Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Fluoride From Water? And How?

Private well water, river water, seawater, rainwater, and tap water all contain certain levels of fluoride. Excessive fluoride in water may pose health risks to the body. So, does reverse osmosis remove fluoride? In this article, we will address what fluoride is and how to eliminate fluoride from your water.

What Is Fluoride in Water?

What Is Fluoride in Water

Fluoride is an inorganic compound of fluorine and other elements. It is present in your water as well as in foods such as seafood and milk. The fluoride content in water is typically between 0.3 to 0.5 milligrams per liter. However, fluoride levels in groundwater passing through fluoride-bearing layers can reach 2-5 milligrams per liter. Common fluoride compounds include sodium fluoride (NaF), calcium fluoride (CaF2), and potassium fluoride (KF).

Fluoridated water is typically colorless and tasteless, but high concentrations can impart a bitter taste. When surface water and groundwater flow through rocks and soil, they carry a certain amount of fluoride. Additionally, industrial wastewater and pesticides in areas with frequent industrial and agricultural activities can elevate fluoride levels in water bodies.

Moreover, to prevent tooth decay, water treatment plants often increase fluoride concentrations in tap water by adding compounds such as sodium fluoride (NaF) or sodium fluorosilicate (Na2SiF6). According to the recommendations of the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) and the American Dental Association (ADA), the fluoride concentration in tap water is typically between 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams per liter.

Why Do You Need to Remove Fluoride From Your Drinking Water?

The significant presence of fluoride in surface water and groundwater can lead to environmental pollution, affecting the quality of water and the health of ecosystems. Here are two reasons why it is necessary to remove fluoride from your drinking water:

  1. Protecting Teeth: Municipal water suppliers add a certain amount of fluoride to tap water to prevent citizens from developing dental fluorosis. However, long-term consumption of water containing fluoride as drinking water can easily lead to yellowing of teeth and cause damage to tooth enamel. Also, the toothpaste you use daily typically already contains an appropriate dose of fluoride.

Fluoride in toothpase

  1. Potential health impacts: Fluoride is harmful. Ingesting excessive amounts or using water with high fluoride concentrations for an extended period can lead to fluoride poisoning and even cancer. Common conditions caused by fluoride include skeletal fluorosis, thyroid-related diseases, and osteoporosis.

Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Fluoride in Water?

Yes. Reverse osmosis is a simple and efficient method for removing fluoride from water.

The diameter of fluoride ions is about 0.26 nanometers, which is at the nanometer level, and the fluoride removal method is relatively limited. Many water filtration methods on the market, including ultrafiltration systems, cannot effectively handle fluoride.

The characteristic of RO technology is its high-precision filtration capability, capable of removing dissolved solids greater than 0.1 nanometers in water, including fluoride ions.

When tap water or well water in your home passes through RO system, the RO membrane begins to work. Molecules, ions, and impurities (including fluoride) larger than the pore size of the reverse osmosis membrane cannot pass through the semi-permeable membrane. They are intercepted and discharged as high-concentration waste liquid from the wastewater discharge pipe.

How reverse osmosis membrane remove fluoride

Meanwhile, water molecules that pass through the reverse osmosis membrane flow into the storage tank as purified water and are distributed to your water cups, kitchen, and coffee maker through the faucet.

How to Test the Fluoride Content in My Water?

Before considering purchasing a whole house fluoride filter, we recommend that you first contact your local water supplier or water department to obtain test data on the fluoride content in tap water.

If you are using water from a groundwater or surface source, you can also reach out to your local water department or health department to obtain a free water quality test report. Additionally, you can obtain information on the concentration and content of fluoride in water by contacting water quality testing companies.

After purchasing and installing the best whole house fluoride water filter system, you can enjoy clean and safe drinking water anytime, anywhere.

How Much Fluoride Does Reverse Osmosis Remove?

You might be curious about “whether all reverse osmosis systems remove fluoride” and “whether reverse osmosis can remove all fluoride from water”. The effectiveness of fluoride removal can vary depending on the brand and type of RO system.

Different brands of reverse osmosis membranes use different materials, which can affect their removal rates for various substances. The pore size of reverse osmosis membranes typically ranges from 0.1 to 1 nanometer, rather than an absolute 0.1 nanometer. If you want to effectively remove the majority of fluoride from water, opt for high-quality, high-precision (0.1nm) RO membranes.

You also need to know that the fluoride removal capabilities of RO water systems used in residential and industrial settings vary. Industrial reverse osmosis membranes have a desalination rate of over 99.5%, typically removing 95%-99% of fluoride from water. The desalination rate of whole house reverse osmosis systems is relatively lower, with a fluoride removal rate of over 85%.

The conclusion is that not all reverse osmosis filters can effectively filter fluoride from water. RO filtration systems also cannot remove all fluoride from water.

Whole house RO system with a fluoride removal rate of over 85%

What Other Substances Can Reverse Osmosis Systems Remove from Water?

Reverse osmosis can efficiently remove various pollutants and impurities in water with particle sizes larger than 0.1 nanometers. In addition to fluoride, reverse osmosis membranes can also block heavy metals (such as copper, nickel, cadmium, mercury, chromium, lead, aluminum, zinc), asbestos particles, colloids, PFAS, suspended solids, soluble salts (such as chlorides, carbonates, sulfates, nitrates, calcium salts, magnesium salts, sodium salts), pharmaceuticals, viruses, bacteria, microplastics, microorganisms, and more.

What are the Disadvantages of Drinking RO Water?

The reverse osmosis water filter is characterized by its safety, affordability, and ease of maintenance. However, it cannot be denied that while it provides you with pure, clean water, it also has some disadvantages.

1)Eliminate beneficial minerals in water: RO can eliminate various pollutants and soluble salts in water, but it also removes calcium and magnesium ions and other trace elements that are beneficial to the human body. This is a concern for many people when choosing home water purification systems.

2)Significant wastewater production: During usage, reverse osmosis filters also generate a considerable amount of wastewater. The amount of wastewater may reach three-quarters or even higher of the total incoming water volume.

3)High costs: Besides the initial high equipment costs, home reverse osmosis systems require ongoing expenses for consumables like RO membranes and filter cartridges. Additionally, regular maintenance and upkeep entail further financial investment.

RO system need regular maintenance

How to Remove Fluoride From Water Cheaply?

The initial investment and maintenance requirements of reverse osmosis systems are relatively high for some families and businesses. If traditional distillation filters are used to remove fluoride, the cost is higher because distillation systems require a large amount of energy to operate.

If only considering the price, the initial investment and installation costs of activated carbon filters are lower. Activated carbon can adsorb organic and inorganic substances dissolved in water, thus it can also remove a certain amount of fluoride. However, the filtration effect of activated carbon filters is generally limited, making it difficult to remove the majority of fluoride from water.

Blindly pursuing price without considering filtration effectiveness is meaningless for water treatment. Reverse osmosis filters are definitely the top choice for removing fluoride from your home water. Although RO filtration systems are more expensive than other water filters, they can consistently and reliably produce high-quality fresh water. In the long run, the cost of obtaining pure water every day is affordable and cost-effective.

Final Words

If you’re looking to purchase a household reverse osmosis filtration system to filter fluoride water, please contact NEWater. We will provide you with a free solution and system quotation. We will customize the design based on the water quality of your local source water to ensure your family receives fresh and clean water.

As a leading supplier of household water treatment equipment, NEWater offers a one-year warranty on our reverse osmosis filters and components. Our engineers are available 24/7 online to answer any questions you may have regarding equipment installation and maintenance.


Does a Water Softener Help in Removing Fluoride From Water?

Water softening systems can only eliminate some of the fluoride from water. The primary function of water softening is to convert hard water into soft water, where ion exchange resin exchanges calcium and magnesium ions in water, removing minerals. During this process, some fluoride ions in the water may be removed, but the effectiveness of fluoride removal is limited.

However, you can replace the resin in the water softening system with fluoride-selective resin to improve fluoride removal.

Does Boiling Water Remove Fluoride?

No. Fluoride is an inorganic salt compound with a boiling point higher than water. When water is boiled, fluoride does not evaporate with the steam. Therefore, the concentration of fluoride in the water may even increase.

Boiling Water to Remove Fluoride

Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Chlorine?

Yes. The pore size of the reverse osmosis membrane ranges from 0.1 nanometers to 1 nanometer, which effectively removes fluoride and some chlorine from the water.

However, RO systems are not commonly used as the primary method for chlorine removal. Before water enters the reverse osmosis unit, thorough chlorine removal is typically necessary because chlorine ions can degrade the reverse osmosis membrane. Pretreatment helps protect the RO membrane. As water flows through an activated carbon filter before entering the reverse osmosis membrane, most of the chlorine ions are adsorbed onto the activated carbon.

Additionally, residual chlorine can cause oxidative damage to the RO membrane, leading to a reduction in desalination efficiency. Therefore, at the end of the reverse osmosis system, a mix-bed ion exchange deionizer or electrodeionization (EDI) unit is typically added to remove residual chlorine.

Does Bottled Water Contain Fluoride?

Bottled water quality varies due to the source water quality and the production process. Generally, bottled water contains a certain amount of fluoride, but it’s typically lower than tap water. As purified water that has undergone filtration and purification, manufacturers strive to minimize fluoride content to ensure the quality and safety of bottled water.

How to check if the bottled water you are drinking contains fluoride? You can check the product packaging for detailed information, or contact the manufacturer for water quality information. Also, you can collect water samples and have them tested by a private laboratory to obtain accurate data.

Does Distilled Water Have Fluoride?

No. Distillation is a process where water is heated to its boiling point, forming steam, which is then condensed back into pure water. Since the boiling point of fluoride is higher than that of water, fluoride and other soluble substances will remain behind as water molecules evaporate. Ideally, the distillation process removes all impurities and contaminants from water. Distilled water is considered pure water.

Does Distilled Water Have Fluoride

3 Stage Water Filter vs Reverse Osmosis, Which is Better?

Three-stage water filters and reverse osmosis systems each have their advantages and disadvantages. The decision on which method is more suitable primarily depends on the quality of the water to be treated and the intended use of the equipment.

Three-stage water filters typically include pre-filtration, activated carbon filtration, and fine filtration. This process removes most suspended solids, colloids, odors, colors, and chlorine. The advantages of three-stage water filters include low initial cost, simple operation, installation, and maintenance. They are suitable for treating relatively good quality water, and the water produced can be used for washing, irrigation, showering, etc. However, this type of filter cannot completely remove viruses, bacteria, heavy metals, pesticides, soluble salts, etc., so it is not suitable for direct drinking.

RO water filters are suitable for providing high-quality, healthy, and safe water for individuals and families. They can treat various water sources, even if the water quality is poor. RO water contains almost no impurities or pollutants, making it suitable for applications with high water quality requirements, such as food and beverage processing plants, hotels, laboratories, and so on. However, RO water systems have higher costs and maintenance costs compared to three-stage water filters.

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