How To Purify Water With Iodine For Survival

Without 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?

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!



Written by

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.

Latest comments
  • 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.

    • That`s funny…my pharmacist and others tell me your body will eliminate any excess iodine
      naturally. They know of NO ONE who ever died of overdosing iodine without other existing issues

      Kind of like the flu becoming extinct since this “horrid new plague ” that is upon us LOL

      • There are several types of iodine. There is ingestible iodine and antiseptic iodine the ingestible iodide is clear. Some ingestible not iodines are called nascent which they’re more powerful.

  • 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

  • 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.

    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


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


      • 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.

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

  • 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…

  • 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…

    • 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!

      • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • Dhtf please

        • You are correct … I understand and agree … but meant to warn if electronic or electrical controls are required … thanks.

  • 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!

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

    • You are absolutely correct, the fda recommends 150mcg as the daily recommended value. This is incorrect. People is japan regularly consume 12MG which is about 100x the fda recommended value. Doses of 6G cure cancer and destroy tumors.

      I have been taking around 12mg per day abs I feel great. Look it up. Iodine is way more essential and definitely not toxic, even in doses 1000x the fda recommended value.

      Knowledge is power!

      • That’s awesome. I take about 50mg a day. I worked my way up quite slowly. I am in year 3 now. Would not go a day without it now, with all the toxins, chem spraying, EMF radiation etc.

    • I agree with you. Over 90% of the population needs more iodine in their diet. Some people take 50mg a day or more. RDA recommends 150micrograms, which is not nearly enough. RDA stands for Real Dumb Advice.

  • 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”).

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

      • 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 10×10 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?

    • THis is myth. People in Japan don’t consume that much, but they also do have very high rates of Hashimoto’s. Hashimoto’s is when your immune system reacts to your thyroid. This can easily happen when the thyroid is over-stimulated by too much iodine. Hashimoto’s is not fun.

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

    • Knowledge is a better protection than gold says bible. When lot and daughters left sodom and gamorrah both. Ities were destroyed scientists have go e to these sites. And discovered greeniSh crystals Discovered hydrogen. Our great almighty God. Jehovah Used it i. A contained manner only for the cities No one out side. Damaged He made our sun ☀️. Put it i. The tight place Ot too close or far ( mans lack of concern has burned ozone layers Not God He made it just right He can and will contain his pOwers
      For agreat crowd of all peoples nations tongues will survive the great tribulation that will come upont the earth he ll keep his promise. As gor stock piling. In the first century when jesus told his disciples to leave jerusalem. After they first were sounded by the romans Before their destruction. He said go with out anythinG. To the mountains Those that brought alot of things Could have been Robbed i jured badly or worse. People do despatate things To survive. So. Its caution. If we are starving.
      People will notice Was it hardship in mountains probably. But theY lived There are times that our knowledge does help alot and the. Times. We must show we can trust in almighty God to deliver us First we need to live as christ did act think feel Like him. The gospels. Tell us how. It takes time like a catterpillar goes into a. coCoon Comes out butterfly takes work thinking. Praying. Holy spirit active force of god helps us When we ask for it. How do we know When we live. By its fruitage galatio n s . CHapter 5 I corthiNs 13: :4 -8. You will feel it And see it. guide you Jesus was free from idoltry from any kind. He. Spoke of Gods kingdom Rulership. For mankind No.n. . Political when they wanted to make him ki ng he fled He could have been the best ever but said he was for Gods kingdom. Why ? it would restore. Justice. Love peace health gLobally Raise the dead For those Who didnt have knowledge or a fair chance. To learn the right ways He wouldnt engage. I.n Anything pagan i.n origin It. Would Put him at odds with his hevenly father. No images To be worshiped We have one god. And he wants exclusive devotion. No matter how much fun oR senitments Other forms of worship could be. As with a. Ouple married. One doesnt wNt to share their spiuse because another is more fun attractive. Etc. And no matter if its popular to do so. Usually Right? He taught love showed it and mercy He showed. What his being king to Gods kingdom will do for all mankinD Healed sick bli Nd deaf lepors no disease too hard to cure Fed starving people With 2 fishes and loAves He knows our genetics How fish food. Is put to gether every molecule. He controlled raging seas showi g weather is under his control also. For our safety But. He also showed that the wicked ones are here. I nfluences Are all around us Matt 24: 1-14 2 timothy 3: 1-5. They must go Be removed. Revelations shows In symolism that The great harlot False teachers religioUs leaders misleading the flocks Big greedy busiNess. Corp. military s Gone He knows i ndividuals hearts ♥️ There are people now re evaluating their lives Thinking people. Many mislead Thought. They were doni g right But Question it all. Jesus said the truth will set you free Live simple lives. Take care of neighbors The earth our resourCes By not being greedy selfish He warned of false teachers leaders would sneak in by acting like sheep when they. Ravenious. Wolves. All kinds of leaders Be ware. Watch You will know by their fruits . Abad tree doesnt produce goOd fruits. Does it. ? Needs to be. Cut down. Gone. We need to be like. CHilHDren Trusting. Their good. parents. To care for them. All their needs. They dont think. Will. I get. CLothing food. Medicine education. House They dont think Of it So we need to trust our heavenly father He expect adults to work The best they can. But. When they run out of answers or. Neccessities Like the birds he feeds them Clothes lilies too. We may have to adjust. In styles. But. He ll provide He provided manna To feed israelites So when all the Self help is done Our best resources Is a strong relationship with our heavenly father who Has sent jesus Yes hes i. Our midst now Matt 24: 1-3 -14. Until the end of. CHapter It will be. Very different But we can live. Or. ressurected Into paradise please enjoy another search for life . If you have a bible
      Many are . Free Because it s so important to read it Its our Guide Too ❤️

      • SoRry about my spell check it omits or creates letters on its own hope you can Still figure it out Thankyou Have a truly. Free life Not the selfish kind. I can do anYthing at expence of my neighbors families But. Free to Enlightened help Keep from harm ways. In goidness kinds ness For their benefit. Not our own. Two gratest commandment shiven love your God with all your heart mi nd strength and neighbor as your selF If all did that every day. What a different world we would luve in. Right
        ? Its coming.

      • God even told Noah to prepare. Also the end times will be like in the days of Noah. Id save up food. Joseph even took it upon himself to ration food for the people of Egypt for the famine that came and lasted seven years.

    • Yes it would. work for that purpose. Don’t know exact dosage. In a radiation emergency, lacking iodine tablets intended for the purpose, I would recommend treating all water at the maximum level recommended above, for the entire period of the emergency. The idea is to ensure that if your body needs iodine, it is more likely to use the non-radioactive stuff that you ingested.

      Radioactive iodine is the only major radioactive resultsof a nuclear accident or bomb which is a gas and thus is present in the air. If you eat or breath something radioactive, the radioactive atoms can become a part of your body and do long term harm, even if the level of radiation is low. Particularly since your body concentrates iodine in your thyroid, as you are aware..

  • | 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

  • What is a “quart” of water?

    • A quart is one quarter of a gallon.
      It measures a little less than a liter.

  • 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!

  • 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.”

    • 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.

      • Very informative

  • 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.

  • I would like to know more about purification of contaminated portable water, where the water intakes has contaminated by farmers to cleanup their farm by extrame chamical poison.

  • It’s kind of odd you mention D.E.A. passing a law on iodine. If American people ever wake up, they may learn to find that voters don’t pass laws, it’s alk these multible agencies of the government!
    Here’s another thing sheer human nature, the jackasses do, they pass laws to make their jobs easy so.they don’t have to get involved or apply themselves in doung their jobs. They like it easy while burdening millions o of others. Look at the fda, epa, they.haven’t done their jobs. Look at all the polluted waters all across the southern lakes, rivers and streams-just look at fishing regs, it should tell you. Fda, look at many jellies, many don’t contain pectin which is a toxin remover but also necessary for healthy growth of nails, hair and cartilage for the joints. But companies found it more profitable to use substitutes and call it food. Look at marshmallows, originated from marshmallow root which has many health benefits, even.helping pass urinary stones by lubricating body systems and it’ll also absorb some toxins. Yet modern marshmallows do have gelatin which is beneficial. Point being, the government works with business to slop Americans like hogs. D.E.A. they loom for easy prey. They’re simply people that have lucrative jobs, where they also make their jobs easy. All of them do.
    Where they have snitches and everything else. But they don’t want to do work. Which most don’t know how qll this works. Then to challenge them, they’ll pull strings with other buddies to attack the accuser using the very tax money the target paid.
    LOL, Living in America, unh unh!
    Bert Clayton

  • Iodine doesn’t kill anything, it causes it to go dormant so it will pass through your system. It also has almost no effect on cryptosporidium only half effective against giardia. Most chemical means of water treatment do not effect this pathogen. If you are in a area you believe to have this in the water source you should boil your water to ensure it is safe to drink.
    Chlorine bleach is more effective against giardia but again cryptosporidium is resistant to this as well. Ultraviolet treatment is good but there is no way to ensure that you have killed the pathogens as per the army 305-50 and air force 64.4 you need at least 24 hrs of uv exposure or 2 days to treat the water effectively and even then there is no guarantee. Pasteurization can be achived at 149 deg and the water is also safe to drink if you plan on using this method a way to check the temperature would be needed.

  • if you put iodine in the water, then reseal the barrel, how long will the iodine keep the water purified?

  • I just inherited a pail of bromine tablets. Wondering if they could be used to disinfect water for drinking. Any leads?