Do Water Softeners Remove Fluoride?

Author: Rory Mullan - Published: 2021/11/18 - Updated: 2022/11/22

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Are you worried about the quality of your home water and the high fluoride content it may contain? If yes, have you done anything to lower your fluoride exposure through the water you drink and use for cooking?

Fluoride is quite beneficial for your and your kids’ teeth, but overconsumption of this salt may lead to reproductive and cardiovascular issues. Besides, an excess of fluoride can also weaken your bones and may negatively affect brain development in our young ones.

Long story short, in some cases it’s better to remove it from the water. Does a water softener help you to achieve this goal? To find an answer to this query, read the article below.

So, here is our guide answering the question, does a water softener remove fluoride?


  • Fluoride is not removed by water softeners.
  • Water softeners are designed to remove minerals that lead to water hardness, such calcium and magnesium, but they have no effect on reducing the amount of fluoride in the water.

Does a Water Softener Remove Fluoride?

Do Water Softeners Remove Fluoride thumbnail

Water softeners are specifically designed to reduce the hardness of water. They do so by lowering the levels of two problematic minerals, magnesium and calcium.

However, water softeners do not remove fluoride. Not even a tiny bit. This is because these units are not water filters. Instead, water softeners are purifiers that only handle hard water problems.

How Water Softeners Work

Here’s how the procedure of water softening works:

  • The method follows the ion exchange principle. It exchanges positively charged magnesium and calcium ions with positively charged potassium or sodium ions.
  • The resin bed in a water softener attracts and binds the calcium and magnesium in hard water and releases sodium/potassium. When saturated, a softener flushes down all the accumulated hardness minerals.
  • In the flushing process, the resin bed gets recharge with new sodium. This cycle is called regeneration.

Water softening and softener regeneration may sound quick and simple, but in reality it features multiple complex stages. However, when done right, water softening can help to keep your hair and skin healthy, and reduce the impact of lime staining in your house for clean pipes.

What Do Water Softeners Remove?

Apart from hardness minerals, does a water softener remove anything at all?

Yes! Water softeners can also reduce moderate levels of radium, copper, iron and manganese found in your water supply.

But again: Here is something you should clearly understand. Water softeners are not filters, nor are they an alternative to any water filtration technology. They are separate units that cannot treat contaminated water. If you have high fluoride levels or any other impurity/contaminant in your water, you should install a water filter.

Also, some people have both water softeners and filters in their houses. Together, these two systems provide an excellent defense against various water-related problems.

Water Filter Types That Can Be Used to Remove Fluoride

Below is a list of water filter/purifier technologies that can help you gain fluoride-free water for consumption. Take a look!

Reverse Osmosis Systems

Have you come across reverse osmosis filtration technology yet? It is one of the most effective methods of water purification that can filter different types of contaminants and salts including fluoride. More precisely, a reverse osmosis system features a special membrane among other filter stages that together can remove almost all particles and dissolved substances leaving you with pure water.

The semi-permeable RO membrane has a 0.0001-micron rating[1] which helps it perform its job perfectly well. Plus, a reverse osmosis system’s pre and post-filters help enhance water quality even more and add all the final touches to give you a pristine end product.

However, reverse osmosis has a few shortcomings. Firstly, it isn’t very sustainable and wastes lots of water within the process. Moreover, an RO membrane also filters out beneficial minerals that your body may require.

under sink reverse osmosis system with storage tank

Water Distillers

Distillation is a method that can remove 99.9% of fluoride from your drinking water. In addition, it eliminates hundreds of other contaminants.

But how does water distillation work? It converts water to vapor through heating and condenses it back into its liquid state afterwards. While the water evaporates, it leaves any contaminants behind. This also applies to fluoride which stays in the heating chamber with the rest of the nasty stuff.

Please note: While distillation produces the purest drinking water, it also removes all the good minerals. In that case, you must remineralize your drinking water to get all the healthy nutrients back.

Bone Char Filters

Bone char features an ionic surface that is highly porous. Thus, a bone char filter adsorbs impurities such as radioactive elements, heavy metals and fluoride rather effectively.

While bone char may sound quite similar to activated carbon filter media, it isn’t. They are completely different from one another.

Activated Alumina (AA)

While looking for the best filter to remove fluoride, you may have stumbled upon activated alumina. This filter technology is quite widely used for fluoride removal and can help remove 95% of both fluoride and arsenic. Moreover, it can even reduce sulfate concentrations and high levels of TDS.

How does activated alumina do that? Made from aluminum oxide, AA has a high surface-area-to-weight ratio. This property helps it to trap contaminants.

If you want to try your hands on an activated alumina water filter, give the Berkey a try.

Keep in mind, though, that the filter media has a few limitations. For instance, it performs better in acidic water. Moreover, its performance may get affected by the presence of other impurities and ions.

How Fluoride Enters Our Water Supplies

Did you know that fluoride is a naturally occurring element? In fact, fluorine is found in the Earth’s crust and is considered the 13th most abundant substance. The element enters the soil through underground deposits, and from there, it seeps into water supplies.

That’s why most countries such as Japan[2] and those located in Western Europe do not support fluoridating their water. Some areas naturally have high fluoride levels in water bodies while others don’t – impossible to control.

In the USA, fluoridation is an artificial way to add fluoride to water supplies. According to the EPA, the recommended level is 0.7 mg/L. This is supposed to be adequate to prevent dental issues such as tooth decay.

But surprisingly, many countries that do not practice water fluoridation experience low cavity-related issues as well. That’s because they have excellent dental services and hygiene practices.


A water softener does not remove fluoride.

The ion exchange process removes hardness minerals, first and foremost calcium and magnesium. Moderate levels of radium, copper, iron and manganese can also be reduced.

If you want to remove fluoride from your water supply, use a reverse osmosis system, a water distiller, or a bone char or activated alumina water filter instead.

That said, fluoride can occur in water naturally, but most of the time it’s added artificially to prevent tooth decay.

Further Reading


Meet Rory Mullan

Rory Mullan Rory has joined the Water Masterz team as a contributing writer. He has covered all sorts of topics in the last several years.

Outside of his writing work, Rory enjoys photographing the Irish landscape and making music!

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