An outdoor kitchen is a popular spot for families wanting to spend more time enjoying activities outside of their home while benefiting from all the amenities of a kitchen. Some outdoor kitchens are simply a bar and grilling station, while others offer an elaborate tablescape, refrigerator, and full kitchen—all covered or protected from the weather. Many include TVs for watching the big game and comfortable seating. If you’ve invested your time and energy in an outdoor kitchen, you’ll want to take the time to consider the best type of water filter for your new space.
Chances are, you (or the builder of your house) took the water filtration system of the house into great consideration when building. On the other hand, maybe they didn’t, and you’ve had to do the legwork and installation of water filters to ensure your family has good-tasting, odor-free water for bathing, cooking, and, most importantly, drinking.
Don’t let the taste, odor, or contaminants in your outdoor water supply ruin the fun times and good food in store when using your outdoor kitchen. Here’s a quick overview of why you should use a filter, the types of filters to consider, and which one would be the best choice for you based on your needs and budget.
Why Use Water Filters?
Water filters give you an incentive to use tap water in your outdoor kitchen for cooking and drinking. This reduces the need to buy bottled water when guests come over for a barbeque or evening garden party.
Science and research have proven that the bottled water craze isn’t necessarily healthier or safer, and it definitely leads to more pollution with the waste caused by throwing away lots of plastic water bottles. If you could eliminate the need for bottled water during parties or outdoor activities, then you could not only save money but also help the environment. There are other benefits to a water filter as well, which we discuss below.
What’s in My Water?
Just because water from your community water supply bears the “potable” label, it doesn’t mean it is necessarily good for you or that it tastes good. After your local water treatment plant treats the water, things can contaminate it on its way from the plant, through the pipes, and to your home.
Some water supply lines still use lead, and there is no “safe” level of exposure to that. You can have your water tested for its presence and buy a water filter that meets NSF/ANSI Standard 53 for lead removal. Other sometimes tasteless, odorless, and clear but harmful substances that could be coming from the pipes themselves are mercury, lead, copper, arsenic, and iron.
The CDC has found the top causes of disease outbreaks related to drinking water are Giardia intestinalis, hepatitis A, norovirus, and Shigella. These can all spread through community water systems.
Unless you have done extensive testing to your personal well water, there could be many chemicals, microorganisms, bacteria, and harmful elements leaching into your water supply from the groundwater, your well, or the pipes leading to your house.
You may also have hard water in your area, which can be especially taxing on your appliances, pipes, and water heater. Studies have shown that hard water, over time, leaves buildup on surfaces and inside appliances, causing damage to the internal parts of the appliances. Mineral deposits due to hard water can also clog your pipes and increase the energy needed for heating water.
Who knew that something so simple and necessary, such as water, could become such a big deal? You shouldn’t need to worry about these things while entertaining and cooking for your family and friends in your new space. Here’s a summary of the types of water filters you can equip your outdoor kitchen with:
Types of Water Filters
There are two filtration solutions available:
Point-of-use (POU) devices purify the water right before it exits the faucet the device is installed at. Some of these include the counter pitchers that are used in many homes and systems installed under the sink in your kitchens or bathroom.
Point-of-entry (POE) devices treat the water for the whole house at the point where the water from the local supply enters the home. POE devices rid the water of many of the contaminants it may have picked up on its journey from the plant. POE filters include devices such as water softeners, sediment and tank filtration systems, and large inline filtration systems.
Different materials and methods are used in these devices. Below is a summary of how each one works:
Activated Carbon Filters
Activated carbon is a popular, low-maintenance choice of filter. It removes larger particles such as sediment and silt from water. The charcoal attracts and absorbs these particles, so they’re no longer present in the water coming out of the faucet. They also reduce the amount of chlorine in the water (added at the water plant to kill microbes and bacteria in the water), leaving the water less odorous and better tasting.
Activated carbon filters are easy to maintain, by simply replacing the charcoal pack as directed by the manufacturer.
Originally used to convert salt water from the ocean into drinkable water, reverse osmosis has been used to purify drinking water in many bottled water facilities.
Reverse osmosis involves pushing water through a pre-filter, which captures larger particles such as silt, sediment, and chlorine. The water is then forced with high pressure through a semipermeable membrane that captures other contaminants. An activated charcoal filter helps remove leftover odor, taste, and some other organic contaminants. It then enters a storage tank to hold the treated water until you’re ready to use it.
While whole-house reverse osmosis is possible, it’s more effective as a point-of-use device, as the process only yields about 3-10 gallons of water a day, making it great for under the kitchen sink, but not as effective for a whole house that uses water for laundry, showers, and sprinklers.
One of the oldest methods around, distillation works by heating the water until it reaches its boiling point, much like a coffee maker. This causes the water to evaporate. The vaporized water is fed into a condenser that cools the steam and changes it back into liquid form, leaving water free of all minerals, most chemicals, and many bad tastes.
Distillation systems only produce a small amount of treated water daily, so they may be best as a point-of-use device as opposed to a point-of-entry solution.
They require periodic cleaning and descaling to remove mineral buildup, especially in places with hard water.
Disinfection is necessary for well water that hasn’t been properly treated and maintained. True to its name, it removes or kills microorganisms, cysts, viruses, and bacteria.
This can be done chemically, using halogens like chlorine, bromine, iodine, or ozone, or it can be done with ultraviolet (UV) light, ultrafiltration, and distillation. The processes in disinfection systems can eliminate almost all harmful bacteria, leaving as little as 0.1 percent still alive.
Ultraviolet light (UV)
This method doesn’t involve chemicals and has been used in commercial settings for quite some time. It is becoming more popular for home use. It works by exposing the water to a certain wavelength of UV rays. UV light kills any bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoans, and cysts in the water.
The effectiveness of this method is dependent on the strength of the lightbulb, which must be kept clean and replaced when necessary.
This method can’t remove other harmful substances such as metals or gases, so it is often paired with additional filtration systems, such as an activated carbon system. UV systems also need to be cleaned and maintained regularly.
Chlorination is a cost-effective, quick, and proven chemical way to kill many microorganisms and get rid of many harmful or odorous elements in the water.
Sometimes the taste or side effects of chlorine can be less than pleasant. Some of this can be solved using an activated carbon filter with chlorination.
Back to the Outdoor Kitchen
Maybe your eyes glazed over as we went over all the technical details of water filters, or maybe you learned something new. Either way, picking the right water filtration system for your outdoor kitchen doesn’t need to be hard!
Outdoor Kitchen Options
One of the biggest issues that can factor into any decision to buy a water filtration system is cost. Below we look at the costs associated with installing a water filtration system for your outdoor kitchen and divide different outdoor kitchen water filtration options based on cost:
Higher Budget: Whole House Filtration
As their name suggests, whole house water filtration systems produce clear, clean water that you can obtain from any tap in the house. The main benefit to whole house filtration is that you don’t need to install separate filters for every faucet, and you filter the water you use, both inside the house and outside. Using a whole house water filtration system also has the tacked-on benefit of making appliances that use water operate more efficiently and last longer.
Here are some whole house water filtration systems that we can confidently recommend:
There is a wide selection of whole house water filters on the market, such as the Culligan D-20A, that uses a granular activated carbon filter to remove excess chlorine and other contaminants. This whole house water system is recommended for both city and well-water supplies. The filter is good for a year or 1,000 gallons.
The Aqua-Pure AP110 is one of several whole house water filters offered by this company. This particular model is for the budget-conscious homeowner who doesn’t want to sacrifice quality. The cartridge filters dirt and rust in addition to other contaminants. The filter must be replaced every six months, and replacement filters come in an economical two-pack.
Other popular whole house water filter brands include GE, Omnifilter, Filtrex, Pentek, and KX Technologies. Different brands and models sustain various water flow rates and block different contaminants, so a water test and your usage requirements determine the most suitable water filter system for your needs.
Mid-to-Low-Range Budget: Point-of-Use Filters
Point-of-use filters can range from a countertop pitcher filter to an under-sink filter, to an inline or faucet filtration system installed directly on the spout of your kitchen sink. Before you install a point-of-use filter, you need to determine the types of contaminants in your water. You also need to assess your volume and flow-rate needs. Do this by determining how many gallons of water your outdoor kitchen uses per day and how many different points of use there are. With this information in hand, you can determine which type of filter would work best for your water situation.
Below are some recommendations for the different types of filters discussed in the article.
Inline Water Filter:
Hydronix ICF-10 Inline Coconut Filter 2 x 10
This filter uses coconut shell fragments to remove odors and tastes from water through your refrigerator water dispenser.
It does not contribute any negative flavors to the water.
Countertop Activated Charcoal Filter
Culligan Drinking Water Pitcher
This pitcher cleans water using activated charcoal to remove many elements, such as chlorine, copper, mercury, and odors.
This may not be a great choice for families going through a lot of drinking and cooking water per day.
Culligan FM-15 Water Filter Faucet Mount
This filter is one of the best on the market for filtering out lead.
This system is easy to maintain. Simply purchase and replace the filter after 2 months or 200 gallons of water.
Under Sink Filter
This filter is a great choice for families that want access to bottle-worthy water from the flip of a button at the kitchen sink.
It helps remove chlorine, bad taste, odor, color, VOCs, and heavy metals.
It also features a bacteriostatic media that prevents bacteria growth within the unit.
This is a reverse osmosis system available in under-the-sink configurations.
The package includes all the components necessary for installation.
An indicator light lets you know when it’s time to change filters.
This system passed certification that tested its ability to reduce elements such as chlorine taste and odor, sediment, cysts, lead, chemicals, and dissolved solids.
Our Outdoor Kitchen Recommendation
If you cannot afford or do not need a whole house water filtration system, consider using a popular and proven under-the-sink system to ensure the same water quality outside that you enjoy inside. If you have an outdoor fridge with a water line, make sure you purchase an inline water filter to provide clean, cold drinking water to your family and friends.