Not everyone wants to drink fluoride in their water, whether it’s good for our teeth or not. But finding an affordable means of removing fluoride from your home’s water supply can be a challenge.
If you’re looking for how to remove fluoride from water cheaply, be aware that some “value for money” methods are, in fact, a waste of money. It’s fine if your goal is to be thrifty with your spending, but always read customer reviews before you make an investment – no matter how small.
In this guide, I’ll be sharing the most effective – and cost-effective – methods to remove fluoride from water.
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📝 Effective Methods To Remove Fluoride From Water Cheaply
The four best methods of removing fluoride from water cheaply involve using bone charcoal carbon, activated alumina, reverse osmosis, and distillation.
Bone Charcoal Carbon
Bone charcoal carbon, otherwise known as brimac char, is a type of carbon filter media. This media is produced by cleaning and sun-drying cows’ bones in a process that takes around 90 days. The bone is then heated in a deoxygenated kiln at around 800° Celsius, which produces an amorphous form of carbon.
With an uncrystallized nature, bone char consists of 80% phosphate, 10% carbon, and 10% calcium carbonate. Its design makes it ideal for adsorption, in which the filter media grabs onto contaminants in passing water. As well as fluoride, bone charcoal carbon filters are also effective in removing heavy metals like lead.
A setback of bone charcoal carbon media is that it tends to work best with acidic water, and isn’t so effective with hard, alkaline water.
If you want to know if something works, see if it’s being used on a big scale. Activated alumina is commonly used in water treatment plants to remove fluoride and arsenic from groundwater sources that contain particularly dangerous levels of these impurities.
With a high adsorption rate, activated alumina is another filtration media that is ideal for treating fluoride-contaminated water. The best activated alumina filters are capable of reducing fluoride down to 1 ppm.
Activated alumina filters work best with water that has a pH of 6.5 or lower. While these filters are very affordable, they do require replacing regularly, as they become clogged with contaminants quickly.
Reverse osmosis is one of the most thorough means of filtration, and can remove much more than just fluoride. If you’re looking for an effective filtration solution for eliminating almost every drinking water contaminant that exists, reverse osmosis is a good option to consider.
In the reverse osmosis treatment process, water is forced through a semipermeable membrane, which consists of pores so tiny that virtually all impurities are unable to pass through. These dissolved solids are left behind, while pure water particles are able to fit through.
A big advantage of reverse osmosis is that it uses several filtration processes alongside the semi-permeable membrane. Most RO units feature a pre-filter, a carbon filter, and a post-filter. You can also pair these systems with other filters, like UV purifiers and remineralization filters.
The lifespan of an RO unit is between 10 and 15 years, though the filters and membranes will require changing more frequently – usually once every year for the filters, and once every two years on the membrane.
Note that, while still affordable to run, reverse osmosis filters tend to be more expensive up-front. If your budget is really small, you may want to look at one of the other options in this list instead.
Distillation is the most traditional means of water purification, and is also highly effective in removing fluoride from water.
During distillation, water is boiled until it evaporates, before condensing into a separate container. The contaminants that can’t evaporate and condense with water particles remain behind in the boiling chamber. They can then be washed away when you clean out the system.
A huge advantage of distillers is that they’re extremely low cost to operate. While most other systems use filters that need to be changed regularly, the actual distillation process itself is filter-free. Some distillers have a small carbon filter that sits in the spout, but these filters aren’t essential.
However, distilling water is a very time-consuming process. It can take up to 6 hours for an at-home distiller to produce a single gallon of purified water, so this option is typically best for couples or people who live alone.
Distillation also removes healthy minerals from water and can leave it tasting a bit flat. You can remedy this by treating your distilled water with mineral drops.
📌 Cheapest Filters to Remove Fluoride from Water at Home
Now we know how to remove fluoride from water cheaply with specific types of filters, let’s look at the best filter system designs for affordability.
Water Filter Pitchers
Water filter pitchers are undoubtedly the cheapest fluoride removal systems on the market. You can spend less than $25 on a pitcher that can remove fluoride, heavy metals, chlorine, and a host of other tap water contaminants.
It’s common for a water filter pitcher to use a type of activated carbon filter to remove fluoride, such as bone char.
A disadvantage of water filter pitchers is that they don’t provide instant filtered water access. It usually takes between 10 and 20 minutes for a pitcher to filter an entire batch of water, depending on the size of the jug and the age of the filter. The older the filter, the more clogged it’ll be, and the longer filtration will take.
Most water filtration pitchers have a three-month filter lifespan. You can usually purchase filters in multipacks to get a better deal in the long term.
In all, you can expect to pay an annual price of less than $50 for a water filter pitcher.
Filtered Water Bottles
Filtered water bottles are another affordable option to remove fluoride from water. These filters typically use a type of carbon to remove high levels of fluoride, as well as chlorine, lead, and bad tastes and odors.
The advantage of filtered water bottles, apart from their affordable price, is that they’re small and portable. If you want to drink filtered water while you’re at work or out of the house, you can simply fill your filtered water bottle with any tap water source, and you’ll have access to clean water whenever you need it.
With most filtered water bottles, the carbon filter will sit inside the bottle’s straw. When you suck through the straw, the force will send the water through the filter, cleaning it before it reaches your mouth.
Some filtered water bottles also offer UV treatment, which is a big bonus if you ever need to drink from an untreated water source, and you want to make sure that you’re protected from microorganisms like bacteria.
Depending on the brand you opt for, you can buy a filtered water bottle for around $20. Replacement filters are priced at around $10 each, or you can get a better deal if you buy them in multipacks.
Once you’ve bought the bottle, the average yearly spend on a filtered water bottle is around $30.
Faucet Mount Filters
Faucet mount filters are designed to be clipped onto a kitchen tap to provide instant access to clean water.
Again, these filters typically use a type of carbon filter to remove fluoride from water. They can also remove chlorine, lead, pesticides and herbicides, pharmaceuticals, and benzene.
Most faucet mount filters are very easy to install and can be removed at any point, and you don’t have the commitment of cutting into your water supply. Some designs are better than others. You can pay slightly less when buying a plastic filter, but I would recommend a stainless steel filter for durability.
A faucet mount filter cartridge usually lasts up to 100 gallons, or around three months.
Again, faucet mount filters are very affordable, costing between $20 and $30. The price of replacement filters is about $10-20, depending on how many you purchase at once.
Generally, the typical annual spend on a faucet-mounted filter is about $40-$50.
There are several types of affordable countertop filter that can be used for eliminating fluoride from water.
The most popular and effective counter filter is the distiller. Distillers are particularly effective in treating high levels of fluoride and other contaminants. They don’t take up too much space, and they can be stored out of sight when not in use.
There are other types of countertop filter that might also remove fluoride, though it’s worth checking before you buy if fluoride removal is your main aim. For instance, the Big Berkey filter has fluoride filters that need to be bought separately alongside the Black Berkey elements. This makes for a more expensive overall cost.
Distillers can be a little more costly upfront, costing around $90-$300, depending on the brand. But you can spend virtually nothing to maintain them, which means they’ll pay for themselves in no time at all.
If you factor in the price of replacement (optional) carbon filters, the annual spend on a distiller is around $15.
Finally, under-sink filters can be used to reduce fluoride exposure at a relatively low cost. These filter units need to be hooked up to your water supply, and provide clean, fluoride-free tap water in a matter of seconds.
Under-sink water filters might consist of a single carbon filter or several filter stages, such as RO filters. As well as reducing fluoride in water, they may also remove other contaminants that cause health problems, like heavy metals and chemicals.
Because under-sink tap water filters are connected directly to your water supply, they tend to be more difficult to install. However, once they’re hooked up, all you’ll need to do is change the filters, which is generally an easy job.
The price of an under-sink filter depends on the exact makeup of the system. Filters might be priced at between $100 and $300 initially, so under-sink filters aren’t your cheapest option. However, they do tend to be a great value for the price you pay, as you get a more permanent system that’s designed to last longer.
After you’ve purchased the initial system, you can expect to pay an average of $50-$130 per year, depending on how many filters you have to replace.
💡 Frequently Asked Questions
How can fluoride exposure cause health problems?
Evidence to suggest that fluoride is good or bad for our health is limited. However, some studies have found that exposure to fluoride, such as drinking fluoridated water, may put you at risk of fluorosis.
Fluorosis can be caused by drinking water with a very elevated fluoride content for an extended period of time. It can affect the bones and the teeth.
A very high fluoride intake might also increase your risk for a type of bone cancer called osteosarcoma. Additionally, fluoride may impair brain development and cause thyroid problems when consumed in excess.
If it’s potentially bad for me, why do states add fluoride to public water?
Your local public water supply might contain elevated fluoride levels, not naturally, but because your local authority has added it into your water. This is because fluoride has been found to prevent tooth decay by strengthening the enamel and making it more resistant to acid exposure. However, you can prevent tooth decay by simply cutting down on your sugar intake, avoiding processed beverages, and brushing your teeth regularly. Fluoride in water isn’t needed for good oral health.
How else can I reduce my exposure to fluoride?
If you’re concerned about being exposed to water elsewhere, there are several tips I can suggest. First, switch from fluoride toothpaste to a fluoride-free alternative. While studies have found that fluoride can help prevent cavities and tooth decay, it certainly isn’t essential. Using a non-fluoride toothpaste will reduce your risk of accidental fluoride exposure through swallowing. You should also avoid taking fluoride supplements, which, as the name suggests, contain a high fluoride concentration.
Will boiling tap water remove fluoride?
No. Boiling fluoridated water will just increase the fluoride content. Fluoride can’t evaporate from drinking water when boiled.
Do water softeners remove fluoride?
No. Water softeners aren’t a typical means of water filtration. They use an ion exchange process, which can only be used to remove hardness minerals from drinking water.