If You See White Flakes in Water from Your Tap, This Is What It Means

If you see white flakes swirling around in your drinking water, don't panic. There's a simple explanation.

There are some things that totally turn me off of food—a dry piece of chicken, too much salt on something, cheese that has been left out of the fridge too long. The same goes for drinks, too. If you’ve ever seen white flakes floating in water from your tap, you may be inclined to dump it out and buy a bottle of water instead.

Not so fast, though—there are many benefits of drinking water, even the kind that’s not perfectly clear. The white fragments swirling around in your glass of water don’t mean it’s unsafe to drink!

What Are the White Flakes in My Water?

Next time you fill up a glass of water, take a closer look—if there are white flakes floating around, you probably have hard water. Put simply, your water is nutrient-dense, specifically in calcium. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but there are pros and cons to having hard water in your home.

Our diets require minerals like magnesium and calcium, and hard water has high amounts of both. It doesn’t taste like water from a 24-pack of plastic bottles, either—hard water has a little more flavor and taste. Along with the taste comes a stronger smell as well, thanks to the nutrients. It’s been described as an “earthy” scent, which sometimes is comforting. Others have described it as smelling like sulfur or rotten eggs, so it really depends on how hard your water actually is.

While hard water is completely safe to drink, having it running through your house may cause some problems. Because of the high concentration of nutrients and minerals in the water, there’s more likely to be buildup in your pipes and on your faucets. It can also cause water spots on your dishes. Hard water, when used frequently to shower, may dry out hair and skin as well.

Do I Have Hard or Soft Water?

Not sure if your water is hard or soft? Here’s a trick that may help you come to a conclusion.

The first thing you’ll want to do is grab a clear water bottle. Fill it up a third of the way with water from your kitchen faucet or bathtub, and then add a small amount of dye-free and perfume-free soap. Shake up the bottle, and then watch it closely. If there is a good amount of bubbles, the kind you would expect from soap, then you most likely have soft water. However, if the concoction has few or no bubbles, then you probably have hard water.

If you’re feeling thirsty now, here are the best ways to drink more water.

Hannah Twietmeyer
Hannah is a writer and content creator based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with a passion for all things food, health, community and lifestyle. She is a journalism graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a previous dining and drink contributor for Madison Magazine.