Welcome to SP!  -

Iodine Tablets
Gear Review

Iodine Tablets


Page Type: Gear Review

Object Title: Iodine Tablets

Manufacturer: Potable Aqua

Your Opinion: 
 - 13 Votes


Page By: geoffcasey

Created/Edited: Aug 30, 2002 / Aug 30, 2002

Object ID: 461

Hits: 5396 


Iodine tablets are a lightweight and economical way to deactivate viruses, giardia and other micro-organisms

Iodine tablets kill giardia, bacteria and viruses without the weight, bulk and cost of a water filter

Includes 50 tablets

This is the lightest, most affordable water purifier! Two tablets treat a quart of water. Made in USA


Viewing: 1-13 of 13

geoffcaseyUntitled Review

Voted 4/5

Ok so it tastes bad, but that's what flavoring is for. And if it means not carrying a pump than hey, it's great. It seems to work just fine as I have yet to get anything life threatening from h2o. Fot those of you concerned about ingesting Iodine, you can now get this in a two pack one bottle with the Ioding tab and another with tabs that, after the Iodine had done it's thing, neutralize the Iodine. But don't be hasty and put it in too early. If you plan on going cold this is a must.
Posted Aug 30, 2002 8:47 am

mpbroUntitled Review

Voted 3/5

This stuff is fine. I detest water filters. In most places I go, you rarely need to treat water. As insurance, this tiny bottle is far more likely to end up in my pack than a klunky filter.

A few downsides:

  • Dissolution of the tablet can be awfully slow, especially in cold water. Shaking helps, but this is a pain in the ass. The tablets leave dark red marks unless you shake; probably only cosmetic, but...
  • Clarification tablets don't work that well in my experience.
  • Bottle cap will corrode. After about 4 years, the inside top of the bottle cap is almost rusted through, even with the cotton ball still on the top of the bottle. Elemental iodine is nasty stuff!

I much prefer something called "PolarPur", which I've been unable to find for a few years. It basically has iodine crystals in a bottle which you fill with water. Iodine goes into solution, an you pour the solution into your bottle. No dissolving fuss. Rumor has it that the raw iodine crystals are useful for amateur methamphetamine production, hence their current nonavailability.
Posted Sep 5, 2002 5:01 pm

JohnUntitled Review

Voted 5/5

This product hasn't failed me yet ... but then again I haven't had any side-effects from drinking untreated water either. My 5 start rating is with the optional PA Plus neutralizer tablets. I'd rate the base iodine tablets as only 3 stars due to the poor taste. These days, I use 3 options: these tablets, a stove for snow, or nothing. I do have a MSR MiniWorks but I never carry it anymore. I should just sell it on eBay or something as it's practically new. Some comments:
  • Dissolution Time: I just shake my Nalgene or PETE bottle a few times. It's never taken so long that it bothers me. For cold water when the air temp/windchill is above freezing, I usually just put the Nagene bottle in my pack and start hiking after a few shakes. Although the PA Plus inhibitor tablets are supposed to go in 30 min later (when you can drink), I usually find that I'll hike for 1+ hours before I get around to putting in the PA Plus. Don't forget the 30 min treatment time - unlike the instant gratification you get with filters ;-)
  • Streaks in Water Bottle: I don't recall getting any red streaks in recent history but that may be because I only use these with Lexan Nagene bottles these days. Perhaps the streaks only happen on the polyethylene ones?
  • Neutralizer Tablets: My experience with the PA Plus tablets has been excellent. For me, the water becomes clear within several seconds and tastes great. Without the these, I'd rate the base iodine tablets just a 3 star system, but with these, it's definately 5 stars in my book. I've also heard that Vitamin C tablets works just as well as a taste neutralizer but I haven't tried it yet.
  • Corrosion: Morgan mentions corrosion of the cap and I'm guessing this happens when you don't put back in the cotton "ball" that comes with it. The cotton is a pain to pull out every time but I guess it slows the corrosion. If it's cold out, I can usually find a few choice words while getting the cotton out.
  • Hydration Bags: I really like using MSR Dromedary hydration bags now but since they are not transparent it's hard to see the dissolution state of the tablet. I'm also not sure how well the tablets would work with the bag materials such as polyethylene (Platypus & MSR CloudLiner) and polyurethane (CamelBak & Gregory). The Dromedary uses polyurethane laminated Cordura which is also an unknown for me. So far I've avoided using these tablets with hydration bags and have only used them with Nalgene or disposable polyethylene terephthalate (aka PET or PETE) bottles.
Regarding iodine crystals, REI does sell the Polar Pure Iodine Crystal Kit which is 99.5% crystalline iodine. Interestingly, this cannot be shipped to California but the other 49 states are okay.
Posted Sep 9, 2002 3:47 am

dsnellUntitled Review

Voted 4/5

It's hard to beat Potable Aqua tablets, especially considering the price and weight. I have never owned a water filter and have always depended upon Iodine or boiling. This system has never failed me.

The obvious downside is the taste. It's not too bad, but it's definitely there. I haven't tried the neutralization tablets, which, according to John, really work. I'm usually so thirsty, though, that bad taste has never kept me from hydrating.
Posted Aug 9, 2003 11:32 pm

Brett AUntitled Review

Voted 5/5

I have always used this with the neutralizer tablets, so taste has never been a problem. The neutralizer gives the water a light citrus taste. You can always use gatorade mix to cover the taste as well.

Iodine works great. It's a lot less comlicated and much lighter than a filter, and while a filter gives great tasting water, there are ways to get around the iodine taste, as stated above.
Posted May 27, 2004 2:19 am

The Defiant OneUntitled Review

Voted 5/5

I'm 21 years old and raised in the age of technology i bought a filter before i tried these. I much prefer these over a gadget that weighs much more. I still like the filter, but not for extended trips. The taste doesn't bother me too much. I might try the neutralizer tablets, but if it bothered me, i might put some powdered electrolite drink in there.

For the weight, this can't be beaten, except maybe that new MSR gadget that is the size of my toothbrush, but i haven't tried it and don't know how it works.
Posted Mar 28, 2005 7:52 pm

Luka ZnidarcicUntitled Review

Voted 5/5

Great price/weight ratio. These tablets work very well and you do get use to the taste after a while. Simple to use and after shaking and dissolving for 30min your water is clean.
Posted Aug 5, 2005 4:40 pm

AlpinistGreat back-up

Voted 4/5

I carry a bottle of iodine tablets on every trip as a back-up in case my water filter breaks. Surprisingly, I've never had to use them yet. It's a great insurance policy though considering the low weight and cost. Keep in mind that iodine does not protect against all protozoan cysts. So you take a small risk by using it as your primary means of water treatment.
Posted Mar 15, 2007 1:41 am

2skinnersNice way to go light

Voted 4/5

I have not had a case of raging diarrhea yet when using these, so they must work!!
They are much lighter than a water filter, but the downside to me is the wait time before you can actually drink the water plus the wait time if you are neutralizing it as well. Not a bad thing to carry with you though.
Posted Jun 30, 2007 4:08 am

Augie MedinaOne of 10 Essentials

Voted 5/5

I carry iodine tables and neutralizer tablets as I always would waterproof matches. Of course, it's not as easy as just popping in the tablet. After 5 minutes, you should shake your water bottle to moisten the threads at the top of the bottle where the cap screws on. The neutralizer tablets are also an extra step, but they work. Often, I skip that step. I don't mind the iodine taste that much.

On outings, I save weight by leaving the water filter and just carrying the tablets. One thing I learned: leave the cotton in the bottle or the tablets will break apart inside the bottle as they get jostled.

I use the tablets in my hydration bladder. The tablets seem to dissolve more slowly than in a nalgene bottle, but they get there. The only drawback I've noticed is that your bladder will get tinted brownish.

Posted Aug 30, 2007 1:59 pm

fossanamy choice for the backcountry

Hasn't voted

With the neutralizer tablets I don't mind the taste. I almost never carry my water filter now given the substantial weight savings. It did stain my hydration bladders, but there was no impact on longevity. Only drawback is with silty water sources.
Posted Feb 18, 2008 4:45 pm

silversummitWatch with extended use etc.

Hasn't voted

I had a very bad experience with these tablets in 2002. We were canoeing in Maine on the St. Croix River and the water either had to be boiled or treated with iodine. Pumping was tough because of the sediment etc. in the river. It was extremely hot so I was drinking lots of treated water and by day 3 I was really sick (nausea, stomach ache, no appetite). Finally we dug out our ceramic water filter and since it was so hard to pump in this river water I was the only one in our group of 10 who used it. But thank goodness, by day 5 of our 9 day trip I could eat and drink again. No more iodine for me!

We carefully checked the iodine tablet directions and we hadn't misused or over'd or anything. I had eaten several lobsters the night before leaving base camp but so had some others. Maybe my iodine sensitivity became elevated but I certainly got sick and as soon as I stopped the iodine tablets and used pumped water I got better. My doctor at home warned me later that people with shellfish allergies sometimes develop a gradual sensitivity to iodine in this manner.
Posted Jan 30, 2009 11:01 am

andrew davidBackup Option

Hasn't voted

A bottle of these tabs is a great backup option. They are not as strong or fast as Aquamira droplets, but are easier as they do not require mixing. Chlorine tabs and bleach drops do not kill crytosporidium and iodine will. However, there is reason to suspect iodine causes health problems long term, so for a full season of campaigning out of doors, I don't advise these as the primary treatment option. Have not noticed staining of my Nalgene bottles. Only other downside is they will not remove heavy metals or chemicals, which a pump filter will (thanks to carbon)- however removing those is what often jams or breaks those same pump filters.
Posted Aug 18, 2013 6:32 pm

Viewing: 1-13 of 13