Conserving water while preparing food

Debatably one of the most water-intensive aspects of modern human life is that of food. Food takes massive amounts of water to produce; and even more to prepare for consumption. While the production of food is very water intensive, I am going to focus on the preparation (cooking) of food today.
Three of the most common categories of food preparation are cooking appliances, refrigeration systems, and sanitation systems. Cooking appliances are those used to cook food-such as steamers or other appliances. Refrigeration systems include freezers and refrigerators that use water to function, mainly ice machines. Lastly, sanitation systems are those used to clean cooking items as well as hand washing.
Cooking Appliances:
Steamers use immense amounts of water because of their functioning principles: they heat water until it turns into steam, and then harnesses the steam to cook foods. There are two types of steamers: “standard” steamers with large boilers to convert water into steam as well as connectionless steamers which use very little water to cook the same amount of food. Connectionless steamers are much more efficient that standard steamers because they are not connected to a water supply line. These connectionless food steamers require a portion of water to be added to a small tank before use, and then the unit effectively uses less water to create steam, and cook the same portions of food. These units are also more convenient because they can be moved anywhere-even if there is no plumbed water line.
Chinese ranges or Woks use water to cool the stove unit. As a result of the high heat output, these units must be cooled to prevent damage to themselves. Some units use water at rates as high as 5 to 6 gallons per minute. These units should be replaced with efficient models, or other technologies to significantly reduce the amount of water used.
Refrigeration systems:
The two most common types of refrigeration systems are water-cooled and air-cooled ice machines. Both units are available in energy-efficient models, but only air-cooled ice machines are water efficient. Water-cooled ice machines use water to transport heat away from the refrigeration unit’s inner components used to freeze water into ice; whereas air-cooled ice machines simply use air to complete the same task. Some water-cooled ice machines use as much as 100,000 gallons of water per year more than their air-cooled equivalents.
Sanitation systems:
Two most common sanitation systems are pre-rinse spray valves, and dishwashing units. Pre-rinse spray valves are small units attached to faucets or hoses that clean large particles off of plats and other kitchen components. Dishwashing units are those that automatically sanitize kitchen components such as plates and utensils. These both are available in “standard” and efficient models, but the most crucial thing to consider when sanitizing kitchenware is that you only use units when they are full. For example, it is extremely wasteful to wash one dish at a time. Instead, wait until you can fill the dishwasher with utensils and plates before running the unit.
For more information on water conservation technology, visit
Brian O’Neill


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