What Should Be the TDS of Drinking Water and How to Reduce It

What’s in your drinking water?

Most people assume that drinking water is perfectly clean. After all, there are no colours in the water that come from your tap, and no label telling you which “extra” ingredients are included in every glass. When you see a crystal-clear stream of water, you assume that there’s nothing to worry about.

However, if you’ve started to notice a strange flavour in your water, or something off about the smell whenever you run your tap, then you might be concerned about the actual contents of your water. Is it really as safe as you first thought?

TDS is a term used to refer to the total number of dissolved solids – including minerals and other products – in your drinking water. All sources of natural water will contain a certain number of dissolved substances the likes of potassium, calcium, chlorides, magnesium, bicarbonates, and sulfates. In certain parts of the world, your drinking water might even include heavy metals in low concentrations.

So, what should be the TDS of drinking water?

That’s what we’re going to look into with this article. We’ll also show you some of the ways that you might be able to filter and clean your water if you’re worried about the effect it could have on your health. Let’s get started.

Understanding TDS and Water Quality

dirty and purified drinking water in glassThe first thing you need to know when defining the safe TDS level for drinking water is that all water has dissolved when it comes from natural sources. Just because your drinking water contains a certain level of TDS doesn’t mean that you need to contact your water supplier or worry about your water quality. However, if you have a higher than normal TDS, then you might want to use a water purifier to get rid of some of the excess contaminants.

TDS in drinking water is identified in a measurement called parts per million, or PPM. You can also measure the substance in mg/l. Because the ideal TDS required for healthy water isn’t completely clear, the EPA has not identified a limit of TDS that can appear in any water supply. However, it suggests that for the safety of your health, you should only drink water with a limit of 500 ppm or 500 mg l.

When the TDS of the water goes above 500 mg/liter, then you may start to notice TDS in drinking water in the form of a salty or unusual taste, an odd colouring, or mineral deposits in your glass. Although these substances aren’t considered harmful, some people feel that they impact drinking water’s quality, and make them feel uncomfortable.

Where Do Dissolved Solids in Water Come From?

old PVC water pipesThere’s no definite answer as to what should be the TDS of drinking water. Furthermore, while there’s no absolute minimum TDS level for drinking water, most people believe that the TDS of the water you drink each day should stay as low as possible. That’s because it’s difficult to know where the TDS in water comes from. A low TDS will protect you from the dangers of substances that come from undesirable sources like sewage, industrial wastewater, urban run-off, and chemicals in water treatment processes. Sometimes, your TDS can even come from the piping that you use to deliver water to the faucets around your home.

In the US, there’s usually a higher level of total dissolved solids (TDS) in drinking water because of things like natural salt deposits, seawater intrusion and mineral springs in the environment. Other sources might include salts that are commonly used for de-icing of the roads, stormwater, anti-skid materials, and runoff from agricultural environments.

Although the information about where TDS in water comes from might be worrying at first, it’s worth noting that most experts say that low levels of TDS aren’t dangerous. There are even some experts that believe that this measurement isn’t particularly effective when measuring the contamination of a certain body of water. That’s because TDS tests will not offer any insight into the specific issues that you might have with water quality, such as increased hardness, or higher mineral content in water.

Although the TDS test isn’t ideal, it provides good insight into the general quality of your water, and how safe it might be to drink. If you’re particularly concerned about the ideal water TDS for human body and what specific substances are present in your water, you might want to consider a more in-depth and accurate test.

What Happens to Drinking Water When TDS Is High?

Since 500 mg l is generally considered the limit for the level of TDS that should be in your drinking water, you might worry about the potential outcomes when it comes to water quality and how it impacts your health when the TDS is high. According to most health and agriculture experts, a high limit of TDS isn’t usually a health hazard. Many people prefer the taste and performance of mineral water, for instance, which has elevated levels of dissolved solids in it. The main difference between the total dissolved solids TDS in your tap and in your bottled water is that bottled water has more control over the minerals that you’re drinking.

The United States and other parts of the world use TDS in water as an important measurement, but also as a secondary standard. That means that although it’s worth knowing about the parts per million of dissolved solids are in your area, establishments that supply drinking water are not legally bound to stick to the 500 mg guidelines. This might be strange to learn when you consider the fact that the United States sets legal standards for a lot of potentially harmful substances.

Although TDS in water can increase your exposure to a lot of different chemicals and substances like calcium, magnesium, among others, many people actually think of it as an aesthetic factor. Indeed, a lot of people believe that the lower the TDS in your water, the flatter and more unpleasant your water will taste. That’s because minerals do give your water some extra flavour.

The higher the TDS content in your water, the more you’ll notice its prominent and distinct taste and flavour. Depending on which deposits are dissolved in your water, you might even find that your drinking water tastes salty or unpleasant. That’s often when people begin using water purifier and filter options.

Increased levels of total dissolved salts TDS in your drinking water can also have another effect on your water. Dissolved solids increase your chances of something called hard water, which causes harm to your fixtures, as well as on the insides of your boilers and pipes.

How Is TDS Measured?

using TDS meter in drinking waterNow that you know the answers to “is low TDS water is harmful” and whether there’s a limit to the amount of TDS you should have in your drinking water, you may wonder how to measure your mineral levels. There are actually tests that you can use at home to determine whether your water is good for your health or not. Some filtration systems available for today’s homeowners also come with their own TDS meter which can check the levels of TDS in your water periodically. It’s also worth noting that most water suppliers will also need to test the amount of minerals in your water on a periodic basis. You may be able to request the results of the latest test from your supplier.

Do keep in mind that if you ask your water supplier for a total dissolved solids TDS reading, they may not be able to show you the reason behind the higher than usual TDS levels. That’s because while the general TDS level from the source might be good, but the water in your house could be affected by the pipes that are corroding in your home.

Although 500 ppm is the maximum amount suggested for drinking water, a level above this is unlikely to harm your health. However, TDS in drinking water should not exceed 1000 ppm as this could cause a more significant change to your drinking water quality. If it has a reading of over 200 ppm, then even your water purifier might not handle it.

Should You Measure Total Dissolved Solids?

Because the TDS of water is rarely dangerous to your health, you don’t necessarily need to keep a close eye on the levels in your home at all times. The chances are that you will only do this if you are particularly sensitive to certain minerals in your water. However, there are some other reasons that you might decide that you want to measure your limits, such as:


If you have high levels of TDS in your water, then you will probably taste the substances. This could mean that you’re relying more heavily on your water purifier. The dissolved solid could cause bitter or salty tastes.


Although high TDS water is usually safe to drink, this is not the case if the solids in your water include heavy metals.

Filter Maintenance

If you want to keep your water filters in good condition, then you’ll need to ensure that you don’t have too high of a level of TDS.

Plumbing Support

Additionally, if you want to keep your plumbing in good condition, high levels of TDS could cause harder water. Usually, hard water will collect in your pipes, causing scale and buildup that can damage your plumbing over time.

Pool Maintenance

The hard water from high levels of TDS in your water could also clog the pipes in your pool.


Although high levels of minerals might not damage your health, they could change the taste of your food if you’re not using a water purifier to collect water for cooking.


You’ll struggle to achieve the same level of cleanliness on your plates and utensils using hard water. Some water with high TDS levels can also be stained a certain colour.

How to Reduce TDS in Water

plumber installing RO water filtration systemIf you are concerned about the amount of total dissolved solids in your tap water, then you might be wondering if there are any steps that you can take besides using a water purifier to make what you drink a little cleaner. The good news is that there are several water treatments available that ensure the concentration of dissolved solids is no more than what should be the TDS of drinking water.

For instance, a reverse osmosis system or RO water filter is generally the most common option. A reverse osmosis system is one of the most comprehensive filter options for removing contaminants from water. It uses a tiny semipermeable membrane to eliminate total dissolved solids. Additionally, your RO water filter will also be able to use a carbon and sediment filter to get rid of extra contaminants.

Compared to other water purifiers, RO water filters and systems that use reverse osmosis will give you the best quality of water. However, if you want to leave some of the minerals over in your water, then you might have a hard time doing that with these water purifiers. That’s because RO options will get rid of everything – including the good minerals.

On the other hand, you could try using a water distiller, which removes the TDS in your water using the same process that you would get in nature – evaporation. When your water evaporates, the contaminants are left behind. There’s also the option to try removing TDS with a deionization system. These systems use ion exchange technology and special resins that control the electric charge of ions. Water ions replace the charged ions from total dissolved solids. The resulting water is incredibly pure. That’s why deionization systems are what most people use for high purity water.

Whatever strategy you use to transform your water, you’ll find that there are plenty of ways to get the incredible quality of drinking water that’s right for you. What’s more, don’t forget that you can always stock up on testing equipment so that you can keep track of the level of TDS and other contaminants in your water at any given time.

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