Water quality plays an important role in everyday life, having a significant impact on both our health and our homes. Two key factors that affect overall water quality are Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) and water hardness. Although these terms are often used interchangeably, they actually refer to different properties of water. Understanding the link between them is important for effective water quality management.


Here, we’ll take a closer look at what total dissolved solids and water hardness are as well as how they’re connected. Then, we’ll explain some helpful strategies for managing TDS and water hardness so you can enjoy high-quality water at home.


What Are Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)?

Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) include all inorganic and organic substances that are dissolved in water. This encompasses things like minerals, salts, metals, cations, and anions. TDS is usually measured in parts per million (ppm) and can be determined with a TDS meter or through laboratory analysis.


Common sources of TDS in water include:


  • Natural sources like mineral springs
  • Agricultural runoff
  • Urban runoff
  • Industrial wastewater
  • Household wastewater
  • Chemicals used in water treatment processes


High TDS levels can affect your water’s taste and smell, as well as its color. Fortunately, not all dissolved solids are harmful to human health. However, if your water has a high TDS concentration, there COULD be harmful contaminants present. The only way to know for sure is to have your water tested.


What Is Water Hardness?

Water hardness is primarily a measure of the concentration of calcium and magnesium ions in water. Hard water is characterized by higher levels of these minerals, while soft water has lower levels. Water hardness is usually expressed in milligrams per liter (mg/L) or grains per gallon (gpg).


There are two types of water hardness:


Temporary Hardness: This is caused by dissolved bicarbonate minerals that can be precipitated out by boiling the water.


Permanent Hardness: This is caused by non-bicarbonate minerals, such as sulfates and chlorides, that cannot be removed by boiling.


Hard water can cause scale buildup in pipes and appliances, diminishing their efficiency and lifespan. It also reduces the effectiveness of soap and detergent, leading to residue buildup and decreased cleaning performance.


TDS and Water Hardness: How Are They Connected?

While TDS and water hardness measure different aspects of water quality, they are interconnected:


  • Common Components: The calcium and magnesium ions that contribute to water hardness are also part of the total dissolved solids. Therefore, hard water typically has a higher TDS level due to the presence of these dissolved minerals.


  • Measurement Overlap: TDS meters measure the overall concentration of dissolved solids, which includes the calcium and magnesium ions contributing to hardness. As a result, a high TDS reading can sometimes indicate hard water, although TDS includes all dissolved substances, not just those causing hardness.


  • Water Sources: Groundwater sources, which are often higher in TDS due to the dissolution of minerals from rocks and soil, tend to be harder compared to surface water sources. This is because groundwater travels through mineral-rich layers, picking up calcium and magnesium along the way.


  • Treatment Methods: Both high TDS and hard water can be addressed through water treatment methods like reverse osmosis, ion exchange, and water softening. These treatments can reduce the levels of dissolved solids and the concentration of calcium and magnesium, improving both TDS and hardness levels.


How to Manage TDS and Water Hardness: 4 Simple Steps

To manage TDS and water hardness effectively, consider the following:


  • Testing: Regularly test your water for TDS and hardness. Home testing kits, professional laboratory services, and your local water treatment company can provide accurate readings and help you understand what’s in your water.


  • Water Softening: If your water is hard, consider installing a water softener. These systems use ion exchange to replace calcium and magnesium ions with sodium or potassium ions, reducing hardness. Alternatively, you can choose Portable Exchange Tank Service, or soft water delivery. This service delivers soft water to your home in portable tanks that are delivered and exchanged on a predetermined schedule based on your specific needs.


  • Reverse Osmosis: For high TDS levels, reverse osmosis (RO) systems can be effective. They filter out a wide range of dissolved solids, including those contributing to hardness. Even if your water doesn’t contain harmful contaminants, an RO system can be very useful for improving the taste and smell of your drinking water.


  • Regular Maintenance: Maintain your water treatment systems according to manufacturer guidelines to ensure they operate efficiently and continue to provide high-quality water.


Enjoy High-Quality Water with an Affordable Water Treatment System From CalSoft Water

Understanding the relationship between Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) and water hardness is essential for managing water quality. While they measure different characteristics, their overlap means that managing one often affects the other.


Regular testing and appropriate water treatment solutions can help ensure that your water is safe, palatable, and gentle on your appliances. By taking proactive steps, you can improve the quality of your water, leading to better health and a more efficient household.


If you’re ready to start improving your home’s water quality, contact us today. Our water treatment experts can test your water and determine the best water treatment system to meet your household’s needs. Healthy, great-tasting water is just a phone call away!

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