The first large-scale water purification plant was created in 1804 in Scotland by John Gibb, a bleachery owner in Paisley. This water filter was the first documented example to have used sand filters as a water purification method.
Water purification and filtering trace their history back to ancient India and Egypt. Images depicting water treatment are visible in Egyptian tombs dating back to between the 15th and 13th centuries B.C.
In 1903, water treatment devices began using sodium ions that function as water softeners. The water softeners worked by means of a system of ion exchange, in which harmful ions are replaced by harmless ions.