Do you know how safe is your drinking water? Do you know the number of chemicals or salts that are present in your drinking water? Is the water you consume free of salts and chemicals? Does your water provide you with the essentials minerals and salts that are required to maintain body balance?
When it comes to water and your health, these are the questions that strike our minds and often get us worried. However, one of the essential factors that determine the safety of our drinking water is TDS. TDS is Total Dissolved Solids and is the level of organic and inorganic matter present in water.
While a certain amount of TDS is much recommended according to health bureaus, what is the ideal level that determines whether the water is safe for drinking? Such questions are often unanswered by health experts and water filter manufacturers as well.
This is why we decided to break the bubble and end the confusion by listing what are safe TDS levels and how you can make sure that your drinking water is safe. Read on to know!!
What are Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)?
Total dissolved solids are the number of inorganic salts and organic matter that is present in water. When you check the levels of these inorganic salts and organic matter, it is known as reviewing the water’s TDS levels. By inorganic salts, we mean calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium that are positively charged and are known as cations. Inorganic salts also include negatively charged anions like carbonates, bicarbonates, nitrates, sulfates, and chlorides.
The TDS levels of water from any source increase due to minerals’ addition to purifying the water, from rocks, pipes, and other inline connecting water sources that bring along additional minerals and salts. These salts can also enter from fertilizers, farms, run-offs, and other sources.
TDS can have a significant influence on the total quality and the taste of the water. Not just that, but a level or two of extra minerals can also pose a risk for your health if consumed by your body in excess. Therefore, certain purifiers remove the TDS up to a certain level. But eliminating them entirely from water is also not advisable.
TDS includes not only minerals but also other contaminants that need to be filtered from the water. Any particle that is larger than 2 microns in size is termed as total dissolved solids. RO systems are capable of removing these TDS when they are set to a particular filtration level. However, we will learn more about the importance of eliminating the TDS and how much is safe for drinking water in the sections below. Read on further to know.
Why Do You Need to Measure TDS Levels in Water?
TDS comprises not only dissolved salts but also various impurities that are emitted from industrial wastewater, farms, and other places. These impurities can include ions like lead, cadmium, nitrate, etc., the levels of which can cause severe genetic problems and health concerns in our body. Moreover, these contaminants are not safe for our family, especially for the elderly and small children with compromised immune systems.
Therefore, it becomes very essential to keep a check and measure the TDS levels of your water supply before it is consumed in your house. There are other reasons for which you need to keep a check on the TDS levels. They are:
Certain dissolved solids like sodium, magnesium, etc., may not cause as much harm as we think. But for patients with high blood pressure, high sodium levels are not good. Secondly, minerals like lead and copper are also not safe for the body. These minerals can lead to genetic and health problems which can be totally avoided if the TDS and mineral level are kept in check. The water can also include contaminants that can cause typhoid, jaundice, and other serious illnesses if not filtered or checked.
Moreover, certain people have various allergies and sensitivities to certain chemicals or minerals and if your water source contains them, it can cause rashes or unwanted reactions in the body.
Based on the salts dissolved in water, the water’s taste can either be bitter, sulfuric or the water may feel acidic. The number of salts can also influence the pH level of water. Water has to have a neutral pH of 7.0. A generally high pH of 7.4 or 7.5 is also advisable as the water should not be acidic. But anything beyond this range can change the taste and the overall quality of the water.
Certain salts present in the water will also mix with the food and change your food taste.
If you use contaminated water for cleaning, it can cause mineral deposits in your sink or utensils. If the water is used for washing your clothes, it can cause reactions or discoloration of clothes. If you use the water to clean your vehicles, then the deposition can cause your vehicle problems. Suppose this water is also used to clean your house appliances like a water filter or air conditioners that require servicing and cleaning. In that case, the deposition can cause choking and blockage of the system and lead to misfunctioning of your appliances as well.
Filter Blockage or Choking
Your best water purifiers are highly affected by the amount of TDS present. The filters in these water purifiers are especially present to remove the TDS. If the contaminants are smaller than the filter’s pores, they will surpass and enter the water. Excessive TDS will cause choking and your water purifier will require regular maintenance and filter cleaning in that case.
Is 25 TDS safe for drinking water?
To answer the question, 25 mg/L or 25 ppm is not safe for drinking water. Not that it is harmful, but water with TDS levels as low as 25 ppm is not recommended. Water with such low TDS levels will be very clear and absolutely free of any salts or chemicals. By free of salts or chemicals and minerals, we mean, it may lack the essential minerals that our body needs from natural and pure water sources.
If the TDS level is 25 ppm, such low levels are certainly obtained with a RO water purifier or other methods. If our body’s essential minerals are eliminated, our immune system and health are at a greater risk of acquiring diseases and falls weak. The idea of keeping our body healthy by consuming water regularly with such low TDS levels then becomes futile.
If the food that you consume contains additional minerals or if you have sources to acquire those minerals and salts that are lost in the water, then you may want to consume water with such low TDS levels. Also, the water of TDS level 25 would taste very vague and would almost be tasteless. If you are OK with the idea of such type of water, then 25 is a permissible level for you.
However, it is to keep in mind that TDS is not the only measure to check the water’s safety. The level of microbes and contaminants that are very minute and small can also influence the safety of the water. Therefore, apart from TDS, you may want to focus on filtering out the microbes and other contaminants that drastically influence water quality and safety.
Permissible TDS limits for drinking water
The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) states that the upper limit of TDS for drinking water is 500 ppm. However, as per the WHO, the recommended levels of TDS for drinking water is 300 ppm. Therefore, levels of TDS between 300-500 ppm are considered to be safe in drinking water. We have given a table below that lists the permissible TDS limits of drinking water and what is the level you should be looking for:
|Less than 50||Lacks essential minerals. Not acceptable.|
|50-150||Acceptable/suitable for drinking. Usually good for areas where the water source is from sewages or industries.|
|150-250||Suitable for people with heart problems or cardiovascular diseases.|
|250-350||Ideal for people with cardiovascular diseases.|
|350-500||Recommended or acceptable by WHO or BIS|
|900-1200||Not recommended. Avoid drinking water with such high TDS levels.|
|1200-2000||Not suitable for drinking.|
|Above 2000||Not acceptable.|
Are low TDS levels bad for health?
Low TDS levels are not bad for health but are not recommended for an ideal healthy body either. Unless you live in a very contaminated area or have a particular condition or disease that demands you to keep the mineral intake low, low TDS levels are not good. It only eliminates the essential minerals that our bodies should get from natural water sources.
Therefore, commercial brands these days advertise their labels by stating that they have additional minerals. Certain water brands are so pure that they have a limited range of known minerals in a fixed concentration, ensuring total water purity and zero contaminants.
Low TDS levels will influence the taste and the overall quality of water. Your water will feel like purely distilled water and most of us are not used to this taste and quality. The Environmental Protection Agency in the USA has set a level of 500 ppm to be safe and recommended for drinking water.
The best way to determine the TDS levels of water is to have a TDS meter at dispense. It is very easy to use and tells you the levels of salts. It does not determine the exact quantity or amount. Additional lab tests can determine the precise measurements.
Most households these days have an RO filter that can reduce the TDS levels of water. If you fear that the essential minerals also get eliminated, you can fix an additional mineral cartridge. This cartridge contains minerals required by the body like sodium, potassium, magnesium, etc., in minute quantities. The cartridge needs to be replaced from time to time, but it is an excellent way to ensure that the water is healthy and safe for consumption.
How to remove TDS in water?
Here is a list of methods that you can imply at home or in a laboratory to remove TDS in water:
Distillation is a very time-consuming method, especially when it involves a large quantity of water. This method is only applicable to specific industries and laboratories and is not used in households.
The method involves boiling the water to convert it to water vapor. The water vapourises and is collected in a cold chamber that condenses the water droplets. Since the salts cannot vapourize, they remain in the boiling solution and get separated from the water easily.
Deionization involves electrodes, which is, a positive and negative electrode to remove the charged salts. The positively and negatively charged salts are removed, and the water is extremely pure. But, the water first passes through a process of reverse osmosis to remove the organic contaminants present that are uncharged.
Reverse Osmosis is a technology that is used in most households and filtration systems these days. Reverse Osmosis involves forcing the water through a membrane that selectively filters particles and salts that are greater than 0.0001 microns in size. Since the water particles are lesser than this size, they pass from the filter very easily. In contrast, the other contaminants and salts that are larger in size stay back in the filter and are eliminated from the water.
Importance of checking TDS in water
It is essential to check the TDS levels in water and maintain it on a regular basis due to the following reasons:
High minerals and contaminants can mean high levels of toxicity in water. Therefore, the TDS levels need to be kept in check for our safety and health.
Water with high TDS levels is hard, meaning it has excessive salts, can cause a lot of deposition in utensils, appliances, or surfaces, and make them almost corrosive or ineffective for use. Therefore, one must check the TDS levels to reduce the hardness levels of water.
Pools and Spas
Be it for washing hair or to avoid any skin or surface reactions, the TDS levels need to be checked to avoid any adverse reactions or maintenance issues.
Now that we all know what TDS levels are, it is crucial to check on these levels from time to time. A TDS level of 25 ppm is safe but not recommended for optimum health and body balance.
The permissible limits for TDS are anywhere between 300-500 ppm as per various recognized health institutes like WHO or BIS. However, maintaining the TDS levels also depends upon the source of water, the water quality, and various health factors.
It is also important to note that TDS is not the only measure to check the safety levels of water, but the presence of other minute chemicals and micro-organisms also reduces water safety levels.
Read our article above to get a fair idea about TDS levels in water and tell us what, according to you, is a safe TDS level for drinking water consumption in the comments below.