.

Decaying organic plant matter A common cause of natural sheens in well water is decaying plant matter in the well, producing hydrogen sulfide.

What Causes An Oily Film On Water?

In most cases, the oily substance in your water is caused by a natural source (such as iron bacteria or decaying organic matter/hydrogen sulfide). These naturally occurring contaminants don’t usually pose a health risk, though they do affect water quality and taste.

Is An Oily Film On Water Dangerous?

Smell your water. Smell your water to get an idea of what you’re dealing with. A rotten egg smell indicates the presence of hydrogen sulfide, while a diesel or gasoline smell is more concerning, indicating petroleum contamination.

How To Determine The Cause Of Oily Film On Water

Get Your Well Professionally Inspected If you have a private well and you’re not completely sure about the cause of the oily sheen on your water and whether or not it can be prevented, contact a well contractor to arrange for a professional in-home inspection of your well.

How To Prevent Oily Film On Water

Once you know the cause of the oily film on your water, you can look at water treatment methods to remove the problem contaminant.

Use A Water Treatment System

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