Wondering whether your private well contains fluoride? You’ll find all the answers you need to know in this guide.
- Fluoride occurs naturally in the earth, so there’s a good chance that your well water contains at least trace levels
- Well water isn’t artificially fluoridated like public water supplies
- Regular testing will tell you how much fluoride you have in your well water
- There are 4 primary water treatment methods to remove this mineral from water
Table of Contents
🧱 Does Private Well Water Contain Fluoride?
Not all well water contains fluoride. The fluoride concentrations in your well water may differ from your neighbor’s. It depends on the particular geology around your well.
In most cases, well water contains at least traces of fluoride. Some wells contain elevated fluoride concentrations.
📥 How Does Fluoride Get Into Well Water?
Fluoride is a mineral and naturally occurring element found in rocks and soils. Limestone and dolomite bedrock are most likely to contain high levels of fluoride. This mineral is released into water and the air, eventually ending up in drinking water.
Fluoride is also used in some industrial processes, and may escape into the environment due to poor waste disposal practices.
Your local geology determines how much naturally occurring fluoride gets into your water. For instance, if your well aquifer is surrounded by rocks with a high fluoride mineral content, water seeping into the aquifer will pick up fluoride, increasing your well water’s fluoride concentration.
Soft water found in clay soils and shale bedrock is especially prone to fluoride contamination.
Fluoride in Well Water Vs Municipal Water
Fluoride in well water is usually always naturally occurring. Your drinking water may also contain some synthetic industrial fluorides if you live in an area that’s prone to industrial pollution.
Public drinking water supplies are fluoridated with a type of water-soluble synthetic fluoride known as sodium fluoride. In its pure form, this type of fluoride is toxic – it’s used in rat poison and pesticides for this reason. However, in low levels, sodium fluoride in drinking water is considered safe for human consumption.
📖 How to Know Whether Your Well Water Contains Fluoride
Fluoride doesn’t have a distinct taste, smell, or appearance. Even if your well water’s fluoride levels are very high, you probably won’t notice.
What’s the best way to find out how much fluoride your well water contains? By testing your water.
We recommend getting your water tested by a certified laboratory, which can provide a detailed report listing your water’s fluoride concentrations, how these match up to EPA guidelines, and their potential health effects.
Follow this general guidance for testing your water for fluoride:
- Test your well water supply at least once to determine whether or not it contains fluoride.
- Conduct regular testing if your well’s fluoride levels are close to the maximum recommended fluoride levels in drinking water.
- Test your water every three years if your well is located in an area that’s known to have high fluoride levels.
- If you decide to install a water treatment system to tackle fluoride, conduct annual testing to make sure the system is working properly.
Once you know your well water’s fluoride levels, you can decide on a suitable fluoride removal solution (if necessary).
🚰 Is Fluoride in Well Water Safe?
Yes, fluoride in well water is safe – in low levels.
Although well water isn’t regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), we can still use national guidelines to determine how much fluoride in well water is considered safe.
- The EPA Maximum Contaminant Level, or the level of fluoride that public suppliers mustn’t exceed, is 4.0 mg/L or PPM.
- The EPA Secondary Standard for fluoride, which is recommended but not a legal obligation, is 2.0 mg/L or PPM.
- The Health Canada optimal level of fluoride in drinking water is mg/L of PPM.
📌 What does this tell us? That levels of fluoride above 4.0 mg/L or PPM are considered a potential health risk in any drinking water source.
In low levels, fluoride is considered good for dental health (that’s why it’s deliberately added into public drinking water supplies).
But if your well water contains levels of fluoride above 4.0 mg/L or PPM, you may experience health effects including:
- Dental fluorosis – causing streaks or specs of white or brown on the tooth enamel
- Skeletal fluorosis – causing hardened bones and impaired mobility
- Thyroid problems
- Neurological issues
- Increased osteoarthritis and bone cancer risk
- Fertility and reproductive issues
- Skin issues like acne
Children and pregnant women are most at risk of the side effects of too much fluoride. Parents are advised to limit the fluoride their babies and toddlers are exposed to.
📝 Other Sources of Fluoride Exposure
Aside from drinking fluoride in your well water, other common sources of fluoride exposure are:
- Taking fluoride supplements
- Drinking bottled water that contains fluoride
- Using dental products that contain fluoride, like some toothpaste
- Eating foods prepared with fluoridated water
🚫 How to Remove Fluoride From Well Water
The best methods of removing fluoride from well water are:
- Reverse osmosis – Uses membrane separation technology to reduce on average 80 and 90% of fluoride from drinking water. The best RO systems are under-sink units. If your well water quality is particularly poor or rich in sediment or minerals, you’ll need to install a pre-treatment system to protect the RO membrane from damage.
- Activated alumina – Designed to target two contaminants: fluoride and arsenic. Activated alumina systems can remove on average to 92% of fluoride as long as your water’s flow rate is slow and pH is low.
- Distillation – Purifies water through evaporation and condensation. Fluoride is unable to evaporate at water’s boiling point and is left behind in the distiller while pure water condenses into a clean container. Distillation removes up to 100% of fluoride from drinking water.
- Bone char carbon – One of the oldest filtration methods that removes on average to 98% of fluoride with a porous filter media covering a large surface area. Bone char carbon filters are typically included in a multi-stage water treatment system that removes multiple contaminants with a series of filters.
Looking for more detail on how to remove fluoride from your water? Find it in this guide. 👈
❔ Does Well Water Have Fluoride? FAQs
What is Fluoride?
Fluoride is the monatomic anion of fluorine, which is naturally present in the earth and artificially produced for industrial purposes. The chemical formula of fluoride is F-. The most common uses of fluoride are in fluoridated drinking water and dental health products. Fluoride is often combined with hydrogen to produce hydrogen fluoride, which is used for leather tanning and rust removal.
What are the potential health effects of fluoride in drinking water?
Low fluoride levels aren’t thought to pose a health risk. In fact, fluoride is considered beneficial for healthy teeth and is thought to prevent tooth decay. However, elevated concentrations of fluoride in drinking water may cause skeletal and dental fluorosis, thyroid problems, and neurological problems.
How much fluoride in well water is safe?
Fluoride levels below 4.0 mg/L (or PPM) are considered safe in a drinking water supply. Drinking quantities of fluoride above this level may have damaging health effects.
What should I do if I discover too much fluoride in your well water?
If you test your drinking water and discover high fluoride levels, stop drinking from your well and temporarily switch to fluoride-free bottled water to avoid excessive fluoride consumption. Look into methods of removing fluoride from your water, such as with reverse osmosis filtration or an activated alumina filter.
If I remove fluoride from my well water, will my oral health suffer?
No. You won’t instantly get tooth decay if you start removing fluoride from your drinking water well. Fluoride is helpful for dental health, but it isn’t essential. As long as you brush and floss according to your dentist’s recommendations, eat a low-sugar, well-balanced diet, and get your teeth checked out regularly, you won’t need to drink water containing fluoride.