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Buying Guide: How to Buy Water Filters for Your Foodservice Establishment

Buying Guide: How to Buy Water Filters for Your Foodservice Establishment

Filtration systems block mineral deposits, scale, sediment, cysts, and other contaminants from entering the water line and equipment, preventing foul odors and chlorinated tastes in your beverages and foods. Additionally, filtration systems can extend the life of your equipment and cut down on maintenance, as machines with buildup tend to break down and suffer reductions in efficiency sooner than those who lack the buildup from unfiltered water.

Water filters can remove a variety of contaminants from incoming water sources including:

  • Chemicals
  • Sediment
  • Minerals
  • Organic matter

Filter Types

While you may not be able to control the source of your water, you can control how it’s filtered into your equipment and beverages. With water filters, there are three main types for commercial use:

Carbon Filter and Membrane Combo

As a porous material, carbon absorbs impurities as water passes through the system, removing remove lead, PCBs, chlorine byproducts, certain parasites, radon, pesticides and herbicides, certain gasoline and dry cleaning additives and solvents, some levels of bacteria, and traces of pharmaceuticals. Finally, the membrane catches any physical contaminant larger than 5 or .5 microns depending on the filter rating.


Intended for filtering heavy sediment, prefilter systems are purchased in addition to your standard carbon filters and remove larger dirt and debris that can be found in both city and well waters. The most important role of the prefilter is to extend the life of the combination filters.


Filters for Equipment

Filters are designed to use in conjunction with many pieces of commercial equipment, so take a look at a few of these units that we recommend fitting with a filter to improve water quality to your systems, beverages, and foods:

Ice Machine

Did you know that poor quality feed water will actually void the warranty on most ice machines? In addition, your filter can introduce a host of benefits for your commercial ice machine:

  • Better-tasting ice

  • Less machine maintenance

  • Higher ice production

  • Higher efficiency

  • Longer unit life

When it comes time to size your water filter, you’ll need to know:

  • The amount of ice (lb/kg) the commercial ice machine will produce daily

  • ‘Potable Water’ used per 100 lb/kg of ice produced

Once you have your specific statistics, plug those numbers into the following equations:

  • Ice production max in lb/Day x commercial ice machine Mfgs. Sizing Guidelines of 50%* = X

  • X (result from above) lb divided by batch size (in lbs) = Y batches per day

  • Y (result from above) batches multiplied by the # gallons per batch = Z gallons of water per day

  • Z (result from above) gallons/day x 180 days** = # gallons water usage every six months

* This is an average, as some operations will have higher or lower run times.

** Filters are recommended for change every 6 months, so we’ll use 180 days as our replacement cycle value.

This result gives you the capacity requirements for your filter based on your specific machine, and you’ll also need to check minimum flow rate to ensure you’re getting the right filter for your machine to operate correctly. Most machines operate fine at a flow rate of 1 ½ gallons per minute (GPM) or less, but some models require up to 5 GPM for normal operation. Check the manufacturer for your machine’s specs.

A filter system with a flow rate that is too low can starve the commercial ice machine of needed water and result in equipment failure and even damage. Additionally, you won’t get the protection you expect without more frequent filter changes (and a higher cost of ownership).

Consider the addition of an commercial ice machine cleaner as well, as filtration systems can still allow for gradual buildup of scaling and deposits over time. As a solvent, an commercial ice machine cleaner can remove these buildups without damaging evaporators.

Filters will prolong the life of equipment and greatly reduce the need for deep cleaning and service calls. Manitowoc Ice estimates that water filters will reduce service calls by 60%.

Ice Machine Filter

Beverage Dispenser

Scale inhibitors affect the taste of soda, so if you are looking for a water filter for a soda dispenser, make sure you purchase a special beverage dispenser water filter that does not have a scale inhibiting filter. Beverage dispensing filters come in different sizes depending on the number of dispensers you have.

Coffee Pots and Espresso Machines

If you’ve ever had a bitter- or rancid-tasting pot of coffee or espresso beverage, it may be more than just the beans you used. In fact, unfiltered water can ruin an otherwise great ‘cup ‘o joe’. Again, filters can reduce the buildup in the lines of your machine as well. Purchasing a filter can result in:

  • Better-flavored beverages

  • In the event of high water hardness levels, a filter can maintain water quality

  • Designed for both cold and hot coffee/espresso machines

  • Bacteria inhibitors built into filters ensure beverage sanitation and safety

In addition, be sure to clean your system with a deliming/descaling agent as well. Many of these agents can clean coffee pots, airpots, teapots, glass bowls, plastic coffee bins, and stainless steel, porcelain and ceramic brewing and serving equipment.

Steam Equipment

Sediment buildup and calcification in the boiler component consumes the majority of maintenance calls for steamer units. Filtration systems can prevent unwanted buildup of sediment, cysts, lime, calcium, and chlorine taste and odor in your steamer, combi unit, steam kettle, braising pan, and skillets. Filtration systems for your steam equipment can produce:

  • Purer steam

  • Better-tasting food

  • Better heat conduction and efficiency

Preventative maintenance is still recommended every 3-6 months, and delimers/descalers can improve the results of your filtration system as well.

Water Filter

Other Equipment

With dishwashers, buildup within the lines can shorten the equipment’s lifespan while deposits can leave film and spots on ‘clean’ dishes. Many forget that it’s not always just about ice and beverages, so be sure to have all water that comes into contact with food or customers filtered to ensure the best quality and taste.


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