When your drinking water doesn’t look good or it tastes bad, the cause may be the salts and minerals that are dissolved in your water supply. The common term for these contaminants is Total Dissolved Solids (TDS). This is a common characteristic found in public water and drinking water sourced from a private well. In this article, we will take a closer look at TDS and offer some advice on how you can remove it from your water.

What is TDS?

Water is a solvent. After it falls as rain, it makes a journey through layers of soil, sand and rock. The substances that water passes through are added to its makeup in the form of dissolved salts and minerals. These materials are known as Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) and they can occur in nature. Some TDS is normal, in fact, certain minerals are beneficial for our health, but when the levels are too high they can cause problems. One of the characteristics of water with high levels of TDS is hardness, although these can be considered to be separate issues. It is possible to have high levels of TDS and soft water, but this is a rare occurrence. Water with higher TDS levels is usually safe to consume, but it can taste bad and it may look or smell unpalatable. The EPA has designated TDS as a secondary contaminant because concentrations exceeding 500 mg/L cause scaling and aesthetic quality issues.

What are the Characteristics of TDS?

Water with a high concentration of TDS has a number of characteristics and some are harder to identify than others. The appearance of this water can be turbid or clouding and it may have a bitter, salty or metallic taste. This water is also accompanied by scale and an increased risk of corrosion to plumbing pipes and connected fixtures. The lifespan of plumbing pipes, fixtures, and water using appliances is lowered when this type of water is in regular use.

Testing TDS Levels

Private well owners should test the TDS levels of their water annually according to guidelines from the EPA. Even residents that receive their water from a public supplier should test their TDS levels because this is not handled by the water treatment plant. Keeping the TDS below 500 mg/L is good for your water quality, plumbing system and your appliances. Testing is easy, a TDS meter is a handheld device that ascertains the number of dissolved ions present in the water. It will not tell you which ions are present, but it is a useful benchmark and only laboratory water testing will provide a detailed breakdown.

How Can I Remove TDS?

The most effective and efficient way to remove TDS from your water supply is with a reverse osmosis (RO) filtration system. This is a purely mechanical filter that adds no chemicals to your drinking water. The incoming water is placed under pressure and forced through a semi-permeable membrane. This process removes 99% of contaminants because the pores of the membrane are extremely small. The contaminants are left behind on the surface allowing the water molecules to pass through. The water then goes through a granular activated charcoal (GAC) to add some final polish to the water. This system can reduce the TDS levels by around 95% to improve the quality of water for drinking, cooking, and cleaning tasks.

If you want to learn more about removing TDS from your water, contact your local water treatment specialist today.

By EcoWater Systems.
EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is the largest water treatment company in the state and is a member of Water Quality Association.