Updated: May 16, 2022
By Virginia Cooperative Extension

Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) in Household Water

Water is often called the universal solvent. As water moves underground or over land, it dissolves a variety of compounds including minerals, salts, and organic compounds. The concentration of “total dissolved solids” (TDS) in a water sample is a measure of the dissolved compounds in the water small enough to pass through a 2-micrometer sieve. For comparison, one human hair is approximately 100 micrometers in diameter. A TDS test measures the amount, but does not identify the individual compounds or their sources.

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