What Is Water TDS? It’s Health Effects and How to Reduce the TDS Level?

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TDS levels for drinking water have been getting a lot of press lately. Isn’t it even more confusing because EVERY water purifier says it can control TDS? 

So what is the meaning of TDS? Total Dissolved Solids are the measure of all inorganic and organic substances in water.

Did you ever feel that the water coming from your tap tasted salty? An article published in the IOSR Journal of Nursing and Health Science stated that there is a direct relationship between TDS and pH of water!

In this article, we will discuss in detail every aspect of TDS. We will cover what exactly is TDS, how to measure TDS and the health hazard associated with it!

We will also discuss THREE easy methods of removing TDS from your water!


Dissolved Solids In Water: How Are They Getting Into Our Water System?

TDS in water supplies can come from both natural sources and human activities. Let us see what the various sources of these dissolved solids in water are.

From Natural Sources:

  • Rocks
  • Soils
  • Rivers

From Human Activities:

  • Sewage Disposals
  • Industrial Runoff
  • Agricultural and urban runoff


Types Of Total Dissolved Solids

Let’s look at the types of TDS found in the water. TDS can be grouped into four main categories: Minerals, Salts, Dissolved Metals, And Organic Matter.

1. Minerals


Every heard of mineral water? Yes! We are talking about those minerals. Calcium, magnesium, fluoride, chlorine, and potassium are minerals that naturally enter the water. River and other water bodies also contain minerals that can get mixed in the domestic and agricultural water.


2. Salts


Some amount of salt is generally present in groundwater. However, human activities like mining, sewage, pesticides, and water softeners can result in an overall increase in the salt content in the water.


3. Dissolve Metals

Metals can enter drinking water as a result of industrial runoff and various human activities. Metals can be found in small quantities in rock or soil, and some metal pipes can contribute to the dissolved metal concentration of water.


4. Organic Matter

Decomposition of plants and algae releases organic matter. Chemically active substances found in industries and factories also contribute to dissolved organic matter. Additionally, pesticides and herbicides can also add to the total TDS load.


Why Should TDS Be Measured?

1. Aesthetic

Would you drink water that looks dirty or smells fishy? A big NO, right!

According to WHO, drinking water with a high TDS level has an adverse effect on its taste. Water can taste bitter, salty, or sulfurous depending on the type of solid dissolved in it.

According to a research article published in Science Direct, Organic materials, high disinfectant content, and poor water treatment can cause your water to turn a different colour.

Non-hazardous elements such as iron and manganese react with oxygen and turn the water a rusty orange or blackish-brown colour, respectively.

If your water contains foaming agents such as detergents, it may taste like fish, oil, or perfume.


2. Cooking

Wondering how is this possible? I know that taste is subjective, but a high level of TDS can make your food undesirable. As mentioned before, TDS can make your water salty! If you use such water for cooking, naturally, this will alter the taste of your food.


3. Technical

A high TDS has the potential to cause technical damage to your home’s plumbing and surfaces.

Corrosive water has a high amount of iron, copper, manganese, chlorine, fluoride or zinc levels. These ions get deposited in pipes, boilers, plumbing systems resulting in clogging.


Health Hazards

The impact of TDS on your health is often understated. Some of the health risks associated with TDS are discussed below.

1. Argyria

Water containing excessive minerals can have an unwanted effect on your appearance. It can result in the yellowing of your teeth. You wouldn’t want your teeth stained now, would you?

Some dissolved solids can have a negative impact on human cosmetics. Silver, used in water treatments, can add to the overall TDS load. According to multiple research, consumption of silver for a long time can result in – Argyria.


2. Dental Fluorosis

Dental Fluorosis

Multiple studies have indicated a direct correlation between dental fluorosis and fluorinated water.

Several studies have found a positive relationship between fluoride and low IQ scores in children. A 2012 review concluded that the two might be linked, but more comprehensive, high-quality studies are needed.


3. Dry Scalp & Dry Skin

Dry Skin

We all want glowing skin! Don’t we? But TDS water can result in breakouts and eczema. Using such water for bathing or drinking can also make the skin dry and devoid of its natural moisture. Ions present in this water will deprive the skin of its natural oils. A dry scalp can result in an itchy scalp, and that is terrible news for multiple reasons.


4. Kidney Stones

Kidney Stones

High TDS indicate a high amount of dissolved ions, including calcium. Consuming water that has excess calcium will result in the accumulation of calcium in the body.

In a study comparing two groups, one consuming soft water and the other with High TDS (More Calcium), the latter group’s urinary calcium concentration increased by 50%.


5. Cardiovascular Issues

Cardiovascular Issues

Water containing heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, zinc, and others can cause serious health problems. Metal toxicity can cause cardiovascular issues, neuronal damage, renal injuries, and an increased risk of cancer and diabetes.


What Is Ideal TDS Of Drinking Water?

Now you must be wondering what should be the ideal TDS of drinking water?

The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), the organization that defines drinking water quality guidelines in India, has established a TDS limit of 500 mg/L as the acceptable limit in drinking water.

According to WHO guidelines, recommended TDS should be 300ppm and a value greater than 1200 ppm can result in health issues.

The Chart Below Categorizes Water Based On TDS:

TDS Level In ppm Rating
Less than 300 Excellent
Between 300-500 Good
Between 600-900 Fair
Between 900-1200 Poor
Above 1200 Unacceptable


3 Methods For Reducing TDS From Water

Now that we understand the significance of TDS measurement, what should we do when the level of TDS is high? There are several ways to reduce the TDS content of water.

1. Reverse Osmosis Process

Reverse Osmosis

Reverse osmosis (RO) is one of the most popular methods to remove dissolved solids. Almost all water purifiers use this technique! Water purifiers with RO must be familiar to you, right?

In this method, water is purified by passing it through a semipermeable membrane. The pore size of these membranes filters molecules that are smaller than 0.0001 microns.

TDS levels are reduced by 90% to 99% by most RO membranes.


2. Distillation


Distillation is a process that involves the conversion of water into vapour. Water vapour rises to a cool surface and condenses back into liquid form. The dissolved salts cannot vaporize and thus remain in the boiling solution.

This method is handy in separating non-volatile solvents from water.


3. Demineralization

Demineralization is the process of purifying water to remove ionic contamination. This method employs an ion-exchange procedure in which water passes through a positively and negatively charged resin bed.

In chemistry, ions with a negative charge are ‘Anions’ because they are attracted to the anode. ‘Cations’, on the other hand, are attracted to the cathode.

Cation resins remove cations such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and so on, whereas anion resins remove anions such as chloride, fluoride, sulphates, etc.

This method will ONLY remove ionic contaminants. Hence it should be followed by another process like RO to ensure water purity.



1. Do water softeners reduce TDS?

Water softening, in general, refers to the removal of divalent metallic cations such as calcium, magnesium, and ferrous ions. As a result, water softening reduces the TDS count.


2. Is a low TDS level harmful?

It has been determined that drinking low TDS water, whether naturally occurring or obtained through a treatment process, has no adverse effects on the human body.


3. What should be the TDS of RO purified water?

The ideal TDS of such water can be 40 to 150 ppm


4. How can I measure TDS?

You can measure TDS with the help of a TDS meter. Insert the glass apparatus, and voila, you have the reading! It costs roughly around 800 INR.


You May Also Like To Read:

What Is Hard Water?

How To Purify Borewell Water For Your Daily Usage At Home

Water Purifier Buying Guide



Water is a universal solvent hence it can dissolve endless impurities. The level of total dissolved solids in drinking water influences the aesthetics of the water. A high TDS level can cause some severe health issues.

Methods like Reverse osmosis, deionization and distillation is very effective in reducing the TDS in water.

We would love to hear if you found this article useful! Let us know in the comments below if you know the TDS of the water in your house.

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