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Five Founding Fathers of Water Filtration

As Father’s Day approaches, the time comes to pay homage to the notable figures of the past who have had major influences on the present day.  Throughout history, many advances and breakthroughs have been made in science that have led to the modern filtration technology that we have today. But, as you can guess, the technology has not always been as sophisticated as it is now.  Leaders and innovators in the scientific communities throughout centuries have made it possible to have the water filter technology we have today.  In honor of Father’s Day, here is a list of five Fathers of Water Filtration


Often called the “father of medicine,” Hippocrates played a critical role with his experiments in water purification.  This ancient Greek developed the theory of “four humors.”  He determined that the human body was composed of four different essential fluids that were a necessity to life.  Each of these “humors” were related to the four temperatures of the seasons.  According to Hippocrates, one should strive to keep these humors in balance to maintain good health.  One of these four humors that Hippocrates recognized was the healing power of water. He recognized that the water from Greek aqueducts was far from pure, so he strived to find a way to clean the water supply. He designed a makeshift water purifier by taking a cloth bag and using it to filter water through after being boiled.  The cloth would trap any sediment in the water.  This was later known as the “Hippocratic sleeve.”

Sir Francis Bacon

Considered the “father of deductive reasoning,” this British scientist and 16th century author performed one of the first records of water filtration by attempting to purify saltwater. Using a sand filter method, Bacon proposed that digging a hole near the ocean shore would allow water to pass through.  The sand particles would then prevent salt from passing through, resulting in clean, drinkable water. Unfortunately, this theory did not prove feasible, but it did spark an increased interest in water filtration.

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek

The development of an improved microscope by this “father of microscopy” allowed scientists to see more clearly into the smaller world. Using a set of focused glass lenses, van Leeuwenhoak’s invention made it possible to view the amount of teeming life that resides in a single drop of water.  Through his innovation, others were able to use this tool to advance their research.

John Snow

No – not that Jon Snow. This British scientist linked contaminated water to the massive cholera outbreak afflicting London.  Through his intervention, the British were able to minimize and prevent potential outbreaks of cholera as well as recognizing the potential of using water filters to preserve the public’s health.

Robert Thom

Using a slow sand filtration method, this Scottish scientist designed the first, citywide, water filtration plant.  His work made it possible to provide the entire city of Paisley, Scotland with filtered, pathogen-free water.


Centuries of innovation have made it possible to have the modern filtration technology we have today.  Who knows what future innovations in filter science may bring? For now, we can be thankful to these individual’s work that have made it possible to enjoy clean, clear, and healthy water in our homes.  If you are looking for a water filter for your fridge, rather than one made from a cloth bag and sand, check out our catalog of high quality water filters.

Fathers of Water Filtration

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