Knowing that we all drink hundreds of invisible impurities in our water is worrying.
TDS (total dissolved solids) is an indication that your drinking water contains a high concentration of dissolved particulates. While not all of these particulates are bad, many people want to get rid of them to stay on the safe side.
Luckily, reducing TDS in water is pretty simple. In this guide, we’ll be sharing the best ways to eliminate TDS from your water.
Table of Contents
📑 TDS: A Quick Recap
If you’ve made it onto this guide, you probably already know what TDS is. So, if you don’t need a reminder, skip to the next section.
Otherwise, here’s what you need to know about TDS.
Total dissolved solids (TDS for short), is organic and inorganic materials, including dissolved ions, salts, and minerals, that are found in all public drinking water supplies.
TDS is absorbed into water as it flows through mineral-rich rocks, metallic pipes, and other surfaces. Other sources of TDS are water treatment chemicals, agricultural chemicals, road salts, and heavy metals.
Just to clarify, TDS isn’t always a bad thing. However, high TDS in water indicates that your drinking water likely contains higher-than-safe levels of dangerous dissolved impurities.
High TDS affects:
- Water’s taste: TDS in water gives a bitter, sulfuric, or salty taste, depending on which dissolved salts and ions water contains
- Cooking: Using water with a high TDS level for cooking alters the taste of food
- Cleaning: A high TDS concentration in water leaves difficult-to-clean stains on clothing and white spots on dishware, and mineral deposits on surfaces that come into contact with water
- Your health: Not all TDS is natural nutrients. Some dissolved substances, like hazardous chemicals and inorganic substances, have health hazards
- Your plumbing: When water passes through your plumbing and appliances, it leaves TDS deposits, affecting the durability of your pipes
🎚️ TDS Water Levels
Wondering how your water’s TDS level compares to others? The table below provides different ranges of TDS, and whether they’re safe for drinking.
|TDS level in mg/L||Indication|
|Less than 50||Safe to drink, but lacking essential minerals|
|50-150||Acceptable to drink|
|150-250||Good to drink|
|250-350||Acceptable to drink, but water could contain dangerous impurities|
|350-500||Not acceptable to drink, water should be filtered|
|500-900||Not safe to drink, water should be filtered|
|900-1200||Least acceptable to drink, avoid drinking this water|
|1200-2000 or above||Very high TDS, dangerous to drink|
💯 Best Ways to Reduce TDS in Water
Now we’re refreshed on the basics of total dissolved solids (TDS), let’s look at the best ways to remove TDS from your drinking water.
Method 1: Reverse Osmosis
Reverse osmosis is one of the most popular methods of removing total dissolved solids from water.
RO water purifiers can remove most TDS, including dissolved salts, minerals, and dangerous chemicals, down to 0.0005 microns small.
Reverse osmosis systems are typically installed at a point-of-use location, like on your countertop or underneath your kitchen sink. Water flows through several filtration stages, including a carbon-based filter, before being forced at a high pressure through a fine filter mesh called a semi-permeable membrane.
Most impurities rebound off the membrane and are stuck in the RO chamber. Water drains from the chamber at a continuous rate, flushing the unwanted impurities down the drain.
You won’t find a better water filter than an RO system for reducing TDS to an acceptable range. Purifying water using reverse osmosis is a cost-effective long-term solution.
RO systems are fairly expensive upfront, costing around $300-$1,000, depending on the complexity of the system.
Check out the best RO systems money can buy.
Method 2: Distillation
Distillation is another effective means of removing inorganic and organic substances from drinking water. The distillation process involves boiling water until it evaporates. The water then travels along a cool surface before condensing into a separate container.
The majority of contaminants have higher boiling points than water, so they remain in solid or liquid form at the bottom of the boiling solution in the boiling chamber. They’re then removed when the chamber is cleaned between uses.
Any TDS that are able to evaporate and condense with water are removed by a carbon filter, which sits in the spout of the distiller, trapping contaminants as water drips into the container.
A distiller essentially acts as a drinking water purifier, removing the majority of TDS. However, it takes hours to produce a single batch of distilled water, and not everyone has the patience to wait that long.
A distiller costs between $200 and $500.
Learn more about the top rated distillers of 2023 and read our reviews.
Method 3: Deionization
Deionization involves sending water through positive and negative electrodes. This causes the positive ions to break off from the water and be attracted to the negative electrode.
De-ionized water is highly pure because most of its positive and negative ions have been removed. However, deionization doesn’t target non-ionic contaminants, so water is usually treated with RO before this process to reduce TDS to a permissible range. For this reason, deionizers aren’t considered water purifiers, and they’re not as effective as other methods.
The cost of an at-home deionizer is $200-$1,700.
Related Content: RO vs DI Water: What’s the Difference?
🤔 TDS in Water FAQs
Why is my water’s TDS levels so high?
Some water sources contain more dissolved minerals and salts than others. Your TDS levels might be higher than average if your local geology is particularly mineral-rich. Of course, not all total dissolved solids are beneficial, so high TDS can also indicate that your water contains dangerous impurities. Well water typically has high TDS levels compared to public water because the water isn’t treated before it reaches your home, so it contains natural impurities that need to be removed.
How can I test my water’s TDS?
Don’t even know your water’s TDS levels yet? The best way to test them is to use a TDS meter, which indicates how many dissolved ions are present. Using an at-home water test won’t give you a reading for TDS. Check out our guide on how to measure TDS using a TDS meter if you’re still in the process of working out your water’s TDS.
How much TDS water is safe for drinking?
A TDS level of 50-300 is considered safe for drinking. If your water’s TDS level is any higher, you should look at removing TDS with one of the options on this list.
How can I reduce my TDS naturally?
Unfortunately, you can’t. The only effective way to reduce TDS in water is to use equipment specially designed for TDS removal. You can’t naturally reduce TDS yourself.
Does boiling my water reduce TDS?
No. Boiling your water can only kill bacteria and encourage chlorine to dissolve into the air. Boiling water has no effect on your water’s mineral content. All it will do is evaporate some of your water, so you end up with the same TDS level in a smaller quantity of water.
Does UF filter reduce TDS?
No. Ultrafiltration is similar to reverse osmosis filtration, but with one important difference: it retains minerals, salts, and other particulates. For this reason, while UF might remove most harmful contaminants in water, it doesn’t completely eliminate TDS.
Does a UV water purifier remove TDS?
No. A UV water purifier removes bacteria, viruses, protozoans, and other microorganisms that can cause serious health problems in the human body. But this type of water purifier can’t remove chemicals, heavy metals, or finer particles, so it’s no good at removing TDS.
Does water softener reduce TDS?
No. Water softeners are designed to remove calcium and magnesium ions from water using the ion exchange process. Salt-based softeners might have a small impact on your TDS level, but they only target one particular total dissolved solid: hardness minerals. The purpose of a water softener is to produce soft water, not to remove TDS.
Is removing TDS essential?
Yes and no – it depends on what your water contains. If you learn that your water has a high TDS level, we recommend arranging for further water testing to learn exactly what is contributing to your water’s TDS. You might discover that there are certain contaminants contributing to your TDS, and when you reduce these contaminants, your TDS level drops. So, using a TDS removal solution may not be essential – you could get the same outcome from using a normal filtration process, like a chlorine or lead filter.
Is low TDS dangerous?
We know that high TDS is potentially harmful, but what about low TDS? Generally, low TDS isn’t dangerous. As long as you’re getting plenty of essential minerals from the foods in your diet, you don’t need to drink them in your water.
My water filter doesn’t remove TDS. Does that mean it isn’t working?
It depends on what type of filter you’re using. We see a lot of complaints from customers who have purchased activated carbon filters and expect to see their TDS level drop. The reality is, it’s unlikely that your TDS will be affected much by using this type of filter. It doesn’t mean that the filter is useless – it just means that your water probably contains other TDS aside from the contaminants that are removed by the filter, and that’s not always a bad thing.