Water treatment is much easier to understand if you know some of the industry verbiage and general concepts.  Below is a quick reference of terms you will hear or read about in reference to water filtration.


Flow Rate – A water treatment system’s flow rate is normally described in gallons per minute (gpm).  This details the volume of water that can be treated and passed through the system over a period of time, in this case one minute.  The equipment using the water also has a required flow rate.  This details the peak volume of water a piece of equipment requires to operate and is also described in gpm.  Your treatment system will need to be able to provide more treated water over the period of time than is required by the piece(s) of equipment using the water.

Capacity – The capacity of a water treatment system is the total amount of water (usually in gallons) that can be treated by the system before it needs to be tended to in the form of replacing filters, media, regeneration, etc.


TYPE OF SYSTEM (Series vs Parallel)

Series – Basic water treatment systems that are using more than one type of filter/media are configured in series.  This is where all of the water flows into the system and through each head before exiting the system.

Parallel – As water flows into a  parallel system, it is split into two or more paths.  Each path of water runs through different heads with identical filter/media before rejoining to exit the system at one location.  Parallel systems can double the flow rate and the capacity of a series system.

Note: There are units that use both parallel and series in the same system as well as units that split water lines off for use before passing water through additional filtration heads.  



Drop-In (Sump)  – A sump style water treatment system will have a hard shell (called the sump) that unscrews from the filter head.  Inside the sump is a filter cartridge that is replaced when it has exhausted its capacity.  The sump is filled with water so removing the old cartridge can be messy.  After removing the old cartridge a new one is “dropped in”, (thus the name) and the sump is screwed back on to the filter head.

Quick Twist (Bayonet) – These systems incorporate the hard shell and the replaceable filter into one piece with an easy to connect/disconnect quick twist top.  Usually changing a filter cartridge is as easy as 1) shut off the water, 2) push up and twist the cartridge, 3) pull the cartridge down and out of the head, 4) push new cartridge up and twist the other way and you are done.  No mess and simple enough anyone can do it.



Pre Filter— Sediment filter for removing large debris (particulates) such as dirt, rust, wood etc.  By removing the large debris with an inexpensive pre-filter, you can maximize the life span of the more expensive subsequent filters and  ensure they achieve their rated capacity.  Recommended on water with known sediment issues or on private well water.

CTO – This type of filter is an activated carbon filter.  It will remove sediment, chlorine, taste, and odor.

CTOS – This type of filter is an activated carbon filter with a scale inhibitor built into the core.  This filter removes sediment, chlorine, taste, odor, and releases a poly-phosphate substance into the water to bond with the scale so it does not adhere to your equipment.

RO (Reverse Osmosis) – These systems allow your facility to engineer your water so it meets strict specifications put forth by the food equipment manufacturer or passes your required taste test.  RO systems filter the water to remove sediment, chlorine, taste, and odor before pushing it through a membrane that removes the TDS (Total Disolved Solids) including scale.  TDS can then be added back into the RO water to ensure the end product known as “optimized water” is within the specifications you require.

Softening – Standard water softening is done by passing the water through a tank containing resin.  The resin attracts calcium and  magnuesium particles.  The water that come out of the tank is soft (void of the calcium and magnesium that makes it hard).  The resin is regularly regenerated by filling the tank with very salty water.  The resin is then washed and drained to remove any salt.  Softened water can be great for dishmachines, RO systems, and some steamers.  Softened water is not recommended for coffee products as it can have a flat taste or ice machines because the ice may be cloudy and break apart easily.