Improve Ice Quality with Commercial Ice Maker Water Filters

We’ve all had a drink with unfiltered ice before. When ice is unfiltered, it can taste off and may even lead to debris and mineral deposits in customer’s water—something no one wants. A bad-tasting beverage (especially water) is something that customers will remember, and not in a good way.

You may be wondering how important a commercial water filter really is for your restaurant; the answer is very. By filtering out impurities, minerals, and contaminants from the water, your ice will be clearer, better-tasting, and odor-free. It will also prolong the life of your equipment. Today, we’ll explore the importance of commercial ice maker water filters.

The Rocky Water Picture Show: Understanding the Impact of Water Filtration

To understand the impact of filtered water on ice production, it’s important to recognize how water quality affects the appearance and taste of the ice. Water high in minerals and impurities leads to cloudy ice—often with a less-than-pleasant taste and odor. Don’t leave a bad taste in customers’ mouths!

Bad ice detracts from the beverage experience. Again, no customer wants to drink something with debris floating in it. No one wants to have cloudy ice that smells off. No matter what beverage you’re serving, bad ice can ruin the experience.

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In addition to ruining drinks, unfiltered water can lead to scale buildup on your commercial ice maker. This leads to inefficient production, increased maintenance costs, and, ultimately, a short lifespan for your machine. So it’s not just aesthetics alone. Filtered ice saves you money.

What are those floaters in your ice? What makes it cloudy? Common contaminants include minerals such as calcium and magnesium. You may have chlorine and other particulates from municipal water treatment. These contaminants can enter through aging pipes, causing a wide range of issues when unfiltered.

Consider filtration if you’ve noticed hard-scale deposits on your ice machines (or any of your kitchen equipment). Scale deposits can increase energy usage because machines must work harder to combat the buildup. Eventually, machines can break down and burn out.

Commercial water filtration systems trap contaminants before they enter the machine. Often, filters use methods like activated carbon or ion exchange to “soften” water (in other words, to remove deposits like calcium and magnesium). They can lower any chlorine taste and improve the water condition. These simple systems can have an invaluable impact on the life of your equipment and the taste and quality of your delicious beverages.

Water the Benefits of Ice Machine Filtration?

There are three main benefits of having water filters for commercial ice makers:

1. Improved Ice Quality

The most immediate and recognizable benefit of a good water filtration system for commercial ice machines is the quality of your ice. Filters enhance the clarity of the ice—something you’ll likely notice right away. It’s especially important for cocktails and premium drinks, where the appearance of an ice cube can be part of the appeal.

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Ice can often take on odors and flavors, making it less palatable and transferring those nasties to beverages. Filtered ice keeps your drinks tasting pure, unaltered, and refreshing, meeting all your customers’ expectations.

2. Extended Equipment Lifespan

Another significant advantage of using water filtration systems is that they protect your ice machine and other equipment from hard water deposits. By removing the minerals that cause scale buildup and corrosion, the internal components of the ice machine are protected. Filtered water is best for optimal ice production conditions.

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You’ll save money on maintenance costs, frequency of repairs and replacements, and fewer instances of downtime. Think about what your business would be like without ice. Customers won’t appreciate lukewarm drinks, especially on a warm summer day.

3. Ensured Health and Safety

While a water filtration system can’t purify water, municipal water supplied to your establishment is already treated to be “potable” (safe for drinking and other uses). However, water filtration systems do remove some harmful contaminants as well as sediment.

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Health regulations require restaurants and culinary establishments to have a clean, safe ice supply. Contaminated ice can be a major health hazard. Investing in water filtration helps provide another layer of protection for your clientele’s health by offering high-quality, clean, filtered ice.

Variety is the Ice of Life: Types of Water Filtration Systems

What types of water filtration systems are typically used in the kitchen? You have a few options, but most fall into one of three categories:

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Carbon Filters:

Carbon filter systems are the most common and affordable options. Activated carbon filters remove chlorine, VOCs (volatile organic compounds), tastes, and odors from water. A carbon filter works by adsorption—trapping contaminants in the pore structure of the carbon material. Replaceable filters are often easy to change and can improve gallons of water.

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Reverse Osmosis Systems:

Reverse osmosis systems offer a comprehensive solution to water filtration—removing almost all dissolved impurities. Reverse osmosis is a process where the water is forced through a semipermeable membrane. The membrane in a reverse osmosis system blocks minerals and contaminants but allows the water to pass through. Reverse osmosis is an ideal process for areas with very hard water or places where water quality is a concern.

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Sediment Filters:

Sediment filters remove physical particles from water. They’re helpful for protecting finer filters in a system (like carbon filters or reverse osmosis membranes). Sediment filters can keep your other filters from getting clogged by rust, sand, and other unwanted contaminants.

The Price is Ice: Selecting the Right Filtration System 

Which filtration system is best for your commercial kitchen? Consider and evaluate a few factors to ensure you select the right system for your ice machine and keep it working at peak efficiency.

Water Quality: If you haven’t had a water quality analysis, it’s a good idea to get one before you explore ice filtration systems. Many cities have local water testing labs services and environmental labs that can test your water. Your state or local health department can point you in the right direction (and some perform quality assessments themselves). There are also water testing kits that can give you a general idea of water quality. Generally, a professional service will provide you with a more comprehensive analysis.

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The water analysis will pinpoint any contaminants present. Many laboratories and water testing services will suggest the best type of filtration for your particular needs. Common test metrics include hardness, pH, chlorine level, and the presence of certain heavy metals and microorganisms.

Ice Machine Specifications: When you purchase an ice machine, it’s important to read the manufacturer’s recommendations for water filtration. High-volume machines might require a more robust water filtration process like reverse osmosis, whereas smaller ice machines may only require carbon filtration.

Budget Constraints: A water filter might not seem like a necessity (especially when there are so many essential items on the average commercial kitchen’s budget). But investing in a good water filtration system for your ice machine will help protect your equipment, your customers, and your reputation. It’s a sound investment to prolong the life of your ice machine, which is typically a more significant investment.Maintenance Capacity: Consider the ongoing maintenance your water filtration system will require. Some more vigorous systems, like reverse osmosis, may require more frequent filter changes. Carbon filters are often less expensive and easier to maintain. However, the trade-off is that you may still have to combine your carbon filtration system with other filters to get your desired water quality.

Guess Who’s Coming to Filter: Practical Tips for Implementation

A good water filter is a must-have for your commercial ice maker. It’s a worthwhile investment to keep your system working optimally. If you’re ready to take the plunge into filtered water, here’s what you should know.

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Installation Considerations: Make Adding a Filter Ice and Easy

Installation is one of the most crucial details for an effective and efficient water filter system. Before you install, there are a few points you should consider:

  • Location of the Water Filter: Install the water filter where it can easily filter the water before entering the ice machine. This helps ensure the water is purified immediately before ice production, making for better quality ice (and machine performance). The filter should also be easy to access for regular maintenance and inspections.
  • Installation Details: Before you install a water filter for your commercial ice machine, review all the literature and manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure it’s a project you can handle on your own, or call a professional to help install the system properly. By getting the installation right, you’ll avoid issues like poor water flow, leaks, and eventual damage to your ice machine. The fittings must be secure so the system can handle the water flow without pressure problems.

Maintenance Guidelines to Keep You From Freezing Up

Once your ice machine’s water filter is correctly installed, you’ll need regular maintenance to keep the system working efficiently. Maintenance and upkeep will extend the life of both the filter and the ice maker. Consider the following:

  • Create Regular Filter Replacement Schedules: Each filter has a specific lifespan and capacity. When a filter needs replacement, it’s important not to wait, as the water quality can quickly degrade as the filter becomes worn.
  • Clean and Sanitize the Filter and Machine: Cleanliness is imperative in the kitchen. In addition to replacing the filters on your water filtration system, you’ll need to clean and sanitize both the filter and machine to prevent bacteria and mold. As you clean the system, keep an eye out for potential issues like leaks or cracks. Address these issues immediately to avoid damage (and subsequent repairs).
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Make a Quality Inv-ice-ment 

One rule of kitchen equipment—you get what you pay for. If you try to save money on a filtration system, it may not be as effective. Yes, a more robust system might cost more upfront, but it will do more to protect your reputation and your investment in ice machinery down the road.

  • Fewer Replacements: A major benefit of getting a high-quality filtration system is that it will require fewer frequent filter changes and replacements, saving you money on maintenance and replacement costs.
  • Brand is Important: Avoid low-quality brands as you shop for a filter system. Look for reputable brands you know and trust. Cheap filters aren’t worth the savings when they lead to issues with your ice machine.

Back to Cool: Addressing Common Concerns

When a kitchen manager or restauranteur is considering investing in a water filter for the ice machine, a few concerns arise. Here are a few of the most common worries (and answers to help you rest a little easier).

Does water filtration affect ice production?

If you use a filter on your commercial ice maker, will it become slower and less efficient? No! In fact, the opposite is true—proper water filtration enhances the ice-making process. Keeping out minerals and contaminants allows water to flow freely into your ice machine without the risks of scaling and clogging. Your machine can also increase ice production and cooling efficiency, lowering energy consumption!

How do I address reduced water flow?

With a robust commercial ice filtration system, like reverse osmosis style systems, the water may flow a little slower into the ice machine. To mitigate this flow rate issue, make sure your filtration system is correctly sized for your machine’s water use. A reduced flow can also indicate it’s time for maintenance or filter replacement.

How do I deal with the upfront cost?

Yes, a water filtration system comes with some associated costs, which are always challenging if you’re running your kitchen on a tight budget. Although it may seem like an optional piece of equipment, it’s important to recognize that it’s a vital component of your ice system—one that quickly pays for itself.

Can I DIY my water filter installation?

If you’re trying to save money on installation costs, you could install your water filter on your own. Before you go down that path, review all the manufacturer’s guidelines so you have a complete overview of the process. Accuracy is critical for a commercial water filter to work properly, so if you have any doubts, it’s worth hiring a professional. Otherwise, a water filter is a relatively easy installation. You should also be able to change out the water filter cartridge on your own. 

How do I keep up with filter maintenance?

When it comes to your water filter, it’s no place to be pennywise and pound foolish. Keeping up with maintenance requirements is worthwhile for prolonging the life of your system. Add filter checks to your regular maintenance schedule, train staff on the basic upkeep of your water filtration, and keep a log of the maintenance activities. That way, you’ll notice any concerns well in advance.

How do I find the right filtration for specific water issues?

Water quality can vary greatly depending on your area, city municipalities, and building setup. Not all filtration systems are effective against all contaminants. It’s important to do a detailed water quality analysis to help guide you in choosing the right type of filtration system to remove any impurities present in your water supply.

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