Slow sand filers are commonly used in water purification processes. However, with the emergence of new contaminants and concern over removing precursors to disinfection by-products, as well as traditional contaminants, there has recently been a focus on technology improvements to result in more effective and targeted filtration systems. The use of new media has attracted attention in terms of contaminant removal, but there have been limited investigations on the key issue of clogging. The filters constructed for this study contained stratified layers comprising combinations of Bayer residue, zeolite, fly ash, granular activated carbon, or sand, dosed with a variety of contaminants (total organic carbon (TOC), aluminium (Al), ammonium (NH4+-N), nitrate (NO3--N) and turbidity). Their performance and clogging mechanisms were compared to sand filters, which were also operated under two different loading regimes (continuous and intermittently loaded). The study showed that the novel filter configurations achieved up to 97% Al removal, 71% TOC removal, and 88% NH4+-N removal in the best performing configuration, although they were not as effective as sand in terms of permeability. Deconstruction of the filters revealed that the main clogging mechanism was organic matter build-up at the uppermost layer of the filters. The clogging layer formed more quickly on the surface of the novel media when compared to the sand filters, but extended further into the sand filters, the extent dependent on the loading regime. The study shows the potential for an alternative filtration configuration, harnessing the adsorption potential of industrial waste products and natural media. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.