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I've been looking for a residential water filtering system (preferably under sink), that can filter fluoride from drinking water. It seems that none of the systems I've looked at boast the ability to remove it. And the information I've found on the internet, is conflicting at best.

Some sources suggest that reverse osmosis systems (which was they type of filter I was looking at), can remove 80-90% of the fluoride. While others say that RO systems can't remove fluoride.

Activated alumina filters seem to be another alternative. Though I've not seen these types of filters available at the local big boxes.

Is it possible to remove fluoride from drinking water in a residential setting? Is a reverse osmosis system capable of removing fluoride?

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3 Answers 3

Yes, RO can remove most of the fuoride (according to the mfg specs on my system). Distillation will also remove just about everything -- in either case, you should weigh the benefits of these systems (costly!) vs using a water cooler for drinking water.

Deionizers and activated alumina are more obscure filtration systems that you can look into as well.

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A good DIY project is a solar still. Otherwise in most cases bottled water delivery (in 5 gallon carboys) is going to cost less than buying and operating extreme filtration systems or non-solar stills. –  Ecnerwal Mar 24 at 14:42
    
Can you provide any links to credible data that can back up your claims (link to the specs of your system, or the system itself)? I've heard from many sources that distillation is not effective at removing fluoride. –  Tester101 Mar 24 at 15:36
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@Tester101 wqa.org/pdf/TechBulletins/TB-Fluoride.pdf –  Ethereal Mar 24 at 17:45
    
And were these "sources" you heard from credible, or simply trying to sell you something else they claimed worked better? (Or justifying having bought something else someone else said worked better?) I see a lot of super-low-quality results purporting that distillation doesn't work, but volume is meaningless in search results. Given that the science of removing ions from solutions by distillation is long-established, naturally the only articles on the web pointing out that it works are as questionable in source as the opposition, coming from distiller sellers. Hail 21st century pseudoscience. –  Ecnerwal Mar 24 at 22:27
up vote 1 down vote accepted

According to this document from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), distillation and reverse osmosis are both effective at lowering the fluoride level of drinking water to below 4 mg/L.

How will fluoride be removed from my drinking water?

The following treatment method(s) have proven to be effective for removing fluoride to below 4.0 mg/L or 4.0 ppm: distillation or reverse osmosis.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says in this document that distillation and reverse osmosis systems may reduce fluoride levels, but the manufacturer should be consulted.

Will using a home water filtration system take the fluoride out of my home's water?

Removal of fluoride from water is a difficult water treatment action. Most point-of-use treatment systems for homes that are installed for use by single faucets use activated carbon filtration, which will not remove the fluoride ion. The ability of other treatment systems such as reverse osmosis, ion exchange, or distillation systems to reduce fluoride levels vary in their effectiveness to reduce fluoride. Check with the manufacturer of the individual product.

They go on to say, that if you're concerned about the level of fluoride in the water. Bottled water may be a safe alternative.

If you are concerned about the fluoride level in your home water (above the level of 2 parts per million), you should use water from a commercial bottler whose water has the level of fluoride you desire. The optimal level of fluoride in drinking water for the prevention of tooth decay is 0.7 ppm to 1.2 ppm.

Another document from the CDC states that reverse osmosis systems will remove fluoride, but does not mention fluoride removal with distillation.

Reverse Osmosis Systems

  • Reverse Osmosis Systems will remove common chemical contaminants (metal ions, aqueous salts), including sodium, chloride, copper, chromium, and lead; may reduce arsenic, fluoride, radium, sulfate, calcium, magnesium, potassium, nitrate, and phosphorous.

Distillation Systems

  • Distillation Systems will remove common chemical contaminants, including arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, nitrate, sodium, sulfate, and many organic chemicals.

In yet another document from the CDC, they state that reverse osmosis and distillation systems can reduce fluoride levels if the systems are certified to do so.

Reverse osmosis and distillation treatment systems can be installed to lower high fluoride levels to below the MCL and are certified for this purpose (NSF Standards 53, 58, 62; 2009).

Finally, according to the NSF's Contamination Reduction Claims Guide, both distillation and reverse osmosis can reduce fluoride below 2.0 mg/L.

Substance   EPA Maximum Contaminant Level   Effective Product Technologies
Fluoride    2.0 mg/L                        Distillation, Reverse Osmosis

If a filtration system is NSF compliant, it will list the Performance Claims. Performance claims list what is filtered out, and at what level.

Performance Claims
Example performance claims from Krystal Pure™ Reverse Osmosis Systems KR5 - KR10 - KR15 (PDF)


Should fluoride be removed?

The question then becomes, is it really worth it to remove the fluoride?

According to the Annual Drinking Water Quality Report issued by my local water utility (which I can't link to, since it's a physical document that gets mailed out).

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control, fluoride is very effective in preventing cavities when present in drinking water at levels that range from 0.8 to 1.2 mg/L (parts per million). Our fluoride addition facility is designed and operated to meet this optimal range.

Later in the document they list all the contaminates, and at what level they were measured.

Metals, Inorganics Physical Tests   Violation   Date of Sample  Level Detected (AVG.)   Unit Measurment MCLG    MCL 
Fluoride, Entry Point               No          2011            0.88                    mg/L            2.2     2.2

According to this document from the EPA, it would seem the levels of fluoride in my water are actually safe and potentially beneficial.

if you and your child are among the 196 million Americans who receive their water from an optimally fluoridated community water system (0.7 to 1.2 milligrams per liter) and you follow guidelines in your child’s tooth brushing, then it is highly unlikely that your child is receiving too much fluoride.

It also should be noted that with both distillation and reverse osmosis, there is quite a bit of water wasted in the filtering process. Which may be of little concern if the fluoride levels are high, and your health is at stake. In my case, however, the fluoride levels may not be high enough to justify the waste.

Fluoridated water for preparing infant formula

While drinking fluoridated water may not be unhealthy, the CDC warns that using such water to prepare infant formula may lead to dental fluorosis.

Overview: Infant Formula and Fluorosis

Recent evidence suggests that mixing powdered or liquid infant formula concentrate with fluoridated water on a regular basis may increase the chance of a child developing the faint, white markings of very mild or mild enamel fluorosis.

You can use fluoridated water for preparing infant formula. However, if your child is exclusively consuming infant formula reconstituted with fluoridated water, there may be an increased chance for mild dental fluorosis.


After quite a bit of research, I've decided to install a water cooler instead of a filtration system. This will allow me to use non-fluoridated bottled water for drinking, cooking, and infant formula preparation. Bottled water provides the protection level I'm looking for, without the waste associated with reverse osmosis or distillation.

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It looks like you have come to basically the same conclusion that I proposed. Another viable alternative that may or may not be applicable to your area is drilling your own well. In regards to cavity prevention though, you may find upon further research that fluoride is an outdated means of prevention given modern dental hygiene standards. –  Ethereal Mar 25 at 14:46
    
@Ethereal While I may have reached the same conclusion, I've showed my work. Which transforms me from a yahoo on the internet with an opinion, to a yahoo on the internet with an opinion, and sources to back it up. –  Tester101 Mar 25 at 14:51

There are simple but effective methods to remove flouride from water - Reverse Osmosis, Distillation and Activated Alumina Deflouridation. The first two methods are great for water purification in general.

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