Scientist holding a beaker of water containing total dissolved solids present in water

We’re always worried about the quality of our water. And we should be. After all, water is crucial to our survival and our overall health and wellness. However, since incidents like the Flint, Michigan water crisis, many of us have been paying even closer attention to the water quality flowing through our homes.


One such concern is the presence of total dissolved solids in our household water. For some, it’s a new term you’re unfamiliar with; for others, you’re well familiar. Simply put, they’re contaminants that we’re used to hearing about in our water.


Interested in learning more about total dissolved solids? Don’t worry. In the following sections, we’ll explore what total dissolved solids, how they affect our water, and what we can do to remove it from our water.



What Are Total Dissolved Solids?

Total dissolved solids, or TDS, as defined by the World Health Organization, is the term used to describe the number of dissolved particles of inorganic salts and trace amounts of organic matter that live in our water. Water is considered by many a universal solvent, meaning it easily picks up and absorbs impurities. While water is supposed to be colorless, odorless, and tasteless, any additions to our water can quickly change its look, taste, and smell. The most common inorganic salts found in water include calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium, and matter like carbonates, hydrogen carbonate, chloride, sulfate, and nitrates.


In most homes, the water we drink isn’t pure, though it is considered safe to drink. Approximately 80 percent of American households suffer from hard water, which can wreak havoc on our appliances and change our water’s taste, look, and smell. In extreme cases, it makes us sick. Those contaminants range from bacteria and minerals to pesticides and sediment. There are many ways that TDS can make its way into our water. They include minerals found in spring water sources, chemicals used to treat our water supply, fertilizers that leach into our groundwater, and even runoff from the salt used to treat our roads during colder months.



How and Why Do We Measure Total Dissolved Solids?

Like with any other contaminant that may lurk in our water, we learn about them through cues such as look and taste or water tests. In the case of total dissolved solids, the easiest way to measure them is by using a TDS meter. Since dissolved ionized solids like salt and minerals increase water conductivity, the meter measures the amount of conductivity to determine how high the TDS levels are in the water. Your water supplier must test and maintain your water quality, but you can purchase a handheld meter if you’re curious.


According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Secondary Drinking Water Regulations, 500 parts per million (PPM) is the recommended maximum amount of TDS allowed in your water. If your readings are anything high than that, it could be deemed unsafe to drink. Here is a water chart breakdown:


<50-250 ppm — Considered low. Your water may be missing some of the minerals that are beneficial to your health.

300-500 ppm — Perfect. This level meets EPA’s recommended numbers.

600-900 ppm — Concerning. This level requires a filtration system to remove excess TDS.

1,000-2,000 ppm — Harmful. These levels are not recommended for consumption.

>2,000 ppm — Dangerous. TDS levels greater than 2,000 ppm are entirely unsafe for consumption, and most household filtration systems can’t handle this level of contamination.




How Do Total Dissolved Solids Affect Us?

We know you’re wondering why you should care. There are several reasons to want to test the TDS levels in your water, with the simplest explanation being, it affects the taste of our drinking water. Dissolved solids are connected to hard water, and the more dissolved solids present in your water, the higher its hardness.


Although the level of dissolved solids can affect us and make us sick, its adverse effects on animals are far more significant. High levels of TDS change the mineral content of water bodies like rivers and ponds, which are home to aquatic life and serve as drinking water for other animals.  Some side effects include the dissolved salt dehydrating the skin of fish, resulting in death, and an increase in the water’s temperature, making it inhabitable for animals to live in.


This, of course, comes full circle back to humans. Because many of us eat these animals, we wind up ingesting the very dissolved solids that we try so hard to keep out of our water.



Can You Remove Total Dissolved Solids?

The answer is yes. There are many filters available that can remove part or most of the TDS in your water. These filters include deionization systems, water distillers, and other more extensive filtration methods used by your local water supplier. According to experts, though, the most effective manner for removing dissolved solids in your home’s water supply is through water filters that use reverse osmosis. What makes reverse osmosis so successful at filtrating total dissolved solids is its filtration system.


The way reverse osmosis works is contaminated water flows through the filter, which is made up of a semi-permeable mesh and sometimes assisted by an activated carbon filter. As the water filters through, the water molecules are small enough to pass through the mesh’s holes, but contaminants and minerals aren’t. What’s left is clean, great-tasting water.


When we think about having clean water in our homes, few consider the possibility of having clean water throughout our entire house. Why stop at clean water in your kitchen? Water treatment equipment manufacturer Puronics offers residential water filtration systems that use reverse osmosis to increase the water quality throughout your home and remove between 95 to 99 percent of total dissolved solids up found in your water. That means no more hard water spots on your dishes, extended life on your appliances, and your clothes and hair feel cleaner and softer when you wash them.





The Science of Water: Providing You with Safe Water Throughout Your Home

There are a lot of contaminants and toxins that lurk within our water. Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of the many different threats! However, with help from the Science of Water, you no longer have to keep track. We have more than 35 years in the water business, which means we’ve seen it all, and we can help you with it all.


We’re honored to be dealers and installers for Puronics’ filtration systems, which offer a solution to all of your water problems and protect from items like total dissolved solids. But before we can provide you with clean, great-tasting water, first, we have to perform a water test to learn more about the water flowing throughout your home.


If you’re interested in taking a free water test or learning more about how you can get the best water you’ve ever tasted in your home, contact us at (352) 745-7070 or (904) 580-0000.