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How To Remove Fluoride From Water For Plants in 2023?

How To Remove Fluoride From Water For Plants

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If your plant’s leaves have white scars, you may think fluoride is poisoning your plant. Fluoride, as a toxin, can accumulate in plant leaves gradually over time. It imparts a substantial inhibitory effect on photosynthesis and collects on the leaf margins. It’s something you’d like to get rid of. 

Instead of proper watering, adequate sunlight, and maintaining an appropriate pH balance in the soil, balancing fluoride is also most important. You can use water filters to remove fluoride, including reverse osmosis filters, distilled water, activated carbon, and bone char carbon. 

Still here? It means your plant might be suffering from plant foliage. Let’s learn about how to remove fluoride from water for plants; with our assistance, you and your plant may get free of fluoride’s detrimental effects. Let’s start!

Where Does Fluoride in Water Come From?

Fluoride in water comes naturally from rocks, soil, and air by the dissolution of minerals. It can enter your water source by industrial discharge and disposal of household products like (mouthwash or toothpaste). 

In the U.S., Fluoride in the form of Fluorosilicic (H2SIF6) is commonly used to prevent tooth decay. Although it’s beneficial for humans, it may not be suitable for plants. Hydrogen Fluoride (HF)  in the form of gas enters the leaves of the plants. It can also enter into plants through their roots and be translocated, resulting in toxicity to plants.

Fluoride can be present in soil and water where either plants are grown, or you have indoor plants at your home. They might absorb fluoride with other nutrients. Once the roots absorb it, it can move from the roots to other parts of the plant, including stems, leaves, and even fruits. 

Is Fluoride Bad For Plants? 

When fluoride-containing rocks and other minerals are broken down, fluoric acids such as cryolite, feldspar, mica, and apatite are mixed with water and are absorbed by plants. 

In most cases, Fluoride, in appropriate concentrations, is not harmful, but it can create toxicity to various fluoride-sensitive plants. No matter whether the plants are wild or indoors and may be in the form of crops or agriculture when they are irrigated with city water containing fluoride, they may develop tip burns. For example, more than 1-2 parts per million (ppm) of fluoride in vegetable, fruit, and flower plants can cause various negative effects such as:

  • Leaf discoloration 
  • Inhibit the growth
  • Unhealthy plant with reduced beauty
  • Lead to necrosis (cell death)
  • Fluoride interferes with the uptake of essential nutrients
  • Fruit deformities and pathetic taste 
  • Decreased photosynthesis
  • Exacerbate aluminum toxicity

Certain plants, like dentalium  Rice (Oryza sativa), Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), and Potato (Solanum tuberosum) can lead to the development of brown spots and necrosis (accidental death of plant body) in tomato leaves.

Plants that are Sensitive to Fluoride 1
Fluoride sensitive plants

Fluorides are toxic to some plants, especially those with long, thin foliage, such as.

  • Spider plants
  • Easter lilies
  • Dracaena
  • Peace lily
  • Parlor palms
  • Prayer-plant
  • Freesia
  • Apricot
  •  Box Elder
  •  Blueberry 
  • Sweet corn 
  • Douglas-fir 
  • Pine  
  • Plum 
  • Tulip  
  • Blue spruce
  • Gladiolus 
  • Grape 
  • Western Larch 
  • Peach

You can also learn how to filter tap water for plants from this link.

How to Get Rid of Fluoride from Water?

Either you need to irrigate your water with the well or by storing rainwater for watering the plants. However, if you don’t have access to rain or well water, we suggest using a water filtration system for fluoride removal. 

So, If you are a plant lover or have indoor greenery, you might be worried: is filtered water good for plants? Yes, it is. You can use water filters that can remove fluoride, including reverse osmosis membrane, activated alumina, distillation, bone char carbons, etc.

Opt for Reverse Osmosis Treatment

Reverse osmosis can help to remove fluoride and other contaminants from water successfully. RO system only enables water molecules to pass, preventing big contaminants like fluoride from getting farther. 

Installing a reverse osmosis water system can help in removing bacteria, viruses, and protozoa from water which can be used for drinking and watering plants. Not only this, this system is ideal for removing chemical contaminants, including sodium, chloride, copper, chromium, lead, arsenic, fluoride, radium, sulfate, minerals, nitrate, and phosphorus. 

You can install your RO system near the sink, in the basement, on the sink, or at the point of entry. Point of entry RO systems are ideal if you want to use filtered water for entire use such as gardening, drinking, cooking, and bathing.

Click to learn What reverse osmosis removes.

Using Distilled Water For Plants

Distilled water is formed by boiling water at high temperatures to produce steam, which is then condensed back into water. It effectively can remove impurities such as fluoride, minerals, and contaminants, which are harmful to humans and specifically fluoride-sensitive plants that are susceptible to damage. 

Installing water distillation units can prevent the buildup of minerals present in tap water, such as calcium, magnesium, and salt. Over time, the accumulation of these minerals in the soil can lead to a condition known as “soil salinity,” which can harm plant roots. The bonus point of using distillation is the removal of bleach and bleaching smell that is added in municipalities to treat tap water. 

Additionally, many people believe that distilled water is better for plants since it is entirely pure and free of bacteria, viruses, and many nutrients like fluoride. This is true for indoor plants with tiny soil contaminated with pesticides and mineral accumulation.

In hydroponics and indoor gardening, where nutrient solutions are precisely controlled, plants watered with distilled water grow faster and stronger than those watered with tap water. Ultimately, they can generate more leaves and grow faster. 

Important Tip:

If you are watering with distilled water, you must take great care to fertilize your plants appropriately according to type.

Using Activated Alumina Media Filter

Alum-impregnated activated alumina is another best filter media that can be used to remove various heavy metals which can harm the plant such as fluoride. MIAA (modified immobilized activated alumina) has been successfully used to remove fluoride from drinking water, with a removal efficiency of up to 95%.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has suggested activated alumina to remove various pollutants including arsenate, fluoride, sulfate, and selenate. However, this removal depends on the pH (which should be balanced) and quantities of competing ions (should be low).

For watering the plants, it’s essential to use quality water like clean, pH-balanced water that doesn’t contain harmful levels of minerals or contaminants. While activated alumina might play a role in improving the water source, it is not a direct additive for plant care.

Using a Bone Char Carbon

Bone char, also known as Brimac Char, was one of the first fluoride elimination therapies in the United States. Fluoride and other pollutants such as lead, arsenic, and cadmium have a high absorption capacity in bone char, made from finely pulverized roasted cattle bones.

Bone char, like activated alumina, has a porous ionic surface that allows it to absorb both inorganic and organic compounds, especially fluoride. Bone char filtration, like activated alumina, works best at a slightly acidic pH level and a lower flow velocity to encourage greater absorption.

Filter cartridges made of bone char are available, and depending on the quality of the bone char and how often the filters are refreshed, they can remove up to 90% of fluoride.

According to the EPA, Bone char, carbon-activated alumina, and reverse osmosis are three of the most effective methods for eliminating fluoride and various other impurities from water which can be ideal for human and plant use.

You must know do adults need fluoride in drinking water.
Can water filters remove fluoride from water?

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Some other question’s answers for our readers that might be helpful for reading.

What Happens When You Remove Fluoride From Tap Water? 

Fluoride can help in preventing tooth decay and strengthen enamel. When you remove fluoride from tap water, there is a risk of loss of the added dental health benefits associated with water fluoridation. However, the consumption of highly fluoridated water is associated with dental fluorosis or other health issues. So, it’s crucial to maintain the overall safety and quality of the water supply. 

In a place, The US. NBC News quoted that: “Anti-fluoridationists” — a small but vocal minority — are disputing long-established science revealing that fluoridated tap water can lower IQ levels, acne, anemia, and Alzheimer’s.

How to Remove Fluoride From Water with Holy Basil?

Plants like Holy Basil, Japanese camellia, Japanese Cheesewood, and Saccharum Officinarum are plants widely used in India in Ayurvedic medicine to treat various conditions. In research, it is found that holy basil leaves can remove up to 42- 75% fluoride. However, further research is needed. 

Overall, the removal of fluoride using holy basil is straightforward. You need to boil or shake a handful of holy basil or tulsi leaves in water for a few minutes which is sufficient to disinfect approximately 20 liters of water. Also, we experimented with numerous water samples with varying fluoride amounts to test the method’s efficiency.

Does Bottled Water Have Fluoride?

Fluoride is not present in every bottled water. It varies depending on the brand and source. It’s essential to check the label to know if the fluoride content is present. If fluoride content is your concern, you can choose a brand that meets your preferences for either fluoridated or non-fluoridated water.

Conclusion

In the end, it is very important to remove fluoride-like impurities to ensure the optimal growth and health of your plants. Various methods, such as using reverse osmosis systems, activated alumina filters, or distillation, can effectively reduce fluoride levels in the water. However, there is no specific fluoride dose for plants. All plants have a different fluoride-toxic ratio. 

However, you will need to balance and maintain the right water quality tailored to the specific needs of your plants. You need to water the plants properly, provide adequate sunlight, and maintain an appropriate pH balance in the soil. Further, By fluoride removal techniques, you can create an optimal environment for your plants to thrive and flourish.

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