Depending on who you ask, fluoride is a blessing or a curse. It’s a plus for preventing tooth decay, but studies suggest too much fluoride in tap water may have undesirable health effects.
If you’d rather be safe than sorry and want to remove fluoride, you may be wondering if distillation is the best approach. So, let’s take a closer look at this humble mineral and how best to remove it from your water.
What Is Fluoride?
How Does Fluoride Get into the Drinking Water Supply?
Fluoride was discovered to prevent tooth decay in the late 1930s. In 1945, Grand Rapids, Michigan was the first city to add it to its public water supply.
Now, fluoride is added to more than 70-percent of American water supplies to improve dental health in children. The average fluoride content in tap water is about 1 part per million.
What Are the Health Effects of Fluoride?
According to the World Health Organization, fluoride can have beneficial and detrimental effects on the human body. While helpful for dental health, evidence-based research shows excessive fluoride in drinking water may contribute to:
- Bone weakness
- Thyroid disorders
- Neurological issues
- Hypertension and more
How much fluoride is too much? In 2011, the EPA recommended lowering the level of public water fluoridation from 1 mg/L to 0.7 mg/L. Yet drinking water standards remained the same.
Today, the maximum level of fluoride ion permitted by law is 4.0 mg/L with a secondary, non-enforceable standard of 2.0 mg/L.
Will Distilling Water Remove Fluoride?
Distilling water removes fluoride, but trace amounts are left behind. So-called double-distilled water goes through the distillation process twice to bring the level to its bare minimum.
Does Distilling Water Remove Other Contaminants?
The distillation process does more than remove fluoride from drinking water. It effectively reduces a wide range of toxic substances. Contaminants removed include:
- Select chemicals
How Does the Distillation Process Work?
How does distilling water remove fluoride? Water is boiled in the base, and as steam rises, the cooling coil collects the water vapor, condensing it into pure water droplets that fall into the carafe. Contaminants remain at the bottom of the pot where they can be washed away, and all that remains is pure water molecules.
Distillation is one of the oldest methods of water purification and is still popular today for making clean drinking water.
Does Boiling Water Remove Fluoride?
Distilling water removes fluoride but boiling it doesn’t. In fact, it concentrates it. So, how can distilling water remove fluoride it if brings water to a boil? The key is steam.
As the water boils in a regular pot, the amount decreases as steam escapes, concentrating the fluoride in a smaller quantity of liquid. The resulting water is more likely to have higher concentrations of heavy metals, including fluoride.
Is Drinking Distilled Water Safe?
Distilled water is safe to drink. Low in minerals, it might have a flat taste, but it’s less likely to harm you than tap water with too much fluoride.
Distilled Water Versus Purified Water?
Distilled water is a type of purified water, but not all purified water is necessarily distilled — water purification can be achieved using many methods.
Distilled and purified water are not, however, interchangeable. Purified water doesn’t contain fluoride, but it may contain too many minerals to be used in medical devices.
Neither should be confused with vaguely defined filtered water.
Should I Use a Distiller to Purify My Drinking Water?
Distilling water removes many contaminants including fluoride, but there are pros and cons to a home water distiller.
✔️ Distilled Water is Pure
Home-distilled water is so pure it can be used in medical devices, like CPAP machines. And it’s cheaper than buying distilled water in gallon jugs.
✔️ Distillers are Affordable, Portable and Easy to Use
Distilling water removes more contaminants than many types of water filters for a fraction of the price. A better water distiller can cost $300, but you can purchase a small countertop model for as little as $79.
A small water distiller is the size of a Mr. Coffee machine and fits on most RV countertops. Why drink bottled water in places where water treatment is poor when distillation makes even the most contaminated water potable.
And anyone can use a water distiller. It requires no costly installation or changes to your plumbing, and maintenance is as simple as keeping it clean. Removing fluoride has never been so easy.
✔️ Water Distillation is Environmentally Friendly
Water distillers use electricity, but the environmental impact pales in comparison to bottled water. And unlike reverse osmosis water filters, they create no wastewater. If you’re trying to avoid plastic products, you can keep your distilled water in glass jugs.
❌ Distilled Water Tastes Flat
Trading tap water that tastes like chlorine for distilled water that has no flavor at all may have you reaching for bottled water. Most people say they adjust to the taste of distilled water in weeks and that it’s a small sacrifice to make for drinking water that doesn’t contain fluoride.
❌ Water Distillers Require Electricity
Distilling water requires electricity, so if there’s an outage and you need drinking water, you’re out of luck. But otherwise, the electricity cost is negligible. The cost of making a gallon of pure distilled water will vary depending on your electricity rates, but it averages $0.30.
❌ Distillers Don’t Produce Much Water
Water distillation is a slow process. It takes most units at least four hours to produce a gallon of distilled water. Even if you run it around the clock, the most distilled water you can produce in a day is four gallons —enough for a family of four but only for drinking. You’ll need to make and store distilled water continuously to have a steady supply.
❌ The Distilling Process Doesn’t Remove All Chemicals
Tap water can contain a witch’s brew of chemicals, only some of which a water distiller removes.
Chemicals that boil at the same or a lower temperature than water, such as benzene and certain pesticides, contaminate the steam. Only those with a boiling point higher than water are removed during the distilling process.
If you need to filter fluoride and chemical contaminants from your drinking water, other methods of filtration may do a better job.
Other Types of Water Treatment Methods that Remove Fluoride
There are several factors to consider when shopping for water filters that remove fluoride. You can’t rely on charcoal filters.
Other than distillers, the only water filters that reliably remove fluoride are:
Reverse Osmosis Systems
An RO filter removes up to 90-percent of fluoride and most other contaminants from tap water, including minerals. RO-filtered water is almost as pure as distilled water – see our top recommended RO Filter Systems
Activated Alumina Filters
Activated alumina removes fluoride, arsenic and chemical contaminants.
Bone Char Filters
Bone char is made from burnt animal bones. Highly porous, it’s among the best filtration media for removing fluoride from water.
There’s no room for compromise on safe drinking water. So, ask your local treatment authorities how much fluoride is in your water, and if you don’t like the answer, both distillation and filtration can get the fluoride out.