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TDS Meters and its Uses The use of TDS meters for determining the purity of fresh water has become widespread over the recent years. Many aquarists use them to determine if tap water purification systems such as reverse osmosis (RO) or reverse osmosis/deionization (RO/DI) are in optimal working condition, or if deionizing resins need to be replaced. Using these devices, however, does not come with complications. Contrary to what the name might imply, the devices do not measure all the dissolved solids. Here, the working mechanism of these meters is discussed, along with what they can and cannot detect. Additionally, it gives some tips on how to best use them. The Operation Mechanism of the TDS Meters TTDS meters work as conductivity meters. They work by applying a voltage of between two or more electrodes. Positively charged ions move toward the negatively charged electrode while the negatively charged ions move toward the positively charged electrode. The fact that these ions are charged and moving makes them have an electrical current. The work of the meter here is to monitor how much current is passing between the electrodes as a gauge of how many ions are in the solution.
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The TDS meter will detect mobile ions that are charged and not detect any uncharged or neutral compounds like sugar, unionized forms of silica, carbon dioxide, and alcohol. These meters do not also detect macroscopic particles as they are too large to go in the electric fields applied.
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Tips for Using TDS Meters It as advisable that you rinse the usable end of the TDS meters before and after using it with clean, fresh water. Salt Build up on the operational tip will interfere with proper operation and any transfer of salts from one solution to the other can skew the readings.The buildup of salts is likely to interfere with proper operation and carrying over salts from one solution to another can distort the readings. Ensure that the electrodes are cleaned whenever necessary by dipping the tip in acid like vinegar or diluted hydrochloric acid and then rinsing it well in water. If is heavily covered in organic material, soaking the tip in bleach or alcohol may help. When using the TDS meter to measure the performance of Reverse Osmosis membrane, then the measured value should drop by at least a factor of 10 from the staring tap water. For example, if the tap water reads 231ppm, the RO water should be less than 23ppm. Less of a drop than the factor of 10 shows that the RO membrane has a problem. If the meter is being used to monitor the performance of an RO/DI system, the measured value should drop to near zero. Higher values are an indication that something is amiss or that the DI resin is saturated and needs replacement. Do not worried over 1pm because while the value of pure water is below 1ppm, there is a lot of carbon dioxide in the air that gets in the water and ionizes hence the reading on TDS may show results of 1 or 2 ppm.