My question is, how can I determine exactly what these "floaties" are that I see in my drinking water? I know that I sound crazy and more than a little obsessive-compulsive....my wife tells me this all the time.

For a while, we had a Brita water pitcher that had a replaceable filter in it, and it works great except that bits of the charcoal would always fall into the reservoir (even after following instructions on how to clean it out after replacing it with a brand new filter, etc). We never had "floaties", other than the little grains of charcoal, which still drove me crazy (to the point that I would dump the water or use it for something else, clean out the reservoir, and fill it up again...).

Whenever I get water from the tap in a glass, I raise it up to the light to see what's in it. Normally there are a bunch of air bubbles, which is fine. But after letting the cup sit on the counter (covered with saran wrap to stop dust from falling in, etc), I've checked it again and have seen little "floaties".

We rent our home, and the refrigerator has a filtered water system (where you can replace a cylindrical water filter located inside the refrigerator). The water tap for this is on the inner part of the refrigerator door (as opposed to on the outside...first time I've ever seen this). Checking the water in the same manner as I do with the tap, holding it up to the light and inspecting it, results in little "floaties" in there also.

I live in Southern Arizona, USA, so we have a lot of sediment buildup in our water. Using vinegar or "Lime Away" type products to remove buildup around faucets is a normal thing done every couple of months.

However, the filter that is in the refrigerator, even when replaced, still has "floaties" in the water, which leads me to believe that it may either be sediment, or something living in between the dispenser head and the filter itself.

I like to think of myself as a "manly man" - I like to get dirty, romp around, and have a good time. But for some reason (a mental one, I'm sure), I cannot drink water that has "floaties" in it. And if I can't/don't check for "floaties", I feel like there's something in the back of my throat that makes me want to sick up.

So anyway...any DIY way to find out what these floaties are? I'm sure that it'll be cheaper than a shrink or a separate filtration solution...

  • 2
    Could it be that the "floaties" are coming from the glass (unrinsed dish soap, dust, etc.), and not the water itself?
    – Tester101
    Jul 26, 2012 at 17:11
  • When I was visiting my wife's family in Poland, where they bottle the municipal supply as mineral water (It's THAT good!) I noticed white lime sediments if I let it stand for a while. Jul 26, 2012 at 18:00
  • It's likely harmless chemicals and/or minerals (calcium, sodium, potassium, fluoride, magnesium, bicarbonate, nitrate, chloride, sulfide, silica, etc.). Warm water allows more things to dissolve in it, as it cools the dissolved materials solidify which could lead to visible particles.
    – Tester101
    Jul 26, 2012 at 18:02
  • If you're on a municipal water supply, you should be able to get a water quality report from them.
    – Niall C.
    Jul 26, 2012 at 18:21
  • Are you on municipal water or your own supply?
    – gregmac
    Jul 26, 2012 at 19:03

3 Answers 3


I would venture a guess that @Tester101's suspicion about your floaties coming from your glass (unrinsed soap, dust, etc.) may be heading down the right path. I would try rinsing a glass, scrubbing it with a new sponge or clean washcloth, wiping it dry with a clean towel (not paper towel, as this may leave pieces of paper behind), and then refilling it. @NiallC's comment about asking for a water report from your municipal water supply is a pretty good alternative, but doesn't factor in anything that may come from the pipes between them and you. Most health departments will do water testing, so you could always fill a bottle and take it in.

Beyond that, if you really have to know what's in the water, your only real solution to absolutely know with 100% certainty (technically, unless you watch the health department do the tests, and can verify their results, you can't KNOW that they're right...but I'd probably just accept it) is to get testing kits for this, that, and the other thing (that was just the first page offering a wide range of kits that I found), that operate similar to what you might use for pool water. Depending on the sensitivity levels, you may pick up on things like trace amounts of chlorine...but of course this is going to get back into the more expensive end of things, as those kits aren't cheap (Grainger's seem to run around $40-$50 and up...it's about $20 for their cheapest, which is testing for copper, on that first page of results).

You could pick up a pool test kit, which will cover a couple of parameters (chlorine, calcium, hardness, etc.), but it's not going to cover everything and may not operate in the range you need to identify your floaties...it's designed primarily to help you maintain clear-looking pool water that you're not drinking, not crystal clear tap water.

So really:

  • Ask for report from municipal water supply

  • Take in sample to health department

  • If you're still paranoid and want to know what it is, buy test kits

  • If you just want to get rid of the floaties, filter, filter, filter, and make sure your dishes aren't the source

  • While the OP is not looking to filter the water, I do also live in AZ as the OP does (Phoenix) and an RO unit works wonders to address the municipal water supply. I have never seen a floater or other type of item within my water since purchasing the RO unit. Jul 27, 2012 at 19:13

If you are concerned about the microbiology of your water you need to contact your local health department to check it out.

-Simple test strips can only identify PH, acidity and metals that are dissolved within the water. Testing the floaties requires professional inspection like health laboratories and specific area related data.

To remove excessive debris / silt / and dissolved chemicals

  • If you are happy that the water is not a hazard to your health and the only problem is some debris from pipes and or "charcoal??"(i think you mean carbon!) then installing a 2 stage filter on the main inlet of the house.. or at the tap that you intend to fill up on your drinking/cooking water.

enter image description here

The 2 stage filter consists of

1- 5Micron filter or spun polyster to remove particles such as silt / "flaoties" 2- Carbon block - removes smells and chlorine from water

Commercial Solutions

If you star searching for designs like this- you will come accros manyu RO (Reverse Osmosis) filter that describe PURE drinking water. In my opinion and many others it is considered that drinking RO (reverse osmosis / distilled water) is not healthy! The other half will disagree- but they usually have some money to make out of it and these untis cost more than they should!

Interesting blog article. read about the water

enter image description here

A setup like this is used because RO filter takes absolute ages to filter water. removing the RO membrane allows normal flow.

A simple 2 stage filter should not cost you much and the filter media needs changin 6 months if used daily and about 12 months on occasion. It is important to note that none of the media releases toxins into the water once it is saturated.

The tank of water outside - you could install a prefilter mesh that is carbon activated; but just make sure its not toxic.


  • Do you have a source that isn't a blog? I have seen no scientific studies showing reverse osmosis water is unhealthy.
    – ND Geek
    Jul 27, 2012 at 12:21
  • You have to dig deeper. Like the blog says.. there is mixed content out there.. people selling RO units say its the best water for you.. other studies will imply that pure water should only be used for detoxyfing the body no longer than 8 - 12 weeks. I personally know RO water (pure water) causes health issues if used in long term
    – Piotr Kula
    Jul 27, 2012 at 12:31
  • PS Why downvote- this solution is very viable, especially if used with a 4 stage filter that also purifies bacterial impurications. And no need to test water as its PURE 99.99% no bacteria no floaties.
    – Piotr Kula
    Jul 27, 2012 at 12:32
  • I downvoted because you're spreading unsubstantiated rumor. Unless/until you can back up your claims regarding RO/distilled water, I personally cannot support your answer. The only thing that article (and the sales pitch it links to) does is spread FUD. I would like to see unbiased scientific study regarding the matter. The best I can find is that, sans flouride, people appear to have worse teeth (again, no study, just anecdotal evidence from dentists).
    – ND Geek
    Jul 27, 2012 at 12:49
  • Also, OP originally specifically asked for a way to identify his floaties, not for a whole new filtration system.
    – ND Geek
    Jul 27, 2012 at 12:50

You can use a simple drinking water test kit to prove to yourself that it's safe. Note, I have no personal experience with this since I trust the tests done by my municipality.

enter image description here

  • Water testing is great for ensuring water is safe to drink, but unless the floaties happen to consist of whatever the test kit tests for, we will be no closer to identifying what the floaties are. It's possible to do an exhaustive lab analysis, but that can be really expensive. It will be good to know that the floaties are safe to consume and it's just an aesthetic issue.
    – bcworkz
    Jul 26, 2012 at 23:17
  • Agreed, it won't tell you what they are, but if you're paranoid and considering filtering your water, this may help put your mind at ease.
    – BMitch
    Jul 26, 2012 at 23:37
  • That's a crummy kit, it won't give definitive results.
    – Bryce
    Jul 27, 2012 at 4:41
  • @Bryce But the package says "premium" so it must be good! :) If you've got a different product recommendation, I'm happy to change the link. Though I'm not suggesting a specific product, only pointing out that these test kits exist.
    – BMitch
    Jul 27, 2012 at 11:05
  • I've used a couple of these kits when my well was contaminated by groundwater and I've used them after chlorinating and flushing the well to make sure everything was okay. The results agreed quite well with a test that I had done by my county, although the county tested for more stuff. The county's test was a couple hundred dollars.
    – Eric
    Aug 5, 2019 at 20:40

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