Do Carbon Filters Remove Fluoride from Water?

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Carbon filters have powerful filtration properties that make them great at removing a variety of contaminants from water – think chemicals.

However, do carbon filters also remove fluoride from water?

Time to find out!

Key Takeaways

  • While carbon filters are very useful for removing a number of water contaminants, they are completely ineffective against fluoride.
  • Water filtration/purification methods that can be used to remove fluoride from water include reverse osmosis, bone char, activated alumina, and distillation.

Do Carbon Filters Remove Fluoride from Water?

Carbon filtration is completely ineffective at removing fluoride from water. So no, carbon filters do not remove fluoride from water.

They are designed to remove other types of contaminants (like chlorine), and while they work great in this regard, investing in carbon filters specifically for fluoride is a waste of money.

On the other hand, using carbon filters is still not a bad idea if you want to improve the overall filtration of your home’s water supply.

Granular Activated Carbon

What to Use Instead

There are several main approaches to removing fluoride from water on the market right now. Reverse osmosis filters can do a great job, as can bone char and activated alumina filters. All of those filters have some limitations, however, making it important to choose a suitable configuration. Water distillation can also work well, but it’s not suitable for large batches of water.

The filtration methods listed below are not mutually exclusive. You’re free to combine them in different ways as you see fit. This is recommended if you’re dealing with heavily contaminated water with various contaminants that require different filtration methods. In this case, it’s a good idea to consult a specialist who can evaluate the current state of your water supply and help you figure out a suitable approach.

Reverse Osmosis

Reverse osmosis is a filtration process that utilizes a very thin membrane. Water is forced through the membrane at a high pressure, and the membrane pushes back on most contaminants, only letting water molecules through. This leaves you with almost completely purified water.

The process is rather wasteful in terms of water, however. Up to several gallons of water have to be wasted for each gallon of clean water that comes out of the filter. If you’re fine with that – and could potentially reuse the wasted water for other purposes – RO filtration is definitely something you should look into for your home.

Bone Char

Bone char filters are usually made from animal bones. They are great at filtering out fluoride in particular, removing it in high percentages. They are also one of the main reasons for people wrongly assuming that carbon filters remove fluoride, due to the similarity in their names.

Bone char filtration is also great at removing other types of contaminants that are traditionally more difficult to deal with. This includes arsenic, uranium, and a bunch of other more obscure contaminants. You may or may not have these in your water supply, but it’s important to remember that they can be very harmful even in small quantities. This makes it a good idea to invest in bone char filters.

Activated Alumina

As long as you can maintain a relatively low water pH, activated alumina is another great approach to removing fluoride. These filters are commonly available on the market and relatively inexpensive, making them a perfect addition to a whole house filtration system.

They can work on other contaminants as well, but many people invest in them specifically for their properties when dealing with fluoride. Do note the point about the appropriate pH level of your water, as the effectiveness of these filters declines sharply outside of that range.

Water Distillation

Distillation is a simple process in which water is evaporated and condensed back to liquid form in another container. It’s highly effective at removing most contaminants, leaving you with pure water with no additives.

The main downside to distillation is that it doesn’t scale well. It’s a process you have to do manually and in limited batches, making it a bad approach for continuous filtration.

What Are Activated Carbon Filters?

Carbon filters are very popular on the market due to the wide range of contaminants they cover and their relatively low cost. If you’re buying a general-purpose whole house water filter, there’s a good chance it involves at least one carbon filtration stage.

How Do Carbon Filters Work and What Do They Remove?

Activated carbon is processed to maximize its surface area, giving it high adsorption qualities. This allows it to capture a large number of contaminants of different types without obstructing water flow significantly.

There are several types of carbon filters, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. As with the filters we listed above, combining those is not a bad idea.

GAC vs Carbon Block Filter

Granulated activated carbon (GAC) and activated carbon blocks (ACB) are the two main types of carbon filters. An ACB filter is composed of carbon powder bound together into a single mass, while a GAC filter utilizes loose granules of carbon instead.

Both rely on the same underlying principle, with the main difference being that GAC filters allow for a smoother water flow as they don’t obstruct it as much.

carbon water filter cartridge

Catalytic Carbon

Catalytic carbon filters are specifically designed to deal with chloramines. Besides, they also remove various other contaminants which are pretty much left untouched by regular carbon; one example: Hydrogen sulfide.

Charcoal vs Coconut Shell Carbon

As the name implies, coconut shell carbon is made from coconut shells. Charcoal carbon is made form, well, charcoal.

Coal-based activated carbon has been around for quite a while. It’s convenient to use as it is readily activated and available.

Coconut shell carbon, on the other hand, has a much higher density of micropores, which allows it to adsorb more types of contaminants, such as VOCs, more effectively.

Are Carbon Water Filters Safe to Use?

Carbon water filters are completely safe and their effectiveness has been tried and proven over many years. There’s a reason this is one of the most commonly used water filtration methods on the domestic market right now.

While activated carbon isn’t that good at removing every type of contaminant out there, it can still work very well for a large number of them. Combining it with other types of filters can result in a very effective, thorough filtration system that lets nothing through except clean, fresh water.

There are no counterindications related to using carbon filters. As long as you buy your filters from reputed sellers with a proven track record on the market, you can’t go wrong with investing in carbon filtration.

Pros and Cons of Fluoride in Drinking Water

Fluoride has been added to municipal water supplies for decades in many parts of the world. The main motivation behind the idea is tied to fluoride’s beneficial properties in preventing tooth decay and improving overall dental health. However, the effectiveness of mixing it into drinking water in particular has been disputed over time.



  • Excessive consumption of fluoride has been linked to a number of health conditions, including dental and skeletal fluorosis
  • More difficult to control one’s intake when fluoride is mixed into drinking water directly

If you have any thoughts about the question, does a carbon filter remove fluoride, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!

About the Author Gene Fitzgerald

Gene Fitzgerald is one of the founders of BOS and currently head of content creation. She has 8+ years of experience as a water treatment specialist under her belt making her our senior scientist. Outside of BOS, Gene loves reading books on philosophy & social issues, making music, and hiking.
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