Fluoridation in drinking water is a much-discussed topic. Research on both sides shows the advantages and possible risks of fluorides in water, particularly for infants. The Environmental Protection Agency strictly regulates the amount of fluoride permissible in tap water, and you may want to opt for bottled water that is fluoride-free. In this article, I’ll discuss why fluoride is added to water, why it may be a hazard, and then give you 16 fluoride-free bottled water brands to choose from.
Why is fluoride used in water?
Fluoride is a chemically charged form of the element fluorine. It is found in trace amounts in rocks. Fluoride may be naturally found in mineral water as a result of erosion. However, it is artificially added to almost 80% of the tap water supply in the United States.
First, we’ll look at why fluoride is added in the first place. Small amounts of fluoride are beneficial for oral hygiene. It prevents tooth decay and improves dental health. Fluoride may also prevent cavities and reduce the need for teeth removal. It makes bones stronger and more resilient. In fact, 99% of all the fluoride found in the body is stored in teeth and bones.
Why should you be concerned about fluoride in water?
The National Institute of Health recommends that adults can safely ingest 3-5mg of fluoride a day. For children, the amount varies from 0.01mg to 2mg based on age and weight. As we continue to drink water with fluoride, it may accumulate in the body. Ingesting too much fluoride may cause adverse health effects.
Infants and children who ingest too much fluoride may be at a higher risk for dental fluorosis, a condition where they develop white spots and stains on teeth. Too much fluoride may also cause nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.
While fluoride may help keep teeth strong, a study from the National Library of Medicine shows that the fluoride added to toothpaste is primarily responsible for this, and not fluoridated water. Fluoride is most effective when topically applied to the teeth.
Another study published in the National Library of Medicine found that increased fluoride consumption in childhood may be associated with an increased risk of bone cancer in young boys.
Ingesting too much fluoride over a long time may lead to skeletal fluorosis, a chronic condition that causes nerve problems, muscle loss, and joint pain. Individuals who eat fluoride supplements may not require fluoridated water in the first place.
16 brands of bottled water without fluoride
Regardless of the reasons, if you are considering water without added fluorides, I have compiled a list of 14 brands you can check out on Amazon or Walmart (specifically, Sam’s Choice).
Smartwater is made from vapor distillation which removes most contaminants from water. This water is purified by replicating the water cycle – the water is evaporated, condensed, and then precipitated artificially to remove contaminants. Electrolytes are added to enhance taste and flavor. Smartwater is sugar-free, sodium-free, and fluoride-free. It has a TDS of 30 ppm (parts per million). pH-balanced Smartwater has a neutral flavor, while the alkaline variant has a pH of 9. The alkaline variant tastes smooth, while the pH-balanced version offers a crisper taste.
Price: USD 0.12/fl oz.
2. Nestlé Pure Life
Nestlé Pure Life gets its water from various municipal sources. The water then undergoes a 12-step purification and filtration process to remove bacteria, viruses, and other contaminants. One of these processes is de-fluoridization, where any fluorides added to the municipal source are removed. It is also sodium-free, with a TDS of 60 ppm. This water has a pH between 6.8 to 7.4, making it more or less neutral. Minerals like calcium chloride, magnesium sulfate, and sodium bicarbonate are added for taste.
Price: USD 1.50/fl oz.
Evian Natural Spring Water is sourced from the snow-capped French Alps. Bottled at Cachat Spring, this water is fluoride-free. The water is bottled at the source, ensuring no contamination until you open the cap. It goes through a 15-year natural filtration process, giving it a characteristically sweet taste. It has a pH of 7.59, making it neutral. With a TDS of 340 mg/L, it tastes refreshing and crisp. All electrolytes are naturally occurring.
Price: USD 0.08/fl oz.
Aquafina purifies water from various municipal sources and bottles it after de-fluoridization. It does not have too many added minerals and salts. It undergoes around 320 daily tests to test for water quality and taste. This purified water contains only nitrates and sulfates and has a TDS value of 10 mg/L. This lets Aquafina live up to its name of ‘perfectly pure tasting water’, as it has no other additives.
Price: USD 0.01/fl oz.
Owned by the Coca-Cola Company, Dasani water is purified from various municipal sources. It undergoes a special RO and microfiltration process, after which extra minerals are added for taste and nutrition. This water is completely fluoride-free and compatible with a low-sodium diet. If you are concerned about the environment, you can opt for Dasani’s PlantBottle initiative, which uses bottles made from sugarcane byproducts. It has a TDS of 36 mg/L, making it a low mineral content water.
Price: USD 0.01/fl oz.
6. Poland Spring
Poland Spring sources its water from eight natural springs in Maine. It has a pH of 6.6 to 8.2 depending on which spring it is sourced from, which contributes to a very slight variation in taste. It has a TDS of 70 mg/L. It does not have any detectable levels of fluoride and is composed of naturally occurring bicarbonate and sulfate salts that lend to the crisp taste. Poland Spring Sparkling Water is also fluoride-free but it is not naturally carbonated. Carbonation is artificially added to spring water to add to the taste. Poland Spring ORIGIN is fluoride-free natural spring water that also has naturally occurring electrolytes.
Price: USD0.06/fl oz.
ESKA spring water is sourced from calcium-rich Canadian springs in Abitibi. This glacial water from Quebec is naturally filtered through rocks for more than 15 years, after which it is bottled at the source after undergoing a UV disinfection. It has a TDS value of 86 mg/L, giving it a distinctly sweet, crisp taste. The water is more or less neutral, with a pH of 7.8.
Price: CAD 0.8/100 ml
8. Icelandic Glacial
Icelandic Glacial brings Iceland’s finest to your doorstep, with naturally occurring spring water bottled directly from the Ölfus Spring in southwestern Iceland. Although the water is not sourced from an actual glacier, it is bottled from a natural underground spring. It has a pH of 8.4, making it alkaline. It tastes smooth and soft. No additional minerals are added to this water since it is filtered through volcanic rock. The water is fluoride-free but contains trace amounts of sodium. It has a TDS of 62 ppm.
Price: USD 0.08/fl oz.
9. Sam’s Choice
Sam’s Choice purified drinking water is specially formulated for sale at Walmart stores. Named after the founder of iconic Walmart, Sam Walton, this brand purifies tap water and adds additional minerals for taste. It is fluoride-free and has trace levels of chloride and sulfate salts. It is also sodium-free. It is a low-mineral water, with a TDS of 29 mg/L. Magnesium sulfate, potassium chloride, and potassium bicarbonate are added to enhance the taste.
Price: USD 0.07/fl oz.
Ozarka sources natural spring water from springs rising from Eastern Texas. Ozarka no longer sells fluoridated water, which means their complete range is fluoride-free. The pH varies from 5.4 to 7.1, putting it in the range of slightly acidic to neutral. The water tastes crisp and refreshing, with a TDS of 110 mg/L. Note that Ozaka Sparkling Water is also fluoride-free but is artificially carbonated. The company pumps carbon dioxide into naturally-occurring spring water to make it sparkle.
Price: USD 0.04/fl oz.
11. Ice Mountain Natural Spring Water
Ice Mountain water is bottled at springs in Michigan, near the Muskegon River watershed. With a TDS of 350 mg/L, Ice Mountain uses a 10-step quality control routine to monitor the mineral content of the water. Ice Mountain does not sell any fluoridated water; only naturally occurring minerals are present in the water. The pH of Ice Mountain water is slightly alkaline, between 7.9 and 8.1. It tastes smooth and fresh. The company artificially adds carbon dioxide to spring water for a distinct bubbly taste.
Price: USD 0.10/fl oz.
12. Niagara Purified Water
Niagara offers a range of bottled waters. Among its product line, only Niagara Purified Water and Infant Water ARE completely fluoride-free. Niagara Spring water may contain some naturally occurring fluoride that is left untouched. Niagara Purified water, on the other hand, has no detectable levels of fluoride. Small amounts of other high-grade minerals like sulfates and carbonates are added to this water for taste. It is a low-sodium water. This purified water undergoes reverse osmosis and micron filtration to remove contaminants.
Price: USD 0.06/fl oz.
13. Arrowhead Brand 100% Mountain Spring Water
Arrowhead sources its fresh spring water from natural springs in Western Canada, Colorado, and California. It undergoes a strict 10-step quality process to ensure crisp-tasting water with a TDS of 250 mg/L. The natural spring water is UV-filtered to remove impurities and any unnecessary minerals. Arrowhead offers both fluoridated and non-fluoridated spring water. The fluoridated water bottles are clearly labeled and follow FDA regulations. While picking your bottle, check the label to see if it is the non-fluoridated type. It has a pH range between 6.6 and 8.2, making it slightly alkaline.
Price: USD 0.01/fl oz.
14. Gerber Pure Water
Gerber Pure Water has been specially formulated for mixing with infant formula and cereal. It is not sterile water; it is purified water with added minerals for taste and nutrition. It is a zero-sodium water that has no added fluorides. It is also kosher. It has a TDS of 110 mg/L. Mineral salts like magnesium sulfate, potassium bicarbonate, and calcium chloride are added to enhance the taste. In addition, these minerals in trace amounts are beneficial for infants.
Price: USD 0.02/fl oz.
15. Essentia Water
Essentia Water is ionized alkaline water that has a smooth, soft taste. It is made by purifying and processing water from municipal sources. It has a pH of 9.5 which is achieved by a three-step process (reverse osmosis, microfiltration, and electrolyte infusion). Since the water is ionized, it tastes clean and sweet. Essentia water does not contain fluoride or chloride.
Price: USD 0.04/fl oz.
16. Penta Water
Penta Water is bottled from a natural aquifer from California, but it is classified as a purified water because the company uses a proprietary 13-step process to filter the water. The water is also free from chromium, chlorine, and bicarbonates. The water is put through reverse osmosis, microfiltration, and ozonation without changing the naturally balanced pH of 7. The TDS value is negligible.
Price: USD 1.46/fl oz.