Best Fluoride Water Filters: 2018 Buyers Guide
[This post was originally published on February 7, 2017 and has been updated with additional information.]
When I learned about the bad effects that fluoride can have on our health, I knew that I had to do something to protect myself and my family.
I'll bet you landed here because you have fluoride in your drinking water and you want to get it out.
If you're not sure how to remove fluoride from your water, you've come to the right place. In this review I'll tell you about four different types of filters that will get rid of the fluoride.
You'll also find mini reviews of the specific models that I recommend in each category.
Here's a quick overview of my top picks in each category. You can head straight over to Amazon to check the current price, or keep reading for a more detailed look at each of them.
This is quite a diverse group, isn't it? Each has its advantages and disadvantages, but they all do the job of removing fluoride. I hope that the information in this guide will help you to decide which one is the best for your situation.
You can click on a topic in the quick navigation below, or just keep scrolling to read the whole article.
What type of water filters will NOT remove fluoride?
First, let's talk about what doesn't work.
All water filters are not made equal.
Most pitcher type filters like Brita and Pur may make your water taste better, but they don't take out fluoride. The same goes for most faucet mounted filters and many undersink filters. They use activated carbon, usually made from coconut shells.
If they have only an activated carbon filter, they will not remove fluoride.
I have read that activated carbon can remove 40 to 60% of fluoride in water, but it loses its effectiveness in a very short time. That's why I don't recommend carbon block filters for fluoride filtration.
The good news is there are much more reliable methods to choose from.
What types of water filters WILL remove fluoride?
- First there's reverse osmosis. You've probably heard of this before. It's a filter system that you hook up to your plumbing. It has several filters and a reverse osmosis membrane, which is the part that works on the fluoride.
- Another popular type of filtration system is the gravity filter, which sits on your countertop. It uses activated alumina or some other type of fluoride-blocking media to remove fluoride from the water.
- Deionization filters will also remove fluoride, but I've never seen any for home use. They are usually used for chemistry labs and in manufacturing. I'm not covering them in this review.
- There are a few brands of water filter pitchers that can remove fluoride. You need to do a little digging to find them, but they're out there. I've included one - Aquagear - in this review.
- One other option is distillation. Water distillers will take out the fluoride, but they're not technically water filters. This is a good option, though, so I wanted to be sure to cover it along with the filters. And distilled water has other health benefits besides reducing fluoride.
How does reverse osmosis work?
A reverse osmosis filter system involves sending tap water through a series of carbon block filters and a reverse osmosis membrane.
The system is connected to the cold water plumbing in your house, and it uses water pressure to push the water through the system. In the process, the contaminants are collected in a brine which goes down the drain.
The components are all installed in the cabinet space under the kitchen sink. A small storage tank holds the filtered water until you turn on the dedicated faucet that's mounted on the sink.
Most RO systems have 4 to 6 stages that the water goes through, although I've seen as many as 10!
Sometimes, besides the basic filtration, they add on some extra steps like the addition of minerals, exposure to ultraviolet light, and ozonation.
Of course, the more stages a system has, the higher the cost.
Here's a diagram illustrating a basic reverse osmosis system setup:
What are the pros and cons of a reverse osmosis filter?
- Superior performance: RO has an excellent record of removing all kinds of organic and inorganic contaminants, including fluoride.
- Taste: It removes foul tastes and odors, and makes water taste clean and fresh.
- Convenience: This kind of filter gives you an instant and continuous supply of water for drinking and cooking.
- Easy installation: Most DIYers can install an undersink system in 1 to 2 hours.
- Moveable: If you want, it can be uninstalled and taken with you when you move to a new house.
- Requires installation: If working with plumbing makes you nervous, you're probably going to have to hire someone to install it. The good news is that it won't take long and it shouldn't cost very much.
- Removes good minerals: RO systems don't differentiate between good and bad minerals, so it all goes out with the wastewater. This results in slightly lower pH level, meaning that the water will be more acidic. It will probably not be noticeable, but it is something to be aware of.
- Wastes water: 3 to 4 gallons of water are wasted for every 1 gallon of filtered water produced. Those 3 to 4 gallons go down the drain unless you have some way of capturing it and reusing it. This can be a major disadvantage if you live in certain parts of the country or if you just hate waste.
- Needs water pressure: If the water pressure is too low, it will either not work or it will work more slowly. It is possible to remedy this with the addition of a pump.
- Not for emergencies: This type of filter system can't be used for emergency filtration in situations when the water supply is cut off.
Best Reverse Osmosis System: APEC RO-90
APEC is an American company with an excellent reputation for making the highest quality water filtration systems.
Their most popular model is the RO-90. It's a 5-stage system that can put out up to 90 gallons of filtered water a day.
All reverse osmosis filters will remove fluoride for you. If you'd like to learn about even more RO options, please see my top 4 reverse osmosis systems picks.
How does a gravity filter work?
A gravity filter is a very simple system. It's made up of two containers, one stacked on top of the other. Two or more filter elements are housed inside. Different brands use different media for filtration.
To use it, you pour water into the top container and gravity pulls the water down through the filters into the bottom container. A spigot in the bottom part allows you to dispense the water.
What are the pros and cons of a gravity filter?
- Effective: This kind of filter is very good at removing all kinds of contaminants, including fluoride.
- No installation: A gravity filter just sits on a counter or table. There's no plumbing involved.
- Portable: It can be used indoors or outdoors and easily taken with you when you travel or move.
- Versatile: It can accept any kind of water except salt water - even pond water!
- Taste: All the nasty stuff is taken out and you're left with pure great tasting water.
- No waste: Every bit of the water is used, so there's no waste.
- Leaves minerals: It does not take the good minerals out of the water.
- Protection: Because it's not dependent on water pressure, a gravity filter can be used to make clean drinking water during natural disasters and other emergencies.
- Needs to be refilled: This kind of filter has to be refilled regularly in order to keep a constant supply of water. You have to remember to refill it.
- Slow: The filtering process can be very slow, depending on how many filter elements you have.
- Takes up space: This is going to take up space on your countertop. If you don't have much to begin with, this could be a problem.
Best Gravity Filter: Big Berkey
The best known gravity filter, and the one I own, is a Berkey. It comes in several sizes. The "Big" Berkey is not actually the biggest one, but it is the most popular size.
It holds 2.25 gallons of water, so it's good for a small family. You could use it for a bigger group, but that would mean refilling it more often.
Berkey filters come with 2 Black Berkey filters that take out most of the contaminants.
In order to filter out fluoride, you have to buy the PF-2 fluoride and arsenic filters. These are optional extras that attach to the black filter elements. You can buy them bundled with the Berkey system, or you can buy them later.
The PF-2 fluoride filters use activated alumina to remove the fluoride. This is not the same as aluminum, so you don't need to worry about any health risks.
The typical reduction of fluoride is greater than 95%. Under optimum conditions (i.e. the pH of the water is 5), the reduction is greater than 99.75%.
Click here if you'd like to learn more about the Big Berkey. You'll go to my in-depth Big Berkey review.
Or read my detailed comparison of the best gravity filters.
How does a water distiller work?
There's an interesting way that distillation differs from filtration.
Instead of removing contaminants from the water, the process of distillation removes the water from the contaminants. Similar, but not the same.
A distiller boils the water and turns it into steam. Chemical contaminants, including fluoride, are left behind.
The high temperature also kills any biological contaminants like viruses or bacteria.
The steam cools and turns back into pure water, which is collected in some kind of container.
I've had a hard time nailing down the exact percentage of fluoride reduction by distillation. Most everything I have read says that distillation removes "a high percentage" or "most, if not all" fluoride from water.
What are the pros and cons of a water distiller?
- Taste: Completely removes all contaminants so the water tastes clean.
- Easy to Use: Just pour in water and push a button to start.
- Portable: It's not much bigger than a coffee maker, so you can take it with you on vacation or to the office.
- Effective: Removes all or almost all of every kind of contaminant.
- Small Capacity: Only makes about 1 gallon at a time.
- Slow: Can take several hours to distill one gallon of water.
- Removes Beneficial Minerals: Everything is removed, so the water will be slightly more acidic.
- Uses Electricity: It won't work during a power outage and it will increase your electric bill a little.
Best Water Distiller: Megahome
The Megahome Countertop Water Distiller Model MH943TWS is a top seller on Amazon.
It's well constructed and made of high quality stainless steel, enamel coated steel, and glass. Only the handle and lid are made of food grade polypylene. But the water never touches any plastic because the nozzle is made of glass.
Because the distillation process takes about 5 to 6 hours, you'll only be able to make a maximum of 4 gallons per day.
Fluoride is removed completely or almost completely using the Megahome distiller.
I've also written a detailed review of the Megahome distiller, which you can read here if you'd like more information.
You can also see Best Home Water Distiller Options for 2018 for the details on some other top brands.
Pitcher Water Filter
How do filter pitchers work?
Filter pitchers have a simple setup.
There are three main parts: the pitcher, the reservoir, and the filter.
The filter is attached to the reservoir. You fill the reservoir with tap water, and the water seeps through the filter and drips down into the pitcher. Contaminants are blocked and collected in the filter.
Because the filter collects the contaminants, it eventually gets clogged up and stops filtering. That's why you have to replace it every now and then.
What are the pros and cons of a filter pitcher?
- Inexpensive: You can get a fluoride filter pitcher for under $75.
- Portable: Take it with you wherever you go.
- Compact Size: Doesn't take up much space on the counter or in the fridge.
- Small Capacity: Most brands hold 1/2 gallon or less.
- Short Filter Life: Most filters only last a few months.
Best Fluoride Filter Pitcher: Aquagear
I said above that most water filter pitchers don't remove fluoride. Well, the Aquagear is one that does take out fluoride.
This pitcher holds 2.7 gallons of water, and the filter will last for about 6 months, or 150 gallons.
It does an amazing job of removing lots of harmful contaminants including lead, chromium-6, and, of course, fluoride.
Fluoride reduction with the Aquagear pitcher is 90%.
The Aquagear pitcher is also available at the Aquagear website with free shipping. There's also an option to save 20% on replacement filters by signing up for their subscription service.
You can read more details about the Aquagear in my review of the best water filter pitchers.
Are there any faucet water filters that remove fluoride?
This little filter contains five layers of filtration media that reduce a wide range of contaminants, including fluoride.
I contacted iSpring to ask how much fluoride is removed with the LittleWell. They couldn't tell me, and said it depends on how much fluoride is in the water already and what else is in the water.
That's not a great answer.
But, they also told me that the material in the fluoride filtering layer is activated alumina. We know that activated alumina is effective for fluoride reduction.
So that's good.
Faucet filters like this can only be attached to standard kitchen faucets. If you have a pull-out or pull-down faucet, it's not going to work.
Is there such a thing as a fluoride shower filter?
If you also want to eliminate fluoride in your shower water, I have good news for you.
There is one shower filter that reduces fluoride. That's the Propur ProMax. It's the only one that I've found that works on fluoride.
You can find more information about the Propur ProMax in my review of the best shower head filters.
Verdict: What's the best way to remove fluoride?
I don't think I can say that one particular filter is the best fluoride water filter.
All of the filters I've mentioned will do a good job of removing the fluoride from your water.
Which type of filter, and which particular model would be best for you is really a matter of personal preference based on the other features.
- The first thing to consider is whether you want an installed system or a portable system that can be used at home and away from home.
- If you want an installed reverse osmosis system, think about what your special needs might be. How is your water pressure? Do you have a medical condition that requires alkaline water?
- If you're more interested in portability and in being prepared for emergencies, you'll probably want to go with a gravity filter or a pitcher filter. The gravity filter can handle a much larger capacity, though.
- A distiller is easy to transport, but you have to be able to plug it in. It's also very slow. Definitely not good for emergencies, but it's suitable for everyday use for one person or a small family.
I hope you've found this helpful in deciding which fluoride water filter will work in your situation.
If you have any questions about any of these filters, feel free to ask in a comment below and I will try to give you an answer as soon as possible.