What is the importance of TDS and How to adjust it in drinking water?

Do you have a water purifier at home to remove impurities from your drinking water, right? And, when you’re outside, you probably drink nothing but mineral water. But, have you ever wondered what kind of impurities and substances are present in water? The answer is TDS. You must be wondering – what is TDS of water? Well, here’s the answer!

Pure water, which has no taste, color, or odor, is a good solvent; and, as a result, it picks up impurities quite easily. So, various organic and inorganic impurities get added in water. Total Dissolved Solids, commonly referred to as TDS, are such impurities in water. It’s time to read and find out more about TDS.

What is TDS of water?

TDS, or Total Dissolved Solids, are solids dissolved in water. These comprise any kind of mineral, salt, metal, cation or anion. Now, TDS includes organic salts in a small amount, along with inorganic salts like calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium, as well as bicarbonates, chlorides, and sulfates. The concentration of TDS in water is the total of cations and anions.

Now, when it comes to your drinking water, the sources of TDS may be natural. Take for example the water in mineral springs. Do you know that such water is often found to contain high levels of TDS? This is because the water usually runs across rocks with high salt content. TDS in water may also originate from sewage, surface runoff due to urbanization and agricultural activities, industrial waste, chemicals in water treatment, plumbing hardware and piping, etc.

You must remember that TDS present alone in water are not harmful to health. In fact, you will probably enjoy the taste of water with high TDS content. In fact, without them, you’ll find the taste of the water quite bland. However, TDS can lead to hard water, which can stain and corrode your household fixtures and cause them to wear out faster. In addition, the high concentration of TDS is indicative of the possible presence of other contaminants, especially if the solids are from pollution or human activities.

what is tds and how to reduce it

Importance of TDS in drinking water and Effect on Health

TDS can cause incrustations or films on fixtures, corrode pipelines, or reduce the efficiency of water filters and heaters in your house. However, water that has no TDS can have a more corrosive effect on your household items. It has the capability to leach harmful metals like copper or lead from pipes and hardware. Additionally, the two minerals commonly found in TDS are calcium and magnesium, which can lead to water hardness, scale formation, and staining.

TDS can change the taste of drinking water, making it sweeter and more enjoyable for you. You probably remember the sweet taste of mineral water that comes in bottles, right? However, elevated levels of TDS can lead to a bitter or salty taste. High levels of TDS, while not necessarily a health hazard, can give you an undesirable brackish taste.

On the other hand, drinking water with low levels of TDS often has a flat taste that you will probably not enjoy at all. Moderate amounts of TDS alone in water may be good. In taste tests, such water ranks higher than water that has too high or too low levels of TDS.

Preliminary evidence has suggested that the various substances available in water can be beneficial, as well as harmful to human health. For instance, a decrease in the incidence of tooth decay has been observed as a result of using artificially fluoridated water. Then again, epidemiological studies in the 1960s in areas with hard water showed lower morbidity and mortality caused by cardiovascular diseases. 

As mentioned above, elevated levels of TDS of water for drinking all by themselves do not present any health risk. However, you must remember that such high levels of TDS in water indicate the possible presence of specific ions like lead, aluminum, copper, nitrates, or even arsenic, which can present risks for your health.

Safe Level of TDS with detailed Chart

To find out what purposes it can serve and if it is for drinking, cleaning, cooking in kitchen, etc., you must test the water in the house for the levels of TDS. The amount of TDS present in water is measured by milligrams per liter. Here’s a look at the levels of TDS you may find in different types of water – 

  • Freshwater < 1500 mg/L
  • Brackish water – 1500-5000 mg/L
  • Saline water > 5000 mg/L TDS

Now the big question is, how much TDS in water is good for health? Water with TDS levels of 500 mg/L  is considered safe for drinking. However, if the water is found to exceed the maximum recommended level of TDS, i.e., 1000mg/L, it is unfit for consumption. Then again, water with too low levels of TDS is also to be avoided. Here’s a look at what the various levels of TDS can suggest –

TDS for drinking water

How to measure TDS level of water at home? – various ways

Wondering if you can measure the level of TDS in the water at home? Well, the good news is that you can! Take a look at the following methods –

1. Using Paper Filter and Scale:

You can measure the TDS level in drinking water at home, using this conventional method. For this process, you will only need

  • sterilized beaker
  • filter paper
  • pipette (with a capacity of 50 ml)
  • stirring stick
  • evaporating dish
  • measuring scale
  • water sample in the beaker.

Step 1

The process begins with you weighing the evaporating dish (in mg). Ensure that the dish is clean and empty; This will indicate that weight is that of the dish only, and not of the impurities. Now, note down the measurement as “A”.

Step 2

Now, take the stirring stick and stir the water in the beaker vigorously. This will help to agitate the liquid, and the particles in the liquid will be equally distributed.

Step 3

Next, pour 50 ml of the stirred water into the pipette. Don’t forget to continue stirring the water even as you pour it into the pipette.

Step 4

Then, you need to extract the water you’ve collected in the pipette on to the filter paper. You have to repeat this step thrice. You should be able to observe that the paper has collected some of the sediments of the water. In that case, you’ll need to transfer it to the empty evaporating dish.

Step 5

Now, it’s time to wait for the filtrate in the dish to dry completely. Once that happens, you can measure the weight of the dish with the dry filtrate once again. Note the result as “B”, which is the total weight of the dish and the filtrate.

Step 6

It’s time for some math. To find the weight of the TDS alone, subtract A from B. Calculate the TDS level by using the formula –


2. Using Digital TDS Meter

The digital TDS meter is a reliable device for measuring the TDS level in the water. And, if you live in India, then you can easily find digital TDS meters on any leading online store.

Once you get hold of it, all you need to do is to turn on the TDS meter. You’ll find the ON/OFF switch on the panel. Now, dip the meter into the water; and, check if the water has reached the maximum immersion level, which is 2″. Then, stir the device gently and burst all the tiny air bubbles.

Now, it’s time to wait for about 10 seconds, during which the reading will stabilize. Next, you have to press the HOLD button before you take the device out to take a look at the reading on it, which indicates the TDS level of the water. It’s just that simple if you have a digital TDS meter! (After use, don’t forget to shake the excess water off of the meter and replace the cap!)

Wondering if you can find a pocket-friendly digital TDS meter?

If you think that the device will burn a hole in your pocket, then you’re absolutely wrong! It is possible to find a pocket-friendly digital TDS meter, like this digital TDS meter

This take-anywhere water testing tool offers high precision and sensitivity, which results in fast and on-the-spot readings. What’s more, it has a large screen, as well as clear calibrations for TDS, temperature, and parts per million (PPM). Yes, you can measure temperature with the device’s built-in thermometer. You can use it in your household water filters and purifiers. You can also monitor the quality of food and beverages.

How to reduce TDS in drinking water at home?

Now you know how to measure the levels of TDS or impurities in water; so, it’s time to find out how to reduce TDS in drinking water at home. In some cases, the water may only have excess levels of calcium and/or magnesium. All you need, then, is a water softener. This will soften the water supply in your house. However, this will only make the water fit for your household appliances; it will effectively treat your drinking water.

Take a look at the following ways that will make water fit for drinking –

1. Reverse Osmosis (RO)

Reverse Osmosis, or RO, is a popular method of purifying water. In fact, you’re probably already familiar with the term because the water purifier in your house uses this method to reduce the TDS levels of the water in your house.

In this process, water passes through a fine membrane that has microscopic pores. This helps to filter out even the smallest particles. You’ll be surprised to know that only atoms smaller than 0.0001 microns can pass through this membrane. You can probably imagine how all the other solids or salts stay behind in the membrane; and, you will be left with water that has higher purity!

RO Water Purifiers are now essential household appliances. Check the Best Water Purifiers available in the Indian Market.

If you are tight with the budget, you might like the cheapest water purifiers from Aqua Ultra, an Indian Brand.

2. Deionisation (DI)

In the process of deionization, the water passes through a specially manufactured electrochemical cell, i.e. electrode. This will help to separate the positive ions from the water, as the negative electrode will attract them. As a result, you will get highly pure, deionized water.

Since this process involves an electrode, DI is also referred to as Electrodeionization or EDI. Unlike the regular version of DI, EDI is not a chemical process, but an electric one, as it uses electric currents. It works best when the water goes through an RO unit first. This helps to remove all non-ionic contaminants that are organic in nature.  

3. Distillation

You must have read about distillation in science classes in school. This is an excellent process to help you reduce the TDS level in the water. You have to start by boiling the water to turn it into vapor. Once the vapor rises above and touches a cold surface, it condenses back to its liquid form, which you have to collect safely. However, the dissolved solids cannot evaporate during the process of boiling.

So, this process completely separates the solids which settle at the bottle of the container in which you are boiling the water, giving you pure water. This is a popular and age-old method that does not require water filters or purifiers. However, you do need to store this water in sterilized containers, to prevent bacteria.

Final Words

Now that you know about TDS, you must not forget that these substances form essential for the quality of your drinking water. It tells you whether the water is too turbid to drink, or if it lacks the minerals that your body needs.

Don’t worry if you find that the water has high levels of TDS. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the water is unfit for consumption, though it can harm your household appliances over a prolonged period, or may even taste a little bitter or salty. However, high levels of TDS may also be a sign of the presence of trace metals in the water.

Again, you should also avoid water that is deficient in TDS; such water can be corrosive in nature and harm your plumbing, leading to the leakage of toxins. So, it is a good idea to ensure that the water has moderate levels of TDS, for the sake of your own health, as well as the health of your pipelines and household devices!

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