The Basics Of Iodine Water Purification

Posted on: 25 September 2015

If you live in an area that's been affected by a natural disaster or you plan to spend some time hiking and camping, you're going to want to make sure that you have a plan in place for clean water. Since there is no way to tell if the water source you've found is contaminated with bacteria, you'll need to be cautious and proactive. One of the most convenient ways to treat water in an emergency situation like this is with iodine. Here's a look at what you need to know about iodine treatments for purifying water.

When is Iodine Effective?

Iodine treatment can be effective in any situation where you're unsure about the quality of the water that you're going to consume. Iodine can purify water against most any contaminants, so it's effective for water gathered from a forest stream as well as water harvested in an emergency when clean water sources have been cut off. In fact, even if you're just drawing water from a well that you're not sure is completely safe for drinking yet, iodine can help.

What Types of Iodine Are There?

You'll find three forms of iodine used for water purification. Whether you opt for the liquid drops, tablets or crystals, each one is equally effective.

How Effective is Iodine?

The OA Guide states that iodine can be more effective than chlorine treatment in some cases, but works best when the water you're treating is warmer, such as around 70 degrees or higher. It's also most effective when your iodine is well within its recommended usable life according to the date on the package. Remember that iodine is sensitive to light, too, so you'll want to store it in a light-blocked container to make sure it's as effective as possible.

The amount you need per gallon of water will vary based on the form of iodine you choose and the visible condition of the water. For example, with liquid iodine, five drops per quart is a standard recommendation, but if your water is visibly cloudy and contaminated, you'll probably want to use closer to ten drops per quart for sufficient treatment. If there are any visible particles in the water, you'll want to strain it through some form of cloth or a coffee filter before you purify it.

How Long Does it Take?

For an iodine treatment to be effective, you'll have to let the water rest for thirty to sixty minutes on average. The warmer the water, the quicker the iodine will dissolve, so warm water will treat quicker than cold water. Make sure that all of the iodine is dissolved into the water before you start counting the treatment time, though. If you want to speed up the process with cold stream water, heat it over a campfire or on a stove before you put the iodine in it.

What Issues Are There With Iodine Treatments?

In some cases, iodine can alter the taste of the water that you're treating. You can help to combat this by aerating the water. To do this, pour it between two containers several times. Adding a small amount of salt to the water will help, too. Also, iodine treatment can be a concern for people with an allergy to iodine and women who are pregnant. This may not be the best purification process for those individuals.

If you want to be sure that you have a solid and safe plan in place for treating water, talk with a local water purification company, like those found at, to find out what your options are. They can help you explore the most effective means of purifying water based on your current needs.