Water Education - Water Quality

Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Affects the Taste of Water

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Dissolved solids also come from inorganic materials such as rocks and air that may contain calcium bicarbonate, nitrogen, iron phosphorous, sulfur, and other minerals. Many of these materials form salts, which are compounds that contain both metal and nonmetal. Salts usually dissolve in water forming ions. Ions are particles that have a positive or negative charge. Water may also pick up metals such as lead or copper as they travel through pipes used to distribute water to consumers. You should note that the efficacy of water purifications systems in removing total dissolved solids will be reduced over time, so it is highly recommended to monitor the quality of a filter or membrane and replace them when required.

What are the different properties of High TDS and Low TDS mineral water? Higher TDS water has a heavier taste and a much more prominent "mouthfeel," a term used by water connoisseurs to describe the overall sensory impression. The mouthfeel may include slight saltiness where there is an appreciable Sodium content in the water. Lower TDS water, particularly those with the very lowest TDS, has virtually no taste, and "expresses" an airy or light mouthfeel. Consumers describe the lowest TDS waters as tasting clean, with even a hint of sweetness. Natural water is like snowflakes - no two are exactly the same. Unlike processed water that is de-bacterized, homogenized, filtered, polished, and subjected to other procedures that ensure bottled products with 100% identical chemistry, natural water is organic and behaves like organic substances. Samplings over time of the same natural mineral water from the same point of effluence show small deviations in chemistry. This occurs because the water is "alive" and is affected by geology, climate, and other environmental and terrestrial factors.

High TDS water has a great variety of interesting chemistries. Some are heavy in Sodium, Bicarbonate, Chloride, or Sulphate. Others contain relatively high amounts of substances such as Calcium, Potassium, Magnesium, and Silica. There is usually not much fluoride, iron, or strontium, except in very unusual water. There are FDA regulations about the allowable limits of certain minerals in natural (unprocessed) mineral water. Low TDS waters are chemical microcosms of the High TDS water.

While the total mineralization is low, the relative distribution of suspended elements can vary greatly. In combination with the pH (see below) the presence or absence of certain elements will affect the taste of the water.

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