Do Water Filters Remove Fluoride? (Advice from a Water Treatment Expert)

Fluoride has some dental health benefits, but that doesn’t mean that we all want to drink it.

Fluoride is known to be potentially dangerous in excess, causing dental and skeletal fluorosis if over-consumed in drinking water.

In this guide, we’ll be sharing what we know about whether water filters remove fluoride, based on our own extensive research and testing.

TL;DR

The short answer is yes, some water filters remove fluoride – but not all.

Read on to learn which types of water filters are best for removing fluoride from your drinking water supply. We’ve also answered some of your most common questions about fluoride removal with water filters.

🚰 Can Water Filters Remove Fluoride?

Water filters are designed to target specific drinking water contaminants. Depending on their design, these filters block contaminants from passing through their pores, pull contaminants out of water, or use a combination of processes to filter or purify a tap water supply.

Some water filters are specifically designed for removing fluoride with up to 95% effectiveness. They can be used to treat fluoridated water and almost entirely remove this mineral.

Fluoride is particularly challenging to remove from water, so that means that not all filters are capable of fluoride reduction.

Water filter cartridges beside faucet

📰 Which Water Filters Remove Fluoride?

Activated Alumina Filters

An activated alumina water filter is one of the most popular methods of reducing fluoride at home, and can remove up to 95% of fluoride.

This filter media, made from aluminum oxide, isn’t used to produce clean drinking water by removing as many unwanted contaminants as possible. Instead, it targets two specific contaminants: fluoride and arsenic.

Activated alumina can also reduce hydrogen sulfate concentrations and traces of other contaminants in water, improving water taste.

Most filters use carbon media, so if you’re specifically looking for activated alumina, you’ll need to narrow down your search – and prepare to pay more for the many benefits of this water filter.

Related: Do ceramic filters remove fluoride from water?

Bone Char Carbon Filters

Bone char is highly porous, making it ideal for reducing on average up to 90-95% fluoride in drinking water.

Although bone char carbon isn’t highly used, it’s worth considering for its ability to remove fluoride, radionuclides, and heavy metals. Such contaminants are difficult to remove separately, let alone together, which is why bone char carbon is well worth considering.

Keep in mind that bone char carbon and activated carbon aren’t the same thing, and use very different chemical reactions to treat contaminated water.

Bone Charcoal Carbon

Reverse Osmosis (RO) Systems

A reverse osmosis system removes up to 95% of fluoride.

Most RO systems are installed as under-sink water filters or countertop filters. Drinking water is forced through several stages in this water filter system, including a semi-permeable membrane, a carbon filter, and a sediment filter.

It’s the RO membrane that removes fluoride. This membrane acts as a barrier against most water impurities, allowing for maximum contaminant removal.

The great thing about a reverse osmosis filter is that it doesn’t only massively reduce fluoride – it can also remove contaminants like chlorine, arsenic, microorganisms like bacteria and cysts, nitrate, harmful pollutants, pharmaceuticals, other chemicals that affect taste and smell, and other contaminants.

The downside is that an RO system also removes healthy minerals, resulting in flat-tasting water. Plus, reverse osmosis is one of the most expensive means of removing contaminants. Reverse osmosis requires costly special equipment, and the RO water treatment process wastes water.

Closer look of the reverse osmosis membrane

🤔 Should You Drink Fluoridated Water? Pros and Cons

Fluoride is an incredibly controversial drinking water contaminant. Many states have community water fluoridation programs – meaning that they add this mineral into their water for dental health benefits.

But there are potential health risks of consuming fluoride that, as you probably believe, outweigh the benefits of this mineral.

Learn how to test your water for fluoride.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of fluoride-contaminated water.

👍 Pros of Fluoridated Water

  • Fluoride is known to strengthen teeth and prevent tooth decay. If you drink this mineral from a young age, you should have stronger teeth.
  • Drinking fluoridated water can help you prevent tooth cavities, when good dental hygiene is also practiced.
  • By fluoridating their municipal tap water sources, governments can save money that would otherwise be spent on dental fillings.

👎 Cons of Fluoridated Water

  • Fluoridated water is known to cause dental fluorosis, which stains teeth with patches of yellow and white.
  • Excess levels of fluoride cause skeletal fluorosis, causing pain and increasing the risk of bone fractures.
  • There are other ways that fluoride can potentially affect human health. The mineral has been associated with brain development problems and thyroid issues.

🧠 Water Filters for Fluoride FAQ

Does filtering water get rid of fluoride?

Yes, filtering water can remove fluoride – but it isn’t guaranteed. For instance, a refrigerator filter won’t remove fluoride, but many types of water pitcher filters and reverse osmosis systems are capable of removing this mineral.

Aside from drinking filtered water, how can I reduce fluoride exposure?

Other good ways to reduce your exposure to fluoride are:

  • Buy organic produce that hasn’t been treated with pesticides. Many pesticides contain fluoride.
  • Avoid processed foods that have been made with fluoridated water. Check the labels of packaged foods. If fluoride is listed as an ingredient, don’t buy.
  • Many types of tea and coffee have a naturally high fluoride content, so limit what you drink or look for fluoride-free beverages.
  • Don’t cook with pans, dishes, or other cookware made from Teflon, which usually contains fluoride.
  • Avoid medicines and bottled waters that list fluoride as an ingredient. If you need to take a certain medicine that contains fluoride, ask your doctor for alternatives.
  • Avoid fluoride toothpaste if you’d rather eliminate fluoride from your lifestyle altogether.

Can an activated carbon water filter remove fluoride?

No. An activated carbon filter is designed to remove chlorine, chemicals like pesticides and herbicides, and sometimes volatile organic compounds – but not fluoride. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A carbon filter is highly effective at chlorine removal, so it serves an important purpose.

Do Brita filters eliminate fluoride?

No. Brita filters can only remove a handful of contaminants, and fluoride isn’t one of them. If you want to learn more about why Brita doesn’t remove this mineral, and what it can remove, read this guide.

Separating brita water pitcher components

Can fridge filters remove fluoride?

Not usually. Most refrigerator water filters work with activated carbon filters. We haven’t seen a refrigerator water filter that uses activated alumina or bone char carbon (although this technically would be possible).

Refrigerator water filters and built-in water filters are typically designed for chlorine removal. If you want to remove fluoride, you’ll need to look beyond a refrigerator water filter to a water filter pitcher or an under-sink filter that’s advertised for fluoride reduction.

What does a refrigerator water filter remove?

The top contaminant removed by refrigerator water filters is chlorine. If you buy an inline filter and install it upstream of your fridge (which isn’t technically a refrigerator water filter), you might find that it can remove a few more contaminants, including heavy metals and chemicals. Typically, though, refrigerator water filters are only designed to tackle chlorine taste and odor.

Why are fridge filters less capable than other filter types?

It’s mostly due to size. Refrigerator water filters are tiny, so there’s no space for them to combine several filtration media. Plus, customer demand comes into it. Most people want a refrigerator filter that improves the taste of the chlorinated city water, and that’s exactly what the majority of refrigerator filters do.

Refrigerator water filter

How can I remove fluoride from water cheaply?

The cheapest way to filter fluoride is to use a bone char carbon or activated alumina filter. These filter media are sometimes found in water filter pitchers, which offer the most affordable means of filtration. As an added bonus, most filtration pitchers remove a whole host of contaminants as well as reducing fluoride.

Can a water softener remove fluoride in drinking water?

No. Water softeners use a process called ion exchange to remove calcium and magnesium minerals. They’re designed to treat water hardness, and can’t remove harmful contaminants or reduce fluoride levels.

What are the best water filters for removing fluoride?

We’ve tested tens of water filters that are advertised to remove fluoride, and we know first-hand that some are much better than others. Our top water filters for fluoride reduction include filters from Clearly Filtered, Waterdrop, Epic Pure, Berkey, AquaTru, and Waterwise. You can learn more about the best filters for removing fluoride in our complete guide.