Does Boiling Water Remove Fluoride? (2024)

Reviewed by: James Layton
Updated on:
January 16, 2024

Key Takeaways

Does Boiling Water Remove Fluoride?

Boiling water is an easy method to get rid of impurities, such as bacteria, viruses, and pathogens. Boiling makes tap water safe from microorganisms that could cause illness.

But it doesn’t remove fluoride.

High heat has no effect on many water contaminants, including unwanted fluoride.

Actually, during boiling, water vapor escapes and leaves behind dissolved and concentrated minerals and solids, contaminants that include fluoride, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, lead, synthetic estrogen, herbicides, and arsenic. 

How Can You Remove Fluoride From Water?

Several methods of water filtration can remove fluoride. You can find many of them on our list of the best filters for fluoride removal.

Meanwhile, here are the types of filtration you might expect to find in a fluoride removal system.

Reverse osmosis

A reverse osmosis system is a simple method to remove up to 92% of fluoride from drinking water.

This technology uses household water pressure to force water through a cellulose acetate or polysulfone membrane.

This semipermeable membrane, together with other filters, such as sediment or carbon filters (many reverse osmosis units incorporate a four-stage process for optimal water quality) is a highly effective method for filtering a wide range of contaminants. 

Fluoride, as well as sulfates, asbestos, chlorine, detergents, cadmium, and heavy metals, are easily removed by reverse osmosis.

Check out our review of the best tankless reverse osmosis filtration systems.

Activated alumina

Activated alumina attracts and binds fluoride, and the EPA recommends it as an effective medium for removing fluoride, arsenic, and thallium. 

While activated alumina is the primary fluoride removal medium in many fluoride filters, keep in mind that it doesn’t remove all fluoride from water. Rather, it reduces it to a much safer concentration — around 0.1 ppm.


Distillation produces the purest water, completely devoid of any impurities, metals, or elements.

As fluoride-concentrated water is heated, steam evaporates from the boiling water and condenses on the surface. As condensation collects in a new container, fluoride and other contaminants are left behind.

The final product is pure, distilled water.

Countertop distillation units can be purchased for easy distilling at home, but they’re not particularly practical for families. Larger units may produce more water, but they’re also impractical due to cost and energy use.

Cost of water distillers depends on their size, and prices range from $120 to $3,500.

If you need distilled water for cooking or other projects, check out our list of the best water distillers.

Bone charcoal

One of the oldest fluoride removal methods is bone char, and while it bears mentioning because it’s cheap and effective, it’s really not common in the US, and it’s probably not a practical solution for removing fluoride, certainly not for vegans.

Bone char is made by thoroughly cleaning, drying, and carbonizing animal bones. Some scientists believe it is the most effective method of removing fluoride from water, if not the simplest. 

Some proponents of this method claim it’s a useful way to reduce waste from the meat industry, and perhaps there’s an argument to be made for that.

Bone char is available as a filter cartridge and can remove up to 90% of fluoride from water. It requires more upkeep than a reverse osmosis system, with regular filter replacements required for consistent performance.

Bone char, like reverse osmosis, targets a wide range of contaminants in the water supply. It efficiently removes fluoride, chlorine, and chloramine.

It’s hard to give an accurate price estimate because such systems are not common, but the systems may cost between $500 and $1,000, with replacement cartridges averaging about $50.

What Is Fluoride and Why Is It Used in Drinking Water?

You’re probably familiar with fluoride, that yucky stuff the dentist gives you at the end of your cleaning. But did you know fluoride is virtually everywhere?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in rocks and released into the soil, water, and air through a variety of natural and industrial processes. It is also added by municipal water systems for dental health.

Before fluoride was added to the public water supply, tooth decay was a major problem.

In the early 20th century, studies showed that high levels of natural fluoride in certain community water supplies could prevent tooth decay. Tooth decay, when left untreated, can lead to serious complications, including heart disease. 

Water fluoridation first began in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and quickly spread to other towns and cities after subsequent studies revealed a significantly lower rate of cavities in schoolchildren.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States named community water fluoridation one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th century

Is Fluoride in Your Water Harmful?

A group of independent health researchers at the Cochrane Collaboration deemed those early fluoride studies “flawed” and warned of the harmful effects of fluoride over-ingestion.

Many people want it no longer added to drinking water, calling it “unethical” and “mass medication.” However, added fluoride is present in water at levels well below the recommended level.

But because naturally occurring fluoride may exceed safe levels in some areas, it’s important that you know the health risks of high fluoride intake. 

Recommended fluoride level

Because of increased access to fluoride in dental products and elsewhere, in 2015 the US Department of Health and Human Services reduced its recommendation for the amount of added fluoride to “0.7 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water, opposed to the 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams per liter recommendation issued in 1962.”

Health and Human Services may add fluoride at a level of 0.7 mg/L for public dental health, but that doesn’t mean that’s the level fluoride is considered safe at. 

Safe fluoride content in drinking water should not exceed 4 mg/L. 

Adverse effects of fluoride

While I’m not going to tell you if fluoride should or shouldn’t be added to the water supply, I will tell you some of the consequences of excess fluoride in tap water, including a few major side effects of excessive fluoride intake that are mentioned below.

It’s important to note that these effects are rather rare outside of developing countries.


Fluoride can cause white spots in developing teeth.

This is known as dental fluorosis, and it occurs when teeth are exposed to too much fluoride through drinking water or excessive use of fluoride rinses or fluoride toothpaste.

In this condition, excessive fluoride builds up in the bones causing skeletal fluorosis and skeletal weakness. 

High blood pressure

According to research, there may be a significant link between high blood pressure and fluoridated water.

Increased fluoride levels in groundwater have been linked to an increase in the prevalence of hypertension, particularly among adult males.


Fluoride’s internal side effects are concerning, but fluoride exposure can also impact your skin.

Fluoride consumption on a regular basis may result in fluoroderma, which causes acne and painful sores. Excessive fluoride exposure can also cause hormonal imbalances, which can lead to acne.


Fluoride alone will not cause seizures. However, it may increase the risk for people with epilepsy or other seizure disorders. 

If you are already prone to seizures, keep an eye on the fluoride concentration in your water. Too much fluoride consumption can result in a potentially fatal seizure.

Learn more about it here.

Toxic to brain and nerve cells

Perhaps most concerning is preliminary research that suggests high fluoride levels in animal test subjects may be toxic to brain and nerve cells. Fluoride not only affects bone and teeth, but it can also affect the brain development of children. 

Excess fluoride exposure before birth may result in poorer cognitive outcomes later in life. Higher fluoride levels may even result in lower IQ scores.

Human epidemiological studies have also found possible links between fluoride exposure and learning, memory, and cognition deficits, though the majority of these studies have focused on populations with fluoride exposures higher than those typically provided by US water supplies.

How Do You Check Your Fluoride Level?

So, you’ve read all those scary medical conditions and now you want to know if your water has high levels of fluoride. Well, there are several ways you can check. 

If you’re on municipal water, you can get a copy of your local water quality report from the government or treatment plant for free. If you’re on well water, though, you’ll need to sort it out yourself.

Fluoride meter

A fluoride meter is an electronic device used to measure fluoride levels in the water. You can read a step-by-step guide on how to use a fluoride meter here.

While fluoride meters are certainly reliable, they’re not cheap. It may not make sense to invest in one just to check your water once or twice. The more economical route is to have your water tested.

Water test

Avoid DIY testing strips that claim to detect fluoride. They won’t work for fluoride.

What you should do is order a fluoride test from a laboratory and send them a water sample to test fluoride levels.

The bonus is a complete water test will tell you about everything in your water, not just fluoride.

Knowing your water quality, especially if you have a well system, is essential to choosing the best whole-house filtration system or under-sink filtration system for your family’s health and wellness.

Final Thoughts

Boiling water does not remove fluoride from water. But, honestly, no one wants to boil all their water anyway. A simple filtration system can sort it for you.

Reverse osmosis, distillation, activated alumina, and bone char filters, among others, can ensure fluoride-free water for daily use.

If you want to know more about water contamination, water treatment, and related subjects, we have an extensive selection of articles available that explore various options and how they work.

Our objective is to provide valuable insights and facilitate a deeper comprehension of these topics.

To enhance your knowledge, explore the following articles:

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