Every meal begins and ends with a beverage,
and Water is the single most important ingredient!

Quality Drinking Water

Ice is 100% water.

Coffee is 98.3% water.

Fountain Beverage is 83% water.

Espresso is 95% water.

According to the research

of consumers agree that restaurants that filter their water are likely to have better quality food

of consumers feel that it is somewhat to extremely important for restaurants to filter their drinking water

of consumers are more inclined to eat and drink at a restaurant that filters their drinking water

are more likely to order a beverage made with water if they know the restaurant filters their water

Introduction to Water Chemistry

Key Terms

Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)

TDS is an approximation of the amount of minerals dissolved in water. TDS is composed of not only hardness ions, but also such compounds as soluble iron, sulfates, dissolved silica, sodium and others.

A TDS less than 50 indicates unusually “pure” water that is likely to be “aggressive” (corrosive); 150-300 ppm is average; 500 ppm is the recommended limit, beyond which there are often problems with taste, scaling, soft ice. A TDS of 2000 ppm or more produces an osmotic pressure of at least 20 psi, thus requiring a pump to provide adequate water pressure for RO, which is the only reasonable remedy for such water. Remedies are limited to reverse osmosis and ion exchange processes.

It used to be measured by evaporating a sample to dryness and weighing the residue, but that is a lot of trouble and not very precise. Now it is estimated electronically, by measuring the electrical conductivity.


A common quality of water that contains dissolved compounds of calcium and magnesium and, sometimes, other divalent and trivalent metallic elements. Hardness prevents soap from lathering by causing the development of an insoluble precipitate in the water; hardness typically causes the buildup of hardness scale (such as seen in cooking pots and pans), Dissolved calcium and magnesium salts are primarily responsible for most scaling in pipes, boilers, and water heaters, and cause numerous problems in the laundry, kitchen, and bath.

Hardness us usually expressed in grains per gallon or (or ppm) as calcium carbonate equivalent. The degree of hardness standard as established by the American Agricultural Society of Engineers (S-369) and the Water Quality Association (WQA) is:

Term Grains/gallon mg/L (ppm)
Soft Less than 1.0 Less than 17.1
Slightly Hard 1.0 to 3.5 17.1 to 60
Moderately Hard 3.5 to 7.0 60 to 120
Hard 7.0 to 10 120 to 180
Very Hard 10.5 and above 180 and above

Hard Water

Water containing high levels of dissolved calcium, and lesser amounts of magnesium, typically found in limestone areas. It is often expressed as grains of hardness per gallon of water. Hard water produces scale when heated, which has been known to clog foodservice equipment such as coffee brewers and steamers.

Soft Water

Any water which naturally contains less than 1.0 grain per gallon (17.1 mg/L or ppm) of total hardness expressed as calcium carbonate equivalent.

Softened Water

Any water which has been processed in some manner to reduce the total hardness to 1 grain per gallon (17.1 mg/l or ppm) or less expressed as calcium carbonate equivalent.

Typically its water that’s been through ion-exchange (Softener), or Reverse Osmosis.


The quantitative capacity of water to neutralize an acid; that is, the measure of how much acid can be added to a liquid without causing a significant change in pH. There are three kinds of alkalinity: Carbonate, bicarbonate, and hydroxide alkalinity. Total alkalinity is the sum of all three kinds of alkalinity.

pH (level of acidity)

The term “pH” is chemist’s jargon for the level of acidity in water. The hydrogen ion, H+, is the basis or embodiment of all acids and the pH scale indicates the concentration of H+. Values range from zero (extremely strong acid) to 14 (extremely strong base or alkali), with the neutral point in the middle at pH 7.0. It is a logarithmic scale, so values differing by one unit indicate ten-fold differences. Acidity of pH 5 is ten times more acid then pH 6, and 100 times more acid than pH 7.

Carbonated beverages are usually pH 3-4, wines slightly lower, and stomach acid is pH 1. Blood and body fluids are pH 7.4, drinking water is usually pH 7-9, antacids are pH 10 or so, and lye or drain cleaners are pH 12-14. The pH of drinking water is important because “acidic water” (pH less than 7) is a major cause of corrosion, which may leach toxic levels of lead, copper, zinc, and cadmium from the plumbing.

Scaling is prominent when pH values exceed 8.5 in combination with high hardness and alkalinity.

Remedies entail a ding a chemical of the opposite character, to neutralize or consume the excess acidity or alkalinity. Acid waters are neutralized by the addition of sodium carbonate (“soda ash”) or sodium hydroxide (“caustic soda”). Alkaline waters are treated with the addition of an acidulate such as food grade citric acid. Ion exchange can also be used to correct pH.

Total and Free Chlorine

Chlorine is a chemical used by many water utilities for the disinfection of water and as an oxidizing agent for organic matter and some metals.

It imparts a noticeable taste and odour to water, and may contribute to form trihalomethanes (THM).

When chlorine is introduced into water, a portion of it may bond with contaminants such as oils and organic matter and become “combined chlorine”. Another form of combined chlorine is chloramine, which some municipalities use instead of chlorine for disinfection. Chloramine is chlorine combined with ammonia. The chlorine that does not bond remains as residual Free Chlorine.

Total chlorine is a total of both combined chlorine and free chlorine.


A combination of chlorine and a small amount of ammonia, chloramine is a disinfectant used by some water utilities. The addition of the ammonia helps to make the solution more stable and longer lasting. Chloramines can cause an adverse effect on the taste and odour of water.

Total Chlorides

Chloride is a salt that is highly soluble in water. It can cause corrosion on plumbing pipes and pitting corrosion on stainless steel.

At high levels it imparts a salty taste to food and beverages. Public Drinking Water Standards require chloride levels not to exceed 250 mg/L.

Total Iron

Iron in water can be either ferrous (dissolved) or ferric (oxidized particles), and can create red-orange staining on plumbing. Certain types of bacteria can feed off iron, and create slime that can clog plumbing.

Point of Entry (POE)

A device generally consisting of multiple carbon-filled vessels that supply filtered ingredient water to multiple water using appliances such as a coffee brewers, fountain dispensers, ice machines, warewashing equipment and steamers.

Point of Use (POU)

A device generally consisting of one or more carbon-filled vessels that supply filtered ingredient water to single water using appliances such as a coffee brewer, fountain dispenser, ice machine, warewashing equipment or steamer.

Measurement Units

Most common measurement units in watercare are:


Parts per Million


A unit of weight equal to 0.0648 grams or 0.000143 pounds or 1/7000th of a pound


Grains per Gallon


A unit of measurement equal to one millionth of a meter, 1/25,000 of an inch. A high-grade filter can remove solids from water as small as 0.5 micron.


Pounds per square inch (pressure)

NSF (National Sanitation Foundation)

A not-for-profit organization that is the world leader in standards development, product certification, education, and risk-management for public health and safety.

NSF develops national standards, focusing on food, water, indoor air, and the environment.

NSF tests foodservice equipment to exacting standards. NSF ratings insure that a product will:

  • perform as promised,
  • state clearly what the product will and won’t do, and
  • offer comparisons between various manufacturers’ products.

Need more?

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Water Parameters For Your Application!

Why do I need filtration?

Water touches many areas within foodservice, including coffee and espresso brewing, fountain beverages, iced tea brewing, ice making, steam cooking, soups, sauces and reductions, food rinsing, warewashing, and of course, drinking water. Without quality water, all of these can be affected.

Think of filtration as an insurance policy for your business and peace of mind for you.

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