Water is used in practically every aspect of the kitchen, including food preparation, warewashing, beverage service, basic cleaning, and even some cooking functions. Normal tap water contains a number of suspended and dissolved solids, such as chlorine, bacteria, sediment, chemicals, and other harmful elements. These solids can cause water to look cloudy, smell bad or taste funny, and can also affect any menu item that is prepared, washed or cooked with water. 

One way to help remove these solids from water is with the use of water filters. While there are other treatment options available, water filters are the least expensive and the easiest to implement and maintain. Most importantly, they are effective—water filters offer the last line of defense between the body and the more than 2,100 known toxins that may be present in tap water! 

Avoid This!

Here you can see the difference a water filter can make. Photos, courtesy of Bunn-O-Matic® Corporation in Springfield, IL, show a laboratory coffee hot-water reservoir after 7,000 brews (3,500 gallons or 134,247 liters) without and with a water filter. 

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Water Filter Types

Carbon Filters 

Carbon filters are responsible for removing larger particles from the water before it is dispensed or used. These filters work by attracting and absorbing the particles such as lead, pesticides and herbicides, sediment, silt, PCBs, some levels of bacteria, and bits of pharmaceuticals. 

Reverse Osmosis 

Reverse Osmosis filter systems are increasingly popular due to the ability to remove a plethora of contaminants while producing clear and odor free water. The system works through a process of using pressure to force water molecules through a semipermeable membrane. 

UV Light 

UV filters utilize ultraviolet radiation to destroy various bacteria that has the potential to harm patrons. This kind of filtration system is recommended to be used with the use in tandem with a carbon filter to remove both the solid contaminants and the microorganisms. 

Additional Considerations While Shopping

A few additional factors to consider while shopping for a water filter are micron rating, capacity, and flow rate.  

  • Capacity: the capacity (in gallons) is the amount of water that can be filtered through the cartridge while staying effective. This will determine how often the filter needs to be changed so that water is staying clean and fresh. 
  • Flow Rate:  The flow rate indicates the number of gallons per minute that can flow through the filter.
  • Micron rating: filter cartridges are rated in microns, where the micron rating for the filter designates the ability of the filter to rid water of contaminants by the size of the particles. So, a filter with a rating of “3 microns” is able to filter out particles as small as 3 microns. Most filters in the food service industry are rated from 0.2 to 1 micron, though there are some filters outside of that range. See the chart below from Clean Water Source for particle sizes:Microns

Which Types of Restaurant Equipment Can Benefit From Water Filters? 

Ice Machines 

Without a water filter, you risk any of the following: 

  • Scale buildup on evaporator plates can significantly increase maintenance costs 
  • Excess sediment particles can clog distribution tubes and solenoid valves 
  • Excess chlorine residual can cause chlorine smell and corrosion in ice bins 
  • Sediment and abrasive hard particles wear down and shorten the life of pumps, valves, o-rings, and seals 

With a water filter: 

  • Great tasting ice (drinks) 
  • Higher ice production 
  • Lower energy costs 
  • Less surprise maintenance 
  • Extends the life of the equipment 

Note: did you know that the ice bin is one of the dirtiest parts of the kitchen? Keep it clean and always use gloves when handling ice! 

>Filters for ice machines 

Coffee Makers 

Without a water filter, you risk any of the following: 

  • Scale buildup on sensors and heating coils can significantly increase maintenance costs 
  • Excess sediment can clog spray head in the brew basket 
  • Excess chlorine and organic residue cause bitter-tasting beverages 

With a water filter: 

  • Great tasting coffee for customers (and yourselves!) 
  • Consistent, high-quality beverages 
  • Lowers energy costs

>Filters for coffee makers  

Steamers and Combi Ovens 

Without a water filter, you risk any of the following: 

  • Increased chlorine-induced corrosion 
  • Limescale formation in high temperature steam application 
  • Lower energy efficiency 
  • Decreased life and performance of the steamer due to dirt and rust particle build-up 

With a water filter: 

  • Prevents calcification on heating elements 
  • Purer steam yields fresher and safer products 

>Filters for steamers and combi ovens 

Final Thoughts 

A water filtration system can mean the difference between dirty, contaminated water and delicious, crisp water that keeps customers coming back. Protect customers and equipment while prolonging its working life and performance just through the simple addition of a water filtration system. 

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