Drinking from a stream or an outdoor water source can be hit and miss which is why we recommend that you always purify your water to kill off any nasty germs and viruses by using one of the products on our list of the best water purification tablets in 2021.
Water purification tablets are becoming an essential part of many people’s backpacking and camping kits. They’re lightweight, easy to use, and most importantly, they’ll ensure that you never get sick from drinking water from a stream or other source while out in the wild! In this article, we will cover what water purification tablets are, why you need them when traveling (especially internationally), how they work, who should use them, what their benefits are, and which ones we recommend for purchase.
What Are the Dangers of Drinking Contaminated Water?
The World Health Organization estimates that every year, 3.4 million people die from diseases related to contaminated water and poor sanitation. Even the most pristine-looking water can have animal waste or a dead animal in it.
Consuming unclean water can quickly lead to illnesses such as diarrhea, dysentery, typhoid fever, hepatitis, and more. The best way to purify water is by using a filter or by purifying with water purification tablets.
You can kill most bacteria and virus contamination by boiling your water before drinking, but this requires a fire of some sort or something to boil the water in. If you want to be sure that you have safe drinkable water without all the hassle of waiting for it to cool down, your best choice is to carry water purification tablets that will work within 15 minutes to an hour with no hassle at all, they will work while you walk!
E-Coli, Cryptosporidium and Giardia: Key Facts
The most common waterborne illness that may affect campers is cryptosporidia, which may cause diarrhea and vomiting. Giardia cysts are also a potential invisible threat found in streams, rivers, and lakes.
E-coli can also be found in water sources, though it is less common than the other two types of illnesses mentioned above. If ingested, E-coli causes sickness similar to food poisoning: diarrhea and/or abdominal cramps accompanied by fever, chills, headache, lack of appetite, nausea, or even death if untreated.
The most likely risk that may come from drinking contaminated water is diarrhea and vomiting which can quickly lead to dehydration.
So What are Water Purification Tablets?
Water purification tablets are small packets of chemicals that you can add to your water, wait for a few minutes while they dissolve, and then drink. They come in different flavors and range in size but will typically treat half a gallon or 1 liter of drinking water per tablet. Making them ideally suitable for one person on the go who wants fresh-tasting, safe drinking water.
What Do Water Purification Tablets Do?
Water Purification Tablets are made to kill harmful bacteria in contaminated water taken from sources like lakes and streams using them will help keep you from picking up any nasty bugs. Great for taking on vacation, you never know when you might need them water purification tablets can be used anywhere from a hotel room to remote jungles – even when power is unavailable! They are even good to keep at home for when disaster strikes unexpectedly and your water supply may be compromised.
Choosing the best water purification tablet for your situation can be a bit confusing with so many options available on the market. In this article, we will review the 7 best water purification tablets available on the market today. We have reviewed these products based on four criteria: affordability, speed, ability to kill virus, parasites & bacteria, and taste.
1. Katadyn Micropur MP1 Purification Tablet:
The first product we recommend is the katadyn Micropur MP1 Purification tablets because they are affordable, and can kill viruses, parasites & bacteria.
The katadyn Micropur MP-I tablets use a combination of Sodium dichloroisocyanurate & Sodium Chlorite to create a deadly chemical reaction in the water releasing Chlorine Dioxide destroying any type of organic contaminant in your drinking water supply.
It is recommended the tablet is added to the contaminated water and allowed to sit for 4 hours. After 4 hours the Chlorine Dioxide has killed all the nasties and has oxidized, evaporating out of the water leaving you with fresh, clean tasting water.
The product is also FDA approved as safe for human consumption so you don’t have to worry about ingesting anything unsafe if you follow the manufacturer’s directions
You can get packs of 20 or 30 individual purification tablets which should provide enough clean water for one person over many days if used properly (every day). Packages of these tablets are available on Amazon at an affordable low price point as well!
Another perk with the katadyn Micropur MP-I tablet is that it won’t leave any residue or odour in your water either!
The katadyn Micropur MP-I tablet has a shelf life of up 5 years from the date of manufacture, making them a must have in your backpack or go bag.
Aquatabs water purification tablets are a good way to make sure you have safe drinking water while traveling, or even at home in the event of an emergency.
They claim they are “The Best Water Purification Tablets in The World” We can’t say that we agree with them but it’s not like we disagree either. Unlike the other water purification tablets, which use both Sodium dichloroisocyanurate & Sodium Chlorite, whereas Aquatabs only contain Sodium dichloroisocyanurate. However, each tablet is over 16% pure Sodium dichloroisocyanurate which 16x more than most other tablets on the market.
So they are effective in a fraction of the time, the manufacturers claim water is purified in 30 minutes.
Besides being very effective at killing all the nasties, aquatabs are packaged in easily transportable tear off strip packs, that pack neatly in any back, hardly taking up any room at all.
The only downside of these tablets was they didn’t taste very good. It left a heavy chlorine aftertaste which wasn’t pleasant to drink at first.
However, if you are in the situation where you know that the water quality is really bad and you want 100% assurance there are no hazards, then these tablets may be just right for you.
We would recommend them for people who didn’t want to carry around bulky water bottles and those looking for a quick solution to their water needs on the go.
Water purification has never been easier than with these tablets!
3. Polar Pure Iodine Drops:
Okay so Iodine drops are not technically a water purification tablet, they are drops. But they are extremely effective and completely eliminating all viruses and bacteria. Plus they are very easy to use and work much faster than most other forms of tablet purification
The difference between chlorine based tablets and iodine drops is that chlorine is good at killing bacteria, but not viruses. Iodine on the other hand kills both bacteria and viruses – even in very low concentrations.
Polar Pure purification system contains iodine drops that kill 99% of all waterborne pathogens such as; Giardia, Cryptosporidium, and E-coli within 15 minutes! This type of purification will make your drinking water safe to drink, and the bottle will last for about three years without
There are a million ways for our drinking water sources to be contaminated by contaminants or viruses which can lead to any number of illnesses from deadly Hepatitis A all the way down to just getting sick like your average cold, and when attempting to survive in a dangerous situation, even the smallest chance of illness can be a matter of life or death.
The downside to using Polar Pure iodine drops, (or any iodine drops) for water purification is that the taste and smell of iodine will remain in your water for a period of time, usually about 24-48 hours.
So if you can’t stomach drinking straight water with a medicinal, disinfectant taste to it then Polar Pure Iodine drops may not be to your liking. Even though these drops require less time than using water purification tablets, they do have similar drawbacks like an unpleasant aftertaste or odor, and also leave traces of themselves in the water so it is really a matter of personal preference.
It is recommended that you try both drops and tablets at home before taking them on a trip so that you can decide which of them is your preferred water purification method. Or take both with you, they are so small and light it won’t be a burden to carry them both
Note Iodine can cause health issues such as goiter or hypothyroidism, in some people, it is also important not to use any iodine based water purification if you are pregnant.
4. Rotoco Chlor-Floc Water Purification Tablets | Military Grade:
The Rothco company is a well-known global brand and has been making products for soldiers in the US military since 1953. The US military uses Rothco Chlor-Floc water purification tablets to provide them with safe drinking water, these tablets are available for purchase by the public.
They have sold over 1.5 million units, making them one of the best selling water purification tablets on the market.
The tablets are sold in a box of 30, with each tablet able to purify either one quart or one liter of water depending on the temperature. The US military uses these because they can’t risk drinking contaminated water and getting sick while deployed overseas.
You will love the Rothco water purification tablets!! It is easy to see why they are the choice for the military.
Lightweight and compact (compared to other methods of purification). I’m sure you are like me and prefer to carry something lightweight, especially if it is only going to be used in a survival situation. they are easy to carry in your canteen pouch and in your “Bug out Bag”. They highly recommend them to anyone building a survival bag, hiking preparedness, or any outdoor enthusiast. Good to keep some of these around (you never know). Good price also!
Just note that the expiry on these is not as long as some other water purification tablets, we are sure that they would be safe to use long after the expiry, however, it is always best to follow manufacturers’ directions.
5. Aquamira – Chlorine Dioxide Water Treatment Two Part Liquid:
The last water purification drop we will cover here is the Two-part Water treatment drops by Aquamira. This revolutionary two-part system comes with water treatment drops that not only purify dirty drinking water the kill odor-causing bacteria and enhance the taste of stored potable water.
What makes Aquamira different is it uses a chemical reaction between the Chlorine dioxide and the acid to create nascent oxygen, a highly active form of oxygen, which is a strong oxidant and a powerful germicidal agent. This same chemical reaction has been used since the 1940’s to make municipal water safe to drink.
It kills pathogens without harming humans because it does not create potentially harmful by-products like chlorine and other halogens (such as iodine) do.
The bottles have a 4-year shelf life from the manufacturing date, and can treat up to 30 gallons at once, and are easy to use. Oh, did I mention there is little to no aftertaste! That’s right because that is a common complaint of other water treatment drops.
The Aquamira system uses chlorine dioxide to create an effective, yet a safe product that you can trust while in the backcountry or at home during emergency situations!
Their instructions are simple: open pack and add one part A (drops) per four parts B (tablets). Stir them together until dissolved completely and wait 15 minutes before use.
To store this purified drinking water for future use, pour it into another container with a tight-fitting lid and date marked. Note; do not be tempted to pre-mix up two bottles because they will not be effective, as the chemical reaction will have already started before you get it into the water.
You can even use these drops to sanitize reusable masks. Just place the mask in a zip lock bag, take a small cup and add a few drops of each part A & B, then seal your mask inside with that concoction for around 20 minutes. The gas created by those solutions will sterilize most viruses and bacteria!
FAQ’s Frequently asked questions about water purification tablets and drops.
What are water purification tablets?
Water purification tablets are a chlorine-based product that will remove the most harmful bacteria and make water safe to drink.
The only downside is the taste of these products can vary depending on which brand you use, but they should be easily palatable for most people. There are also water purification drops, they typically come in two different parts – Part A contains Chlorine Dioxide, while part B is Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH)
These solutions need to be mixed together by thoroughly shaking them before using them as instructed below:
Part A + Part B + contaminated water = Purified Drinking Water!
There are also other kinds of chemical-based water treatment such as iodine that may work better if you’re not into the idea of drinking chlorinated water, however, for ease of use and shelf life chlorine-based water purification tablets are the number one choice.
Why do you need to use water purification tablets and drops?
The answer to this question is pretty simple – you need them because water not sourced from a town water supply may contain various contaminants that could pose health risks.
There is also an ever-growing risk of Natural disasters, causing contamination to the public supply due to industrial accidents or natural causes such as flooding can all lead to potentially dangerous levels of a number of toxic compounds and bacteria which are harmful to humans if ingested.
Not only do these tablets remove almost all nasties they typically have a long shelf life so make a great addition to your emergency kit!
How do water purification tablets work?
The answer to this question is also pretty simple – they work by using a chemical process that removes most of the harmful contaminants in water such as giardia, cholera, salmonella, cysts, and more.
Most tablets will kill 99% or more of all bacteria present on contact without requiring a long waiting time for them to take effect!
It’s not just toxic bacteria either with some tablets being able to remove up to 98% of viruses too.
This means you can get rid of almost anything nasty in even the dirtiest waters through these products which makes them an excellent way to ensure safe drinking water no matter where you are at any point in time.
What are the main types of water purification tablets?
There are two main types: Those which use chlorine dioxide gas (sodium hypochlorite) as an active ingredient; or those that release nascent iodine particles into solution when dissolved in liquid. Both work well but require different amounts of time before they are fully effective.
One is a combination product that includes chlorine and other chemicals to create a chemical reaction, releasing gasses to make sure any harmful bacteria, viruses, or parasites get killed off quickly.
The second one relies solely on chlorine chemical treatments which allows you to add it directly into your drinking water supply typically these are not capable of eliminating viruses.
In addition to tablets, there are iodine drops which are a more cost-effective option and rely on chemical treatments to kill off the bacteria, viruses or parasites.
Chlorine tablets that come in tablet form are generally not well suited for higher elevations due to the lack of oxygen at these altitudes but iodine tablets might be able to get rid of impurities without any problems.
Are water purification drops better than tablets?
These two different types of water purification methods have their own advantages and disadvantages, but for most people, the best option would be iodine drops because they are more effective at killing viruses than tablets. Chlorine drops come in larger quantities at lower prices making them much better suited for long-term use as well as when traveling overseas where many travelers bring a few sheets of tablets bottles with them because even drinking tap water in some countries might not always be advisable.
Who should use water purification tablets?
Water purification tablets are a good option for people who want to be able to ensure they can have safe drinking water in the event of a disaster, or while camping in the wilds. They also are a must-have if you are a traveler in third-world countries or areas where the tap water is not safe.
Where can I buy water purification tablets?
You can buy water purification at most good outdoor stores, but the price in retail stores can be quite high. That is why we recommend comparing it to the price available on Amazon, you can usually save 50%
Are there any side effects or risks of using water purification tablets?
Yes. Although it’s rare, people can have a bad reaction to the chemicals in water purification tablets and should stop taking them immediately if they notice any symptoms such as rashes or swelling of the skin around the mouth or throat.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding we recommend sticking with bottled drinking water instead of using these products because it is possible that your baby could experience some side effects from the chemical compounds used by water purification tablets.
It is up to you to weigh the risks, are you more likely to get seriously ill from drinking contaminated water? Almost certainly the answer is yes. But use common sense and make sure you understand what those risks may be before making a decision about which product best suits your needs!
Do water purification tablets filter dirty water?
The answer to this question is a resounding no. Water purification tablets are not meant as an alternative to boiling your drinking water or using other filtration methods. They function very differently from a water filter that removes dirt and contaminants.
They offer a convenient and safe way to ensure that the water is safe from bacteria, cysts, and some viruses, they will not remove harmful contaminants such as lead, mercury arsenic.
Do water purification tablets leave a bad taste?
Yes and no… Some water purification tablets leave a neutral taste with little to no after-taste. Whereas some leave a chlorine taste or medicinal iodine after taste. Try a few until you find one that you are happy with. We found that the Aquamira Two Part Liquid drops left the least aftertaste.
What are the benefits of using water purification tablfets?
Water purification tablets offer a portable and convenient way to ensure that the water is safe for drinking in most normal situations. They are lightweight, easy to carry in your pack or purse. Compared to other filtration systems they are less bulky and more cost-effective – meaning you can use them when traveling abroad more easily than larger filters with long filter life cycles.
What should I consider before purchasing water purification tablets or drops?
The key things you need to keep in mind when choosing a tablet is whether it leaves an aftertaste (some people find this unpleasant) as well as how effective it will be against bacteria and viruses.
How long do water purification tablets take to work?
Each water purification tablet has a different time period for effectiveness. Some will give you safe drinking water in 15 minutes, others can take up to 4 hours. Typically the longer the time, the more effective the tablet is at killing a broad range of contaminants.
How long do water purification tablets last?
The shelf life of water purification tablets in aluminum sheet tabs is up to 5 years, water purification drops tend to be shorter, around 2-3 years due to potential evaporation. Always read the manufacturer’s expiry date, and if in doubt just get a new packet, they are really cheap and could save your life.
Can you use iodine drops when pregnant?
In short, no! Most health professionals recommend pregnant ladies avoid too much iodine while pregnant. Iodine in pregnancy has been linked to a higher risk of miscarriage, birth defects, and stunted brain development.
But if you are in a life-threatening emergency then yes! If you are pregnant and have no option but to drink water that could be contaminated, then it is safer to use an iodine drop to kill the bacteria and viruses than it is to potentially expose yourself to them.
What can I do if my tablets don’t dissolve? Some tablets take time to dissolve so just stir the tablet slowly until granules turn clear. This could be up to 30 minutes but typically after 15 minutes, all the particles will be fully dissolved.