How To Purify Water With Iodine For Survival

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Survivopedia Purifying water with iodineWithout a doubt, water should be your number one priority after personal safety in a survival situation. The problem, though, is that water sources may be contaminated. In order to ensure that your water is safe to drink, you’ll need to filter and purify it. There are a few different ways to do this, but today we’re going to tell you how to purify your water with iodine for survival.

First and foremost, you need to know that, even under ideal circumstances, you can only survive about 3 days without water. The time may be shorter or just a bit longer depending upon your physical condition.

If you feel thirsty, you’re already in the beginning stages of dehydration. Don’t wait any longer to start looking for a water source if you haven’t already stockpiled your own or located a safe source. That should be the first thing that you do as soon as you know that it’s safe to venture out.

Whatever you do, DO NOT succumb to your thirst and drink from any water source that you’re not positive is safe prior to purifying it; pathogens in water can quite literally kill you.

How Does Iodine Purify Water?

{adinserter usdeception}Iodine kills the bacteria in water by disrupting the ionic balance within the pathogenic cells. It replaces the chemicals necessary for the bacteria or virus to thrive with iodide ions.

You can buy iodine in tablets, crystals, or tincture of iodine. The tincture is the same exact orangish red stuff that your mom probably put on your cuts and scrapes when you were a kid. Be careful not to confuse iodine with betadine, though. The two are different and only iodine is cleared as a safe, effective way to purify water.

If you remember correctly, iodine smelled funny and it dyed your skin orange. It does the same thing to your water and can be toxic if you use too much, just like bleach can. It can be especially harmful to kids and pregnant women and we don’t recommend that you use iodine as your primary water purification method in a survival situation.

However, it will do in a pinch and is most assuredly effective.

How Much Iodine Does It Take to Purify Water?

If you’re using tincture of iodine, use about 2 drops per quart of clear water and 10 drops for cloudy water. Let it stand for at least 30 minutes in order for the iodine to kill the nasties. Be warned that using tincture of iodine is going to change both the flavor and the color of your water.

If you’re using crystals, follow the directions on the bottle. One small bottle of iodine crystals can treat up to 2000 quarts. But if you’re in the US, this product is tough to come by because it was nixed by the DEA. Apparently it was being used illicitly to make crystal meth so they banned it even though it was a great, portable, inexpensive way to kill pathogens without drastically changing the flavor of the water.

If you’re using tablets, follow the directions on the packaging, though the most popular ones typically require 2 tablets per quart of water. Again, you’ll need to let the water sit for at least 30 minutes so that the iodine can effectively kill the pathogens in the water.

A Few Important Notes about Using Iodine to Purify Water

  1. As we’ve already stated, iodine can be toxic if you use more than directed. There may also be health consequences for long-term use. On the other hand, iodine in small amounts is required by your body in order to function properly, which is why the government mandated that salt be iodized in the 1920’s. People were severely iodine-deficient and were experiencing some pretty severe health issues such as goiters and other thyroid issues. It’s like many other nutrients – you can’t live without it, but it will kill you in large doses. Just follow the directions.
  2. Filtering your water to remove the larger pieces of debris prior to adding the iodine is ideal. Pathogens tend to cling to large particles so removing them makes the iodine more effective, faster. You don’t want to drink chunks of stuff anyway.
  3. Iodine only kills living pathogens. If water is contaminated with poisons such as fertilizers or pesticides, heavy metals, certain parasites, radiation, or other forms of toxins, iodine isn’t going to help.
  4. If you’re allergic to iodine, don’t use this method to purify your water. Of course this is a no-brainer, but still. Just don’t. 

Iodine is effective against disease-causing pathogens, is affordable, and is extremely portable. Since it’s simple to use, it makes a great emergency water purifier but we still recommend using a combination of filtration and purification just to make the cleanest drinking water available.

Chlorine tabs or liquid are also effective methods and actually work better than iodine, but if you don’t have those options, iodine will most certainly work in a pinch.

If you have any comments about how to purify water with iodine, please share in the comments section below. We love to hear from you!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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Theresa Crouse

About Theresa Crouse

Theresa Crouse is a full-time writer currently living in central Florida. She was born and raised in the hills of West Virginia, where she learned to farm, hunt, fish, and live off the land from an early age. She prefers to live off the grid as much as possible and does her best to follow the “leave nothing behind but footprints” philosophy. For fun, she enjoys shooting, kayaking, tinkering on her car and motorcycle, and just about anything else that involves water, going fast, or the outdoors. You can send Theresa a message at editor [at] survivopedia.com.
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Comments

  1. grintch says:

    Iodine is visible in the water and doesn't have a shelf life, like chlorine bleach.
    Probably a good alternative to bleach.
    Also easier to store or carry.

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  2. You can do a double whammy on the bacteria by leaving the bottle of treated water out in the strong sunlight (if you're using a typical clear soda bottle as in your video). The ultraviolet light will kill the bacteria just as well as the iodine, just taking a while longer, say two or three hours for fairly clear water.
    surviving urban crisis

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  3. xlbadger says:

    WATER ...
    I purchased 2-330 gallon totes for long term emergency water storage. Originally used to hold food processing wax, they were steam cleaned / delivered for $200. They are HDPE with a 14" top opening w/cover and 2" bottom discharge w/valve. They're HDPE containers are inside an aluminum frame and 3-4" above ground ... I have them in my garage inside insulated concealment walls to prevent freezing during cold winters (WI). With the ground clearance, air circulation is great for a gel fuel cell inside the enclosure in extreme cold.

    FILTRATION & PURIFICATION...
    I've a water hose bib inside the garage enclosure ... perfect for replenishing and periodic flushing/rinsing while water is available ... this also provides permanent piping of emergency water into the house ... the garage floor is mid-level with the house lower level mechanical room and perfect for gravity feed ... in the event the water supply is unavailable, I'll use a large capacity aquarium pump/filter that can recirculate through filter media and activated charcoal @ 300gal/hr. It uses 110v but small enough power demand that it'll run on battery w/inverter ... of course, assuming there'll also be loss of external electricity service. Purification is/can be widely variable and includes chlorine (bleach), iodine (as mentioned) and H2O2, or hydrogen peroxide ... I keep a supply of 35% H2O2 for this purpose and it's also a useful medical product for treating wounds, cuts, scrapes, etc. ... Household H2O2 is ~3% and a 35% concentration can be dangerous, so beware / and store safely. H2O2

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    • Bogey Bob says:

      XLBADGER,

      Where did you buy the 330 gal Totes and get them cleaned?

      Thanks,
      Bogey

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      • xlbadger says:

        I found them online at Craig's List ... the wax had been used to coat a cheese product and were being sold by an employee/owner of a small cheese company, located between Milwaukee and Fond du Lac ... the food grade wax was removed by the pressure washer /steam cleaner and totally sanitary ... he used a flatbed truck to transport from about 75 miles away ... mine was one of several deliveries he made that day.

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  4. 30 years ago on an 18 month trip round the world, mainly 3rd world, I used iodine. People asked if I was making tea.

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  5. Crystal iodine was banned because it can be used to make a very simple and powerful explosive! My high school physics teacher made the mistake of telling some of us about it! We never made more that a few drops at a time, and made little land mines for flies, that we attracted with sugar water droplets...he tri-iodide becomes very unstable as it drys and when a fly landed on it it went POW, about like an old paper cap, as was used in toy cap guns...

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    • grintch says:

      https://www.google.com/search?q=iodine+crystals&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&channel=np&source=hp
      It's available all over the net.

      We used to mix that compound in ashtrays, to surprise smokers.
      I think cigarette loads used the same stuff.
      Really, too unstable for explosive use

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  6. tilly Mahon says:

    Wow. This is the first time I've found something worth commenting to! I don't know the first THING about survival and don't wish to live my life worrying about stockpiling, but the idea of being ready for anything always intrigues me. Perhaps I'm a survivalist by nature? Anyway, my question first and foremost is this: What means SHTF? Because, as long as I've been reading Survivopedia (which is on and off), I've never seen any explanation. Is it what I THINK it means? Anyway, thanks for taking time to respond, anybody out there with survival mentality. You're all great for what you are doing and, perhaps, I'll slowly climb on the back of your wagon as things progress to intense insanity. Personally, I'm a firm believer in Psalm 91, although I read this morning that there are 4 conditions by which these promises of God are extended (e.g. "There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling" Psalm 91:10). I hope anyone interested will turn there and find the four conditions, trusting God to help you meet them through your faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ at Calvary. That's it, the simple Gospel in a nutshell. Oh, and, what ever happened to just BOILING water? Isn't that the first thing anyone would try who doesn't have access to iodine or chlorine? Just wondering...

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    • Hello, Tilly, thank you for being interested in our content, we hope that you'll find it useful for your further efforts.
      SHTF stays for Shit Hits The Fan (it's an acronym), which means the ultimate disaster. Thank you for pointing it out to us.
      Boiling is one of the methods for filtering and purifying the water, but there are a few others that you can use in a disaster situation. Choosing between them is a matter of resources, time and skills.
      God bless and stay safe!

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      • tillymahon says:

        Assuming I'm speaking with Admin, since you were so kind to reply to my post regarding purifying water, perhaps you can direct me to where I can get questions answered regarding the first steps for getting off the grid. This would be interesting to learn. Thank you.

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    • xlbadger says:

      Tilly ... I've been prepping for about 18 months and find that even basic survival needs can be complex ... IMO, in any SHTF scenario, many services we rely upon will likely be interrupted, and may be unavailable for many months ... including electrical power and municipal water ... even if natural gas remains available, the appliances it's used in won't be functional, at least not safely ... so, boiling water won't be so easy unless you have an alternate fuel supply ... same for cooking ... and heating ... and sanitary needs ... but beware, if you are prepared for survival there are many, many more who are not and will be desperate ... protection of your supplies, along with self-defense is critical ... I believe and trust in God's providence but have no expectation He will intervene on our behalf in a crisis ... He will guide us, but leaves it in our hands ... refer to Psalm 90:17 ...
      And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it. Amen.

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      • Great Grey says:

        There are stoves and heaters made that use natural gas or propane that don't need electricity operate and are safe to use at anytime as long as there are no gas leaks a round and you have air for it.

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  7. Correction, too much iodine is NOT toxic. This is a false report! there are no studies to prove it. Read the newly published book "The Iodine Crisis" by Lynne Farrow. You will then understand why you need iodine to survive and not for thirst!

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    • grintch says:

      Then why did the iodine bottles used to have a skull and crossbones on them?
      Or was that "pirate brand"

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  8. Madiera says:

    I changed my name, folks. Didn't realize full name was being displayed. Yikes!
    But (when I'm not tired), this stuff is still interesting and I thank you all for answering my questions to the best of your abilities. Am glad to learn that taking too much iodine is not a problem, as I take it for my thyroid (Super Kelp) each day and have wondered if it couldn't harm the organs even as an overload of Vitamin D. So many things... And that's why, dear folks, I absolutely DO expect the Lord Jesus Christ to work on my behalf in a crisis! If I didn't, then my faith would rest in my own works and God would be reduced to a bystander, a spectator. Nope, He's a very REAL MIRACLE WORKING God, and should I allow my works to exceed Christ's "finished" work (there's POWER in the Blood, right?), then I would be exceedingly faithless in the God Who created the Universe. So...whether or not that's too simple (the Gospel is simple), I can't predict tomorrow and neither can anyone else, as we do not know which thing will take us, do we? We can prepare forever, stockpile to the sky...but if our time is up and we get hit by a drunk driver tomorrow, then none of our stockpiling will have done us any good. It's faith in HIM and we can count ourselves "worthy to escape" as His Word commands (Luke 21:36). He is WONDERFUL and especially so, when we are weak. I don't know how He does it, but He does. Jesus and His followers were well taken care of in so many situations (feeding the five thousand not once, but twice?). Then, when the time came to die, the Holy Spirit strengthened the saints even as He will strengthen us and give us wisdom in our hour of need. A little knowledge is great and can help. We SHOULD learn. But let's be so careful to trust God more and more each and every day, because He's more than capable to part the waters when, God forbid, the SHTF (I'm glad the Bible uses the word "dung").

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    • grintch says:

      The Lord helps those who help themselves, so when the DHTF, do something, rather than stand around waiting for iodine from Heaven.

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      • Madeira says:

        Yes, Grintch,

        You're right, I was just expressing the negative worry aspect that goes along with all the thoughts of stockpiling (and not just the topic of iodine). If I don't keep my eyes on Jesus to take care of me, then silly me will tend to take matters into her own hands and that's when fear takes over. Does that make sense? I'm sure I'm not the only one on Survivopedia caught up in allowing all my waking thoughts to center on survival. I also know of those once trapped in 10x10 Lebonese bunkers for 7 years while waiting for Americans to come and help them, which didn't happen either. They crawled on their bellies under sniper fire to collect water from a nearby stream, eating weeds as their basic staple. They expected to be raped, dismembered and murdered, but that didn't happen and, today, the same lady who lived through that heads a prominent organization informing Americans about not trusting Muslims no matter if they're good, and kind, neighbors... one day; because, tomorrow - they will join in the jihad to kill you. If you care to see her website, I'll gladly offer it again and hope it comes through. But her story is a small picture of how God CHANGES the picture. But, yes, we could swap stories of those who died because they never did ANYTHING other than waiting on God when, all along, He offered all kinds of practical help. They expected Him to supernaturally appear. So please, don't let my faith in miracles make you think I'm a total air head. There are common sense things we can do. It's the WORRY that brings on other situations involving more FEAR than faith, fear being our greatest enemy to cause us to place our faith in our own efforts instead of God's unchanging Hand. Is that fair?

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  9. How would this technique factor in with protecting the thyroid from radiation?
    Thanks to all!

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  10. | If you’re using tincture of iodine, use about 2 | drops per quart of clear water and 10 drops
    | for cloudy water...

    I believe the correct iodine tincture drop dosage is 5 drops clear water and 10 drops cloudy water per quart/liter the article above says 2 not 5

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  11. What is a "quart" of water?

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  12. I cannot find any tincture of iodine anywhere. I have found "decolorized iodine" which contains ethyl alcohol (40%). Can this be used for purification? Thank you!

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  13. Iodine's effectiveness is based on the amount of iodine (most tincture is 2%), the temperature of the water, the clarity of the water and the contact time. It can easily take up to four hours to kill the various protozoa like Giardia.

    Most bacteria and viruses are 'done in" in the half hour or so, but in north America the problem is usually protozoa, specifically Giardia, and to a much lesser extent Cryptosporidium.

    Since most chemical treatments like various chlorine and iodine kill off the viruses and bacteria and filers will take out the protozoa (they're much larger), using a filter after the appropriate wait time can be quite effective.

    The "safest" method is still to bring your water to a boil. By the way, boiling point is much higher than required for Pasteurization so unless you're on a 14 in Colorado, as soon as the water is at a full boil you should be good to go.

    Really, even distillization is not "perfet."

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    • You're right.

      The basic water disinfection dose is 5ppm for 15 minutes at 20°C. That means, for 1l water You need 5mg of active iodine, which equals for 0,5ml of Lugol 1% (0,1ml of Lugol 5%).

      Now, The Golden Rule is, that doubling the dose has roughly equal effect as doubling the reaction time. Other words, You can get the same results in half time if You double the iodine dose (and vice versa). Of course, this dosen't work ad infinitum, You cannot dilute the iodine forever...

      Now, if the water is cooler than 20°C, You must double the dose (or reaction time). If it is even cooler than 10°C, double again (quadruple comparing with 20°C). This is often true for spring or creek in woods or mountains. Also, if the water is not crystal clear, double. You must count the multiplications for any of above circumstances and apply them alltogether, so You can easily get to 8x the "basic" dose.

      You may also bring ascorbic acid powder with You, it has numerous purposes that outreach the scope. 50-100mg can reduce the unpleasant favour of iodine-treated water. Beware, apply only AFTER the full disinfection time because ascorbic acid neutralises the active iodine.

      I usually take iodine disinfection to any hiking trip. It can serve as great wound disinfectant, and in the event of unforseen complications (stray, or running out of drinking water), it could save a day as water disinfectant too, so it removes much worry.

      If You don't have the Lugol soultion but povidone-iodine instead (e.q. commercial name Betadine), it's active iodine concentration is 10x lower than the solution concentration, so 10% solution counts roughly as Lugol 1%. I would not recommend reaction time below 1 hour for this disinfectant because it only slowly releases the active iodine from povidone.

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  14. I am on the way to India and was wondering if i used Iodine to clean a sink full of water that I want to shave with will Betaisodona (liquid bought in Germany) work?
    Thanks for this great article.

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  2. […] Coming Collapse. This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.Read more at: http://www.survivopedia.com/svp_iodinewater/Copyright © […]

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  3. […] can also use it to sanitize drinking water. Add ¼ teaspoon per gallon of clear water or ½ teaspoon per gallon of cloudy (but filtered) […]

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  4. […] can also use it to sanitize drinking water. Add ¼ teaspoon per gallon of clear water or ½ teaspoon per gallon of cloudy (but filtered) […]

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  5. […] How to Purify Water with Iodine for Survival | Survival … – The ability to make use of any available water source is invaluable in any survival situation. See how to use iodine for that purpose! […]

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  6. […] it loses 20% potency, then about 20% per year after that. In other words, when you reach for it to disinfect water or living space, it may not be any good. It’s OK though – we have a couple better options for […]

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  7. […] it loses 20% potency, then about 20% per year after that. In other words, when you reach for it to disinfect water or living space, it may not be any good. It’s OK though – we have a couple better options […]

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  8. […] touching contaminated surfaces and in water. Disinfectants such as chlorine, chlorine dioxide or iodine are effective against […]

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