Safe Drinking Water: Iodine

Don't touch that stream water until you've used at least one of these methods

Aug 29, 2013
Outside Magazine
safe drinking water camping wilderness hiking water treatment boiling iodine

   Photo: Jasenka Luksa/

How it works: Iodine inactivates bacteria and other microorganisms, but no one knows exactly how. Usually, iodine comes in tablets that you dissolve in water and lets sit for 15 minutes or longer.

Pros: If’s one of the cheapest and easiest to carry solutions around.

Cons: Even “taste-free” iodine can taste bad, and iodine is not good for pregnant women or people with thyroid conditions. Iodine also doesn’t kill hard-shelled cryptosporidium, it doesn’t deactivate chemicals, and if your water has organic matter, you’ll need to filter that separately.

What you need: Water purification tablets, like Potable Aqua, with taste neutralizer for those with a sensitive palette.