September 25, 2020

How to Remove Fluoride from Water

Despite the fact that many technologically advanced countries have stopped or banned the use of fluoride in water, the U.S. and Canada continue to promote water fluoridation. Fluoride (in the form of sodium fluoride, fluorosilicic acid, or sodium fluorosilicate) is added to many municipal water systems. Yet according to a growing number of scientific studies, fluoride is a health risk at any level. In January 2011, Health and Human Services and the Environmental Protection Agency announced their intent to review the maximum allowable amount of fluoride in drinking water. This was based on recent data that indicates allowable levels may be contributing to dental fluorosis,* skeletal fluorosis and other symptoms. A shocking 41% of adolescents 12-15 years old in fluoridated communities now have dental fluorosis!

*Dental fluorosis is a defect in the enamel of the teeth caused by too much fluoride.  Affected teeth show discoloration, ranging from white spots to brown and black stains. Teeth with fluorosis are more porous. This is because fluoride has a strong affinity for calcium and when there is too much fluoride, calcium is removed from teeth and bones.  In severe cases, the porosity results in extensive pitting, chipping, fracturing, and decay of the teeth.

fluoride glassMost fluoride that is added to municipal water is an unnatural form of fluoride that contains sodium. It is over 80 times more toxic than naturally-occurring calcium fluoride. The Material Data Safety Sheet (MSDS) for sodium fluoride shows the lethal dose (LD-50) that will kill 50% of a population of rats is 52 mg/kg.  (That’s why it is used as rat poison.)  The LD-50 for calcium fluoride is 4250 mg/kg.—less toxic than table salt.

The fluoride ion (F-) is extremely reactive and strongly attracted to calcium. Its preference for calcium overrides its attraction to other ions. In nature, fluoride is most often bound to calcium. When fluoride is added to water in the sodium form, it is only a matter of time before the sodium is exchanged for calcium. When sodium fluoride is ingested, it rapidly robs the body of calcium. In fact, sodium fluoride poisoning results when calcium is stolen from the blood. The anecdote (calcium) makes enough calcium available so that it does not have to be stolen from the body.

According to the National Academy of Sciences, fluoride is not an essential nutrient and no amount of fluoride is necessary in the human body. The human body does not need fluoride for any physiological process and no human disease will result from a “deficiency” of fluoride.  Because it has no physiological function, when fluoride cannot be immediately excreted (via kidneys) it is taken to parts of the body where it can be sequestered. It is attracted first to calcified areas (teeth, bones, and pineal gland) and also ends up in nerve and connective tissues.

The truth about fluoride
The use of fluoride in drinking water is the result of a huge campaign to dispose of unnatural forms of fluoride. These are waste products from aluminum, steel, cement, phosphate, and nuclear weapons manufacturing. The truth is, fluoride is a proven neurotoxin; it causes birth defects, impairs the immune system, causes muscular weakness, gastrointestinal symptoms, and bone and joint symptoms; it suppresses thyroid function, and it causes permanent disfiguration of teeth.  Fluoride is also a cumulative poison.  While small amounts taken on a daily basis may not be noticeable, the long term effects will definitely affect a person’s quality of life as it builds up in the body. Few healthcare practitioners are trained to recognize the effects—until it is too late. And what is worse is the fact that the fluoride added to water also often carries other toxic materials which may include lead, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium.

It is not within in the scope of this article to discuss the negative effects of fluoride. If you are interested, there are numerous books on the subject and there is an abundance of information on the Internet.

How do I get the fluoride out of my water?
Once you are aware of the negative impact of fluoride on your health—and especially if you live in an area where the water is fluoridated—you will have to decide what to do about it. To complicate matters, fluoride is absorbed through the skin, and by inhalation. Showering and bathing in fluoridated water is also a problem. Fluoride is actually more dangerous when absorbed through the skin and/or lungs because it enters the bloodstream more easily, bypassing the gut where it binds with minerals from food.  When it is not feasible to remove the fluoride from your entire water supply, limiting time in the shower or bath and reducing the temperature of the water helps minimize the amount of fluoride absorbed.

To top it all off, fluoride is difficult to remove from water. Most water filter sales literature avoids the subject. When buying a water filter, you may be comforted by reading that the system you are purchasing removes 95 to 99% of contaminants, but if it does not specifically state that it removes fluoride, you can bet it doesn’t. Fluoride is a very small ion (atomic number 9). It cannot be “filtered” out of water.  At this time, fluoride removal is limited to four main methods discussed below.

1 . Distillation
Distillation is capable of removing just about anything (except volatile compounds) from water.  If you have a distiller, you can remove fluoride. The obvious drawback to distillation is that the process is time and energy consumptive. Distillation also leaves the resulting water empty and lifeless. If you use distilled water you need to add minerals (salts) back to the water (read the article on remineralizing \”empty\” water).  You should also consider structuring and energetically enhancing distilled water (returning the life force) using any of the methods in Dancing with Water. (Read about water’s liquid crystalline structure).

2.  Reverse Osmosis
Reverse osmosis (RO) relies on pressure and a semi-permeable membrane to remove contaminants from water. RO can remove between 90 and 95% of fluoride (depending on the efficiency of the system and depending on how well the system is maintained). Contaminants are trapped by the RO membrane and flushed away in the waste water. The process requires between 2 and 4 gallons of water to produce 1 gallon of RO water (depending on the quality of the water and the efficiency of the RO unit). Source water with an abundance of contaminants (including hard water) can reduce the efficiency of an RO system and it can shorten the life of the membrane.

Similar to distillation, RO has a good track record for removing almost everything from water. Quality RO systems include pre-filters to remove VOCs (volatile organic compounds), heavy metals, hard water minerals, and other contaminants that reduce the life of RO membranes. And similar to distillation, RO leaves water empty and lifeless. The addition of minerals and the re-introduction of life force are necessary to bring RO water back to energetic compatibility with the human body.

3.  Activated alumina
Fluoride is strongly attracted to activated alumina (corundum/aluminum oxide) which has a large surface area with a huge array of tunnel-like pores. For this reason, activated alumina is the most commonly used fluoride removal media today. When used properly, it can remove up to 98% of the fluoride in water while also removing arsenic. The challenges with activated alumina are many. First of all, since the process works by ion exchange, the water must remain in contact with the media for an extended period of time—long enough for the fluoride to be adsorbed by the media. When the flow rate is faster than ¼ gallon/minute, there is not enough time to adsorb all the fluoride as water passes through a filter. Another difficulty with activated alumina is that the media becomes saturated with fluoride. Depending on the amount of activated alumina in the system (how large the filter is) and on the amount of fluoride in the water, systems using activated alumina either need to be recharged or replaced often. The last difficulty with activated alumina is that aluminum is released into the treated water. This effectively trades one problem for another. Some systems address this; others do not.

There are many point-of-use filters that claim to remove fluoride using activated alumina. The problem with most of these systems is that they only work for a short period of time (usually far less than claimed) before they become saturated. The other difficulty is that point-of-use systems do not slow the flow rate enough to provide adequate time for adsorption.  Recent testing of a variety of these filters revealed that few functioned as claimed for more than a few weeks.  Unless the activated alumina can be cleaned and recharged or replaced regularly, and unless the flow rate is slow enough to allow time for adsorption, activated alumina may not be what you are looking for. Ask for proof of long-term results when purchasing one of these systems.

There are some “tank” type fluoride removal systems that are capable of working for many years with a backwashing and recharging cycle and an occasional topping off of the media. These systems are often used to remove fluoride from the whole home. Many consider them the answer to the fluoride problem. They are not. The drawback to this type of system is an environmental problem. Caustic chemicals are required to backwash (sodium hydroxide) and to recharge (sulfuric acid) the media—chemicals that end up in the waste water. And when these “tanks” are eventually replaced, they end up in a landfill, loaded with fluoride, arsenic, lead, mercury and cadmium.

4.  BC-Carbon
Bone-Char (BC) Carbon has been used for centuries to remove naturally-occurring fluoride from water. It works similar to the way bones in the human body attract fluoride.  Bone contains a porous matrix that is rich in surface ions. These can be readily replaced by fluoride and by some of the other contaminants that arrive along with fluoride (heavy metals).  Bone char effectively removes a number of contaminants.

When used alone, BC-Carbon can remove up to 90% of the fluoride in water. The efficiency of bone char can be improved by adding pre-filters that remove heavy metals and other contaminants before exposure to the BC-carbon. Bone char works best at a slightly acidic pH and may not work as well with hard water. This medium is being successfully incorporated in many systems where cartridges can be replaced as the media becomes saturated. Obviously, bone char is an organic medium. Medical grade bone char is important to ensure that the bone char itself is clean.

How to remove fluoride from your body
Magnesium follows a similar absorption path as fluoride. According to a study by the American Institute of Nutrition, a diet low in magnesium results in a higher concentration of fluoride in the bones – and likely elsewhere. The study concluded: “In summary, it can be stated that in intoxication with fluorine compounds, magnesium plays a protective role by countering and reducing the toxic effects of F-.” (Cerklewski F L. Influence of dietary magnesium on fluoride bioavailability in the rat. American Institute of Nutrition 117 (3) 456-500, 1987)

Most people are magnesium deficient – and not just slightly. Blatantly ignored in modern medicine, magnesium deficiency is rampant, responsible (at least in part) for the increased incidence of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, asthma, arthritis, high blood pressure, chronic fatigue syndrome, attention deficit and  many other conditions too numerous to list.  Magnesium has been referred to as the “master mineral”  because of its involvement in over 300 enzyme systems including protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation. Magnesium is required for energy production and for the synthesis of DNA. It also plays a role in the active transport of calcium and potassium across cell membranes, a process that is important to nerve impulse conduction, muscle contraction, and normal heart rhythm.

Unlike many other nutrients that are better supplied in food, water can be an excellent source of magnesium. Approximately 50% of the magnesium contained in mineral water is absorbed. This is greater than the amount absorbed from food.  The ‘magnesium-in-water’ effect was identified years ago as beneficial for those on a low magnesium diet.  Supplying magnesium in water may be helpful in releasing toxic levels of fluoride accumulated through years of drinking fluoridated water. It may also have numerous other benefits. Read the article on making magnesium bicarbonate water.

The ultimate solution to the fluoride problem is to stop fluoridation. You may visit the Fluoride Action Network — to find out how you can make a difference in your community. 


Dancing with Water: The New Science of Water