Looking for the best ways to remove fluoride from water in 2023?
Most states now fluoridate water supplies, and there’s been a growing controversy about this decision for decades.
We’ve shared how to effectively filter fluoride from your drinking water in this guide.
📌 Key Takeaways
- Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in the ground. Many states now produce fluoride synthetically and add it to our tap water supplies (community water fluoridation).
- The best ways to remove fluoride from water are with reverse osmosis filters, bone char carbon filters, activated alumina filters, and water distillers.
- Boiling water or using a simple activated carbon filter is NOT an effective way to remove fluoride.
Table of Contents
- 🤔 Why Does Tap Water Have Fluoride?
- 🕵️♂️ Current Regulations For Fluoride In Water
- ✅ How to Remove Fluoride from Water
- 📝 Types of Fluoride Reduction Filters
- ⚠️ Which Water Treatment Methods Are Not Effective for Fluoride Removal?
- 🔎 Is Fluoride Bad For You?
- 🩺 Potential Health Risks of Fluoride
- 🧪 How To Test For Fluoride In Water
- 💰 Is Removing Fluoride from Water Expensive?
- 📤 Should I Remove Fluoride From Water?
- 📑 Final Word
- 🧠 How to Remove Fluoride From Water: FAQ
🤔 Why Does Tap Water Have Fluoride?
The main reason that so many states have added fluoride to water is that the mineral is effective in preventing cavities and rebuilding weakened tooth enamel.
Tooth decay is a big problem in the US, with one study finding that nearly 90% of adults aged between 20 and 64 had some form of decay in their teeth. Fluoridated water, along with dental products like fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash, is intended to support oral health in the general population.
The idea of community water fluoridation is to collectively cut down on dental visits and costs associated with treatment for cavities and tooth decay.
🕵️♂️ Current Regulations For Fluoride In Water
The U.S. Public Health Service set the optimal range of 0.7 to 1.2 mg/L for fluoride in water to prevent tooth decay – but this range was set more than 40 years ago.
It still falls well within the drinking water standard of 4.0 mg/L for fluoride in water set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which, argues the Committee on Fluoride in Drinking Water, is “not adequately protective of health”.
The EPA also has a secondary standard of 2.0 mg/L for fluoride in water. This standard isn’t enforceable, so states participating in community water fluoridation aren’t legally required to reduce fluoride to this level. It’s intended to protect children from the aesthetic effects of excessive fluoride intake.
👨⚕️ What does this tell us? The EPA believes that up to 4.0 mg/L of fluoride in water isn’t a health concern, but more than 2.0 mg/L of this mineral may have aesthetic dental effects in children.
✅ How to Remove Fluoride from Water
Keen to learn how to remove fluoride from water? We’ve shared the best options below.
Reverse Osmosis Filtration
Fluoride reduction rate: 80-90%
Reverse osmosis water filtration is one of the most popular ways to greatly reduce fluoride from drinking water. A reverse osmosis system is capable of removing up to 90% of fluoride, as well as hundreds of other contaminants found in trace levels in a drinking water supply.
A reverse osmosis filtration system combines several water filters and a semi-permeable membrane to remove up to 99.9% of TDS (total dissolved solids), including impurities like chlorine, bacteria and viruses, VOCs, heavy metals and pesticides.
How exactly does reverse osmosis work?
Water passes through several filter stages before being forced against the semi-permeable membrane. Its impurities, which are larger than water molecules, rebound off the membrane and are drained out of the reverse osmosis system with a small amount of wastewater. Clean, healthy, fluoride-free water is delivered to the faucet.
Reverse osmosis systems are usually installed beneath a kitchen sink. Some reverse osmosis filters are countertop models, and some are point of entry (POE) systems for whole-home water treatment.
Fluoride reduction rate: 90-100%
A water distiller system is another highly effective way to remove greater than 99% of fluoride from drinking water. This effective filtration system can be set up in a matter of minutes – just assemble it on your countertop and plug it into an electricity source.
To use a distiller to reduce fluoride, add water to the unit’s boiling chamber in the system. Switch on the machine.
The distiller boils the water and causes it to evaporate. This water vapor travels into a separate part of the distiller and condenses. The condensed water drips out of the spout, filling up a clean pitcher.
The majority of contaminants, including fluoride, sodium, water hardness, and dissolved solids, are unable to vaporize with water, and are left behind in the boiling chamber. When you clean out the boiling chamber, you’ll remove these contaminants.
The biggest setback of water distillers is the speed of distillation – it takes up to 5 hours to produce just 1 gallon of distilled fluoride-free water.
Activated Alumina Filters
Fluoride reduction rate: 70-99%
Activated alumina filters, made from aluminum oxide, are commonly used to remove between 70% and 99% of fluoride in a public water supply.
You can use an activated alumina filter to tackle fluoride in drinking water in your home. For this filter to work, you need a relatively slow water flow and low pH.
This type of filter can sometimes be installed as an inline filter in your home, but it may also need to be connected to an existing filtration system.
Bone Charcoal Carbon Filters
Fluoride reduction rate: Up to 90%
Bone char charcoal is one of the oldest methods of filtration and is another effective way to treat a fluoridated water supply. It’s more efficient than reverse osmosis as it doesn’t waste water during filtration.
Bone char is made using a careful process that enhances the adsorption ability of the charcoal. Generally, bone char filters are added to a larger filtration system that can remove not only fluoride, but also a broad range of contaminants from a local water supply, including chlorine and lead.
📝 Types of Fluoride Reduction Filters
The filter methods to remove fluoride are found in a variety of different system types, installed at different locations in your home.
- Under-sink filters
- Countertop filters
- Water filter pitchers and dispensers
- Whole home filters
Rarely, some faucet filters and showerhead filters may also filter fluoride in your water supply.
⚠️ Which Water Treatment Methods Are Not Effective for Fluoride Removal?
There are a couple of water treatment methods that aren’t usually suitable for fluoride reduction:
Simple Activated Carbon Filters
Not all types of carbon water filters can effectively filter fluoride in water.
A simple AC filter, often found in water pitcher and under-counter filter models, won’t make much difference to your water’s fluoride content. This type of filter is designed primarily to reduce chlorine, volatile organic compounds, pesticides, and poor tastes and odors.
Check the product information to see if it removes fluoride. If you want to know exactly how the filter removes fluoride, reach out to the manufacturer.
KDF filters, often found alongside carbon filters in multi-stage point-of-entry and point-of-use filtration systems, are not designed for fluoride removal.
Instead, these filters remove contaminants including chlorine, water-soluble heavy metals, scale, bacteria, and fungi, depending on the type of KDF media used.
Does boiling water remove fluoride? Unfortunately, no.
Simply boiling water can’t be used to eliminate fluoride. When you boil water, some of the water will evaporate, leaving a higher concentration of fluoride per cup of water.
You can, however, distill your own water with a homemade distiller. This will separate the water molecules from the impurities, effectively removing fluoride.
🔎 Is Fluoride Bad For You?
Fluoride is said to be good for oral health and safe to digest in low levels. This is despite the fact that fluoride is a toxic substance and can be lethal if consumed in very large amounts.
👨⚕️ So, is fluoride bad for you? According to organizations like the EPA, no. Water with a low fluoride content shouldn’t be dangerous – but many people disagree.
🩺 Potential Health Risks of Fluoride
We’ve listed some of the known potential health risks of fluoride below.
According to Fluoride Alert, fluoride is recognized as a neurotoxin, which means it may damage the brain.
Studies have linked prolonged exposure to fluoride with brain damage, reduced intelligence, reduced ability to learn and remember, and reduced IQ, especially in children. Studies on pregnant women have found a link between fluoridation and impaired fetal development.
High levels of fluoride accumulation in the bones can result in a condition called skeletal fluorosis.
Skeletal fluorosis is caused by ingesting excess fluoride during the years of bone growth. Joint pain and stiffness are early symptoms of skeletal fluorosis. Eventually, this condition may cause muscle impairment and pain. It’s thought that more than 1.5 PPM of fluoride consumption in water causes skeletal fluorosis.
Dental fluorosis is a common cosmetic condition that’s characterized by discolored, stained teeth. It’s a result of fluoride exposure in children and babies (typically throughout the first 8 years of life).
Interestingly, people with dental fluorosis have a particularly high resistance to cavities. While this is undoubtedly a good thing, the enamel discoloration caused by the condition looks unsightly.
Fluoride is thought to interfere with the functioning of the thyroid gland because it mimics the behavior of the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH).
This may result in thyroid cell death, inflammation, and conditions such as hyperthyroidism, especially when coupled with iodine deficiency. Because the body mistakenly recognizes fluoride as iodine, it may absorb it into tissues, which can lead to toxicity.
Additional Potential Issues
The American Cancer Society examined research and studies into the potential link between water fluoridation and cancer.
Osteosarcoma is a type of cancer that is most commonly associated with fluoride, and some studies found that drinking fluoridated water may put people at a higher risk of the disease. Other studies couldn’t find any solid evidence.
🧪 How To Test For Fluoride In Water
Want to get clued up about the fluoride levels in your tap water? Click here to learn more about whether your region adds fluoride to your water source.
Alternatively, you can test your water to detect this naturally occurring compound.
You have a couple of testing options:
- Laboratory testing – The most thorough testing option. Tells you exactly how much fluoride your water contains and the fluoride type (naturally occurring fluoride vs synthetic fluoride). Cost: $55-$80 on average.
- At-home test kits – The cheapest option. Gives you a rough idea of how much fluoride is present in your water. You won’t know how much of this fluoride is natural fluoride and how much has been artificially added. Cost: $10-$30 on average.
- Fluoride meter – Another at-home method of testing for fluoride. More accurate but also more expensive than at-home test kits. Cost: $85-$160 on average.
💰 Is Removing Fluoride from Water Expensive?
You know how to remove fluoride from water – but can you afford it?
The cost of removing fluoride from water depends on the type of filtration system you choose. In most cases, using a water filter to remove fluoride from water is still cheaper than exclusively drinking fluoride-free bottled water.
👨🔧 The average cost of reducing fluoride levels with water filtration systems is $50-$250 per year.
If your budget is small, there are plenty of ways to remove fluoride from water cheaply.
A cheap but effective filter option is a water filter pitcher. The best water filter pitchers usually cost less than $100 upfront, and the annual spend on filter changes is about the same. Just make sure you buy a pitcher that’s capable of removing fluoride – not all filters are.
📤 Should I Remove Fluoride From Water?
Though drinking water sources don’t contain a large amount of fluoride, many folks would rather not ingest a mineral that has potential health concerns.
If you’re concerned about your family’s fluoride intake, consider installing a water filter to remove fluoride. You can spend less than $100 upfront and a similar price per year on a basic tap water filter that effectively reduces fluoride in your water supply.
📑 Final Word
If you want to avoid excessive fluoride exposure, removing fluoride from your drinking water is the best practice.
However, you should pay extra attention to your dental health. Make sure to brush your teeth twice a day (ideally with fluoride toothpaste, which you can spit out after brushing), eat a well-balanced diet, and visit your dentist for routine checkups and cleaning.
🧠 How to Remove Fluoride From Water: FAQ
Can a water filter remove fluoride?
Yes, certain water filters can filter fluoride out of your tap water. Reverse osmosis and activated alumina filters are the best solutions to reduce your water’s fluoride concentration. Not all filters are designed to filter fluoride added to tap water, so check before you buy.
Does fluoride evaporate out of water?
No, fluoride doesn’t evaporate out of water. Unlike chlorine, fluoride won’t dissipate over time if you leave a glass of water exposed to air. The only way to remove fluoride from water is with physical filtration.
Does Brita filter out fluoride?
No, Brita filters don’t remove fluoride from drinking water. Brita pitchers can only remove a handful of other contaminants, including chlorine and some disinfection byproducts.
How can I reduce my exposure to fluoride?
You can reduce your exposure to fluoride (and the likelihood of fluoride toxicity) by removing fluoride from your drinking water, avoiding fluoridated toothpaste and dental products, buying fluoride-free bottled water, and avoiding foods and beverages that are treated with, produced with, or stored in fluoridated water (such as black tea, fruit juice, and shrimp).
How do you remove fluoride from shower water?
There aren’t many dedicated shower filters that remove fluoride, so the best way to remove fluoride from your shower water is to install a whole home filtration system that uses activated alumina or a similar fluoride removal media.
Does holy basil remove fluoride from water?
Yes. Studies have found that holy basil can remove 31% to 42% fluoride when added to boiling tap water. However, water filters are a more effective, and more convenient way to treat fluoridated tap water.