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Many people have started to grow wary of the presence of fluoride in their drinking water. While fluoride is not inherently dangerous when consumed in reasonable quantities, it can lead to some unpleasant side effects in high concentrations.
This is normally not a problem by itself. But combining factors, like an irresponsible diet that includes a lot of processed food, with a water supply that’s being fluoridated could lead to some dangerous results.
But how can you find out if there’s fluoride in your water in the first place? Can you maybe taste fluoride in water? Let’s find out!
Added to water, fluoride has no taste or smell on its own. As such, you cannot taste fluoride in water.
This makes it impossible to detect fluoride in your water supply via conventional means. However, you can verify if your water is being fluoridated by checking with your local water supply company.
But even that won’t tell you much about the exact quantities of fluoride in your water. That’s because fluoride also gets naturally deposited from sources like rocks and certain types of soils.
The best way to figure out how much fluoride you’re dealing with is to order a water quality test. This will tell you the exact concentration of fluoride in your supply, and will also indicate the presence of other types of contaminants which you might want to filter for.
Fluoride is a mineral. It occurs naturally and can be found in many rocks and soils. Some amounts of it get deposited in water that passes through areas with a high concentration of fluoride. However, those quantities are typically negligible, even if you drink a lot of unfiltered water.
Fluoride has some beneficial health effects when consumed in reasonable quantities. The most notable one is that it prevents tooth decay. That’s why fluoride is a common ingredient in many toothpastes.
However, it could also lead to some health issues when consumed too much. This includes dental fluorosis, which manifests as a discoloration and deformation of the teeth. Skeletal fluorosis is another condition associated with excessive intake of fluoride. It results in weakened bones and joints and can cause a lot of pain.
Fluoride has also been associated with some mental development issues in smaller children. However, the amounts that have to be ingested to reach those stages are very large and typically not a problem for most families.
Water fluoridation is a process in which fluoride is added to water, typically done by municipal water supply companies. The main motivation behind water fluoridation is to help fight tooth decay by improving the overall dental health of the population.
Over 20 countries across the globe practice water fluoridation, including the U.S. The practice has been applied for several decades, and various studies have monitored its effectiveness. However, the results have so far been somewhat inconclusive.
Water fluoridation is done by adding specific compounds to water. The three main compounds used at the moment are sodium fluoride, fluorosilicic acid, and sodium fluorosilicate. Of these three, fluorosilicic acid is the most commonly used one, despite the higher costs associated with its transportation.
Sodium fluoride, on the other hand, is more expensive to manufacture. It’s also easier to handle, which makes it suitable for smaller-scale operations with limited manpower. This is the most commonly used compound for water fluoridation in smaller towns. It represents a relatively small percentage of treatment compounds on a global scale though, with less than 10% of water companies reporting that they use it specifically.
Water fluoridation has been studied for decades. While fluoride itself has been confirmed to have beneficial effects on dental health and hygiene, opinions on the effectiveness of water fluoridation are still somewhat divided.
That’s because data seems to indicate that there’s no significant difference in the prevalence of tooth decay and other dental health issues in areas that practice water fluoridation as opposed to those that don’t. In general, most parts of the world have been reporting a steady decline in tooth decay incidence, but there doesn’t seem to be an obvious link between that and water fluoridation.
Despite this, many public water utilities continue to add fluoride to drinking water and carefully monitor its levels to ensure that it doesn’t exceed safe values. This is particularly important in places where fluoride gets deposited into the water naturally.
Water fluoridation is generally safe. The levels introduced into the water supply are too low to cause any health complications. However, this could change in certain cases. For example, if your diet is already heavy on fluoride, drinking fluoridated water may push you towards dangerously high levels.
Some medications can also contain high levels of fluoride. And of course, there’s a good chance the toothpaste you’re using contains it too.
Removing fluoride from water requires specific filtration methods. You can’t use a general-purpose water filter like activated charcoal. You also can’t boil water to remove fluoride from it. In fact, this will only increase its concentration, as some of the water will evaporate (but none of the fluoride will).
Below, we’ve listed the main filtration and purification methods for removing fluoride from water.
Activated alumina filtration is highly effective, not just against fluoride but against other contaminants as well. It has one small downside – it requires a pH level of 5-6 to for peak performance. At levels outside of that range, the impact of activated alumina filtration sharply declines.
Bone char filtration is another commonly used method for removing fluoride from water. It relies on bone char made from animal bones, and is great at decontaminating water in general. However, it should generally be combined with other filtration methods to provide a more thorough purification, as its effectiveness on other types of contaminants is somewhat limited.
Reverse osmosis uses a semipermeable membrane, pushing water through it with a lot of force. The membrane is designed to only allow water molecules to pass through, leaving mostly everything else behind.
While RO filtration is great at combating fluoride, it also tends to waste a lot of water. On the bright side, that water can still be reused for other purposes, as long as you don’t intend to drink it or use it for washing yourself.
Distillation is not suitable for ongoing filtration, but it still deserves a mention for its high effectiveness. It’s hands down the most powerful method for purifying water available right now, removing pretty much all contaminants. Distillation involves boiling water, and then condensing the resulting steam in another container.
The main downside to distillation is that it can’t be implemented as a continuous process (for the most part), and requires a lot of manual work. In the end, you’re only left with a small batch of purified water, further making this an unsuitable approach to whole house filtration. But if you ever need to purify smaller amounts of water in a pinch and don’t have anything else available, distillation is one of the best approaches you can use.
If you have any thoughts about the question, can you taste fluoride in water, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!
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