Water Filters Buyers' Guide

Water Filters

Many pieces of commercial kitchen equipment require water to operate – steamers, ice machines, coffee makers, and water heaters, just to name a few. Unfortunately, the water these products need can also wreak havoc on their internal components if left unchecked. Tap water may be clear, but it often holds many minerals and dissolved solids like calcium, magnesium, zinc, aluminum, and iron. The concentration of minerals in your tap water will depend on your location.

While hard water is perfectly safe to drink, the minerals it contains can build up over time on surfaces that it comes in contact with and create undesirable flavors and scents. This buildup can eventually cause your equipment to perform poorly and can in many cases void your warranty. While much of the equipment that uses water can be descaled, either manually or with a built-in deliming cycle, using a commercial water filter is an easy way to reduce how much scale is allowed to accumulate and can reduce the labor you have to put into descaling.

Water chamber with and without scale buildup

Benefits of Water Filters

A restaurant water filter system is an ongoing investment for your restaurant kitchen, but it is one that pays you back not only in savings but also in the flavors you are able to create. Some of the benefits you will see when you install commercial water filter systems are:

  • Reduced Labor: Because you are removing the majority of the sediment and dissolved solids from the water before it ever gets into your restaurant equipment, you'll see less buildup on its internal components. This means less frequent cleaning and descaling, freeing up your employees' time for other essential tasks.
  • Prolonged Equipment Life: Even if your restaurant staff sticks to a strict equipment-cleaning regimen, mistakes happen. If employees miss too many cleanings, the resulting mineral buildup can be enough to impact the operation of the equipment or even cause it to break down. This leaves you not only missing the income that equipment might otherwise gain you, but also paying to repair or replace it, as damage caused by scale buildup is not covered by most warranties.
  • Energy Efficiency: When your equipment has to work through a layer of built-up limescale, it cannot be as efficient as it was designed to be. A limescale-covered heating element cannot heat as effectively, and an auger with a layer of lime on it may have trouble turning at the rate it was intended to. Over time, this can be reflected in your utility costs.
  • Improved Taste: Dissolved solids can add undesirable flavors and scents to your tap water, which can then be transferred to anything you use that water in. Coffee can be especially sensitive to hard water, resulting in a bitter beverage. Even food items that use water as an ingredient can be affected. For example, because hard water can decrease yeast activity, bread products often will not rise as high as desired when made with hard water.1

Water Filter Types

Restaurant water filters are made to work with specific types of equipment, but even within those specific types, there are several options for you to consider. Water filters are made to handle certain amounts of water per day, so make sure the one you choose can handle your operation's maximum daily water demand. Each filter cartridge is also rated to a particular flow rate to indicate how many gallons it can process per minute.

Most restaurant equipment is compatible with both manifold systems and inline filter systems. Inline systems take advantage of single cartridges that are plumbed directly into your equipment's water supply lines. Manifold systems are comprised of more complex assemblies that are permanently attached to water supply lines and accept one or more filter cartridges. Manifold cartridges are much easier to replace than inline filter cartridges due to being able to snap or screw new filter cartridges into the assembly without having to tap directly into the incoming water line.

Inline filters typically use carbon, which absorbs impurities like excess chlorine, parasites, and some larger bacteria. Manifold systems can include carbon filters or reverse osmosis filters. The latter are capable of removing chemicals and bacteria that a carbon filter might miss, but do tend to be a higher upfront investment. Reverse osmosis filters often have carbon filters built in as well, and those that don't are often used in conjunction with a separate carbon filter cartridge. Generally, carbon filters are recommended in areas with low dissolved solid counts, as they can remove undesirable flavors and odors, but are less effective in removing small particles.2

  • Ice maker filters are available as manifold systems or inline filters. These filters can process water capacities as large as 10,000 gallons per day and 5 gallons per minute. Ice maker filters are available in carbon and reverse osmosis.
  • Steamer water filters are manifold assemblies with cartridges that can be easily replaced. They are all largely aimed at removing scale from incoming water to help prevent clogs and heating element failure.
  • Coffee maker water filters are available in a wide range of capacities. Most are carbon filter assemblies, with some made for use within the coffee maker itself, rather than on the incoming water line. These will help prevent scale buildup that can cover the heating coils and block the spray head, and can help prevent bitter-tasting coffee.
  • Espresso machine water filters ensure customers only taste your espresso creations, and not any particles that might have snuck in with the water. Some of these are made to go with specific espresso machine brands, but can be used with most models.
  • Water dispenser filters are especially important, as they ensure your customers are able to enjoy drinking water without chlorine or metallic flavors. These filters are cartridge designs that are simple to install and replace.

No matter what commercial water filter system you choose, you will need to plan on regularly replacing the cartridges or drop-in filters to ensure the system is working as it should. Filter housings, storage tanks, replacement cartridges, and other water filter parts are available to help you maintain your restaurant's water filtration system.

For more information on commercial water filters or help finding the right fit for your foodservice operation, call 1-800-541-8683 or email sales@KaTom.com to speak with a helpful customer care agent.

  1. Water. King Arthur Flour. Accessed November 2016.
  2. Granular Activated Carbon. United States EPA. Accessed November 2016.