What Causes White Particles in Water & How Do I Remove Them?

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Wondering why there are white particles in your water?

Here, we’ve shared everything you need to know about white spots in water, including what they are, whether they’re dangerous, and how to remove them.

📌 Key Takeaways:

  • White particles in tap water may appear as tiny white specks or floating white chunks.
  • The most common causes of white specks in water are hard water, sediment, and a degraded faucet washer.
  • You can usually resolve the issue by removing the white particles, either with a water softener or a sediment water filter.

🔎 What Are White Particles In Water?

White particles in tap water usually appear as floating white specks or spots. These particles may float on the surface of the water or they may be suspended throughout the water.

The most common cause of floating white particles is calcium carbonate. If you have hard water, calcium minerals may deposit on surfaces, such as the inside of your pipes and plumbing, and on your faucets and water-using appliances.

These mineral deposits are chalky and white, and they may break off surfaces and re-enter the water supply, contaminating your water with white specks.

Another less likely cause of white particles in your water is sediment. If you use a groundwater supply, such as a private well, your water may contain sediment like sand, which shows up as white cloudiness.

Man holding glass with white flakes in tap water

🚰 Where Do White Particles In Water Come From?

Let’s look in more detail at some of the possible causes of white particles:

Hard Water

White particles floating in water usually come from hard water.

Hard water contains dissolved minerals (namely calcium and magnesium). In their dissolved form, these minerals won’t present as white specks, but they may leave scale deposits on surfaces that end up breaking up and re-entering your water supply.

Sediment

Sediment from a private well may also cause white specks in your water.

You’re especially likely to have a sediment issue if your well is running dry or your well pump is located too close to the aquifer, causing it to draw sand as it pumps water.

Degrading Faucet Washer

Finally, a degrading faucet washer or gasket might be causing white particles from a single fixture in your home.

Your faucet washer may degrade if it comes into contact with chlorine or chloramine (which are commonly used to disinfect municipal water supplies), causing solid, rubbery particles to enter your water supply.

Some faucet washers are black, so this issue is only a possibility if you have white faucet washers.

📖 How to Determine the Cause of White Stuff in Water

The best way to determine the cause of white stuff in your water is to conduct a water test.

If you have a municipal water supply, buy a test for hard water. You can buy DIY hard water tests for less than $20 online, and it’s easy to use:

  1. Take a sample of your drinking water in a clean, clear glass.
  2. Dip a test strip in the water and wait for the allotted time period.
  3. Wait for the test strip to change color, then compare the color of the strip to the included color chart. This will give you a reading of your water hardness.

If you get your water from a private well, test for water hardness and sediment.

You can buy DIY sediment test kits, or simply observe your water for signs of sediment contamination.

If your water contains sediment, it’ll have a cloudy appearance, and you’ll probably notice floating particles.

Fill a glass with tap water, then wait five minutes. If the particles settle to the bottom of the glass, your water contains sediment.

Tap score water test result

⚠️ Are White Particles In Drinking Water Dangerous?

No, white particles in drinking water aren’t usually dangerous.

Water hardness and sediment are aesthetic issues. That means they have no health effects when they’re ingested in drinking water, but they may form deposits on your home’s plumbing and appliances, and they may cause abrasive damage in your plumbing system.

Of course, that’s assuming that the white specks in your water are in fact calcium carbonate or sediment particles. It’s important to test your water to determine that nothing dangerous is contaminating it, especially if you use a private well.

Water testing with tap score

⚗️ How To Remove White Particles from Water

You can remove white specks from your water with either a water softener or a sediment filter, depending on the cause of the issue.

We’ve discussed them in more detail below.

For Hard Water: Water Softener

A water softening system is the most effective treatment method for white flakes that are caused by water hardness minerals.

Water softeners prevent white residue from forming on surfaces by removing calcium and magnesium (the minerals responsible for limescale).

Soft water systems are installed at POE water supply lines, so they protect the water pipes, appliances (including hot water heaters), and fixtures from mineral damage.

If you’ve also noticed brown or orange particles, brown stains on surfaces, and metallic-tasting water, you may also have an iron issue. A water softener can remove low levels of iron as well as producing soft water.

Water softener systems next to water tank in basement

For Sediment: A Sediment Water Filter

A sediment filter cartridge is the best line of defense if your water contains floating white or tan particles that give water a cloudy appearance.

Again, many sediment filters are point-of-entry units, so they protect your whole home’s plumbing system from sediment damage. That means by the time water leaves your faucet, it should be clear and sediment-free.

If your water suddenly contains a lot more sediment than usual, you should also arrange to get your well professionally inspected to make sure it’s still structurally sound.

Sediment water filter installed in basement

📑 Final Word

White flakes or particles in water aren’t usually a cause for concern. More often than not, they’re caused by calcium and magnesium carbonate – naturally occurring minerals that form limescale on surfaces.

With that said, you probably don’t want to drink water with floating particles of any sort. You can install a water filter or water softener to treat the cause of the white flakes and restore your water quality to your standards.

❔ FAQ

Why does my water have white stuff in it?

Your water most likely has white stuff in it because it contains limescale flecks, which come from hard water deposits. Other possible causes of white stuff in your tap water are sediment in your water or a degraded faucet washer (if the washer is white).

Is it safe to drink water with sediment in it?

Yes, it’s usually safe to drink water that contains sediment. However, high levels of sediment may indicate that your well is susceptible to contamination from other, more dangerous impurities, so if you notice a sudden elevation in sediment, conduct a well water test to be on the safe side.

What are the white things floating in my water?

The white things floating in your tap water are most likely specks or chunks of limescale. Limescale is formed when hard water minerals (namely calcium carbonate) leave deposits on surfaces. Over time, chunks of limescale break away and reenter your water supply. You might notice floating limescale chunks in your water after boiling it in a kettle or a coffeepot that’s used regularly.

It is OK to drink water with white particles?

Yes, it’s usually OK to drink water with white particles, since these particles are usually caused by hard water minerals. Calcium and magnesium carbonate are actually good for human health, but they can affect water quality (you probably don’t want to drink water containing floating bits) and they cause aesthetic damage to your pipes and fixtures. So, you might want to remove them for the sake of your home’s plumbing system.

  • Jennifer Byrd
    Water Treatment Specialist

    For 20+ years, Jennifer has championed clean water. From navigating operations to leading sales, she's tackled diverse industry challenges. Now, at Redbird Water, she crafts personalized solutions for homes, businesses, and factories. A past Chamber President and industry advocate, Jennifer leverages her expertise in cutting-edge filtration and custom design to transform water concerns into crystal-clear solutions.

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