What is iron bacteria?
Iron bacteria are long thread-like bacteria that secrete slime, occur naturally, and "feed" on iron in water and soil. Unlike most bacteria that get their energy from decomposing organic matter, iron bacteria get their energy from oxidizing ferrous iron.
What causes it?
Iron bacteria are caused by a combination of minerals, chemistry, and biology. Iron is a common element in Pacific Northwest soils, and when it combines with oxygen and water, there is the potential for iron bacteria to form. When the dissolved iron reacts with oxygen in the air, it forms rust-colored iron oxides. These deposits often occur on hot, dry days when the water is sluggish. You may also notice a foul, swampy odor, similar to the smell of rotten vegetables.
What does it look like?
Iron bacteria form rust-colored slimy or stringy deposits in or on the surface of puddles or slow-moving water. They can also leave rust-colored stains on concrete, patios, sidewalks, and other hard surfaces.