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Do Water Softeners Remove Fluoride? (Sorry But No)

Do Water Softeners Remove Fluoride

No, water softener does not eliminate fluoride. Water softening systems are designed to remove hardness minerals like calcium and magnesium, but they do not help remove fluoride or other heavy metals. 

Why, I hear you ask?

Continue reading to know the details, along with the effective fluoride removal systems (they aren’t that expensive!).

🤔Why Can’t Water Softeners Remove Fluoride?

Why cant Water Softeners remove Fluoride

Water softeners significantly reduce the hard water minerals from your incoming water, but the same water softener does not work for removing fluoride.


It’s because water softeners contain a resin bed. This bed can only exchange cations (positively charged ions) like calcium, magnesium, and iron. But, anions (negatively charged ions) like fluoride, chloride, nitrate, and sulfate aren’t attracted to the resin bed and hence can’t be removed by your softener. 

Hence, fluoride concentration in drinking water stays the same. Excess fluoride (which is rare even in city water) can lead to dental fluorosis and fluoride poisoning.

Note: Anion exchange can remove harmful anions like arsenic and nitrates (fluoride, too) and replace them with lesser-harmful anions like chloride, which can be easily filtered later.

But anion exchange systems are hard to find for domestic use. For practical yet effective fluoride removal options, skip to this section.

🎯How Does A Water Softener Work?

Working of a Water Softener

Water softeners are designed to remove hardness-causing minerals like calcium and magnesium ions via cation ion exchange. 

 The water softener has a set-up of two tanks:

  • A resin tank with a resin bed and ion exchange occurs in this chamber.
  • A brine tank with a salt solution is used in the regeneration cycle.

First, hard water is made to enter the resin tank. The resin tank has a resin bed that is negatively charged and attracts positively charged calcium and magnesium hard water minerals from water and exchanges them with sodium ions; this makes the hard water soft and rich in sodium content.

When a resin bed is fully charged with calcium and magnesium ions, it needs time to flush these minerals from the resin tank into the drain. After flushing, with the help of brine water from the brine tank, it replenishes the resin bed with positively charged sodium ions. This is called the regeneration cycle.

Hence, this is how water softeners work to clear out hard minerals and to give you soft water, which causes less scale buildup and gives a high lather with soaps and detergent.

Also Read: Do Water Softeners Remove Chlorine?

🧹What Can A Water Softener Remove?

What can a Water Softener remove

Water softeners eliminate a wide range of ions like:

  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Iron, etc.

All these ions are positively charged ions exchanged with negatively charged resin beds and removed from hard water during the softening process.

But negatively charged ions like:

  • Fluoride
  • Chloride
  • Nitrate 
  • sulfate, etc

Water softeners cannot remove them as they are not attracted to the resin bed; hence, their concentration remains unchanged.

👉How To Remove Fluoride From Water?

Ways to remove Fluoride from Water

The following five water filtration systems can easily decrease high fluoride levels: 

1️⃣Reverse Osmosis Water Filter

  • How It Removes: Reverse Osmosis water filters use an ion exchange process and contain semi-permeable ro membranes that act as a barrier to contaminants, including fluoride, chloramine, and heavy metals. The reverse osmosis unit prevents the passage of contaminants with a size of over 0.0001 microns.
  • How Effective: So far, reverse osmosis water filters are considered the best water fluoridation filters, as these filters effectively remove fluoride levels up to 90% and improve dental health.
  • How To Use: Reverse osmosis systems can be installed below your kitchen sink for safe drinking and cooking water. However, whole-house reverse osmosis systems are also available to safeguard your house from high contamination and to increase water quality.

2️⃣Activated Alumina Filters

  • How It Removes: Activated alumina is aluminum oxide, which is highly porous and highly absorbent. When water flows through the filter, harmful contaminants like fluoride, selenium, and arsenic get absorbed and reduce their concentration.   
  • How Effective: Activated alumina or activated carbon filters can make water filters remove fluoride up to 90-95% leaving behind safe drinking water.
  • How To Use: Activated alumina water filters work properly when the water flow rate is slow and does not have high pH. This water filter is usually installed with a gravity filtration system.

3️⃣Bone Char Carbon Filters

  • How It Removes: Bone char filters are made from charred animal bones and have good adsorption properties. When water passes through these filters, fluoride gets absorbed into the filter, reducing its high concentration. 
  • How Effective: It can elute up to 90% of the total fluoride content from the water supply. Hence, a bone char filter is very effective in removing fluoride and preventing tooth decay.
  • How To Use: This water filter can be installed under the sink for safe water with low fluoride concentration. In addition, carbon filters are used in whole-house water filters, just like RO filters. 


  • How It Removes: Distillers work by evaporation and then condensation. This system uses heat to evaporate water and collect it in liquid form via condensation in different chambers. It leaves behind various impurities, including fluoride ions and essential minerals, which can not be evaporated like water and stays in the boiling chamber. 
  • How Effective: It effectively dissociates around 90%+ of fluoride and other contaminants from your water supply.
  • How To Use: Distillers are commonly used as a point-of-use system over your kitchen countertop to deliver fluoride-free water. However, using this method is time exhaustive.
Also Read: How Much Fluoride Is In Well Water? 

🚰Should I Remove Fluoride From My Tap Water?

Should I remove Fluoride from my Tap Water

Fluoride occurs naturally in groundwater but is also added to make fluoridated water by many municipal water systems to prevent tooth decay. 

But excess fluoride exposure from water, toothpaste, food, and beverages, dental products can cause various health-related problems:

  • dental fluorosis
  • skeletal fluorosis
  • Arthritis
  • bone damage and Osteoporosis
  • muscular damage and Fatigue
  • joint-related problems
  • chronicle issues, etc.

Hence, limiting the excess fluoride concentration is very important. For this, EPA has recommended 0.7 mg/L as a safe level of fluoride. It is better to remove fluoride from water as you already get it through dental products. 

💡Do Water Softeners Remove Fluoride FAQs 

Does reverse osmosis remove fluoride?

Yes, the reverse osmosis system is a very effective way of removing fluoride from water. Ro system uses a semi-permeable membrane to remove 90% of the fluoride concentration making your water safe to drink and cook.

Does boiling water remove fluoride?

No, Boiling water isn’t a good option as it does not remove fluoride ions from your water. On the other hand, it’ll increase fluoride concentration as it doesn’t get vaporized with water thanks to its high boiling point.

Does well water have fluoride?

Yes, Fluoride naturally occurs in groundwater through the erosion of underground rocks. It may also enter water supplies via industrial discharge. 

You should check the concentration of fluoride in a certified lab after every 2 years, as high fluoride concentration poses problems such as decreased oral health, especially among children.

Is all bottled water fluoride-free?

FDA has set a higher limit of 0.7 mg/L for fluoride concentration in bottled water. So unless the manufacturer declares their bottled water “fluoride-free,” it might contain trace amounts of the mineral.

Is Too Much Fluoride in Water Bad for Teeth?

Yes, too much fluoride in your water is bad for your teeth. While low fluoride helps strengthen teeth and reduces tooth decay, high fluoride may cause other dental health issues like dental fluorosis, mottled enamel, and poor mineralization.

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