Understanding the Micron Rating of Water Filters

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Micron Rating

There are a lot of different factors you have to consider when choosing an ice machine water filter. One factor that you should consider is the micron rating of your ice machine water filter. Selecting the right micron rating for your ice machine will keep the optimal amount of sediment and particles out of your ice machine.

Let’s talk a bit about what a micron rating is and how it will affect the quality of your ice.

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What is a Micron Rating?

A micron is a unit of measurement to denote the size of a particle. The word “micron” is actually an abbreviated term for a micrometer, which is 1/1,000,000th the size of a meter or .001 millimeters. It is a standard unit of measurement in water filter sizing.

Most water filters that are micron rated work by trapping unwanted sediment and particles from your water supply, so they don’t enter the ice machine. At the same time, you don’t want to hinder water from entering the ice machine. Ideally, a water filter should let water molecules to pass, while trapping other, unwanted particles.

The micron rating denotes the size of the openings in the filter. For instance, if a water filter is rated for 5 microns, it will allow anything smaller than 5 microns to pass through while trapping all other particles larger than 5 microns.

The best way to imagine a water filter is to envision a piece of mesh or cheesecloth. While liquid has no problem passing through a piece of cheesecloth, a handful of pebbles won’t. The micron rating refers to the amount of space between the mesh wires. The larger the gap, the higher the micron rating.

Why is a Micron Rating Important to My Ice Machine?

The most crucial function of a water filter is to trap unwanted sediment. Sediment can make ice cubes cloudy or attach to commercial ice equipment components and cause them to fail. Your water filter’s micron rating can help you decide the type of filter you need to eliminate the kind of particles you’re looking to avoid.

The smaller the micron rating, the more effective it is at trapping small particles. With that understood, it may seem like a water filter with a smaller micron rating equals a better water filter, but this is not necessarily the case.

Most water in the US is treated to eliminate bacteria and other microorganisms, which range between .2 -2 microns in size. Since treated water is free of these types of organisms, a 1-micron filter is not necessary. Well water, on the other hand, should be disinfected accordingly if you want to maintain ice safety.

Another thing to note is that when you install a water filter with a lower micron rating, you also lower your flowrate. Smaller openings mean less water can flow through the filter at one time. This can lead to small or malformed ice cubes if you get a water filter with too low of a micron rating.

What are the Micron Ratings of the Most Common Ice Machine Filters?

The type of ice machine and your area’s water condition will determine how to choose the right water filter for your ice maker. Here are the most common water filters we use in our ice machines and their micron ratings:

  • Sediment Filters: These filters have the most straightforward design. They trap unwanted particles that cloud ice and harm ice machine components. Sediment filters come in a range of micron ratings. We use a 5-micron sediment filter on all the ice machines we install.
  • Phosphate Filters: The main job of phosphate filters is not to trap particles, but to release phosphate into your water supply. Phosphate coats surfaces it comes in contact with, to allow minerals to flow freely without clinging together to create what we call scale. Scale adheres to the inside of your ice machine, which can lock up ice machine components, damage evaporator plates, or clog other filters inside your ice machine. Standard ice machines that produce cubed ice (crescent, square, dice, etc.) flush excess phosphate out of your water supply so it won’t end up in your ice cubes. We use a bypass type phosphate feeder in our machines, which do not have a micron rating.
  • Carbon Filters: Carbon filters are used in many specialty ice machines, like nugget and flake ice makers. Carbon filters use activated carbon to remove particles and improve the taste of chlorinated water. We use a 5-micron carbon filter in all our ice machines.

Ice Machines Need Water Filtration – so Choose the Right Filter

If you want to extend the life of your ice machine and prevent expensive repairs, a water filter is a necessity. The type of water filter and micron rating you need is dependent on your model and the type of water you have in your area. Places like Chicago have clear water with very few contaminants. Cities like Phoenix have notoriously “hard” water, with a large concentration of minerals. Well water is also very mineral-rich, so choosing the right water filter is incredibly important.

Before installing an ice machine, consider the type of filtration you’ll need to keep the machine running efficiently.

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