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What's TDS and What is it Good For?

Growing your own is easy, but like with anything else, it's important to get the lingo down.

One of those indoor growing-related terms? TDS.

But before we get to TDS, let's talk about PPM first. Yes, another three-letter acronym!

PPM may be three small letters (hell, two of them are the same letter!), but it's important that you know what it is, and why it's important.

indoor growing

So what is it?

PPM stands for parts per million. 

It means there's one part every million of nutrient/soluable/minerals in the water you feed to your "tomato" plants. 

So, in relation to the actual volume of liquid, it's every 1 mg of minerals in every liter of water. 

For example, distilled water can have a PPM as low as 0, and poor quality water (if you've ever been to Mexico, you know what the tap water's like) can measure as high as 700.

Generally, tap water clocks in at about 200-400 PPM.

Knowing this number (and ultimately controlling it) means that you have a better chance of growing big and strong "tomato" plants. 

Now, having a high PPM isn't necessarily a bad thing. 

A high PPM simply means that you have a lot of minerals in your liquid.

TDS in Parts per Million

So, a high PPM could mean that you have a lot of good minerals in your nutrient water.

Or, it could also mean that you really shouldn't be drinking that water out of the tap if you're in Mexico.

PPM is a unit of measurement. 

And it's used to measure TDS. 

TDS stands for "total dissolved solids." It measures the content of substances in any liquid. 

How do I measure TDS?

With every BC Northern Lights grow box combo also comes a TDS meter, which helps to measure the—duh—TDS.

Obviously, measuring the TDS in your water is crucial when you grow in a hydroponic system.

Why, you ask?

Well, unlike soil-grown plants, plants grown in a hydroponic system get all of their nutrients from the water. 

In determining how high or low the TDS is, you'll know how many nutritious minerals are in your nutrient water.

One way to measure is by using a TDS meter. 


TDS meter

There are also things called EC meters. They're essentially the same thing as TDS meters; they read the exact same thing.

The difference between TDS meters and EC meters is the same difference between Fahrenheit and Celsius—different ways of measuring the same. damn. thing.

Why should I care?

Having too little nutrients for your plants is obviously a bad thing; they won't grow, they'll be weak, puny little things.

But having too many nutrients can also be incredibly damaging. Your plants run into the risk of something called root freeze.

When exposed to way too many nutrients, your "tomato" plants' root system will shut down and stop absorbing nutrients altogether. 

You know, which means your plants will just die.

Knowing your TDS range will help you better control your plants.

BCNL provides thorough nutrient schedules so that it takes away the guesswork. All you get, through growing in a BCNL grow box using our schedule, is big, strong, sticky "tomato" plants.

A top tip for our growers

A very common problem that many people seem to encounter is getting inaccurate readings. We get calls all the time about why their TDS measurement is so damn high.

Here's the solution to that problem, which isn't really a problem at all.

Measure the TDS in the water you plan on using for your grow box first. Jot down that number.

Then, measure it again with the nutrients in.

Subtract that from the first number you took. That's your actual TDS measurement.

How easy is that?

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