Most municipal water supplies add chlorine for disinfectant purposes and fluoride for dental health. What if you don’t want either of these chemicals in the water that you drink or bathe in? The average drinking water filter is designed to remove chlorine but fluoride is a tougher chemical to filter out. Today I am going to show you how to remove fluoride in drinking water!
The typical household water filter you buy in the store (Brita, Pur, or your fridge filter) cannot remove fluoride & are only effective at removing chlorine and other heavy metals.
What Is Fluoride?
The type of fluoride added to most municipal water supplies is not the naturally occurring variety. Let me explain…
Fluoride is a controversial chemical that is added to about 2/3 of the U.S. municipal water supplies for dental health. The theory justifying the action is that fluoride strengthens your teeth. When directly applied to the teeth in small amounts, fluoride can prevent tooth decay, but it doesn’t have any beneficial impacts when ingested (i.e. drinking fluoridated water). In reality, fluoride can cause dental & skeletal fluorisis when bones become brittle & disrupt your body’s endocrine system. And studies do not show any significant difference in tooth decay between populations with or without water fluoridation.
Yes, fluoride is a naturally occurring element that might be present in your water supply. But this is calcium fluoride. This variety of fluoride is essentially harmless, although water sources with large amounts can cause dental & skeletal fluorosis.
The type of fluoride that is most commonly added to tap water is a phosphate fertilizer byproduct called Fluorosilicic Acid! 🙁 If you think this is some talk radio hoopla, just check out Wikipedia which is pretty much a neutral article on the issue, in my opinion.
When I researched all this information, especially hearing the fluoride we drink is an industrial by-product, that is imported from China because the United States doesn’t have a large enough supply my wife & I want to do our best to remove it from the water we consume.
With everything in life, I encourage you to do your own research on fluoride to make your own conclusion.
How To Remove Fluoride In Your Drinking Water
There are four ways to remove fluoride from tap water & these are ways you can reduce fluoride at home.
- Activated Alumina
With this filtration method, you might trading one evil for another. Instead of fluoride in your water, you might be getting an increased level of aluminum. Activated alumina is used by water treatment plants to remove excess fluoride and other contaminants like cadmium and arsenic.
This filtration method can remove up to 90% of fluoride and is most effective with a low flow rate while being filtered (so the water remains in contact with the activated alumina longer), cool temperature, and lower pH level.
Clearly Filtered makes a countertop water pitcher that is certified to remove fluoride. Other companies produce sink-mounted filters, specifically Crystal Quest, that provide filtered water through a spigot at your kitchen sink.
2. Reverse Osmosis
As you probably already know, this is considered the most thorough water filtration method available regarding all contaminants. RO can only remove an estimated 90% as well, but arguably is more effective than the other methods because of the filtration process. The fluoride cannot make it through the narrow filter openings that only pure water can. More fluoride will be removed with a slower flow rate.
There are several downsides to reverse osmosis:
- Requires Electricity
- Strips nutrients from water ( You can replace nutrients by adding 1 teaspoon per gallon)
- Wastes 2-3 gallons per 1 gallon of water
Reverse Osmosis units are available in undersink or whole house filtration models.
You can purchase distilled water from the store and you can also use a home distillation filter. Distilled water is the captured, recondensed steam that came from boiling unfiltered water.
Distillation might be more effective at removing fluoride than reverse osmosis, but is more energy & time intensive than RO. Keep in mind that distillation will not remove VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds).
Distillation is similar to RO because it requires electricity but takes time to wait for the steam to condense back into water. It strips out more nutrients than RO and leaves the water tasteless (so nutrients need to be added back into the water).
4. Bone Char
This option might not be popular depending on your dietary or personal convictions.
Activated bone charcoal come from Kosher beef bones usually. The tricalcium phosphate is the property in the bones that can remove up to 90% fluoride. The bone char attracts the fluoride in the same manner human bones attract it. When the filter has absorbed as much fluoride as possible, it’s time for a replacement.
The filters are countertop mounted cylinders that normally are in packs of four (3 bone char filters & 1 carbon or KDF) to also filter chlorine, chloramines, heavy metals, and other contaminants.
If you decide to use one of these filters, make sure it is medical or therapeutic grade bone char to ensure the highest quality filter.
What Will Not Filter Fluoride Out Of Tap Water
Here are a couple actions you might be taking at home that actually don’t remove fluoride at all.
- Using a Brita or Pur Filter
- Not to knock these two brands, but they are the most common household drinking water filters. Any Granular Activated Carbon (loose carbon) filter cannot filter fluoride. It’s impossible because they do not contain activated alumina or bone char. But they can filter chlorine and a lot of other nasty stuff out of your water. Some of those contaminants may have been introduced to the water supply by tagging along with the fluorosilicic acid.
- Boiling Water
- You can boil water all day long to get various contaminants out, but fluoride will still be in the water.
- Brushing your teeth with fluoridated toothpaste
- Chance are that if you have a whole house filtration system that removes fluoride, you are also using fluoride-free toothpaste. Although this can be a simple item to overlook.
- The FDA warning on a tube of toothpaste tells you to call Poison Control if you ingest more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
Whether or not you agree that fluoride should be removed from the water supply, I believe we can agree that the water you drink out of the tap needs to be filtered for as many contaminants as possible.
Fluoride has been linked to several medical conditions including bone cancer, thyroid issues, and gastrointestinal problems. Coupled with the fact that the fluoride we drink is most likely a fertilizer by-product, I definitely want my family to be drinking cleaner water.
It is also a difficult chemical to remove due to it’s ionic nature, but thankfully there are a couple different filtration methods available to help remove it and give you purer water to drink!
What water filter do you use currently? Do you think fluoride is dangerous?
It’s really interesting article indeed. I didn’t know there was Fluoride in the tap water. I thought it was only the Chlorine. I don’t know how much is the concentration of Fluoride in the tap water but I think it’s definitely important to remove it. Do you know if there are any studies on its effect on young kids and babies?
Thanks for the comment & great questions.
Western Europe overwhelmingly doesn’t use fluoride. Approximately 45% of Canadian municipal water is fluoridated. Fluoride is in 2/3 of the U.S. public water supply, so you might not have it in yours. The EPA doesn’t recommend drinking fluoridated water that is higher than 4mg/L. For infants, no more than 2 mg/L. Therefor the majority of public water utilities only allow a maximum of 2 mg/L but normally keep the levels around 1 mg/L. If you look the the annual test results that your water utility releases, it will show their test results. My local utility tests at 1 mg/L.
Regarding infants and little children, tests have shown that medicinal fluoride, in very small amounts, applied topically to their teeth can be beneficial but no longer has an impact after 8 years old. Other tests have shown that fluoride can impair brain development and actually increase dental fluorosis (when teeth are pitted are discolored). The best way to limit infant exposure to fluoride is not using fluoridated water when making infant formula & studies have shown that fluoride is virtually non-existent in breast milk & the mom’s body has a natural function to block it.
Fluoride can be a touchy subject. For generations we have been told it is good for our teeth, but that opinion has been changing in recent decades.