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High fluoride intake over an extended period of time can have severe health effects.
Thereby, the fluoridation of a public water supply by itself wouldn’t pose a problem, if it was not for the fact that many Americans already exceed the recommended daily fluoride intake through factors like fluoridated toothpaste and table salt, processed foods rich in fluoride, and medicines.
The good news: Removing fluoride from water is relatively easy, with the help of a fluoride water filter. You just need to know what to look out for when shopping.
So, here is our guide on how to remove fluoride from water.
- 1 Why Is Fluoride in Our Water?
- 2 Potential Health Effects of Fluoride in Drinking Water
- 3 How to Remove Fluoride from Water
- 4 NSF Certified Water Filters that Remove Fluoride
- 5 What Doesn’t Reduce Fluoride in Drinking Water
- 6 Tips for Reducing Your Overall Fluoride Exposure
- 7 Conclusion
Why Is Fluoride in Our Water?
In the U.S., fluoride gets added into public water supply systems deliberately in a process called fluoridation. The reason being that fluoride is highly effective against tooth decay. This fact has been proven again and again in empiric studies.
However, if adding fluoride into drinking water really helps to reduce cavities and other dental issues is still up for debate. Interestingly enough, many countries all over the world don’t fluoridate their tap water and their population doesn’t suffer from tooth decay more than Americans do, provided that we’re comparing first-world countries.
Another cause for high levels of fluoride in water is when the salt exists in natural deposits in the earth. When that trickles through such deposits dissolves some of the fluoride which later ends up in our groundwater.
Potential Health Effects of Fluoride in Drinking Water
Many Americans – children in particular – already exceed the RDI (recommended daily intake) for fluoride through their diet, even if water fluoridation didn’t exist.
That’s because fluoride is added to many table salts and milk, it can be found in most processed foods (there more processing steps, the higher the fluoride content), it’s contained in most toothpastes, and it is part of some medicines – and the list goes on.
Fortunately, our bodies only absorb and stores about half of the fluoride we ingest. The remaining 50 percent is flushed out via urine.
High fluoride exposure over an extended time can lead to hypothyroidism, which is basically an underfunctioning of the thyroid gland. Its entire function is suppressed which can alters hormone levels in our blood often leading to tiredness, fatigue, and other health issues.
Skeletal and Dental Fluorosis
The vast majority of the fluoride we absorb is stored in our bones and teeth. That’s why an oversupply of fluoride often leads to skeletal fluorosis and dental fluorosis. Symptoms of the former health condition include joint stiffness and joint pain. Dental fluorosis causes white or brown stains on teeth.
The human body stores a small proportion of the fluoride it absorbs in soft tissue, namely the brain and the pineal gland. The pineal gland is a small endocrine gland in the brain which produces melatonin, a hormone responsible for modulating sleep patterns.
Calcification of the brain and pineal gland can cause sleep disorders among other conditions.
First of all fluoride intoxication is rare and doesn’t happen under normal circumstances, no matter how much fluoridated water you drink. Intoxication only really occurs under sustained consumption of a very large amount of fluoride.
When we’re talking about the lethal dose, an adult human being would have to consume around 40 to 50 milligrams per kilogram body weight. The chances for such a scenario to become reality are slim. One would need to ingest high amounts of dental fluoride products or fluoride-containing pesticides.
How to Remove Fluoride from Water
Okay, so how to remove fluoride from water?
There currently exist 4 water treatment methods considered effective for the removal of fluoride in water at home (the list doesn’t include strong base anion exchange water purification which can only be found in industrial applications):
Activated alumina is a porous material that is highly effective at absorbing fluoride and arsenic in drinking water. Thereby, how much fluoride will be reduced in a filtration process depends on contact time, water temperature, and water pH.
Similar to activated alumina, bone char has high fluoride removal capacities. For those of you who don’t know, bone char is a granular, black material produced by charring animal bones.
Does Steam Distillation Remove Fluoride?
Yes, steam distillation does remove fluoride from tap water, and it does so very effectively! In fact, distilled water is about as pure as it gets in the realm of home water purification.
Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Fluoride?
Yes, reverse osmosis is perfectly suited for reducing fluoride in water. A high-quality semipermeable reverse osmosis membrane can easily reject 90+ percent of fluoride salts and other contaminants.
NSF Certified Water Filters that Remove Fluoride
Even though we know which water filtration methods can remove fluoride from drinking water in theory, we like to rely on NSF/ANSI-tested and certified water filters when it gets to the practical side of things.
In a nutshell, some water filters are simply more effective at removing fluoride from water than others. Standardized testing allows us to compare the different filter models on the market to one another and choose the one that performs best.
So when shopping for a filtration system that removes fluoride, the most important thing to remember is to look out for NSF testing and certifications. For fluoride, you should focus on Standard 53 (or Standard 58 when buying a reverse osmosis filter system). The product manual or performance data sheet should list a reduction rate specifically for fluoride. We consider anything above 90% to be pretty solid.
What Doesn’t Reduce Fluoride in Drinking Water
Most Home Water Filter Systems
Most home water filtration systems are not suited for reducing fluoride in drinking water. That’s simply because they use the “wrong” kind of filter media or filtration method.
As mentioned above, only activated alumina and bone char filter media, reverse osmosis water purification, and steam distillation have shown to be effective fluoride killers. Any other type of filter media or method used by home water filters are not designed for getting rid of fluoride.
Activated carbon and catalytic carbon are both examples for filter media unsuitable to filter fluoride out of water. They remove all other kinds of contaminants, though.
The purpose of a water softener is to remove hard water minerals that cause scaling. This has absolutely nothing to do with fluoride filtration.
Does Boiling Water Remove Fluoride?
Boiling does not remove fluoride from drinking water. Quite the contrary: Boiling water leads to evaporation which means even higher levels of fluoride.
Tips for Reducing Your Overall Fluoride Exposure
Reducing fluoride from your drinking water is a good start, but it may not be enough. Not to worry, there is more you can do to lower your overall fluoride exposure:
- You should switch to non-fluoridated table salt for cooking which is widely available.
- Consider using fluoride-free dental products, first and foremost toothpaste.
- Eat mostly organic foods if possible. Many fluoride-containing pesticides are used in conventional agriculture. Chances are that some of them survive the cooking process ending up on your dinner plate – not to speak of raw fruits and vegetables.
- Avoid processed foods, because every processing step potentially increases fluoride content, due to the use of fluoridated salt, fluoridated water, or preservatives. Eating fresh is healthier anyway!
- Try to reduce the amount of green tea, black tea, and coffee you drink. All three are known to be rich in fluoride, although this does not account for all coffee as well as tea brands and species.
- In case you need to take medicine, ask your doctor if it’s possible to substitute a certain drug containing fluoride with an appropriate and fluoride-free alternative.
- Teflon in cookware contains a high amount of fluoride. Byproducts that result from the cooking process cannot only contain fluoride, they are also highly toxic.
- Avoid bottled water. It may also contain high levels of fluoride.
Removing fluoride from a tap water supply must not be complicated. Simply use an appropriate filtration system that meets or exceeds the NSF standard for fluoride removal. The most effective filtration systems are based on activated alumina, bone char, and reverse osmosis. Water distillation is another ideal method for fluoride filtration.
- Does a Water Softener Remove Fluoride?
- Does My Water Contain Fluoride?
- What’s the Best Fluoride Water Test Kit?
-  https://www.americashealthrankings.org/explore/annual/measure/water_fluoridation/state/ALL
-  https://www.boostthyroid.com/blog/2018/4/13/fluoride-and-the-thyroid
-  https://iaomt.org/resources/fluoride-facts/fluoride-toxicity-exposure-effects/
Jason is the founder of Water Masterz and head of content creation. After six years in the industry, he has tremendous knowledge and first-hand experience on all things related to water treatment.
His credo: Not a single American should have to drink unhealthy water at home.