What are the Foam “Soap Suds” on the surface of the lake or along the shore?

Foam along the shore probably does not indicate pollution from laundry waste. Virtually all detergents today are a biodegradable form which is easily broken down by bacteria. Most foam is natural. It’s created when the surface tension of water is reduced and air is mixed in, causing bubbles. Many natural organic compounds will reduce surface tension, including those from decomposing algae or fish. In a lake these organic compounds are mixed with air by wind and currents to produce foam. Large quantities of foam are often found on windward shores, coves and in eddies. Natural foam has a somewhat earthy or fishy aroma. Detergent foam, in contrast, will have a noticeable perfume smell.

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