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 with water. Luckily, a water filter can help.
While there are other treatment options available, water filters are the least expensive and 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!
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.
Water Filter Types
Carbon filters are responsible for removing larger particles from the water before it is dispensed or used. These water 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 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 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 for Water Filters
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:
Restaurant Equipment That Benefits from a Water Filter
Without a water filter in your ice machine, 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!
Without a water filter in your coffee maker, 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
Steamers and Combi Ovens
Without a water filter in your steamer oven, 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
Final Thoughts and Related Resources
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 performance with the simple addition of a water filtration system.
Hope has been a Content Specialist since November 2015, where she brings to the table years of experience in the food service industry in a variety of roles. Throughout her time with Central, Hope has focused on learning all things possible about everything from cooking equipment to concession and specialty products in order to empower operators with education on commercial equipment and supplies. Hope is a wife, new mom, avid crafter, and food lover (french fries please!).