The Right Type of Water Filter For Your Ice Maker

Reading Time: 5 minutes Ice Machine Care, Ice Machines 101

Water filters help limit dirt, scale, and minerals that affect the quality, taste, and safety of your ice supply. There are plenty of ice machine water filters on the market designed to help limit certain water particulates in different water conditions. Choosing the right type of water filter for your ice maker depends on your water condition and the type of ice machine you have.  

In this article, we’ll show you how to pick the right water filter for your ice maker. 

Before You Pick an Ice Machine Water Filter, Identify Your Water Condition 

Before you go out and buy a new water filter for your ice machine, you should find out the water condition in your area. For example, places like Arizona are known for having high mineral and particulate content in their water, while Illinois water has much lower concentrations of particulates. Well water also has a high particulate concentration. These examples are generalities. The only real way to know your water quality is to have a professional come out to test your businesses water supply.  

Once you know your water condition, you can pick the right filter that works for your area. 

Note: Easy Ice performs standard water tests wherever we install an ice machine as part of the installation process.  

The Different Types of Ice Machine Water Filters 

There are generally three types of water filters used in ice machines. Each type of commercial ice machine water filter is designed to limit certain particles from entering your ice machine. Deciding which water filter is best for your ice machine depends on your area’s water condition and the type of ice machine you own. 

Sediment Filters 

Sediment filters are the standard type of filter you’ll find on almost all ice machines. They are great at preventing everyday dirt and particles from entering your ice supply which can affect the taste and clarity of your ice cubes.  

When choosing a sediment water filter, there are two stats you should look for: the micron rating and the flow rate.  

The micron rating tells you the size of particle the filter allows to pass through it (one micron is equal to 1 millionth of a meter). For example, if a particle of dirt is 10 microns and you have a 5-micron filter, the filter will capture that speck of dirt while letting through smaller particles less than 5 microns (like water particles). 

Here at Easy Ice, we place a 5-micron sediment filter on all compatible ice machines. This size filter prevents most of the dirt and minerals found in standard tap water from entering your ice machine.  

While sediment filters are an all-around good choice for preventing most large particles, they don’t do much against hard water deposits and chlorine. 

You should replace a standard sediment filter about every six months depending on your water use, supply, and quality. 

Phosphate Filters 

For ice machines installed in areas with high-mineral laden water, a phosphate water filter works best. Phosphate filters prevent minerals like calcium and magnesium from bonding together and creating what we call “scale.” Scale is a substance that can clog standard sediment water filters and cause trouble for certain ice machine components like evaporator plates, float switches, and water-cooled condensers.  

Phosphate filters disperse phosphate molecules into your ice machine’s water supply which satisfies the ionic bonds calcium and magnesium use to form into scale.  

Phosphate is not safe to consume; it can cause gastrointestinal problems at high enough concentrations. Luckily, standard commercial ice machines that produce square, crescent, or dice-shaped ice cubes, won’t produce ice with phosphate in them because only the cleanest water freezes into an ice cube, while the phosphate-laden water runs down the drain.  

On the other hand, cubelet and flake ice machines use an auger system to create soft, chewable ice by collecting all the water, freezing it, and grinding it up before dispensing it. You should never use a phosphate filter with these types of ice machines.  

Water and ice dispensers also expose people to phosphate since the water these units dispense runs through the same filters as the ice system. Do not use a phosphate filter in this type of ice machine either, or your customers could experience a stomach ache when they get home.  

Just like sediment filters, you should look to replace your phosphate filter every six months. 

Carbon Filters 

Since you can’t use phosphate filters on cubelet, flake, or water, and ice dispensers, carbon filters are a great alternative 

Carbon water filters are probably one of the oldest forms of water filtration, as ancient Egyptians found that storing water in charcoal pots caused their water to taste better.  

Carbon filters use a process called adsorption, where the porous texture of activated carbon traps harmful particles and prevents them from entering your ice machine. Unlike sediment and phosphate filters, carbon filters also trap chlorine.  

As with most water filters, around six months is a good time to replace your carbon filter.  

What is Flow Rate and Why Does it Matter? 

Another important factor you should consider is flow rate. Essentially, it’s the amount of rushing water a filter can pass through it without issue. For example, if an ice machine water filter is rated at 5 GPM (gallons per minute), then the filter will allow 5 gallons of water to pass through it every minute.  

To produce ice safely, you’ll need to get the right sized commercial ice machine water filter for your specific ice maker model. An undersized water filter on an ice machine that requires a higher flow rate will limit the amount of water that enters the unit, which can lead to small, malformed ice cubes or damage to the ice machine.  

It’s Easy to Pick the Right Water Filter For Your Ice Maker – if You Know Where to Start 

Proper water filtration is vital to keep your ice machine running and producing the clearest and best tasting ice. Remember, first find out the quality of your building’s water supply. Next, choose the best filter to limit the dirt, scale, or chemicals in your area’s water supply – making sure the water filter you choose is compatible with your ice machine model.  

As long as you make sure to change your water filter every six months, you can help keep your ice machine producing clear, great tasting ice for years to come! 

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