Water Ionizers and Fluoride Removal

Water Ionizers and Fluoride Removal

Fluoride is difficult to remove from water and requires specific filtration media for effective removal.  While every counter top and under counter water ionizer will have a filtration system designed to remove common contaminants, none will offer what could be considered “effective” Fluoride removal.

There’s a good reason for that…

Chlorine, chloramines, sediment, bacteria, heavy metals and VOC’s are common contaminants that water ionizer filtration systems are designed to remove or significantly reduce.  These contaminants are relatively easy to remove using carbon and ceramics filtration media and almost any basic water filtration system will have a carbon and/or KDF element.  The filters in many water ionizer will remove fluoride to some degree but fluoride reduction is not substantial.

Effective fluoride reduction requires a filtration media called “activated alumina” which also reduces lead and arsenic.

Note that I said “reduction” and NOT “removal.”  Activated alumina is the most effective media for reducing fluoride content but it will not remove 99% of it from your water.  Rarely will it remove 90%.  At best an activated alumina filter will reduce the fluoride content of the water by 80 to 85%.  The higher the pH of your water, the more difficult it is to remove or reduce Fluoride.

Why?  Fluoride’s Unique Properties

We hear and say “fluoride” a lot like it’s just one thing – in reality, “fluoride” is a catch-all name given to compounds containing the element Fluorine.  Fluoride added to our water supply will be some compound of Fluorine and another element – most often a byproduct created during the production of a commercial fertilizer or other chemical process.

Of all of the elements, Fluorine is the most electronegative.  In simple terms, that means it is the most active element when it comes to seeking out other elements with which to bond.  Once it makes that bond it doesn’t want to let go and when introduced to water it is highly soluble.  All of this comes together to create fluoride compounds that are difficult to remove from water.

Reverse Osmosis & Fluoride Removal 

Reverse Osmosis with Remineralizer

“Reverse osmosis will remove everything from water.” Well, apparently that doesn’t include Fluoride.

At best, you can expect a reverse osmosis system to remove about 90% of  the Fluoride from your water.   Chanson USA, which prides itself on it’s experience in the area of water filtration and pre-filtration systems, tells customers that it’s nano-filtration and reverse osmosis filtration systems will only remove up to 90% of fluoride from the water.  I checked around and found several other sources making the same sort of “disclaimer” about fluoride removal.

Best Option for Fluoride Removal

Even at a 90% removal rate, reverse osmosis seems to be the most effective option for reducing fluoride – however – the cost of an RO system and maintenance cost can be higher than most want to pay.  When using a reverse osmosis system with a water ionizer you also have to consider the cost of a remineralizing pre-filter – which isn’t too terribly expensive – and factor in the water waste.  Most RO systems will have 1 gallon of water that is discarded to every 1 gallon of water that is purified for use.

RO systems also slow the flow rate considerably.  Adding a remineralizing pre-filter for the purpose of ionization can slow the flow rate slightly more.  Also, depending on the size of the holding tank that comes with your system, you could be limited as to how much water you can produce at a time before you have to wait for the tank to fill up again.

3-Bank System for Fluoride Reduction

When you consider RO’s 90% fluoride reduction rate and activated alumina’s 80-85% reduction rate, activated alumina seems to be the most cost effective method forreducing fluoride levels in your source water is.   If you choose this option you may want to add a KDF filter behind it.  Although “activated alumina” itself  is considered non-toxic by many, and has been widely used in water filtration for years, there are many reports that insist that trace levels of aluminum are left in the water.

While the filters in most water ionizers will have elements designed to reduce heavy metal content in the water they are based on heavy metal levels that are commonly found and are not designed for water that have high levels of aluminum or other heavy metals.    In fact, most water ionizer companies and responsible dealers will recommend a KDF pre-filter if you make them aware that you may have higher than average levels of heavy metals in your source water.

A two-cartridge pre-filtration system with activated alumina and KDF will cost you less than half of what you would pay for an RO system and will have significantly less impact on your flow rate.  This two-bank system will take up less space and there is no “holding tank” required so there is no limit on how much water you can produce at a time.  Based on average daily use the Activated Alumina+KDF filters should last about 12 month with annual replacement costs under $100.

View Pre-Filtration Systems