Instructables

How To Purify Water Using Iodine Tincture

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When you're in the wilderness, you need clean water to drink -- but water sources in the wilderness can carry bacteria such as giardia. You don't want giardia, trust me, and trying to carry a few jugs of Poland Spring would be extremely heavy and inefficient. Luckily, there are a number of ways to purify water, and one of the simplest, cheapest, and most effective ways is to use iodine tincture.
 
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Step 1: Supplies

Picture of Supplies
To complete this task, you'll need the following:

--Water bottle: A Nalgene (what I use here) or a metal water bottle will work best, but all you really need is any container that will hold water.

--Iodine Tincture Solution: You want Iodine Tincture with 2% Iodine and about 47% alcohol. Bottles of this solution should be available at your local drugstore and a 2 oz. bottle is usually $3 or less.

--An eyedropper: Counting the number of drops is the easiest way to keep track of how much you're using.

--A good water source: This can be a lake, a river, a stream, etc. If you have a choice of water sources, consider these two tips:

Clear water is better than cloudy water.
Flowing water is better than still water.

Remember, though, that even if the water looks extremely pure and clean, it should still be purified before drinking. Looks can be deceiving!
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55555555555553 months ago

so------69 what are you talking about? Your attempt at humor was not good to say the lest . Good water purification info. Thanks

Southpaw695 months ago

Wow, some of you guys are ridiculous. Used in appropriate doses, iodine won't hurt you. If you're dying from dehydration, a few drops of iodine can save your life. Of course, you have to have some. I love the circular reasoning! Yes, if you don't have it, you can't use it. You can't boil it if you can't make fire, or have something to boil it in either, Einstein.

You can also use chlorine bleach to sterilize water as well, but I wouldn't advise drinking bleach by chugging it from the bottle, either.

Iodine solution, such as Betadine, is a good item to pack in a first aid kit for hiking. It can be used as a disinfectant, and for water purification.

Yes, you can boil it, or use chlorine, or mechanical filtration, and of course, you can only use the method for which you have the proper equipment/supplies. So, it's a good idea to have some redundancy- have a few methods available. A way to boil water is good for cooking as well. Iodine is good for disinfecting cuts. Why not have both and use whichever is appropriate and/or convenient at the time, and not be a jerk about it, huh?

sdeyoung6 months ago
Great instructive! Thanks!
devans268 months ago
Is there a difference between iodine for first aid and iodine for water purification? I'm just having a hard time finding the right product. I'm not seeing iodine tincture that specifically mentions water purification. I imagine this stuff is what I'm looking for

http://www.amazon.com/J-CROWS®-Lugols-Solution-Iodine-2%25/dp/B001AEFM9Y/ref=sr_sp-atf_image_1_3?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1385350606&sr=1-3&keywords=iodine+tincture+2%25

But I'm just not certain. And I'd rather be certain.
awesome
rafterinmaine12 months ago
To get rid of the bad taste, use 1/2 tablet of vitamin C after the iodine purification time is done. You will be amazed how it makes the water taste MUCH better. I spent 5 weeks in Nepal and used iodine and vitamin C the entire time. Works like a charm. Cheers. Doug
btw...you won't SURVIVE in my camp...you would be expelled, followed out for miles, and shot in the big toe, so that every step you take reminds you of every step you made others feel backwards(.)
I carry iodine but typically use a Ghillie Kettle and boil the water. I have two sizes, the 1.5 liter and the 1 liter kettles. It gets the water boiling very quickly, 5-7 minutes usually and the best part is that you don't need bottled fuel. Twigs, shavings, pine needles, whatever is handy. When heading out I fill the kettle (cooking part, not water part) with tinder and some fire starters, put the components back together and back into the carry bag and I am good to go and don't have to sweat it if the weather turns rainy. I have my tinder right there. I also save dryer lint and mix 50/50 with beeswax in egg cartons for really good starters.

Time? 1 minute rolling boil under 2000m elevation and 3 minutes above that is the EPA recommendation to purify and be sure to filter the bigger stuff out before boiling.

And since the fuel is free, when you are in camp you can purify water to your heart's content, refill all the containers, and be cooking at the same time.

eslocum2 years ago
As a follow-up to AndyDap- not only will the addition of Vitamin C eliminate the unpleasant flavor IT IS A VITAL STEP FOR SAFE DRINKING WATER. Elemental iodine, such as is found in tincture of iodine, readily forms free radicals in the presence of heat or UV light. An antioxidant such as Vitamin C will stabilize the free radicals and protect you from getting cancer.
tedsan3 years ago
tincture is poisonous, Lugols solution is not. Use Lugols. All of the other halogens, flourine, chlorine, and bromine are also poisonous and replace iodine (which is a necessary nutrient) in the body.
I agree. You may want to simply change Iodine Tincture Solution to 2.2% Lugol's solution. Otherwise, you may have someone who is deathly afraid of Iodine, flag your post and then keep posting over and over about how your instructable "may" kill someone or "may" cause monkeys to fly out of their butt.

Unless you have a very rare case of being allergic to Iodine, Lugol's is not only safe, but actually good for you when taken is reasonable amounts.

Using Lugol's is much healthier for you than chlorine is.

""For many years physicians used potassium iodide in doses starting at 1.5 to 3 gm and up to more than 10 GRAMS (not milligrams) a day, on and off, to treat bronchial asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease with good results and surprisingly few side effects."" !!!

Please read the article yourself:

http://www.lewrockwell.com/miller/miller20.html

I sure am glad that the "deadly poisonous, and super duper highly toxic iodine" fear mongering is over now.
dude's before stating that something is poisonous how bout actually looking to see if it is.

Now i AM a chemist and looking up the MSDS it states the ld50 of Lugol's iodine AND tincture of iodine is 30 mg/kg! Why?? Because both Lugol's and tincture are just different ways of solubilising elemental iodine, which is poisonous but your body can hack a bit of it, same as chlorine.

Elemental iodine is very insoluble in water so it needs something to help it dissolve. Lugol's solutions uses a salt "KBr", while tincture uses ethanol and a lot less KBr, or NaBr. Your body can hack alot more ethanol than it can iodine.

This method that has been shown is technically sound, Just don't use two much iodine so you don't kill your liver.


???

If you're replying to my post, maybe you should read it again. It's called irony.

I should have been more specific though because they're may be a few people around here who are actually dumb enough to put 10 GRAMS of Iodine in their bottle of water. You only need to use the recommended amount to purify water kids, no need to dump the entire bottle in there...
I was actually making a general statement considering all the different posts.
Potassium iodide isn't Lugol's though, just making a differentiation. Potassium iodide is used as a iodine supplement with an ld50 of 2g/kg. Not Lugols! Lugols is KBr + I2 dissolved in water and shouldn't be used as a supplement due to the free iodine, which is toxic
There is nothing toxic about lugols. Don't take my word for anything though. GOOGLE it. It would be illegal to sell lugols as an oral supplement if there was anything poisonous about it.

The same goes for vitamins. You should take one a day. They're good for you. If you try to eat the whole bottle in one sitting though, then YES, vitamins are poisonous.
So, trying to be constructive here, Lugol's has been used as an oral supplement in the past. The reason why it should not be anymore is because IT IS TOXIC. All tests on LD50 that you will find are shown for rats who have a very high tolerance, about 2 g/kg.

However they have done recent human studies and found as I mentioned before a LD50 of 30 mg/kg! Which is a heck of alot less than rats, and why they don't want people to use it, even though you are having a very diluted amount. Any lugol's MSDS within the last few years will state these values.

It is dangerous to say that something is not toxic just because you can buy it of the shelf. Warfarin (rat poison) can be bought as a blood thinner, even though it is extremely deadly. Likewise Lugols IS TOXIC, but can be used at low levels
"Lugol's has been used as an oral supplement in the past. The reason why it should not be anymore is because IT IS TOXIC."

And it STILL IS used as an oral supplement. If it were found to be "ToXiC" by any kind of REPUTABLE and CONCLUSIVE source then it would be ILLEGAL to SELL IT as an ORAL SUPPLEMENT.


"Lugols IS TOXIC, but can be used at low levels"

Everything IS TOXIC, but can be used at low levels.


And again (sighs) ANYTHING is TOXIC when used in large enough amounts.

I heard of this guy who went swimming IN PERFECTLY CLEAN WATER and he DIED of water poisoning! He drank SO MUCH of it (here it comes)... it KILLED HIM DEAD!

No more water for me! That stuff is ToXiC!


Here's some more links to different web sites ALL saying that it's perfectly FINE to use Lugol's solution to purify water.

http://www.high-altitude-medicine.com/water.html

http://zenbackpacking.net/WaterFilterPurifierTreatment.htm

http://quailwoodherbal.com/Lugol.html


So, what is the name of the guy who was "poisoned" by Lugol's solution? Exactly who is the "they" that you are referring to who conducted these tests? How many controlled tests did they conduct? WHO FUNDED THEIR RESEARCH? How much money is "the human" suing the company for, who tried to poison him with Lugol's solution?

And the best question of all... WHAT HAPPENED TO THAT DARNED RAT? Did he get a tummy ache? Maybe it made him turn into a pumpkin? Exactly what irreversible TOXIC reaction occurred which was so horrifying that it made "they" say:

"The reason why it should not be (used) anymore is because IT IS TOXIC."

Lugol's solution turned that poor rat into a ZOMBIE!!!

I've posted links to numerous places which ALL STATE that it is PERFECTLY SAFE TO USE LUGOL'S SOLUTION TO PURIFY WATER.

There is also a HUGE amount of HISTORY available... ALL OF WHICH INDICATES that IT IS PERFECTLY HEALTHY TO USE A REASONABLE AMOUNT OF LUGOL'S SOLUTION TO PURIFY WATER and that PEOPLE HAVE BEEN USING IT FOR YEARS WITH NO ILL HEALTH EFFECTS...

Except for the time some guy, in some lab (who probably worked for Pfizer or Bayer) PROVED that Lugol's solution is "toxic" by a test he preformed on ONE rat ...(who was also dying of terminal cancer and AIDS at the time of the test).
I'll just add this-- I have heard of poisoning by tincture of iodine... when someone used the high potency solution instead of the low (It's about 4x stronger) and even then it was for an extended period of time.

Using even 4% tincture of iodine or lugols iodine is perfectly safe for a reasonable period of time as long as the person taking it isn't a complete moron and if they are a complete moron that is a self solving situation.

Chill out everyone, tincture or lugols both work fine and are both safe so long as you don't get stupid or try to live on it extended periods of time.

Given a choice between the two I would use Lugols 1% solution. That being said chlorine is a better solution than either for killing of cryptosporidium or giardia consistently and rapidly.

You use what you can in a pinch and most first aid kits have tincture of iodine in them for wound treatment so it's important to understand how to use it, because you'll likely have access to it even if fairly unprepared.
Hi Paliaspip. Not questioning whether you are a chemist or not, but I do need to set the record straight. Lugol's does NOT contain KBr and I2. Lugol's contains KI and I2.

The history of Lugol's is that it was invented by a French physician, Dr Jean Lugol in the 1820's for a variety of uses, includin as a dietary iodine supplement. Potassium Iodide (KI) is now considered to be safer than Lugol's. Sure, elemental iodine is poisonous in large doses, for example 2 to 3g is considered dangerous to life.

Consider: in a 50ml bottle of Tincture of Iodine, with 2% elemental iodine, half of which is I2 and half of which is KI, then (ignoring the weight of the K for this exercise) we have around 1.3% K2, or about 15 mg - around 1/200 of the lower of the dangerous doses. The lowest lethal dose (LDL) is 28mg per kg of body weight. Not 28mg - 28mg PER KILO of body weight.

If you were to drink 200 x 50ml bottles of tincture of iodine, then yes, you would be poisoned. As this article is about using 5 to 10 drops of this solution, the only possible danger would be to somebody with an iodine allergy.

I take an 'over the counter' tablet from Wells Pharmaceuticals called Cydiodine Buccal tablets for sore throats. Each tablet contains 1.5mg of elemental iodine, with the advice that not more than 5 tablets to be taken in one day.

The lowest lethal dose (LDL) is 28mg per kg of body weight.

The sky may well be falling, but I'll take my chances with the iodine, and not with the microorganisms!
I use iodine as my main method of purifying water. I rate iodine as the best method for hikers etc.
I stand corrected with KI, my bad for the slip up. Truth be told it will take a bit to kill yourself with iodine. The reason I try to get people to exercise caution with how much iodine they add is because that it takes a big tole on you kidneys. In the "Australian Air force Survival School" they only allow the use of iodine for purification for three days only. After that, it takes to much of a toll on your kidneys.
Excess iodine is not advisable.
hinge paliaspip3 years ago
@paliaspip I always thought that Lugol's solution involved NaJ possibly KJ(sodium/potassium iodides).Maybe there's some other Lugol's composition I'm not aware of
sorry Mr.chemist i happen to be a bio-tech engineer not complaining abut any thing but giardia is no bacteria its a deadly parasitic protozoa and it is not really sensitive to to iodine compounds not that much that it will get killed so try simply boiling the water or using chloride water disinfection tablets its much effective than that i guess always peace out
Again.......do your research.

Iodine does inactivate giardia. However it does not inactivate Cryptosporidium cysts, same with chlorine. As far as chlorine goes, it is less favorable to use mainly because of its usable lifespan, 3 days compared with 3 months for iodine, which is the main consideration out bush. But it is faster at killing certain organisms (E. coli). Boiling is more effective than both.

Below is a scientific article that you can look at.

"Efficacy of iodine water purification tablets against Cryptosporidium oocysts and Giardia cysts"

Also for those who use Vitamin C to remove the taste of iodine. Your breakdown product is Hydrogen iodide which has a ld50 of 30 mg/kg, which is just as toxic as the iodine. So still be careful with how much iodine you add!

Doctor Chemist
will yeh it have an inhibitor effect on it but still giardia resist iodine also chloride but chloride will form stronger bond with glycolipids in the cyst causing longer inhibitor effect that can tolerate dilution (in digestive tract) so as to pass safely and case no infection will u can use a mixture of reagents to clean water it would be just better always peace out
So do you know the difference between inactivate and inhibit?? I'm not sure you do. If you even glanced at that article i told you about you would see that what you just spouted is in direct contradiction to it. I know who i'll be trusting
hinge anax223 years ago
@anax Sir,it is chlorine not chloride tablets.Any chloride is zero effective against any bacteria
anax22 hinge3 years ago
sorry i an no chemist but u get the point :D
hinge paliaspip3 years ago
@paliaspip Could you elaborate on the subject of KBr(potassium bromide) or Na Br(sodium bromide) being present in Lugol's solution?Why would anybody introduce bromide to Lugol's solution?
paliaspip hinge3 years ago
So elemental iodine or free iodine is what gives Lugols, tincture, providone or tetraglycine hydroperiodide its ability to bind and kill pathogens. The problem with normal iodine though is that it is not soluble in water. So the above methods are different ways to solubilise iodine.

Lugols uses twice the amount of an inert salt KBr which is quite soluble in water. The iodine forms a triiodie bond around it, and hence makes it soluble in water and more usable.

Tincture uses half the weight of KBr or NaBr than iodine, but dissolves it up in ethanol (alcohol). This can than be added to water as per instructable above.

Thanks for this glimmer of sanity. Cody L. Uses similar methods in classes he teaches about 45minuts away from here. He's a friend of a friend
While iodine is fine to disinfect water, that article is BS. It relies almost entirely on the fallacy of correlation implying causation, and it is from lewrockwell.com... which is never trustworthy.

Your asthma anecdote also seems to rely entirely on the fallacy of argument from authority. And you say it as somehow doctors, especially those in the past, are infallible people. Doctors also used to prescribe blood letting and leeches.

Please post some double-blind well-controlled studies from an academic institution or don't bother posting, because anything outside of that is pure conjecture.
"Please post some double-blind well-controlled studies from an academic institution or don't bother posting, because anything outside of that is pure conjecture."

It is for reasons such as this that Tincture of Iodine has been removed from sale in pharmacies in Australia - because there is no 'proof' that it kills anything. Unless there are millions of dollars in profits to be made by a pharmaceutical company, nobody will finance such tests. The same applies to calamine lotion, gentian violet and acriflavine - all of which are known by the millions of people who have used them to be effective, but because no 'scientist' has 'said so', they are deemed ineffective.

Absence of evidence is NOT evidence of absence. And abscence of evidence of efficacy is NOT evidence of inefficacy.

Some people are actually capable of making their own decisions, without needing the approval of some 'wizard' who is in fact, just another person.
Lew certainly seems like a nutter, he's like some strange eugenic compilation of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh..
Now that we know you're a Flaming Liberal, why is there a mention of Rush & Glenn?
Funny, that I'm a flaming liberal because I can read someone's website and quickly ascertain fact from fiction.. I had heard that was a trait unavailable to the right, but I didn't believe it was true.
1- You didn't answer the question.
2- This is not the place for any political BS.
3- You did not adhere to the "Be Nice" comment policy.
i for one, am fine with conjecture, as the drugs that come out of double blind professional studies kill people daily
well so much for sarcasm..
Breathing introduces us to carcinogens. Please, everybody stop breathing before its too late.
Nice non sequitor?
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