Picture of How To Purify Water Using Iodine Tincture
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.

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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medbnet13 hours ago

Read up on how to make activated charcoal. If you burn hardwoods in your fireplace like oak or ash, you can shift through ashes after everything as has cooled down and you will probably find little pebble sized pieces of charcoal that can easily be made into activated charcoal (see y-o-u toob). I have 2 large coffe cans full of the aforementioned from last winter. Along with some sand and some stones and a piece off fabric you can "purify" quite a bit of water. Also, you can add 7 drops of bleach per gallon.

I save all of our fireplace ash. It's a great moss killer. Also, if it is hardwood ash, you can use it to make soap, and use it for many other "Little House on the Prairie" apps.

How many drops per gallon of Lugol's should you use?

Lastly, always boil afterwards if possible.

daddio53 medbnet12 hours ago

I was a paramedic when being a paramedic was a new thing. One of the top items in a first aid kit used to be activated charcoal. Whenever a kid ate a bunch of pills, or the depressed housewife tossed back a pile of pills, we would first give them ipecac to make them vomit. Then we would give them activated charcoal mixed with a fast acting liquid laxative. That would assure that most of the poison was absorbed and evacuated from the body out of one hole or another. Anyway, my dog ate about 20-25 toadstools yesterday. Nature took it's own course, and she vomited 6 times, making sure all of her stomach contents were totally evacuated. I went over to Walgreens to get some activated charcoal, to make sure everything was absorbed, and they don't even sell it anymore! I think it is a good thing to have in a first aid kit so it is still there if someone - or their pet - ingests something poisonous. So being able to make your own might be the only way to get some.

Get activated charcoal from the filter section of the fish filter section of the pet section of your local store.

txadams rjcullis17 minutes ago

Thanks for pointing this out. I was wondering when someone was going to say this.

Go onto Ebay and type in activated charcoal..

I bought 55 kilos of charcoal (pure food grade in small chunks.. but you can grind it up in a coffee grinder into a powder)... for about $50.00 with free shipping.

Charcoal is good to sew up in a flannel pouch and put on aching backs while you snooze... it draws out the aches.

Activated charcoal and sorbitol (Actidose) is still quite popular in emergency medicine for toxic ingestions of all descriptions. The combo isn't available OTC, but activated charcoal in capsule form is. Look for it in the supplements aisle of your more naturopath-inclined health food stores and pharmacies.

As for using activated charcoal as a water filtering tool, keep in mind that activated charcoal is a chemical adsorbent agent - it'll bind out lots of small molecules (halogens and compounds thereof, some toxic aromatic compounds, etc), but it doesn't do anything for toxic alcohols, heavier hydrocarbons or for microbiological hazards. It's most useful as an adjunct for taste improvement after sanitization with the free halogen of your choice (chlorine, iodine...), and only if you can ensure that your water source isn't contaminated with petroleum products or whatnot.

medbnet daddio5310 hours ago
Roger That!
RodyK4 hours ago

Iodine loses his quality when used with aluminium pots or bottles, it reacts with direct contact with aluminium. Boilling is another option, just get a rolling boil. Active coal only removes certain chemicals (low and medium complex chemicals) no virusses or bacteria. Home made active coal is not exactly the same as from a manuafacturer. Active carbon is made from treated coconut shells. (gives the best result). Be careful for iodine intolerance (pregnant women).

Both the CDC http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/travel/ba...

and Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tincture_of_iodine

say iodine treatment does not kill giardia.

The CDC link has a pdf with a table that says boiling is the best way to kill all bacteria and protozoa. I am going to start caring a metal can or pan when I go off roading now. Should I get rid of my $7/bottle iodine tablets now? Please comment.

Effective water purification could also be done by using dried Moringa seeds if available. http://miracletrees.org/moringa_water_purification...

tedsan4 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:


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.




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.


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).

paliaspip sounds like he works for the medical white coat industry. Perhaps just brainwashed by it.

Dear eye..

Did you read paliaspip's post carefully?

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.

LD50 studies are NOT performed on humans. What kind of chemist are you, again?

Lugol's could be very well toxic if used in dose that is non-sense. But in the logical method, it's a life saver and a healer. Your metaphor is amusing but is rather like a smoke screen and I'm not sure if you're just playing dumb or plain dumb. I have used Lugol's for 5 years every day at various doses with only positive effects that I have proof of . It's not a miracle cure, it's a sensible addition to human life.

Something is not necessarily toxic in low levels because it it toxic in high levels. The LD50 of vitamin C is 12 g/kg. Does that mean that vitamin C is toxic? No! The dose determines weather something is toxic or not. Even pure water is toxic when drunk in too large amounts in a short time. If you drink 8 liters of water within an hour you will die because of water intoxication.

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.
MarkB82 paliaspip13 hours ago
Agreed! I perfer boiling, then add a few drops of lemon flavor. I really don't like iodine flavored ANYTHING. Small block of solid fuel does wonders quickly boiling water!

If you have a choice between Lugol's formula and some xyz brand pushing tainted Iodine, what are you reaching for? and yes, Alcohol is POISON to the body - elementary knowledge. So what if everyone chooses it to subdue their lives - what's that old folk name they call it .. choose your poison..referring to ALCOHOL. Do you know the function of mixing Iodine with Alcohol? Again, why use inferior when you can choose the best. And the body does not 'hack' iodine, it utilizes it. You are a bit mixed up with your logic.

It can't use elemental iodine, at all, actually.

Slight correction to that - probaly a typo: Lugol's uses KI, not KBr. Other than that, totally agree with you! Too many panic merchants out there wanting to tell everybody that everything is dangerous!! Tincture and Lugol's both contain elemental Iodine and Potassium Iodide:

USP Tincture of Iodine is defined in the U.S. National Formulary
(NF) as containing in each 100 mL, 1.8 to 2.2 grams of elemental iodine,
and 2.1 to 2.6 grams of sodium iodide. Alcohol is 50 ml and the balance
is purified water.

The 5% solution consists of 5% (wt/v) elemental iodine and 10% (wt/v) potassium iodide mixed in distilled water and has a total iodine content of 126.5 mg/mL.

hinge paliaspip4 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 anax224 years ago
@anax Sir,it is chlorine not chloride tablets.Any chloride is zero effective against any bacteria
anax22 hinge4 years ago
sorry i an no chemist but u get the point :D
hinge paliaspip4 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 hinge4 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
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