Iodine vs. Water FiltersMar 10, 2000 (Updated May 3, 2000) Write an essay on this topic.
Don't have $60 plus dollars to shell out on a new water filter? Don't want to wait 30 minutes to boil water and cool it down so it's drinkable? Want to have an easy to use back-up plan in case you run out of water? Then go with the old reliable - iodine!
Iodine is available in pill form at any outdoor equipment source. Expect to pay about $5 for a bottle of 50 pills. You can also buy liquid iodine (works more quickly than the pills) from medical supply stores and many drug stores. A few ounces of liquid will treat several hundred gallons of water. 50 pills will treat between 25 and 50 gallons.
Some people complain about the taste of iodine (it has an earthy/mediciny taste), so neutralizer tablets are also available. My advice is skip the tablets - it adds time to the process and doesn't completely work. If you want to disguise the flavor then bring along a packet of sport drink mix or Koolaid. The extra sugar will actually help your body absorb the water more quickly and the taste of iodine will be drowned out.
Iodine is very easy to use and very effective. Simply gather water from any source. Try to avoid water full of sediments or algae. Water bottles are easiest to use and allow you to shake the mixture to speed up the process. If you're pulling water from a stream or river find a spot where water is more still, because the stiller water has less sediment. Sediment, of course, won't harm you, but less of it will make your drinking experience more pleasant.
Once you have your water put in a pill (two if you think the water is really contaminated - usually one is fine). If you have the liquid put in a few drops only, four if you think the water is gross. Allow the pills to dissolve (5-15 minutes). Shake occasionally to help the process. The liquid needs less time to spread, just a minute. Once the iodine is dissolved it has done it's job. The major manufacturer of the pills recommends that you wait at least 30 minutes before drinking. Please read the comments to this epinion. A member urges that you strictly follow these time guidelines. When used properly iodine is very effective! I used it as my sole source of purifying for five years and never got sick.
There is one VERY IMPORTANT STEP to take before you drink. If you used a water bottle, as opposed to a pot, partially unscrew the top. Tip the bottle upside down with your finger holding the cap on. Let some of the treated water flow out of the bottle through the screws of the cap. This is very important! This flushes untreated water off the top of the bottle - exactly where your lips are about to be. A friend of mine got Giardia in Alaska when he didn't do this!
Enjoy your water and have fun on the trail. Put a bit of iodine in your first aid kit as a back up, or as your primary water purifier. Iodine will kill it all if used properly.
Lastly, iodine poisoning is not an issue unless you use iodine every day for more than six months.
Good luck. Email me with questions.
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