The need and purpose of a home water filtration system have changed throughout the years. Whilst initially a necessity to ensure that water did not contain harmful pathogens, filters are now more about purity and having the type of water you want.
However, before complex filtration systems and reverse osmosis, the first effective water filters were the culmination of thousands of years of tests and research.
The first mention of water purity methods comes from the Sanskrit text Sushruta Samhita, one of the first and most important early pieces of medical writing.
It mentions that whilst the primary method of keeping water pure enough to drink is by boiling it, typically under the hot sun, but they also present a method of draining water through sand or gravel to help filter it.
This method would eventually be rediscovered and explored in much greater detail by Sir Francis Bacon, with his discoveries chronicled in Sylva Sylvanum, A Natural History In Ten Centuries.
He wrote of a theory of desalination, quickly disproven, that percolating water through sand would help to purify the water of salt, meaning that seawater could become drinkable.
He was completely wrong, but he would create a new interest in sand filtration that would eventually become more important Antoine van Leeuwenhoek and Robert Hooke developed the field of microscopy and began the process of understanding water microbes.
According to the World Health Organisation, the first practical application of a water filter was at a bleachery in Paisley, Scotland. John Gibb, its owner constructed a slow sand filter of his own design in 1804 and would sell off the treated surplus water to the general public.
After this successful implementation, other private water companies would be established using a similar process to Mr Gibb’s, eventually being adopted in 1829 by the Chelsea Water Company to treat water supplied to people in London and was made law by the Metropolis Water Act in 1852.