Limestone

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Actually, it kind of does look like that, except mine are small flat squares on a shower stall floor and they look a lot safer! ;-)
I guess I must have manganese in my water. Do you know if it's a corrosive agent? I'm wondering why the luster on the affected tiles has disappeared as well.
I doubt the folks at Yosemite would be interested in my bathroom as a tourist destination. What a great photograph.
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I don't know anything about manganese staining. It's really just a metal that is common in most living things and in water so its a pretty common culprit in staining of metals, porcelain, and tiles - espcially in areas with lots of minerals in the water - well water would be a source for sure.
As to whether or not this is the source of your problem - I don't know. All I wanted to was give you a possible lead for you to research - and since it's pretty common there has got to be lots of people who have solved it. I've never had to deal with it, but I would imagine you would remove manganese the same way you would remove other metallic stains.
It's not a corrosive, so it wouldn't have damaged the finish on your tiles, although perhaps in forming the oxide the manganese robbed the tiles of something and pitted them - making it look dull and dingy.
Again, I'm no expert on the subject, I was just making a suggestion as a place to start looking. I hope it helped.
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Yes, but it's certainly worth a call to the county. I remember they ran through a number of things when they were telling me what they found in my well water, but since they said it was safe, I didn't pay much attention. There must be something there.

That's what I was hoping to find here, and you've given me a great place to start, for which I'm grateful.

That's exactly how they look, and perhaps there's some other mineral in the well water that IS corrosive -- so I'll get the whole report while I'm at it. Thanks again. You've been a terrific help.
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Perri Morgan wrote:

Luster gone is also a good clue, get it all clean, and then seal as recommended by local stone tile experts Unsealed tile, depending on stone composition, may lose its luster.
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Throughout this thread, you keep mentioning that the staining is where you used a soap product. Keep in mind that soap while being alkaline it is a fat product made from animal or vegetable fats or oils -- grease. This grease will soak into the pores of limestone and discolour it. Try rubbing some cooking fat on a hidden area and see the change. Old, rancid grease will darken, trap dirt and change the look of the area. I think you should try, again in a hidden area, a strong detergent cleanser, cover it with a plastic sheet to prevent it from drying out for a few hours, then rinse and scrub toughly a few times and see if it will remove the stain. I have seen similar stains on "cultured marble" shower pans, it takes a lot of work to remove and then it promptly comes back when it is used because the surface is porous.

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The alkaline nature of soap is what led me to believe that was the cause to start with, though I'm intrigued by the discussion of minerals in my well water. I've got some scraps, though, so I can try this on one of those as well to see if I can duplicate the condition.
If I'm able to get any of the staining out, will repeated applications of sealer keep it from re-occurring?
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