How Ice Machine Water Filters Work to Keep You Healthy

Before you learn how ice machine water filters keep you safe, you must first understand how they can make you sick.

Water filtration is necessary to remove contaminants and sediments, improving the taste of ice. No one wants a drink with unknown particles floating in it or that tastes like freezer burn.

But more importantly, it is the things that you cannot see that will affect you the most. Consider the effects that contaminated ice has on human health and food safety.

The temperature of ice, at freezing, is below what the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) calls “the danger zone”—the temperature bacteria grow most rapidly. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a periodical in which doctors linked numerous outbreaks of gastric illnesses to contaminated ice.

Water filters that have not been changed as directed lead to impurities in consumer ice. Keep your ice maker from making people sick.

What Are Commercial Ice Machines?

The principles of ice-making are the same, no matter how much ice your machine makes. The compressor turns low-pressure refrigerant vapor into high-pressure vapor. It is then moved into the condenser, where it gets condensed into a liquid and drained through a throttle valve. This liquid then moves through the evaporator, and after an exchange with heat, ice is made.   

While the process remains unchanged, the types of ice makers differ. You can buy small machines for your home, but if you manage a restaurant, bar, or hotel, you need a commercial ice machine for the mass production of ice.

First, take a moment to familiarize yourself with what commercial ice makers are available. Here are the most common types of ice machines for commercial use:

  • Modular ice machines: These large units are most commonly used in bars, restaurants, large venues, stadiums, and hotels. Typical ice production for these machines is 250-1,000 pounds per day, and some can make more than twice that amount.
  • Self-contained ice machines: Also referred to as under-counter machines, these space-savers are perfect for smaller establishments. These self-contained models can produce 75-500 pounds of ice per day.
  • Ice dispensers: These self-serving options are perfect for cafeterias, hospital or care facilities, and fast-food restaurants. These machines are considered to produce the safest ice because of their limited exposure to contaminants. Like the self-contained machines, these ice makers can dispense 75-500 pounds of ice per day.
  • Countertop ice makers: Another space-saving option that makes serving ice quick and easy. This self-serving machine can be operated by either staff or patron and are best for smaller facilities, able to make 50-400 pounds of ice each day.

Take some time to determine what machine is right for your establishment. Additionally, you must learn how to clean and maintain your ice maker—and understand why that is so important.

ice machines

How Often Should an Ice Machine be Cleaned?

According to Hygiene Food Safety, 40% of commercial ice machine owners admit they do not know how often ice makers need to be cleaned. They also have little knowledge of how to control contamination of the ice they serve to customers.

A common misconception is that ice is too cold for bacteria to grow—which cannot be further from the truth. E. coli, salmonella, and norovirus have all been found in contaminated ice.

The only way to avoid spreading illness is to clean and sanitize your equipment frequently; but how often is “frequently?”

Chapter 1 Part 1-201-10 of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food Code actually classifies ice as a food product, and § 416.2(g)(1-5) of their Sanitation Performance Standards Compliance Guide defines regulations of ice for commercial use.

However, the regulations for cleaning and sanitizing are vague. According to Food Law 2009, Chapter 4 Part 602.11 section (E), ice machines must be cleaned “at a frequency specified by the manufacturer.” Manufacturers recommend once every three months, but this actually just refers to deep cleaning.

So, how often should you clean and sanitize your commercial ice machine and its filtration system? That all depends on how often the ice maker is used. If you have a high demand for ice production, your equipment must be cleaned daily and sanitized weekly. 

Reasons to Keep Your Commercial Ice Machine Clean

Ensuring your customers' health and safety by eliminating contaminants in your ice is a responsibility that falls entirely on your shoulders. For this reason, you must keep your commercial ice machine clean.

Additionally, you want to safeguard your investment. The cost of these machines can vary depending on the manufacturer, model, and size. Keeping your machine functioning properly requires care and maintenance.  

Ice-O-Matic published a video on how to clean your commercial ice machine. Take a few minutes to review this helpful information, so you can protect your equipment and serve your customers safe, clean ice.

ice machines

Changing Your Ice Machine Water Filter Will Keep Everyone Safe

Does the ice you serve impact the health and safety of the general public? Even if you maintain your ice maker, clean and sanitize according to the manufacturer’s specifications, and practice proper hygiene, you can still get people sick.

This is because you must also change out the water filter. Agricultural runoff, flooding, and other severe weather are just a few ways water sources become polluted. Your water filter is necessary for removing these toxins.

Pollutants and problematic minerals are not the only things the filtration system removes. Ice machine water filters also affect:

  • Sediment reduction
  • Chlorine reduction
  • Scale (hardness) reduction
  • Taste and order
  • Corrosion prevention

Regular cleaning of your ice machine does more than just protect your investment—it safeguards public health. However, it doesn't stop there. Your water filter will need to be changed every 6 months to keep everything running smoothly. Contact a professional to ensure that you get the right filter.