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Water Contaminant Spotlight: Total Dissolved Solids

boy making face about water in glass
boy making face about water in glass

Water Contaminant Spotlight: Total Dissolved Solids


If your water looks cloudy or tastes salty, bitter or metallic, total dissolved solids could be the culprit. Total dissolved solids, also known as TDS, also can cause problems with corroded pipes or fixtures, or lead to shorter lifespans in your water-using appliances. So, what exactly are TDS?

What are TDS?

Simply put, total dissolved solids include inorganic salts and organic matter that have dissolved in your water. The specific types of TDS mainly include calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, bicarbonates, chlorides, iron, lead and sulfates. (If you’re interested in learning more about these specific contaminants, find information about these common water contaminants here.)

Why You Should Care About Total Dissolved Solids

Keeping an eye on the level of total dissolved solids in your water is important. There is a certain amount of TDS in your water that naturally happens when it filters through soil. But when a storm hits or sewage contamination occurs, that’s when the level of dissolved solids begins to rise to an unnatural, potentially harmful level. Once this happens, the effects of dissolved solids in water can potentially lead to plumbing issues, water appliance malfunction and bitter-tasting drinking water; if ingested, they could negatively impact your health and well-being. (Find more details about the impact of TDS and what you should look for related to total dissolved solids here.)

Testing the Level of Total Dissolved Solids

When water is tested, the concentration of TDS is the calculated sum of the positively charged compounds (cations) and negatively charged compounds (anions). This initial indicator test determines the general quality of water; however, further considerations need to be taken based on different characteristics the water expresses. Water testing may seem like a complex process, and you might not know where to start.

That’s where Culligan comes in. We can conduct the proper test on your water to determine the TDS levels in your water, and then provide the fitting solution to remove any unnatural level of total dissolved solids in your water.

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