What can Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) tell you about your drinking water? Well, if you want to paint a picture of your overall water quality, TDS can be your paintbrush. TDS represents the total concentration of dissolved substances in a given mineral water sample, measured in Parts Per Million (ppm). Your water’s TDS level, as well as the types of solids dissolved in it—whether organic or inorganic—inform the character and quality of your water.
While there are benefits and drawbacks of readings at both ends of the scale, TDS data which is read using a TDS meter is important for understanding the unique character of the water you’re drinking—or shouldn’t be drinking. So, where do these solids come from, and how do they end up dissolved in water? These essential minerals can originate from both natural and human sources. Mineral springs, for example, contain water with high levels of dissolved solids because the water flows through regions of rocks with high salt content, these are considered healthy minerals. On the other hand, agriculture, sewage, urban runoff, and wastewater are all sources created by human activity.
Though water with high TDS can affect the taste of your water, it’s not usually harmful to human health. However, readings above 500 ppm should be investigated for toxic particles and heavy metals, and water with a reading above 1,000 ppm is considered unsafe for human consumption. While a low TDS concentration indicates high-quality mineral water, it may have a flat taste due to a lack of mineral diversity—but don’t just consider the concentration, take the type of mineral into account. When it comes to your health, the types of dissolved solids in your water are more important than the total amounts.
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