Fluoride is a mineral that health experts can’t make up their minds about. While the safety of fluoride is debated, most of us would rather not drink it in our tap water.
If you want to avoid overconsumption of fluoride, eliminating it from your drinking water is a start. You might have heard that the distillation process removes fluoride – but is this true? Does distilling water remove fluoride?
The short answer is yes: distilling water removes fluoride.
In this guide, we’ll look in detail at the distillation process, how purified water is produced, and whether it’s worth it to use this method of removing fluoride.
Table of Contents
🧑⚖️ The Fluoride Debate
If you’re here, you probably know that fluoride has a whole host of potential health effects. We won’t go into too much detail, but here’s a quick summary of the pros and cons of fluoride.
The pros: Scientists say that fluoride is good for dental health and prevents tooth decay and tooth cavities. The Environmental Protection Agency has a maximum amount of 4.0 milligrams per liter of fluoride in tap water to protect the public against overexposure to the fluoride ion. Many public water supplies use fluoridated water. In trace amounts, fluoride is considered safe.
The cons: Water fluoridation itself shouldn’t cause any health problems, but too much fluoride in tap water may contribute to health issues including dental and skeletal fluorosis, neurological problems, and high blood pressure. Fluoride also combines with carbon to produce fluorocarbon, which has more global-warming potential than carbon dioxide.
📤 How Does Distilling Water Remove Fluoride?
We know that water distillation removes fluoride – but how? Let’s look at how this drinking water purification process works, step-by-step:
- You fill the boiling container with water, shut the lid, plug the distiller into your nearest power outlet, and switch it on.
- Tap water boils in the chamber until it reaches its boiling point, when it begins to evaporate.
- The water vapor travels through a cooling chamber, where it condenses back into liquid water droplets. Meanwhile, the impurities that can’t evaporate at the same temperature as boiling water are left behind in the chamber.
- Water travels through a small activated carbon filter in the distiller’s spout, which removes the few trace contaminants that are able to evaporate and condense with water.
- In the final stage of steam distillation, distilled water drips out of the spout, into a clean container.
A distiller doesn’t only remove fluoride in drinking water. The boiling and cooling process gets rid of any impurity with a boiling point of more than 212 °F (100 °C).
The entire process of distillation for a 1-gallon batch of water takes between 4 and 6 hours.
⚖️ Pros and Cons of Using Distillation to Remove Fluoride
Some of the most notable benefits and setbacks of using a distiller to remove fluoride are:
Very Easy to Maintain
A distiller requires virtually no maintenance. There are no filter cartridges to change, and the system doesn’t need to regenerate or backwash. The only maintenance task is to clean out the boiling chamber to prevent a buildup of contaminants on the inside surfaces. Optionally, you can also buy replacement carbon filters for the spout, although many people choose not to use these.
Affordable to Buy
The average cost of a distiller is $150-$300. Once you’ve made the purchase, you won’t need to buy much else (aside from carbon filters if you choose, which cost about $10 for a pack of 10). You don’t need to spend lots of money for the distiller to function properly, and the electricity running costs are minimal.
Helps Save Money
Not only are distillers affordable to use, but drinking distilled water can help you save money, too. If you currently buy bottled water that doesn’t contain fluoride, you can stop this habit altogether. Not buying bottled water should save you hundreds of dollars per year – and it’s beneficial to the environment, too.
Guaranteed Way to Remove Fluoride
Distilled water is virtually fluoride-free. If you don’t want to consume any fluoride in your drinking water, you’ll feel safe using a distiller. When you filter water, it doesn’t entirely remove fluoride. Only a water purification method like distillation can remove virtually all fluoride.
Distilled water doesn’t just have a minimal fluoride content – it’s free from more than 99.9% of contaminants found in municipal water. If you want safe drinking water that doesn’t contain fluoride, a water distiller is a must-buy.
Steam distillation is a very lengthy process. It takes up to 6 hours to produce a single 1-gallon batch of distilled water, so if you want instant access to clean drinking water, a distiller isn’t the best solution.
Water Tastes Flat
Distilled water is known for having a flat taste because water does not contain healthy alkaline minerals. If you enjoy the taste of bottled mineral water but you’re trying to ditch single-use plastic bottles and drink water from your faucet, you might find it difficult to drink distilled water.
To have access to a constant source of distilled water, you’ll need to keep your distiller operating all day. Distillers need electricity to boil tap water, and while they don’t use a lot, you’ll notice the difference in your electricity bill after buying one of these machines.
📝 Other Fluoride Removal Methods to Consider
For some people, using a water distiller to remove fluoride from tap water is too lengthy a process. If you want instant access to purified water, a distiller isn’t the answer.
Some of the drinking water treatment methods that should be better for you are:
Reverse osmosis systems remove up to 95% fluoride.
RO water treatment systems force water through a semi-permeable membrane, which acts as a barrier against bacteria, chlorine, heavy metals, pesticides and herbicides, organic pollutants, VOCs, fluoride, and natural minerals found in contaminated water.
Like water distillers, RO systems are highly effective at removing a wide range of other contaminants alongside fluoride. If you’re looking for the most similar result to distillation, without having to wait hours to get it, RO is a good option to consider.
Activated alumina uses aluminum oxide to filter fluoride up to 95%.
This filter media is designed to target arsenic, fluoride, and hydrogen sulfate, improving water quality and taste.
You can find activated alumina filter media in whole-house water filters designed to treat your entire water supply, as well as under-sink water filters and pitcher water filters.
Bone Char Carbon
Bone char carbon isn’t a typical carbon filter. While activated carbon filters remove no fluoride at all, bone char carbon can remove up to 95% of fluoride.
This type of filter media occurs naturally, so it’s an environmentally-friendly choice. It’s highly porous, which is what makes it so effective in reducing fluoride.
As well as fluoride, bone char carbon can remove radioactive particles and some heavy metals.
❓ Are Water Distillers Worth It for Fluoride Removal?
Does distilling water remove fluoride? Yes.
Is a water distiller worth it for you? Not necessarily.
To work out whether water distillers are worth your money, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I want to drink pure water that’s essentially free from all impurities – including essential minerals – or would I rather drink fluoride-free water that still contains healthy minerals?
- Am I prepared to wait several hours for the water purification process, or would I rather get instant access to filtered water?
- Am I happy to drink distilled water? Or would I rather consume drinking water that hasn’t been completely purified, and has a more interesting taste?
- If I invest in a water distiller, will I use it regularly enough to make that investment worthwhile?
- Am I happy to pay the initial price of a water distiller, and the cost of electricity to have constant access to distilled water?
Ultimately, if you’re really keen on water distillation for fluoride removal, and you can see yourself using your distiller every day – and you think the benefits of pure distilled water are worth the long wait – water distillers are worth it for you.