The History of Water Filters


Do you ever wonder where and when water filtering started? Since the beginning of civilization, filtering water has always been a significant problem. That is from ancient Greece and Egypt up to date.

Records are dating back to early civilizations on ancient water filters. Considering the increased water pollution since them, we need more effective water treatment plants. Most ancient methods aimed at improving water conditions like the visual to make it fit for bathing and consumption. Our current rates of using water filters are directly proportional to the effects of industrialization. Many natural water habitats are disappearing and others getting contaminated, hence raising the need to use water filters.

According to the writings by Ancient Sanskrit and Egyptian writings, it has been proven that there were methods used to purify water to make it fit for consumption. Some are boiling and heating water under sunlight. The filtering method mentioned used sand and coarse gravel. There are images in ancient tombs dating back to BCE, showing various techniques used to treat water.


Hippocrates, an ancient Greek physician, conducted water purification experiments. In his theory, four touches of humor in a human body must be kept in balance to ensure good health and wellness of the body. He believed that people needed pure water, and he designed a filter to purify water he used to treat his patients. He created the Hippocratic Sleeve out of a cloth bag that functioned as the filter for the hot boiled water or wine.

Diophanes of Nicaea said that macerated laurel must be put in rainwater. Paxmus suggested treating bad tasting water by adding a bag of bruised coral or pounded barley in it. Gerber, an Arabian chemist, suggested using wick siphons to transfer liquids from one container to the other. 

In 1692, Sir Francis Bacon conducted his first desalination experiment concerning filtration. He believed that percolating seawater through sand would remove the salt in it. He was wrong in his trial, though it was a wakeup call more discoveries and innovations. 

Lucan Antonius Portius, an Italian physician, demonstrated a sand filter called “Soldier’s Vade Mercum.” He experimented using three sand filters. Robert Hooke and Anotonie van Leeuvenhoek, the fathers of microscopy, managed to create a microscope that could observe small materials suspended in water for the first time in history. That is how pathogens were known that they are water-borne.

water drop

The first documentation of water filtration was done in 1804. John Gibb, who owned a bleachery in Paisley Scotland, installed an experimental filter and sold the excess to people in his area. The advancement results achieved a first purified public safety water supply in London, 1829, at Chelsea Waterworks Company.


Strides made since 1804 have resulted in reliable water purification systems serving cities and homes across the world. They help prevent impurities and water-borne diseases, though not 100% effective. The evolution of the water filters is proportional to our reliance on industrial chemicals. You can find out more about whole house water filters and reverse osmosis systems. Accessing clean water is affordable at any place in the world.