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Water fluoridation is a contentious issue with some people claiming it poses more risks than benefits. Most experts, including the CDC and the American Dental Association, recommend it to prevent tooth cavities, especially in children.
But too much fluoride in water can be dangerous. It can cause bone problems, impair brain development in children, and joint pain due to skeletal fluorosis.
While US water supplies generally have safe levels of fluoride, some parents are concerned that their children are already consuming fluoride from other sources such as toothpaste.
Unlike other chemicals like chlorine, fluoride is not easy to remove. But you have a few options.
Let’s start with some bad news.
Activated carbon filters, which are the cheapest and easiest way to find the type of water filters, do not remove fluoride from tap water or well water that contains high levels of fluoride.
If you already have a faucet, under-sink, or whole house carbon filter, it won’t work. These include Brita, PUR, and other popular filter brands that use activated carbon.
Here’s what works.
Reverse osmosis: Reverse osmosis is one of the most effective ways of removing fluoride from drinking water, with some RO systems able to remove up to 97% of fluoride.
Distillation: Distillation is another highly effective way to remove fluoride from water. You can invest in a home water distiller to remove fluoride and other contaminants. Since distillers are technically not water filters, we won’t discuss them in this article. Just know that it’s an option.
Activated alumina filters: Activated carbon can’t do the job but activated alumina can. This is a filter material made from aluminum oxide.
Water ionizer: A water ionizer doesn’t technically remove fluoride. Rather, it directs it towards the acidic stream, which is often discarded. So your alkaline drinking water has very low levels. Most electric water ionizers can remove up to 85% of fluoride with a few high-performance units able to remove up to 99%. You can learn more in our water ionizer buying guide.
There are other ways fluoride can be removed from the water, but they are only used at an industrial scale. For practical purposes, these are the most home-friendly methods.
The easiest, cheapest, and most convenient way to filter fluoride from your water is using a reverse osmosis (RO) system.
Reverse osmosis works by forcing contaminated water through a semi-permeable membrane.
As I mentioned, fluoride is one of the hardest water contaminants to remove. It easily passes through basic sediment and carbon filters.
But it meets its match when it comes across the semi-permeable membrane in an RO system. The membrane has super tiny holes, so small that even most microbes cannot pass through.
The membrane blocks fluoride molecules, along with molecules of heavy metals, dissolved salts and a wide range of impurities.
On average, most RO systems can remove around 92% of fluoride from the water with some achieving a reduction rate as high as 97%.
How well an RO system removes fluoride from water depends on water temperature, water pressure, and membrane quality.
RO systems that use TFC (thin-film composites) membranes are more expensive but remove almost all fluoride from water.
It’s important to replace pre-filters on time. They protect the membrane from damage by chemicals like chlorine. If you take too long to replace the pre-filters, the membrane will be degraded and will allow more fluoride through.
Here are the top four RO systems we recommend. To see more top-rated RO filters, read our in-depth reverse osmosis water filter buying guide.
Home Master makes the best reverse osmosis filters. They are more expensive than other brands, though not by much, they provide better filtration performance and the build quality is unmatched.
The TMAFC-ERP Artesian RO system is our top pick among their RO systems.
It features seven stages divided into three main sections of filtration.
The first section consists of pre-filters: a sediment filter for dust and sediment and catalytic carbon filters that remove chlorine, chloramine and other chemicals.
Note: Catalytic carbon filters are more effective than active carbon filters, especially against chloramine and other hard-to-remove chemicals. This is one of the reasons the TMAFC-ERP RO system has an edge over other brands.
The pre-filters do a great job, but they do not remove fluoride. It’s the semi-permeable membrane that comes; next, that deals with it.
It removes over 97% of fluoride.
After the RO membrane, the now-purified water goes through two remineralization stages to add back healthy minerals stripped from the water. This restores the water’s natural taste.
The TMAFC-ERP RO system comes with an integrated permeate pump that reduces the amount of water wasted and increases water flow rate out of the faucet.
The whole system is relatively easy to install under your sink.
It is a 6-stage system.
A sediment filter removes all the large particles suspended in water, including sediment and dust.
A KDF carbon filter and a CTO carbon filter remove chlorine, chloramine and other chemicals from water. These two filters clear up unpleasant tastes and odors and protect the RO membrane.
Then the water passes through a semi-permeable membrane that removes most of the remaining impurities, fluoride being one of them.
The iSpring RCC7AK removes between 94% and 96% of fluoride in water. The remaining levels of fluoride are too low to cause any health problems.
Finally, the water goes through a re-mineralization filter to restore the water’s pH and taste and a post-filter to remove any remnant odors and tastes that may have been absorbed in the storage tank.
Installation is completely DIY. You can have the system ready and running under your sink in an hour.
The APEC RO-90 Supreme is a great choice for large families that need a lot of purified fluoride-free RO water.
The system produces up to 90 gallons of water per day (most RO systems average 50-75 GPD), providing plenty of water for drinking, cooking, pets and other uses.
It is a 5-stage system, which is one less stage than the iSpring system above. The missing stage is a re-mineralization filter.
It’s not essential to removing fluoride and other impurities. So if you don’t mind the taste of de-mineralized water, its absence is not a big deal.
The five stages include three pre-filters (sediment filter and two carbon filters), an RO membrane that removes most of the fluoride from water and a polishing post-filter.
Similar to the other RO filters, the APEC RO-90 is fairly easy to install under your sink.
It’s also easy to maintain thanks to the high-capacity 12-month filters.
The APEC RO-CTOP-C stands out from the pack.
Almost all RO systems go under the sink. The APEC RO-CTOP-C is a countertop reverse osmosis filter that connects quickly to most standard faucets.
We’ve included it in this list for those who’d like a way to enjoy fluoride-free water in situations where it’s not possible to plumb in an under-sink system.
These include dorm rooms, RVs, boats, apartments, and kitchens with little or no under-sink space. It’s also a great choice for people who spend a lot of time on the road.
You can hook it up to your hotel room faucet and enjoy RO purified water.
The APEC RO-CTOP-C has just four filters: a sediment filter, a carbon filter, an RO membrane, and a post-filter.
But it removes just as much fluoride as other RO filters.
The only sacrifice you have to make is watching the water come out in a trickle.
The APEC RO-CTOP-C lacks a pressurized reserve tank. When you open the lever to get purified water, it is filtered right then, which drastically reduces flow rate.
But for the convenience of getting fluoride-free water without the hassles of installing an under-sink system, we think it’s worth it.
If you are strictly looking for a water filter but due to some reasons, reverse osmosis doesn't jazz you, your only other option, is an activated alumina filter,
It’s the only other filter that can reduce fluoride in water. It also removes arsenic.
An activated alumina filter is made from aluminum oxide.
Much like activated carbon, activated alumina has a high surface area to weight ratio, which allows it to adsorb fluoride and arsenic as water passes through.
Many people worry that activated alumina releases some aluminum into the water.
While it’s true, the amount of aluminum is much lower than the recommended minimum. There’s no danger to your health.
If you are still concerned, look for a multi-stage activated alumina filter system that uses an activated carbon filter to remove any residual aluminum from the filtered water.
Here are our top four activated alumina water filters.
We recommend this one if you want to remove fluoride from all the water coming into your house, including tap water and shower water.
The Big Blue whole house activated alumina water filter consists of three filters/stages.
Sediment filter: Removes particulates suspended in water, including sand and silt. This prevents the other two filters from clogging.
Activated alumina filter: Removes fluoride and arsenic.
Activated carbon filter: Removes chlorine, chloramines, pesticides, and other chemicals. It also removes any aluminum the alumina filter may have introduced into the water.
The main downside with this system is the pressure drop, which is mostly caused by the activated alumina filter.
If your home’s water pressure is already low, this system will drop it further. You may find it difficult to take a good shower or get a good flow from the tap.
You can install the system yourself. It comes with everything you need including pressure relief valves, the filter housings with 1” NPT inlets and outlets, a steel mounting bracket, hex nipples, and a filter housing wrench.
Filter life is 6-12 months, depending on your water quality.
An under-sink filter is the best choice for most homes. It’s easy to install, and there’s no risk of a pressure drop from all the faucets.
The Woder 10K-FRM-DC under-sink water filter removes up to 95% of fluoride from drinking water.
The filter uses activated alumina and activated carbon to remove fluoride, arsenic, chlorine, chloramines, and various organic chemicals.
Installation is easy. You don’t need a separate faucet. Just disconnect the cold water line and route the cold water through the filter. No tools are necessary.
One of the most impressive things about the Woder Fluoride filter is how long the filters last. They are good for 5,000 gallons or around two years.
If for some reason you can’t install an under-sink water filter, the Home Master TMJRF2 Jr F2 countertop water filter is a great alternative.
It connects easily and quickly to most standard faucets. The filtered water then comes out of a dedicated faucet attached to the filter.
The TMJRF2 Jr F2uses a 3-stage filtration process.
Activated alumina: Removes fluoride (93%) and arsenic.
Coconut shell carbon: Removes chlorine, pesticides, and other organic chemicals.
Compression disks: There are two compression disks; one between the alumina and carbon filters and the other after the alumina filter. These disks ensure even filtration by preventing channeling (where water flows around the edges instead of through the filter). They also filter out particulates like sand and silt up to 5 microns.
Home Master recommends replacing the filters every three months or after about 500 gallons.
If you don’t want to do any installation, whether on the faucet or under the sink, we recommend the Aquagear water filter pitcher.
Aquagear doesn’t make clear what filtration media they use, but we are assuming one of them is activated alumina.
It’s one of the few water filter pitchers that claims to remove most of the fluoride from water. The specific reduction rate for the Aquagear pitcher, according to Aquagear, is 90.06%.
In addition to fluoride, the Aquagear pitcher removes a host of other impurities including chlorine, chloramines, mercury, arsenic, and lead.
But it does not remove microbes so you should only use it with treated municipal water.
Depending on your budget, needs, and situation, there are different kinds of fluoride water filters you can get.
Under-sink water filters: Ideal for point-of-use fluoride removal for drinking and cooking water.
Countertop water filters: Ideal if you cannot install an under-sink system.
Whole-house water filters: Ideal if you want to remove fluoride from all the water coming into the house.
Water filter pitcher: Ideal for those who don’t want to do any installation.Also great for enjoying filtered water on the go.
Under-sink filters are the best and most convenient fluoride removal options.
Two types of under-sink water filters can remove fluoride: reverse osmosis filters and activated alumina filters.
The Home Master TMAFC-ERP Artesian, the iSpring RCC7AK and the APEC RO-90 SupremeRO systems that we’ve reviewed above are some of the best under-sink reverse osmosis filters.
The Woder 10K-FRM-DC Fluoride Filter, which we’ve already discussed, is one of the best under-sink activated alumina filters.
Here are several other options to consider.
This is a good option if you are looking for an under-sink reverse osmosis filter.
The TMHP HydroPerfection consists of five filters, one of them being a UV filter that provides extra protection against bacteria and viruses.
It also has a remineralization filter that adds healthy minerals back into the water.
This is one of the cheapest under-sink reverse osmosis systems.
It uses a 5-stage process to remove virtually all impurities from water, including fluoride. The five stages include three pre-filters an RO membrane and a post-filter.
The CrystalClear under-sink water filtration system uses activated alumina to remove fluoride and arsenic.
Also, it has a carbon filter to remove chlorine, chloramines, pesticides, and a range of other chemicals.
The system is easy to install under your sink, but you’ll have to set up a dedicated faucet for the filtered water. That means drilling a hole in your sink if you don’t have a spare one you can use.
But they include the faucet along with the filter.
This is a higher-capacity alternative to the Woder 10K-FRM-DC Fluoride Filter we’ve reviewed above.
While the 10K-FRM-DC uses 2-year/5,000-gallon filters, the Woder 10K-Gen3 filter is good for three years or 10,000 gallons.
We recommend it for those looking for a low-maintenance fluoride filter and large families that use a lot of filtered water for drinking, cooking and other activities.
The filter is easy to install under the sink.
You don’t have to set up a dedicated faucet. It uses the existing cold water faucet with only a minimal drop in water pressure.
If you can’t install an under-sink fluoride filter may be because there’s no space or you are not allowed, a countertop filter works just as well for filtering drinking water.
Our top recommendation is the Home Master TMJRF2 Jr F2 Counter Top Water Filter, which we’ve discussed above.
If you prefer a reverse osmosis system, we recommend the APEC RO-CTOP-C portable countertop RO system. You can see our review above.
A water filter pitcher is super convenient. You don’t need to assemble or install anything. Just add water to the pitcher, and that’s it.
Water filter pitchers from popular brands like Brita and PUR don’t remove fluoride from water. A majority use carbon filters that are only good for chlorine and various other chemical impurities.
When shopping for a water filter pitcher, look for those that use activated alumina or reverse osmosis.
Here are the best water filter pitchers that work.
The Zero Installation Purifier is a high-performance countertop RO dispenser.No installation and no assembly. It comes ready to use.
All you need to do is add water to the reservoir, push a button, and give the unit a few minutes to filter the water.
It purifies 0.5 gallons of drinking water in around 15 minutes. You can then dispense the water at your pleasure.
Because this is a reverse osmosis system, it removes almost all the fluoride as well as other impurities, including heavy metals, chemicals, and microbes.
It also has a mineral post-filter that re-mineralizes the water to increase pH and improve the taste.
It has three filters that are good for about 12 months and an RO membrane that lasts two years. The dispenser will notify you when it’s time to replace the filters and membrane.
The Aqua True filter is another good choice if you are looking for a reverse osmosis water dispenser/pitcher.
It is a 4-stage system consisting of two pre-filters, an RO membrane, and an activated carbon filter.
There’s no assembly or installation required. Just unbox it, set it up on your countertop, and enjoy purified water.
This is an RO system, so it removes a wide range of contaminants including fluoride, heavy metals, bacteria, and sediment.
Berkey sells some of the most popular and well-rated water filter pitchers.
The Berkey water filter range includes the 1.5-gallon Travel Berkey, the 2.25-gallon Big Berkey, the 3.25-gallon Royal Berkey, the 4.5-gallon Imperial Berkey, and the 6-gallon Crown.
When you choose a Berkey water filter, make sure it comes with a fluoride filter. If it doesn’t, you can order a set of two BerkeyPF-2 fluoride filters from Amazon.
The fluoride filters remove up to 97% of fluoride from water.
The Aquagear water filter pitcher is a good choice if you are looking for something cheaper.
It removes 90.6% of fluoride as well as other contaminants including lead (99.9%), chlorine (99.9%) and arsenic (99.8%).
The pitcher holds around 8 cups of water, and the filter is suitable for 3-6 months.
It’s difficult to find a whole-house water filter system that removes fluoride. That’s because most whole-house systems use carbon and sediment filters.
But you can still find whole-house reverse osmosis or activated alumina filtration system.
A whole-house fluoride filter will be expensive and can cause a pressure drop-off from your shower and other faucets, but it’s the best way to remove fluoride from all the water coming into your house.
In addition to the two RO system we’ve reviewed below, another good option is the Big Blue Whole House Activated Alumina Water Filter that we’ve already discussed.
The iSpring RCS5T is a surprisingly affordable whole-house RO system that can produce up to 500 gallons of purified water a day.
It has five stages of filtration that remove over 1,000 contaminants, including fluoride.
An integrated booster pump and a dual flow RO membrane increase the water flow rate and reduce the amount of water wasted.
iSpring RCS5T is a tankless system, which can be a problem for homes with low water pressure. But you can always add a reserve tank later to increase flow rate out of the faucets.
If you are looking for a high-output whole-house RO system, we recommend the Crystal Quest Whole House RO system.
It produces up to 1,500 gallons of water a day, making it especially ideal for large families.
The system comes with a pump to ensure enough pressure from the faucets and shower.
There are three tank size options: 165 gallons, 220 gallons, and 550 gallons. You can also buy a standalone filter system without the tank.
Considering the output, it’s not surprising that the Crystal Quest system is pricey. The system combined with the 550-gallon tank will set you back over five grand.
We’ve not yet found a showerhead fluoride removal filter that is worth recommending
Some showerhead filters that claim to remove fluoride but the reduction rate is low. The one that comes closest to removing all the fluoride is the Propur Shower Filter ProMax, which has a 48% reduction rate.
If you want to shower with fluoride-free water, your only option is to install a whole-house water filtration system.
No, boiling water won’t remove fluoride. Fluoride doesn’t evaporate easily. As the water evaporates, it’s concentration increases.
The only way you can remove fluoride by heating water is through distillation, where you collect the resultant water vapor.
Similarly, freezing the water or leaving it out for an extended period will not reduce levels of fluoride.
No, most carbon filters do not remove fluoride.
However, some high-grade activated carbon filters remove some fluoride, but still leave most of it in the water.
Use a reverse osmosis system, an activated alumina filter, a water distiller or a water ionizer.
If you don’t want to filter fluoride out of the water, you can look for water that’s already low in fluoride. Your best option is bottled water.
Look specifically for fluoride-free brands.
You could also move to one of the cities in the US that don’t fluoridate their municipal water. The biggest include Albuquerque, Fresno, Tucson, and Wichita.
Ed is a water specialist in Tampa, FL. He built CleanerSofterWater.com to help his friends and family learn about DIY solutions to common water quality issues in the home.
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