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Old 26 Jun 2002
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Location: Durban, KZN, South Africa
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Iodine water purification

I have a friend who has recently travelled in and around india for a year and gave up on "time consuming" water filtration.
He relied on a couple of drops of Iodine in the water which he said, gave him no major hassles.

Madness??? or not?

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Old 26 Jun 2002
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Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Canada
Posts: 1,007
Good question, without a definitive answer...

Iodine isn't for everyone:
"Iodine is the preferred chemical treatment for water. It is easy and effective in twenty minutes, but iodine probably should not be used for months at a time. It also should not be used by pregnant women and people with thyroid conditions."

Iodine tablets don't kill all protozoa.

<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" size="2">"Iodine tablets are another method used to treat water. It is inexpensive, compact, and will kill most microorganisms. Unfortunately it is less effective against Giardia and ineffective against Cryptosporidium. Iodine also takes 20 minutes and adds a foul taste."</font>

Health Canada's travel medicine site advises that boiling is the best answer:
<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" size="2">"If required, water purification may be achieved by either heat, filtration or chemical disinfection. Boiling is the most effective way of producing water that is safe to drink. Simply bringing water to a boil is sufficient to kill all of the organisms that can cause travellers' diarrhea."</font>

See the following link for a discussion (water filters about half way down) including some non-hassle versions which function just like a water bottle:


If you decide after doing the research to go the iodine route, we've used these in the past:

"Potable Aqua consists of tiny iodine tablets in a small glass bottle. Directions are one or two tablets (depending upon temperature, clarity, and Giardia control) per liter of water. Shake and let dissolve, then loosen the cap and shake again to allow the iodized water to spread over the threads, killing germs there. It's ready for drinking in twenty minutes.

The water has a slight brownish-orange color, and a moderate iodine taste. Potable Aqua also comes with ascorbic acid tablets, called P.A. Pure, which greatly reduce the iodine taste and off-color.

Potable Aqua tablets should be left sealed in the glass bottle until use as they have a limited effective life after exposure to air."
From the Art of Travel site.

Good luck!

Susan Johnson

"It matters not what goal you seek
Its secret here reposes:
You've got to dig from week to week
To get Results or Roses."
Edgar Guest

'One world, two wheels'

[This message has been edited by Susan (edited 25 June 2002).]
Susan Johnson

Inspiring, Informing and Connecting travellers since 1997
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Old 26 Jun 2002
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Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Seattle, WA - USA / Oltenita, ROMANIA
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Let me add one thing to Susan's reply. I don't use iodine except for emergencies and the reason being is that it blocks thyroid function. A few days of using it isn't going to hurt, but using it for a weeks at a time is really not good. Actually, you can find iodine tablets in radiation protection kits. Radiation fallout from a power plant meltdown or nuclear weapon will cause lots of radioactive iodine to be released. This radioactive iodine, once inhaled, will clog up your thyroid and you'll probably get thyroid cancer (think Chernobyl). Taking iodine tablets will cause the regular (non-radioactive) iodine to clog up your thyroid before the radioactive version arrives and will cause it to just pass through your system. Pretty cool eh?

Improvement makes strait roads, but the crooked roads without Improvement, are roads of Genius - William Blake
Improvement makes strait roads, but the crooked roads without Improvement, are roads of Genius - William Blake
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Old 26 Jun 2002
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I spent a few years in the US Army (Infantry, Special Forces). We used iodine tablets extensively, sometimes for up to 6 weeks at a time. Sometimes if the water was really nasty up to four tablets per quart. Presweetened Kool-aid helps this allot. I never had adverse affects and I never heard of anyone else having a problem. Do keep the tablets capped up as they will break down over time if left exposed.

During trips to Africa, our medics purified the common water with clorine. I dont know the dosage, but you could taste it in the water. A couple of drops per gallon I think.
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