Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Fluoride?

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If you have fluoridated water in your home, you’re probably keen to find a filter that will make your drinking water safer to consume.

Though fluoride is legally accepted in (and often deliberately added to) municipal water, many people prefer to filter out fluoride due to the health risks associated with this mineral. But which filtration methods can remove fluoride?

Here, we’ve answered the common question, “Does reverse osmosis remove fluoride?”

📌 Key Takeaways:

  • Yes, reverse osmosis does remove fluoride.
  • The exact amount of fluoride removed by reverse osmosis depends on the quality of the system.
  • When choosing a reverse osmosis system to remove fluoride, look for a system with positive customer feedback and test results to support its performance claims.

⚗️ Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Fluoride?

Yes, reverse osmosis removes fluoride.

Reverse osmosis filter systems offer an incredibly thorough filtration process that removes up to 99.99% of all total dissolved solids in water, including fluoride.

How Much Fluoride Does Reverse Osmosis Remove?

On average, according to a fluoride fact sheet produced by the WQA, reverse osmosis systems are able to remove 80 to 90% of fluoride from drinking water.

However, some RO systems might remove more fluoride than this, and some might remove less.

👨‍🔬 Why can’t RO remove all excess fluoride in water? Because some fluoride particles might be able to squeeze through the membrane pores with water particles.

Membrane Filtration Process

🤔 Do ALL Reverse Osmosis Filters Remove Fluoride?

No, not all reverse osmosis filters remove fluoride.

Some RO systems aren’t produced to a high enough quality to eliminate fluoride. A cheaply-made RO system may only reduce your fluoride levels by a quarter or a third. That’s why it’s so important to invest in a reverse osmosis water purification system that’s expertly made and offers high-quality filtration.

The best reverse osmosis filters can remove over three-quarters of your water’s fluoride and dissolved minerals content, producing high-quality filtered water.

🔎 How Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Fluoride?

Reverse osmosis removes fluoride from drinking water with a process called membrane separation.

As well as using a variety of filters, which trap contaminants larger than water particles in their pores, RO units also use a reverse osmosis membrane.

So, how exactly does RO remove fluoride?

A reverse osmosis system forces water at a high pressure through the semi-permeable membrane, which has tiny pores that only allow water molecules to pass through. Larger contaminants (including fluoride) are blocked from getting any further.

During this process, a small amount of tap water containing the contaminants, known as wastewater, is then drained out of the system.

Closer look of the reverse osmosis membrane

This happens at a constant rate, with water entering the chamber and being forced through the RO membrane, wastewater leaving through the system’s drainpipe, and filtered water leaving the faucet.

Fluoride particles are too large to pass through the semi-permeable membrane, so they’re removed from the system.

Many contaminants are removed from a reverse osmosis water filter. Fluoride is just one of them.

Still curious about how reverse osmosis works? Check out this infographic

🧫 What Else Does RO Remove from Water?

Reverse osmosis filters don’t only remove fluoride from your water supply. They also remove up to 95% of all inorganic material in tap water, such as chlorine and chloramines, heavy metals like lead, compounds like sodium chloride, and minerals like calcium and magnesium.

Additionally, some reverse osmosis filters can remove up to 99% of organic material, including bacteria and viruses – so you can use most reverse osmosis systems with unclean water, like well water, as well as your city water supply. Note: well water may require pre-treatment.

📋 How to Choose A Reverse Osmosis System For Fluoride Removal

You should find it easy to choose a reverse osmosis system for fluoride removal – providing you know what you’re looking for.

When deciding which RO system is for you, consider the following:

  • Countertop vs under-counter. The majority of RO systems are designed to install underneath your kitchen sink. But if you’d rather not sacrifice your under sink space, you can also find RO filters that sit on the ground or your countertop.
  • Additional contaminant removal. Fluoride might be your main goal when it comes to contaminant removal, but it’s worth testing your water to learn what else it contains. An RO system can reduce or eliminate all the common contaminants, but if you have a certain set of contaminants in mind, you can look out for them when researching products.
  • Price. Reverse osmosis water filter systems are generally more expensive than other filtration methods. The average cost of an under-sink reverse osmosis system is $250-$600.
  • Tank-based vs tankless. Conventional RO systems have tanks for storing water, giving you access to clean water as soon as you turn on your faucet. But some space-saving systems don’t have a tank, so you’ll need to wait a second or two for water to flow through the system when you turn on the faucet.
  • Brands. Some of the most popular brands selling RO systems are Waterdrop, Spring, Home Master, Whirlpool, AquaTru, and NU Aqua Systems. Read expert buyer’s guides to familiarize yourself with the best RO system manufacturers today.
  • Efficiency rating. A conventional reverse osmosis filter wastes water at a 4:1 ratio. If you’d rather a more efficient system, look for one with a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio. If you’re not happy with wasting water at all, reverse osmosis isn’t an option you can currently consider.

Check out our reviews of the Best Reverse Osmosis Systems in 2023 – click here

usws defender whole house ro system after installation

📑 Final Word

Reverse osmosis filter systems are generally effective at removing fluoride – as long as they’re good quality.

When shopping for a reverse osmosis system, look for a system with plenty of positive customer feedback, testing to NSF Standards (or, even better, official NSF certifications), and recommendations from experts in the industry.

If you want to be certain that a reverse osmosis system can remove fluoride, test your water before and after using the system. Compare the two water samples. The purified RO water should contain significantly less fluoride than your normal drinking water.

water testing with tap score

Make sure to also consider the other filters that can remove fluoride. There are a few downsides to RO filtration, including that it removes healthy minerals like calcium and magnesium.

There are many other fluoride water filters that retain these healthy minerals, including some water filter pitchers, faucet filters, activated carbon filters, countertop filters, under-sink systems, and whole home filtration systems.

Related: Check out the best budget-friendly methods for fluoride removal here 👈

❔ Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Fluoride? FAQ

What is fluoride?

Fluoride is a mineral that’s found naturally in the earth. It’s also produced synthetically and added to some foods, public drinking water supplies, and dental products.

How does fluoride get into drinking water?

Fluoride often occurs naturally in tap water. However, many states add fluoride to their water (fluoridated water schemes) because of fluoride’s ability to protect the tooth enamel and prevent tooth decay. 73.0% of customers on community water systems had access to fluoridated water as of 2018.

Why should you filter fluoride out of water?

It’s not absolutely essential that you filter fluoride out of your water because it doesn’t pose a health risk in small amounts. However, some folks choose to filter out this mineral because too much fluoride is associated with dental fluorosis, skeletal fluorosis, and other health concerns.

Does reverse osmosis remove 100% of fluoride?

No, a reverse osmosis filter can’t remove 100% fluoride. However, one of the best RO filters should get as close as possible, removing up to 99.99% of this mineral. Tiny trace amounts of fluoride remaining in your water shouldn’t pose a health risk.

How can I reduce my fluoride consumption?

Aside from filtering fluoride out of your water, you can also reduce your fluoride consumption by avoiding fluoridated toothpastes, eating fresh, unprocessed foods, and reducing your black and green tea consumption.

  • Jennifer Byrd
    Water Treatment Specialist

    Jennifer is a seasoned water treatment expert with over 18 years of experience in the industry, dedicated to improving water quality for clients across the USA and around the world. Her passion for helping others and extensive networking skills have led her to hold leadership positions in organizations like the North Port Area Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Home Builders Association. Jennifer is currently a managing partner at Redbird Water of West Texas, where she specializes in providing water filtration and solutions for residential, commercial, and industrial clients.

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