The best ways to make water safe in a survival situation when you’re a way from home, is to either distill it, filter and boil it, or at least boil it. But, there might be times, like when you’re on the go, when you don’t have time to stop and build a solar still, filter, or boil water. At those times it’s good to have some emergency water purification tablets as a back-up way to disinfect your drinking water.
Drinking water purification tablets take up very little room, so you can easily carry them with you in your bag or wherever. All you have to do is fill your bottle with some water and drop in a tablet and wait the recommended amount of time – usually 30 minutes or longer depending upon the brand. It doesn’t get any easier than that. That is why they’re so great for disinfecting drinking water when you’re on the move or when the other methods are just not convenient.
There are a few different kinds of water purification tablets on the market, however, and that’s what I want to talk about today. If you’re like me, you probably want to know which kind are the best, which ones are effective against all of the bad stuff in the water that can make you sick, and which ones can do it in a reasonable amount of time. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to wait hours for my water to disinfect. If you’re on the move it’s probably going to make you thirsty.
As far as ingredients go, there are three main types of water purification tablets on the market these days:
1. Iodine tablets
2. Chlorine tablets (NaDCC)
3. Chlorine dioxide tablets
Lets talk a little more about each of these…
Iodine water purification tablets
While Iodine tablets are effective against viruses and bacteria, they’re not effective against cryptosporidium. If you’re going to use iodine tablets, you might want to use them in combination with a water filter that has a pore size of 1 micron or smaller to help remove any cryptosporidium. There are portable water filters on the market that you can carry in your pack.
I don’t know how you can be allergic to a nutrient that the body needs, but a lot of people do claim to be allergic to iodine. And even if that isn’t you, if you have someone with you who is, it could be a problem. People who have thyroid issues shouldn’t use iodine tablets either.
The other bad thing about iodine is that they make the water taste bad. That’s not a big deal though because iodine tablets often come with neutralizing tablets too. If you add a neutralizing tablet to the water after you’ve disinfected it with the iodine tablet, it will neutralize the taste of the iodine and keep the water from tasting bad. If they don’t come with neutralizing tablets, you can add a vitamin C tablet to the water after disinfecting it, and the vitamin C will neutralize the taste of the iodine as well.
Here are a couple popular brands of iodine tablets:
Potable Aqua water purification tablets
Coleman water purification tablets
Polar Pure is another brand that is popular because one bottle can treat up to 2,000 quartz or 500 gallons of water. It comes in the form of little crystals rather than tablets. But, at this time it has been pulled from the market because people were apparently using it to make drugs.
Chlorine water purification tablets
Sodium Dichloroisocyanurate (NaDCC), is a form of chlorine that is used to disinfect water. They are an improvement to the chlorine-based halazone tablets that U.S. Soldiers used during World War II which only lasted a few days once opened.
They a very effective against bacteria and giardia, but like iodine, they’re also not effective against cryptosporidium. So if you use these tablets, you might want to use them in combination with a water filter that has a pore size of 1 micron or smaller to help remove any cryptosporidium.
Here are a couple popular brands of NaDCC tablets:
Aquatabs water purification tablets
Oasis water purification tablets
Chlorine dioxide water purification tablets
Chlorine dioxide tablets are used by the U.S. Military and relief agencies around the world. It is safer than iodine and chlorine. It is currently the only technology registered with the EPA to control all microorganisms including cryptosporidium.
It will take care of viruses and bacteria in 15 minutes, and giardia within 30 minutes. In most cases it will take care of cryptosporidium in that amount of time as well. If the water is colder or extremely dirty, however, 4 hours is required for it to be effective against cryptosporidium.
Iodine and chlorine tablets aren’t at all effective against cryptosporidium and therefore require the addition of a filter that can take care of it. Chlorine dioxide tablets, however, can take care of it without the aid of a filter.
Chlorine dioxide tablets are not the same thing as chlorine. They use a highly active form of oxygen to purify the water.
The companies selling chlorine dioxide tablets claim their tablets don’t add an unpleasant taste to the water. However, some people say they do add a little bit of a chlorine taste to the water although not as bad tasting as the iodine or chlorine tablets. Allowing the chemical to dissipate a few minutes after doing its job should help with the taste.
Chlorine dioxide tablets have about a 5 year expiration date which is about as good as it gets with water purification tablets. However, several people say the tablets will last many years longer than that if stored in a temperature controlled environment.
Here are a couple popular brands of Chlorine dioxide tablets:
Katadyn water purification tablets
Aquamira water purification tablets
So what are the best water purification tablets? In my opinion, if it isn’t already obvious, the best water purification tablets are the chlorine dioxide tablets – either the Katadyn or Aquamira brand. And that is because they are the only purification tablets that will take care of viruses, bacteria, giardia, and cryptosporidium. And in most cases, they’ll do it in 30 minutes, just 1 tablet per liter of water.
But, whichever tablets you go with, after the pill has dissolved, don’t forget to open the lid on your bottle slightly and give the bottle a good shake to allow some of the treated water to splash out onto the threads. That way you’re not ingesting any contaminated water from the mouth of the bottle.
Water purification tablets are usually reserved for purifying smaller amounts of water like what you would be carrying on you. When purifying larger amounts of water like from your emergency water storage you’ll probably want to go with one of the other survival water purification methods instead.