Get Started with a Free Water Consultation

Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Fluoride?


Reverse osmosis (RO) drinking water filtration does a lot to keep contaminants out of your cup.* But how does it handle fluoride?

Fluoride is often added to the city water supply to protect dental health. While it’s generally safe to drink and can even be highly beneficial, some people may want to remove fluoride for various reasons. Fortunately, reverse osmosis systems can help.

Let’s find out more about fluoridated water and how RO handles it.

Reverse Osmosis and Fluoride

In nature, osmosis occurs when water spontaneously passes through a semipermeable membrane, often moving from an area of higher solute to lower solute concentration. It’s part of how plants use water from the soil to keep themselves alive. Reverse osmosis turns the process the other way around, sending water from an area of low to high concentration. Unlike osmosis, this requires pressure, pushing the water against the grain of the membrane — and the result is filtration.

Of course, in most reverse osmosis water filtration systems, the RO membrane doesn’t work on its own. There are often additional filtration processes at play, enabling these solutions to go beyond what reverse osmosis itself is capable of.

What does that mean for your drinking water? Simple: If you’re thinking about removing fluoride, an RO filter is a good place to start. That’s because reverse osmosis systems are generally more comprehensive than standard pitcher or fridge filters, enabling them to handle complicated contaminants beyond fluoride. These include lead, copper, pesticides, PFAS (known as “forever chemicals”) and more.

Do You Need To Remove Fluoride?

It’s one thing to know that a reverse osmosis water filter can reduce fluoride levels. But do you need to worry about water fluoridation in the first place?

First, it’s helpful to know that fluoride is a natural part of the environment. It’s abundant in the Earth’s crust and released into water, soil and air. Some of the food you eat already contains some of this mineral — but generally not enough to have much impact.

That’s why fluoride is added to the public water supply on purpose. In fact, city officials have been doing this across North America for decades. It all began in 1945, when Grand Rapids, Mich., began fluoridating its water supply and saw a lower rate of cavities in school-aged children. However, research on this mineral dates back to 1901, meaning that fluoride spent a long time in the scientific spotlight before it ever touched your tap water.

The idea behind water fluoridation is to strengthen tooth enamel and prevent decay and cavities — issues that could impact far more than your smile. That’s because there’s a strong link between oral health and overall well-being. There are other benefits, too — including cost savings for families, health care systems and entire communities.

On top of that, the target level federal health departments recommend for fluoridation is 0.7 milligrams per liter (mg/L) or 0.7 parts per million. That’s a small amount, which means it’s unlikely to cause any negative health impacts. Even if a water source has more natural fluoride, the added amount likely won’t exceed any significant limits. These are the federal drinking water guidelines for fluoride:

  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
    • Primary standard: 4.0 mg/L
    • Secondary standard: 2 mg/L
  • Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality
    • Maximum acceptable concentration: 1.5 mg/L

Note that the EPA’s secondary standard exists to prevent problems in younger children. That’s because the biggest concern with fluoridation is generally dental fluorosis, a cosmetic condition causing the teeth to show white or brown spots. This is caused by overexposure to fluoride when permanent teeth are developing.

Overall, 38.8% of Canadians and 73% of Americans rely on fluoridated water. So why do some people still want to remove this mineral? Although studies have shown no links between adverse health effects and the levels of fluoride in public water supplies, you might hear people concerned about impacts like cancer, immunotoxicity and developmental issues. More common, however, is the general interest in understanding and controlling what’s in your tap water.

Reverse Osmosis: Beyond Fluoride

If you want to take charge of your water quality, a reverse osmosis system is one of your best options. That’s because RO water has extensive benefits — and they go far beyond fluoride. Here’s a closer look:

Management of Invisible Contaminants

Even if you aren’t worried about fluoride removal, there are plenty of other potential water contaminants. The problem is that many of them are nearly impossible for human senses to spot. For example, though it’s not as common as it used to be, lead water contamination is still a concern — particularly in older homes. You can’t see, taste or smell lead, so you’d never know it was in your drinking glass.

Fortunately, a professional water test can help identify these issues, while an RO system with the right types of filtration can help fix them.

Taste, Odor and Color Solutions

Although contaminants like lead tend to hide, other substances — including copper, sulfur bacteria, chlorine and more — make themselves more evident. While some may not impact your health, they can certainly make your water less enjoyable by causing aesthetic issues including odd colors and unpleasant tastes.

The good news is that a reverse osmosis system can address these problems and the underlying contaminants. That means you’re not just covering up bad flavors, odors and appearances — you’re actively solving them.

Comprehensive Water Treatment

Common fridge and pitcher filters often make you think they provide clean, safe drinking water — but reverse osmosis filters go much further to ensure that’s the case. A multistage RO system uses more treatment methods at once, addressing a wider range of contaminants to provide greater peace of mind. Plus, simpler filters often aren’t a great choice for large quantities of water — for example, what you’d need for cooking or making a big serving of your favorite healthy drink recipe.

Want To Remove Fluoride? Start Here

Whether you’re concerned about fluoride or just want more control over your tap water, RO filtration is a good place to start. However, if you want a solution that’s customized to fit your needs, it’s best to get a water test that will tell you what’s happening with your home’s water quality.

Get started today. Schedule your free, in-home water test and consultation.

*Contaminants may not be present in your water.

Find A Location Near Me


Schedule Your Free
In-Home Water Test

Get better water in your home by scheduling an appointment with your local Culligan Water Expert.

Our Products

blue wave
Water Softeners

Water Softeners

With any of our soft water systems, get more out of your water-using appliances while spending less on energy and detergent.

View Products

Water Delivery

Water Delivery

There’s never been a better time to enjoy the convenience of scheduled bottled water deliveries from the Culligan® Water Experts

View Products

Water Filtration Systems

Water Filtration Systems

Culligan's water filtration systems have improved water quality for thousands of families worldwide.

View Products