Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)

Definition - What does Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) mean?

Total dissolved solids (TDS) refers to the amount of minerals, metals and salts that are dissolved in a certain water volume that is expressed in mg/L. It is directly associated with the quality and purity of water, particularly in water purification systems.

The levels of total dissolved solids affect all that lives in, drinks or uses water. Thus, it needs to be measured to ensure the quality of drinking water and the performance in industrial settings involving pipes, valves and other equipment.

Corrosionpedia explains Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)

Total dissolved solids are often caused by the following:

  • Industrial sewage and waste
  • Plankton
  • Silt
  • Urban runoff
  • Road salts during winter
  • Pesticides and fertilizers

In addition to these, TDS can also come from air that contains nitrogen, sulfur, calcium bicarbonate and other kinds of minerals, as well as rocks. Water is capable of picking up copper, lead and other metals as it passes through pipes used to deliver water to consumers. A water purification system's efficacy in removing TDS may become weaker over time, so the quality of membranes and filters should be monitored, and replacement performed when necessary.

High TDS levels may indicate the presence of harmful chemicals. It may also indicate hard water that causes buildup of scale in valves and pipes, which may hinder performance. In industrial and commercial settings, elevated TDS could slow down the function of cooling towers, boilers and other machinery.

Hence, when inappropriate TDS levels are detected in certain applications, treatments such as water softening and reverse osmosis should be implemented immediately.

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