The conductivity (or specific conductance) of a solution is a measure of its ability to conduct electricity. The standard unit of conductivity is siemens per meter (S/m).
Conductivity measurements are used routinely in many industrial and environmental applications as a fast, inexpensive and reliable way of measuring ionic content in a solution. For example, the measurement of product conductivity is a typical way to monitor and continuously trend the performance of water purification systems.
In many cases, conductivity is linked directly to the total dissolved solids (TDS). High quality deionized water has a conductivity of about 5.5 μS/m, typical drinking water in the range of 5-50 mS/m, while sea water about 5 S/m (i.e., sea water’s conductivity is one million times higher than deionized water).
Conductivity is traditionally determined by measuring the AC resistance of the solution between two electrodes.
Resistivity of pure water (in MΩ-cm) as a function of temperature
The standard unit of conductivity is S/m and usually refers to 25 °C (standard temperature). Often encountered in industry is the traditional unit of μS/cm. 106 μS/cm = 103 mS/cm = 1 S/cm. The numbers in μS/cm are higher than those in μS/m by a factor of 100 (i.e., 1 μS/cm = 100 μS/m). Occasionally a unit of “EC” (electrical conductivity) is found on scales of instruments: 1 EC = 1 μS/cm. Sometimes encountered is a so-called mho (reciprocal of ohm): 1 mho/m = 1 S/m. Historically, mhos antedate Siemens by many decades; good vacuum-tube testers, for instance, gave transconductance readings in micromhos.
The commonly used standard cell has a width of 1 cm, and thus for very pure water in equilibrium with air would have a resistance of about 106 ohm, known as a megohm. Ultra-pure water could achieve 18 megohms or more. Thus in the past megohm-cm was used, sometimes abbreviated to “megohm”. Sometimes conductivity is given just in “microSiemens” (omitting the distance term in the unit). While this is an error, it’s usually assumed to be equal to the traditional μS/cm. The typical conversion of conductivity to the total dissolved solids is done assuming that the solid is sodium chloride: 1 μS/cm is then an equivalent of about 0.6 mg of NaCl per kg of water.
A conductivity meter and probe
The electrical conductivity of a solution is measured by determining the resistance of the solution between two flat or cylindrical electrodes separated by a fixed distance. An alternating voltage is used in order to avoid electrolysis. The resistance is measured by a conductivity meter. Typical frequencies used are in the range 1–3 kHz. The dependence on the frequency is usually small, but may become appreciable at very high frequencies, an effect known as the Debye–Falkenhagen effect.
A wide variety of instrumentation is commercially available. There are two types of cell, the classical type with flat or cylindrical electrodes and a second type based on induction. Many commercial systems, Myron L meters, e.g., offer automatic temperature correction.
MyronLMeters.com offers many reliable conductivity meters – some analog, some digital, some pen-style, some multiparameter – but all accurate, reliable, and easy-to-use.
512M5: 0-5000 micromhos/microsiemens
Instant and accurate Conductivity tests
Electronic Internal Standard for easy field calibration
Fast Auto Temperature Compensation
Rugged design for years of trouble-free testing
Simple to use
ULTRAPEN PT1 Conductivity – TDS – Salinity Pen
Accuracy of +/-1% of READING (+/-.2% at Calibration Point)
Reliable Repeatable Results
Solution modes: KCl, NaCl and 442
Automatic Temperature Compensation
Durable, Fully Potted Circuitry
Digital Handheld Multi-Parameter meter: Conductivity, TDS, Resistivity, pH, ORP, Temperature, Free Chlorine (FCE)
+/-1% Accuracy of Reading
Memory Storage: Save up to 100 samples w/ Date & Time stamp
Wireless Download Module Optional
The unique circuitry of our 750 Series II Conductivity Inline Meters guarantees accurate and reliable measurements. Drift-free performance is assured by “field proven” electronics, including automatic DC offset compensation and highly accurate drive voltage.
Since Temperature Compensation is at the heart of accurate water measurement, all Myron L Monitor/controllers feature a highly refined and precise TC circuit. This feature perfectly matches the water temperature coefficient as it changes. All models are corrected to 25’C. The TC may be disabled to conform to USP requirements.