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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daddio535 days ago

Wow! Suddenly we have the battle of the; A) actual scientists with degrees from college who actually know what they're talking about, or B) a few people who Googled water purification and really think we believe they are fully knowledgeable on the subject. Either way, it's amusing to see people pushing their way against your way in a battle that really has no winner. Consider for a moment that the topic is "Using Iodine Tincture", and not every possible method besides. And now, back to the topic at hand.

being square is fine. but where's the pharmacy out in the wilderness.

Rosicrucian alchemy arts- and then square name brand approved chemicals, I'll take both.

as a retired scientist, i am guilty as charged. with more than 40 years, of higher education. and a previous teacher, of survival training ft benning ga.. and so, knowing more than, one way to make water safe to drink is not a negative.

You sir,hit the nail on the head!!! +1,aw heck,make it +2,lol !

1 liter of water, add 8 drops iodine tincture 50 mg vitamin c. let sit 15-30 minutes if warm more if cloudy. add vitamin c last as it neutralizes the iodine

make sure you rinse the water bottle of most traces of vitamin c before adding any iodine. because it neutralizes it and thus won't taste of it anymore

or it won't disinfect the water either, because it is neutralized.

someone's just trying to support brand names when you can just add pulverized rose hips - which is really the fun part anyway.

otherwise you drink semi-toxic nasty tasting water. i'd suggest lugol's if you want to spend more money and are actually planning on drinking stream water. that is 4 drops per liter, btw- more won't hurt you, but it tastes weird. the vitamin c trick tastes better honestly.

well don't know about now, but they used to make halizone tablets for this. which i believe the active ingredient, was potassium iodate. potassium iodate, as found in iodized salt.

or could use sodium hypochlorite bleach, which is not harmful small small diluted quantities. and would require less drops, than the iodine. and the by products are salt and chlorine. like the chlorine used, in water treatment plants. which dissolved in water produces weak hydrochloric or other wise known as stomach acid.

Hello, again Jimmie; I, too recall using the Halizone tablets (or whatever name was marked on them). Not a great aroma to the water after using them, but they were safe. You had to let the water sit in you bottle or cup for a short while to let the active elements act on the microbes. You could also use Lugol's sollution, which I used to make from elemental iodine (you could buy an once jar of it back then) and Potassium iodide. Possibly the Potassium iodide alone would suffice for the purpose of making drinking water safe, but I would not hazard a statement about weight of the compound added to the water. I think that Lugol's solution was considered superior for disinfecting when compared to tincture of iodine, for safety purposes in use, if not for preparing it.

well, the halizone tables, was one for a full 48oz canteen. killed parasites, bacteria, virus, a few common alkali toxins, and fungus. and as you know, many alkali toxins are not destroyed by boiling. but would not protect you from toxic borates, found in desert environments other than distilling.

and it would not take more than a couple of grams or les of potassium iodide, to disinfect a gallon of water.

and sodium hypochlorite powder, would require even less of it less than a quarter of a gram.

another possibility is sodium sulfite, which is rather good for killing fungus, parasites, viruses, bacteria, and can neutralize some toxins but not borates. combining anything with borates, can make it even more toxic.

but cyanobacteria in stagnate pools, is another difficult problem. killing the bacteria, may not rid you of the ptomaine or other toxins they produce. when even boiling may, or may not get rid of them.

the presence of bugs, and fish is usually a better sign. the presence of dead animal bones, with no bugs or fish is definately not a good sign.

You seem to be very knowledgable about this subject.You mention several things boiling won't kill(I always ASSUMED it killed nearly everything).I like to watch the show Naked and Afraid,where if you've seen it,they get into some pretty nasty water.I was curious is you know if distilling would kill all of the bad stuff?A lot of episodes they are near an ocean,etc.,of some sort(unless it's a desert savannah).Wouldn't distilling even make saltwater safe to drink?(I really don't know,but ASSUMED it does)Most of the teams bring a pot of some sort,and they almost always have a supply or cane or bamboo(to makeshift tubing) if they are in a tropical climate,but never seem to try it,but then get worn out from dehydration.Thank You for any info you can provide!

actually streptococcus, has been known to survived in boiling sulphuric acid for 20minutes. the thing about distilling is, if the boiling does not kill it. it, still won't distill to the other side. and yes you, can distill drinkable water from salt water or water with toxic alkali. so distilling, is most likely the safest way to make water. no solid or colloid material, is going to be transferred in a still. and it is a good practice, to use the first little bit to rinse the receiving container from possible contaminates.

and one should never go, into any remote area. without provisions, to make drinkable water. even if you, think you are carrying enough with you. accidents can happen. and a source of water, should be your first efforts.

and in fact in desert or tropical areas, you can make a simple solar still using plastic, a container and a small rock. dig down till you see moisture, cover with plastic put the container in the bottom, and a small rock on top of the plastic over the container. so that the condensing water vapor runs down to the rock and drips into the container.

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

While moringa seeds may be useful in clarification of water, that is totally a different subject from rendering water safe for consumption, which is something that the miraculous moringa seeds simply cannot do! Check your science, not your totally misinforming counterculture publications if you want to have a safe and healthy life!

No, No, No!!! Moringa seeds are used as a coagulant to help clarify water before treating it for pathogens, disease carrying organisms. Perhaps you have been reading from sources that do not vet their statements through qualified scientific reviews?

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

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

Remember, too, that LD50 represents the dosage of 50% kill of the rabbits. Why the devil would lD50 even be germane to this discussion?

"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.

Yup, worry about iodine stains on you white coats and on your fingers, too, when preparing your own Lugol's solutions.

Dear eye..

Did you read paliaspip's post carefully?

The subject of how much iodine in iodide form is pretty controversial, I have read, in Germany to this day, with some physicians believing that even iodized salt is not a good thing!

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.

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.
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.

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