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Inferring TDS from a conductivity measurement is faster and less expensive than either of the above methods. That’s why it is popular. Unfortunately, it’s a bad way to figure out TDS. It only works (sort of) because most of the components in natural and treated water are ionic, that is, they can be measured by conductivity. But, the method falls short in two significant ways. First, it assumes a single factor can be used to convert conductivity to TDS, that is, all salts on a weight per volume basis contribute equally to conductivity. As the blog points out, this is clearly not the case. Second, the method completely fails to detect non-ionic solids, such as silica. Nearly all natural waters contain silica, which the conductivity method will always miss.
Trying to make TDS-by-conductivity work better by making non-conductive dissolved solids conductive is an interesting idea. Non-conductive dissolved solids can be made conductive, usually by adding an acid or base to adjust the pH. It’s a common trick in certain types of water treatment where a contaminant in its normally uncharged form cannot be removed, but can be removed in its ionic form. Making non-conductive dissolved solid ionic won’t work in the TDS measurement, however. The acid or base needed to ionize the solid is, itself, ionic, so adding it increases the conductivity and must be corrected for. This is a case of a problem for every solution. The only way to determine the contribution of non-conductive components to TDS is to measure them directly.
If knowing TDS is important, measure it either by the gravimetric method or by calculation from a water analysis. I’m not trying to de-emphasize the usefulness of conductivity. Conductivity is an inexpensive, simple way of monitoring the total concentration of ions in water. It is an extremely useful measurement in water treatment and in many other industries. It is, however, not a good way to measure TDS. But, if you choose to use TDS calculated from conductivity, understand how the calculation is made and its many limitations.
You don’t want a meter that will only last you a few months. The best TDS meter for drinking water will have a sturdy construction and precise electrical parts that will last you years. A reliable meter has a secure housing where all the electronics sit.
Usually, there’s a removable cap that covers the part of the meter that you submerge in water. This is how you get a reading. However, it’s important to only submerge the meter up to the specified distance.
If you submerge it too much you may damage electrical components. This is why a clearly marked immersion line that tells you exactly how deep to submerge the TDS meter is so important.
So now that you know what to look for, how do you find the best TDS meter? To give you a hand, here are reviews of the three most highly rated products on Amazon. Each one is put through the test in order to find the very best.
Contact Person: Carey Gao