Are you looking for a fluoride water filter? If so, this guide is what you’re looking for.
In this blog post, we discuss everything you need to know about fluoride water filters. We review which types of filters are effective at removing fluoride from your drinking and which aren’t. We address confusing claims that some manufacturers make and explain what information to look for to ensure you get what you pay for. Our guide includes a list of important factors to consider when purchasing a filter and the best fluoride water filters on the market.
Let’s get started!
What Is Fluoride | Why Is It in Our Water
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that is found in water and soil. It has been added to public water supplies since the 1940s in an effort to improve oral health. Today, about 75% of Americans receive fluoridated water from their local municipality.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reviewed the evidence and found that water fluoridation is a safe and effective way to prevent tooth decay. The CDC recommends that people who do not have access to fluoridated water use fluoride supplements or dental products with fluoride.
Most public water utilities add 2 ppm (parts per million) of fluoride to their water.
Concerns with fluoride
Water that is treated with fluoride is safe to drink. The HHS notes that the optimal level of fluoride is 0.7 milligrams per liter. This concentration effectively prevents tooth decay while minimizing the chance for dental fluorosis.
Fluorosis is a cosmetic condition that results in white spots on the teeth. In severe cases, it can cause pitting and discoloration of the teeth. It occurs when children drink water that contains high levels of fluoride while their permanent teeth are developing.
Which Filters Remove Fluoride
There are several treatment methods that can remove fluoride from water. Some of the most common types of fluoride filters are:
- Reverse osmosis
- Water distiller
- Activated alumina (also known as gravity filters)
- Ion exchange resin filters
- Some filter pitchers
Reverse Osmosis Fluoride Filters
Reverse osmosis is a popular filtration method that can remove fluoride from water.
Reverse osmosis filters are effective at removing fluoride. It is possible to remove as much as 99% of the fluoride. A typical removal efficiency for RO filters is between 94 and 97%. but they are also expensive to operate and require regular maintenance.
Read my article “Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Fluoride from Drinking Water” for a more thorough discussion.
What is reverse osmosis
Reverse osmosis (RO) is a type of filtration that forces water through a semipermeable membrane under pressure. This process removes dissolved compounds, including fluoride, from the water.
The RO membrane is a polymer sheet that is wound into a spiral. As water enters the RO system, it is forced through the membrane under pressure. This separates the dissolved compounds from the water, and they are discharged as waste.
Pros and Cons of RO
The advantages of reverse osmosis include:
- It can remove a wide variety of contaminants, including fluoride, arsenic, lead, and chlorine
- It can reduce fluoride concentrations to safe levels
- RO systems typically have a long lifespan
- Maintenance is simple – you just replace the spent filter cartridges
The disadvantages of reverse osmosis include:
- It can be expensive to purchase and maintain
- It wastes water – for every gallon of filtered water, up to four gallons of wastewater are produced
- Some people complain that the water has an earthy taste and smell
My Pick – Best reverse osmosis filter for fluoride
I installed a reverse osmosis filter system under my kitchen sink. It works very well, and I’m providing a summary of it here in case you’re looking for an RO filter.
APEC Water Systems ROES-50 RO Filter
This under-sink reverse osmosis filter is WQA certified to remove a long list of contaminants. It can filter up to 99% of contaminants including chlorine, taste, odor, VOCs, arsenic, lead, nitrates, heavy metals, and many more contaminants. It can handle a maximum TDS level of 2,000 ppm.
Water Distiller Fluoride Filters
Distillation is another effective method for removing fluoride from water. A typical water distiller can remove 99% of fluoride. This is about the best reduction you can achieve in a residential treatment system.
The typical water distiller is a countertop unit that can produce about 1 liter of water at a time. They do not require installation – you simply plug them in and add water to the tank.
How does distillation work
Water distillers work by boiling water and capturing the resulting steam. The steam is then condensed back into water, and this purified water is collected in a separate chamber.
In a typical water distiller, water is added to a reservoir tank. The water is then heated until it boils. The boiling water produces steam, which is directed into a condensing coil. This coil is cooled by air or water, and this causes the steam to condense back into water. The condensed water collects in a separate chamber, and this is the distilled water that is collected for drinking.
Pros and Cons of water distillers
Water distillers offer a number of advantages.
- They can remove 99% of fluoride from your water
- A countertop water distiller is small – about the size of a coffee maker
- They are easy to use – you just add water and wait for it to distill
- Water distillers are relatively inexpensive
- Countertop units do not require installation
The disadvantages of distillation include:
- It takes longer to produce purified water than other methods, such as reverse osmosis
- Clean water is produced in small batches
- You have to keep adding water to the reservoir tank
- Some people complain that distilled water has an unpleasant taste (or no taste)
My Pick – Best water distiller for fluoride
My neighbor has a countertop water distiller that he swears by.
VIVOHOME Countertop Distilled Water System
This countertop water distillation system is made of brushed stainless steel. It can produce 4 liters of clean water in each batch and a total of 6 gallons per day. It only requires 750 watts of power.
Gravity Filter (Activated Alumina) Fluoride Filters
Gravity filters are a general category of filter that you pour the water into a reservoir, and it drains through a filtration media under gravity. Some of them, such as the Berkey gravity filter, use activated alumina to remove fluoride from water.
Activated alumina is recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency as an effective method to treat fluoride.
Activated alumina filters can reduce fluoride concentrations to less than 0.1 parts per million (ppm). This is a 99% reduction of the standard 2 ppm fluoridated water level used by most public water supplies.
What is activated alumina
Activated alumina is a filter material that is very effective at removing fluoride from water. It is a ceramic compound made of aluminum oxide. This material has a very high ratio of surface area to weight which, in turn, gives it a very high capacity to adsorb fluoride.
Activated alumina removes fluoride through a process known as adsorption. In adsorption, contaminants (such as fluoride) adsorb, or stick to, the surface of the media. The fluoride molecules in the water are attracted to the surface of the activated alumina and are adsorbed onto the pores.
Pros and Cons of gravity filters
Gravity filters offer some advantages over other types of fluoride water filters.
- They are simple to use
- They are relatively inexpensive to purchase
- They remove 99% of fluoride from water
- Some filters last for 6 months depending on water usage
The disadvantages of gravity filters include:
- They require regular filter changes
- Filter costs are relatively high
- The filtered water often has a metallic taste
- Gravity filters can be slow to process water
Best gravity filter for fluoride
My neighbor has a Berkey gravity filter that she swears by.
Imperial Berkey Gravity Water Filter w/ 2 Black Berkey Elements
This 4.5-gallon capacity gravity filter from Berkey can purify enough water for 4-8 people each day. The filter elements can treat up to 6,000 gallons of water before they have to be replaced. Just pour untreated water into the top chamber and dispense clean, refreshing water from the spigot.
Test Your Drinking Water for Fluorine
Tap Score offers a laboratory test to measure the level of fluoride in your drinking water. This package provides all the necessary materials to collect and submit a sample for testing. Results will include a detailed, quantified analysis of fluoride levels in your water.
Knowing what’s in your water is the first step to keeping your family safe.
Which Filters Do Not Remove Fluoride
1 – Activated carbon filters
In general, activated carbon filters are not effective at removing fluoride from water. Carbon filters should not be used to remove fluoride from drinking water.
It’s important to know that there are different grades and qualities of activated carbon. Most carbon filters are made from bituminous coal. Other materials used to make activated carbon include coconut shell, bone char, and wood. The material used to make the carbon and the activation process have a big impact on how well it removes fluoride.
Some filter manufacturers claim that their carbon filters can reduce the level of fluoride in water. The key word in this statement is “reduce”. How much reduction to these filters provide? It varies.
Here is a summary of the various activated carbons and how well they remove fluoride from drinking water.
|Type of Carbon Filter||Amount of Fluoride Removed||Fluoride treatment ranking|
|Coal||Less than 10%||Poor|
|Coconut shell||20% – 55%||Fair to moderate|
|Wood||10% – 15%||Poor|
|Bone char||50% – 60%||Moderate|
|Carbon block||10% – 15%||Poor|
As you can see, even the best activated carbon – bone char – can only remove 60% of fluoride from water. For me, this isn’t good enough to protect me and my family.
2 – Refrigerator filters
Refrigerator filters are not effective at removing fluoride from water. Most of these filters use activated carbon to purify water, and carbon is not effective at reducing fluoride.
There are a few online vendors who claim that their refrigerator filters reduce fluoride, but their filters use activated carbon. Carbon can remove some fluoride, but only about 10% to 50%. While 50% removal is a “reduction”, I don’t think this is adequate if you’re looking to avoid fluoride.
Some in-line water filters have activated alumina media. Although these filters aren’t technically “refrigerator filters”, they would be fine for removing fluoride.
3 – Particle filters
Particle filters do not remove fluoride from water. In general, any type of physical filter will not remove fluoride from water. This also applies to the following types of filters:
- sediment filter
- ultrafiltration filter
- microfiltration filter
- nanofiltration filter
4 – Pitcher filters
In general, pitcher filters do not remove fluoride from water. Refer to my article “Do Brita Filters Remove Fluoride? The Answer Might Surprise You” for a detailed discussion.
Some pitcher filters use activated alumina to treat water. This type of filter would be very effective at removing fluoride from your water.
The only pitcher filter I’m aware of that uses AA for fluoride removal is the Clearly Filtered brand.
Check Amazon for Clearly Filtered Pitcher filters.
5 – Faucet filters
Faucet filters connect directly to your kitchen or bathroom faucet. They are the most common type of water filter and are available in a variety of sizes and styles. Faucet filters typically have a replaceable cartridge that removes contaminants from your water as it passes through the filter.
Faucet filters are not effective at removing fluoride. Most of these filters use activated carbon to remove contaminants. As noted above, carbon can remove small amounts of fluoride, but not enough to make a difference.
6 – Shower filters
Shower filters are similar to faucet filters. They connect directly to your shower head and treat the water that you bathe with. They typically use activated carbon to treat your water. Some of these filters use the same ion exchange resin that your water softener has.
Shower filters do not remove fluoride from water.
Important Factors to Consider for Fluoride Filters
Fluoride water filters are an effective way to remove fluoride from your water. Be sure to consider the important factors listed above before making your purchase.
If you are considering purchasing a fluoride water filter, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
Number of people drinking water
You need a filter that is the right size for your home. Make sure you choose one that is large enough to accommodate the number of people who will be drinking from it.
Cost to purchase and maintain
How much you are willing to spend? Fluoride filters can range in price from $30 to $2,500. Choose the one that fits your budget.
Filter life and cost
One of the biggest costs associated with fluoride filters is replacing the filter elements. Check the cost of cartridges as well as the cost of the filter.
Some filters are easy to install yourself. Others may require the help of a professional. Make sure you know what is involved in installing the filter before you make your purchase.
Installation – DIY or professional
The cost to install some fluoride filters can be between $75 and $1,000. If you are a DIYer, you may be able to install the filter for the cost of a few fittings. If you’re not comfortable working on plumbing, you’ll want to hire a professional.
NSF and ANSI Certification
When you are looking for a fluoride filter, make sure it has been certified by NSF International or the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). These organizations test products to make sure they meet certain standards.
NSF Standard 53 is often referred to as the “Health Effects” standard. Look for fluoride filters that have NSF Standard 53 certification. This means that NSF has verified its ability to reduce or remove contaminants that are known to harm your health.
Do pitcher filters like Brita remove fluoride?
Pitcher filters do not remove fluoride from water. Brita is one of the most popular pitcher filter brands on the market, but their filters do not remove fluoride.
Do Berkey filters remove fluoride?
Berkey filters reduce the level of fluoride in drinking water. They use activated alumina which is very effective at removing fluoride from water.
Do refrigerator filters remove fluoride?
Refrigerator filters do not remove fluoride from water. Most refrigerator filters contain activated carbon, which does not remove fluoride.
Do water softeners remove fluoride?
Water softeners do not remove fluoride from water. Water softeners use ion exchange to remove minerals from your water. This process does not remove fluoride.
Does boiling water remove fluoride?
No, boiling water does not remove fluoride. Boiling water will actually concentrate the fluoride in your water because of evaporation.
Do shower filters remove fluoride?
Shower filters do not remove fluoride from water. Shower filters use activated carbon to remove chlorine and other contaminants from your water. They do not remove fluoride.
Final Take on Fluoride Water Filters
Now that you understand a little more about fluoride and which filters remove it from your water, you can make an informed decision about which one is right for you. The four main types of filters that can be used to reduce fluoride levels are reverse osmosis filters, water distillers, activated alumina filters, and ion exchange resin filters. It is also important to consider the NSF and ANSI certification of any filter you are considering purchasing.
We hope this guide has been helpful in educating you about fluoride and how to remove it from your drinking water.