Why Is My Water Oily?

Oily water is a common household problem that occurs when oil or greasy particles are found in the water supply. It can appear as a thin film on the surface of the water, give it an unpleasant odor, and make it difficult to use for cleaning or cooking purposes.

The most common reason why oily water occurs is due to a build-up of oil and grease in the plumbing system, which is often caused by improper disposal of cooking oil or other greasy substances. These oils can then be easily transferred from one location to another via the water supply. In some cases, it may also be due to industrial pollution entering the water supply, particularly in areas near factories or refineries.

Why Is My Water Oily?

Oil or fuel leaking from a storage tank: If you have an above-ground fuel storage tank near your home, it may be the source of your oily water. Fuel or oil can leak from tanks due to age, wear and tear, cracks in the tank walls, or other damage caused by external forces. The leaking oil could then seep into groundwater and travel through underground piping to your tap, resulting in oily water.

Decomposing animal fats: Oil in water can be the result of decomposing animal fats, which is a common problem in wastewater treatment plants and septic systems. If you have an oil slick on the surface of your water, chances are it’s because of animal fat that has accumulated over time and is now breaking down into smaller particles. In such cases, the best solution is to install an oil and grease separator to filter out these particles. Additionally, it’s important to check the levels of metals and other minerals in your water supply regularly, as these can also cause oily water.

Decomposing plant life: As plants and trees decompose, they release oils that eventually make their way into the water. This can lead to an oily sheen on top of your water’s surface. When this happens, it is important to monitor the water for any changes in color or smell, as this could be an indication of a more serious issue.

Iron Bacteria: One possible cause of oily water is iron bacteria, which forms when high levels of iron and other minerals are present. This type of bacteria can live in water, soil, and sediment and is a major contributor to the fouling of industrial cooling systems. Iron bacteria produce a slimy biofilm that gives off an oily sheen on your water’s surface. This bacteria is usually found in well water and can be difficult to get rid of because it reproduces quickly. To remove iron bacteria from your water supply, you will likely need a professional water treatment system that targets iron-reducing bacteria specifically.

Hydrogen Sulfide: Hydrogen sulfide is a common culprit behind oily-looking water. This gas, which smells like rotten eggs, can be released through the ground, septic tanks, and other sources. While small amounts of hydrogen sulfide in your water are not dangerous to ingest, they can cause adverse effects such as skin irritation and increased levels of iron in your water. To get rid of hydrogen sulfide, a specialized water filtration system is necessary to reduce the concentration of the gas in your water supply. In some cases, it may be necessary to treat your well with chemicals such as chlorine or potassium permanganate to effectively remove this smelly compound from your home’s water supply. By addressing this problem, you can ensure that your water is safe for drinking, cooking, and bathing again.

Oil leaking from your well water pump: If your well water pump is leaking oil, it could be caused by a variety of issues. It may be due to a crack in the pump housing, an issue with the seal or gasket, or even a problem with the internal parts of the pump itself. In any case, you should have your well system checked by a professional and get the issue resolved as soon as possible.

The black oily substance in water: The black oily substance that you may find in your water is likely caused by Petroleum Hydrocarbons (PHCs). These are compounds found naturally in petroleum, and can be released into the environment due to oil leaks or spills. PHCs can also be formed from other sources such as manufacturing activities or agricultural runoff. The presence of these oils can make water appear cloudy or give it a slimy, oily feel. If you detect this substance in your water, contact your local water authority for advice on how to proceed.

Greasy film on water: Oily water is typically caused by an accumulation of organic material in the system that creates a greasy film on the surface of the water. This film is usually composed of hydrocarbons, which come from sources such as plant matter and microorganisms. Over time, these particles accumulate and create an oil slick or sheen on the water. The film is often visible in streams or lakes and can even be seen on the surface of your water if you have a home well. In some cases, the greasy film may not be visible to the naked eye, but will still affect the taste and smell of your water.

Prevention Strategies

  • Proper Disposal of Waste: Oily water is often caused by improper disposal of industrial waste. It is important to ensure that any hazardous materials used in industry are disposed of properly according to local regulations. This will help prevent the contamination of our waterways with oil and other pollutants.
  • Regular Maintenance of Equipment: Regular maintenance of your equipment is an important step in preventing oily water. Make sure you clean and inspect all pumps, separators, and other pieces of equipment regularly to ensure they are running properly. In addition, it’s important to make sure the system is not over-pressurized which can cause oil to be forced into the water stream. Finally, check the system for leaks and fix them as soon as possible. Taking these precautions can help reduce the amount of oil in your water.
  • Installation of Grease Traps: An effective way to reduce the amount of oil in your water is by installing grease traps. Grease traps are devices that are installed in drains to capture and contain fats, oils, and greases. They work by allowing wastewater to pass through slowly, giving it time for the heavier materials such as oil, to settle at the bottom of the trap. The trapped oil can then be removed and disposed of properly. Installing grease traps can help reduce the amount of oil entering the wastewater system, and thus reduce the amount of oily water in your home or business.
  • Use of Biodegradable Products: One of the most common causes of oily water is the use of biodegradable products. These products, such as soaps, detergents, and cleaning agents, contain surfactants that are designed to break down into their components when they come into contact with water. As they degrade, these surfactants form an oil-like film on the surface of the water, making it appear oily. To avoid this problem, use biodegradable products with caution and opt for non-biodegradable alternatives whenever possible.


Can oily water be recycled?

Yes, oily water can be recycled. Depending on the type of oil present, it may need to be treated or filtered before being reused. The treatment process works by removing the contaminants from the oil through a combination of physical, chemical and biological methods. Once the treatment process is complete, the water can then be used in a variety of applications including agricultural irrigation, industrial cooling, and other industrial uses. Additionally, any oil that is removed from the water in the treatment process can be recycled and reused in a variety of ways.

How do I dispose of oily water safely?

The oil in the water should be removed before disposing of it. This can be done using absorbents such as rags, paper towels, and cat litter. Once all the oil has been removed from the water, it can be safely poured down a sink drain .

Why is my well water blue?

If your well water is blue, it could be a sign of the presence of copper sulfate. Copper sulfate can attach itself to small particles in the water and make them appear blue in color. This deep blue color is often caused by a bactericide used to treat bacterial contamination in wells or municipal water supplies. Blue stains on kitchen and bathroom fixtures, laundry and other items may also be a sign of copper sulfate contamination.

Is hard water safe to drink?

Hard water is generally considered safe to drink, although in some cases it can contain high levels of minerals that may not be beneficial for certain individuals. Hard water contains a variety of minerals, including calcium, magnesium and iron. These are essential nutrients that the body needs in moderate amounts; however, consuming too much of these minerals can cause health issues. Some people with sensitive stomachs or digestive issues may experience discomfort when consuming hard water.


If you have determined that your water is oily, it is likely due to a problem with the plumbing in your home. It could be any number of issues such as an old or worn-out pipe, faulty seals or joints, corrosion of metal pipes, or even organic material built up inside the pipes. To determine what the problem is and how to fix it, you’ll need to contact a plumbing professional. In the meantime, try not to use any water from your taps until the problem is solved in order to avoid further contamination of your drinking and bathing water. By properly addressing the issue, you can ensure that your water remains clean and free of contaminants.

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