Tiny, powerful, and also convenient to use, water purification tablets can be a literal lifesaver in an emergency or when you’re camping out in the backcountry.
They offer an uncomplicated way of ensuring that the water you consume won’t become your future dilemma if you need to rely on unreliable water sources for hydration.
Water purification tablets eliminate germs in the water, making it potable. Backpackers and other adventure seekers regularly use the pills to refill their drinking water supplies from bodies of water such as rivers.
Use the pills for international travelers as well as in times of emergency, such as storms or floods, when water supplies may be contaminated or dangerous.
How Do Purification Chemicals Work?
Iodine, chlorine, or a chemical based on either of these components are commonly used in chemical treatments.
Since the compounds are mixed, they have a longer shelf life (about five years before they lose their effectiveness), are easier to use, and are more efficient than pure components.
Microorganisms are eliminated by iodine and chlorine, which destroy proteins, amino acids, and biological components. They can also cause the metabolic activity of the microbe to be disrupted.
Chlorine dioxide, sodium chlorite, sodium hypochlorite, and sodium dichloroisocyanurate are examples of chlorine compounds.
The two most prevalent are sodium hypochlorite, which we can find in household bleach, and chlorine dioxide, which is also present in most water purification tablets.
What Do Water Purifiers Protect Against?
Water quality is being compromised all across the world as a result of human activity.
Even if you live in a first-world nation with a typically safe water grid, you may still have problems after a natural catastrophe (e.g., poop-filled floodwaters), a Flint-style failure, or even local water treatment facilities running out of chemicals or budget.
Sediments, biological organisms, and poisons are the three main categories of water hazards.
Viruses, bacteria, cysts, and parasites such as giardia and cryptosporidium, which are notable examples of those groups, are frequently included in product marketing.
In more detail:
Sediment – is made up of solid materials such as dirt, sand, grit, debris, plants, and animal remains. Flocculants and a basic fabric filter, such as a cotton or wool t-shirt, can help decrease sediment.
Algae – a slimy material that accumulates in still water and is green, blue, or yellowish-brown. According to the Center for Disease Control, hazardous algae blooms are becoming more common as a result of climate change and industrial pollution.
Algae can be eradicated by chlorine-based treatments, but they are resistant to iodine. Boiling, ultraviolet radiation, reverse osmosis, distillation, and chlorine-augmented flocculants can all destroy algae.
Bacteria – such as E. coli are found in human and animal feces. E. coli, salmonella, cholera, shigella, and coliform bacteria are all examples of pathogens. Bacteria are quite easy to eliminate.
Bacteria can be killed rapidly using UV radiation, reverse osmosis, distillation, chlorine and iodine chemicals, chlorine-enhanced flocculants, and traditional boiling.
Protozoa – are single-cell creatures that depend on organic substances that are larger and more developed than bacteria.
Giardia, cryptosporidium, and cyclospora are some of the most frequent intestinal parasites that everyone in North America is concerned with. Giardia can be killed by iodine, but cryptosporidium and cyclospora are resilient.
Cysts – These are simply latent types of microbes that are waiting to “wake up” once within your system, although they are sometimes included individually in product marketing materials. Iodine is ineffective in the treatment of cysts.
Viruses – Norovirus and rotavirus cause hepatitis A, SARS, polio, and HFMD (hands, foot, and mouth disease). Viruses can be handled by anything, particularly iodine.
Chemical compounds, heavy metals, and societal waste – Oil, pesticides, cleaning materials, acid rain, industrial discharge, paint, and heavy metals like mercury and lead are just a few of the pollutants.
Only reverse osmosis, distillation, and flocculants can eradicate this type of contamination. Metals that have dissolved cannot be totally eliminated. Lead, chromium, arsenic, DDT, and humic acid can all be treated with flocculants.
How to Use Water Purification Tablets
There are a few things you must do right in order for these tablets to function. The very first set of measures must be followed to ensure that the water is safe to drink, including proper water storage. The chemical content of the tablet is the second factor to consider.
It’s worth noting that the efficacy of these pills varies based on the quantity of active ingredient used. The following are the three major steps of purifying water with water purification tablets:
1. There are only a limited number of tablets available. The first thing you’ll need to figure out is how many tablets you’ll need to filter the water. This, however, is linked to the amount of purification that each tablet can provide.
It’s important to note that just a modest amount of the chemical won’t kill the bacteria, viruses, or protozoans in the water. Similarly, too many chemicals in your water might cause it to become acidic. As a result, make sure the numbers are correct.
2. After you’ve dropped the tablet into the water, give the container a good shake. The tablets must be totally broken down in order to work. As a result, you must shake the water container till the tablets dissolve and disappear.
3. You must allow several minutes for the purifiers to dissolve in the water after the pills have been entirely broken down. The contaminants may still be present if you consume the water right away.
Wait a few minutes to ensure that all bacteria, viruses, and parasite protozoans have been eliminated. Waiting for roughly 30 minutes is the most suggested time.
When you reach this point, you can be nearly certain that all germs have been neutralized. It’s also worth noting that some water purification tablets have an awful flavor to them.
If you’re using iodine, you’ll probably need to carry some iodine neutralizer to get rid of the taste.
Those who use chlorine, on the other hand, only need to keep the container open to allow the chlorine element to evaporate. These are two options for addressing the problem of a bad taste in purified water.
Our Top Picks: 7 Best Water Purification Tablets
A safe water source with a well-functioning filtration system is the ideal solution for removing any anxieties about ingesting anything dangerous.
On the other hand, more portable techniques of purifying water may be more practical in emergency situations or even while traveling abroad. Water purification tablets are an excellent and convenient option in this situation.
By identifying the best in pathogen effectiveness, shelf life, and waiting period, we’ve chosen and assessed the finest water purification tablets and solutions that can be bought online. Make sure to read the entire review at the bottom of the page.
We’ve also included some useful background information about water purification tablets, including the many sorts of chemicals they contain, as well as their practical benefits and drawbacks.
1. Katadyn Micropur
I’ll tell you the truth. Considering the Aquatabs’ flavor and simple directions, I really wanted to give them appreciative attention.
Katadyn Micropur MP1 Water Purification Tablets are our top pick for eliminating bacteria, Giardia, cryptosporidium, or even viruses.
The Katadyn Micropur MP1 tablets have the best flavor of any crypto-fighting tablet, and they come in a sturdy container that is yet very easy to open.
The water purification with these tablets did not irritate my skin or throat in the least, but keep in mind that I’ve been using tablets for quite some time.
Every person’s irritability and side effects are unique. These tablets are also reasonably priced in comparison, giving this alternative added value.
They’re more expensive than most of the other tablets we examined, but we believe they’re worth it.
They have a five-year storage life, so you can be confident that your tablets will not go bad any time soon.
- Bacteria, giardia, and cryptosporidium can all be removed.
- Shelf life of five years.
- It doesn’t leave a sour aftertaste.
- A bit pricey in comparison to other solutions.
- It takes four hours to work.
2. Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets
This product is extremely comparable to Katadyn, with the exception of one little detail: the water cleaned by these tablets scratched my throat.
To be fair, this was the first tablet I took for a full day. It’s possible that my body was only now getting accustomed to introducing chlorine to my diet.
Potable Aqua’s Chlorine Dioxide Water Purification Tablets cost more than their 301 Germicidal tablets.
These are more effective than the original Potable Aqua tablets for treating bacteria, cysts like Giardia and Cryptosporidium, or even viruses. They do, however, have weaknesses that put them at a disadvantage.
Even though it costs roughly the same as the 301 germicidal pills, a whole bottle of potable aqua chlorine dioxide tablets only cleanses five gallons of water.
This compound also takes four hours to act effectively, which is significantly longer than the 35 minutes required by the 301 Germicidal tablets.
- Viruses are removed
- Cyst-fighting properties.
- A complete package only treats 5 gallons of water.
- The procedure takes four hours.
3. Coleman Potable Aqua with PA Plus Chemical Water Treatment Treats
Most families and people have a supply of these water treatment products on hand.
Coleman water treatment remedies are one of the most common options nowadays. Since each order includes two bottles, you will find this product to be distinctive. Giardia, cysts, and other germs found in water are removed by one with a white cap.
The PA+ bottle, which has a yellow cap, is suitable for eliminating the color and flavor of iodine from the filtered water. Viruses, bacteria, cryptosporidium, and Giardia are all removed with these.
It’s vital to know that you don’t use both tablets at the same time.
You’ll need to purify your water first with the tablet from the white-capped container, then with the additional tablet from the yellow-capped bottle. There would be 50 tablets in each bottle.
The Coleman water purification tablets worked as well as the others, but the aftertaste was unpleasant.
- It doesn’t leave a bad aftertaste.
- Bacteria and cysts are treated.
- The resealable bottle is ideal for carrying or packing.
- Once opened, the product is only good for one or two years
4. Aquatabs Water Purification Tablets
I was blown away by the price/performance ratio of these products.
We found these on the internet for a reasonable price.The flavor is pleasant, and the odor is only mildly chemical. These tablets are small and light, and they only take 40 minutes to clear the water.
The Aquatabs Water Purification Tablets had the longest storage life of all the tablets we examined, with a five-year shelf life.
When compared to the two years that other brands last, five years seems like a long time. We believe they are the best water purification pills for the price because they are such a good deal and have such a long life expectancy.
These pills are sold in packs of 50, with two packs being included to treat a total of 13 gallons. When you think about how much you obtain, it’s a good deal.
However, the bags they come in are bad for retaining the tablets once they’ve been opened because they can’t be closed again.
Fortunately, the pills are packaged in ten packs, so opening the entire bag will not compromise the residual shelf life of the product.
- Reasonably priced.
- Shelf life of five years.
- Enough for 13 gallons of treatment.
- The bags aren’t suitable for storing items.
5. Potable Aqua Germicidal Water Purification Tablets
The Environmental Protection Agency has authorized these iodine-based tablets, which are utilized by armies and emergency global organizations.
Each pill contains 20mg of TGHP, which when dissolved in water emits 8mg of germicidal iodine.
Campers, hikers, humanitarian organizations, and others who journey to locations where water is questioned use the potable Aqua Iodine tablets because of their quick 35-minute wait period and effectiveness against Giardia.
To use, simply place two tablets in a quart or litre of water, shut the container gently and wait 5 minutes, then shake and wait 35 minutes.
If you want to avoid Giardia, make sure you wait the whole 35 minutes (or longer) before consuming.
- Four-year shelf life.
- A 35-minute wait.
- Ineffective against Crypto.
6. Coghlan’s Drinking Water Tablets
Drinking Water Tablets from Coghlan’s are a treatment that kills giardia and other water-borne infections.
For stabilization, these pills use an iodine-based chemical that leaves an unwanted taste. This 50-count pack is intended for one-time usage only and should not be used on a regular basis.
Simply mix two tablets with one quart of good-to-drink water to make one quart of good-to-drink water.
I heard this thing was really strong, so at the 2-hour mark, I took a big gulp of water out of curiosity. I had to double-check the dosage because it tasted so terrible, but it was accurate.
The water no longer smelled like pure bleach once the cleaning procedure was completed 2 hours later, but it was still the most smelly of the items. The flavor was light and airy, but chemical.
My lips tingled intermittently during the day, but this couldn’t have been caused by the tablets.
- Viruses are cleared.
- Effective in the treatment of cysts.
- Only 5 gallons are treated by the entire package.
- The procedure lasts two hours.
7. Camelbak Reservoir & Water Bottle Cleaning Tablets
CamelBak Reservoir and Water Bottle Cleaning Tablets are self-dissolving and intended to reduce flavor, film, and odor from CamelBak water bottles and reservoirs.
The tablets are chlorine, phosphate, preservative, odor, and fragrance-free, and they split in half for use in smaller vessels.
They’re ecologically responsible and biodegradable, and they don’t disrupt aquatic ecosystems.
CamelBak Cleaning Tablets for Reservoirs and Water Bottles come in two packets of eight tabs each. These water filtration tablets work as well as the others, but the residue was unpleasant.
While water purification tablets are extremely portable, they nevertheless necessitate carrying a water container as well as a supply of pills.
What if your water bottle came with a water purifying device built right in? That is precisely what the Camelbak Reservoir possesses.
With a simple tap of your finger on the lid, the bottle will remove 99.99 percent of microbial pathogens from the water within.
- There is no odor, film, or residue left behind by the tablets.
- Chlorine, phosphate, preservatives, and perfumes are not present.
- safe for the environment and biodegradable.
- Aquatic settings are unaffected.
- There are no annoying odors.
- Claro, a leader in eco-friendly cleaning solutions, collaborated on this formula.
- It gives an unpleasant aftertaste.
How to Choose the Best Water Purification Tablets for your Needs
Do you have a tendency to forget to do tasks on time? If that’s the case, a four-hour wait is probably not the best idea.
Choose from Aquatabs and potable aqua with PA+Plus. In much less than an hour, both will clean your water.
Weight is, obviously, an important consideration when purchasing backpacking gear. All of the manufacturers we examined have backpacks that weigh less than an ounce, although some are more robust than others.
Potable water pills are a good choice if you want to keep your backpack as light as possible and want to store water in your car. We found them to be the lightest tablets we had tested.
Both the potable chlorine dioxide and the Aquamira tablets, if you desire a more sturdy container, are exceedingly difficult to open without a camping or hiking knife, but the tablets remain intact.
Taste and Smell
How much chemical taste and smell in your water are you willing to put up with?
Potable Aqua with PA+Plus is recommended if you are extremely sensitive, as the PA+Plus pills counteract the iodine aftertaste and hue in the water.
Aquamira water purification pills are for you if you appreciate a strong chemical smell that assures you that every living thing that once lived in your water is definitely dead.
The Tablets Are Efficient Against Microorganisms
When used appropriately, all of the water filtration pills we examined destroy viruses and germs. Nevertheless, not all of them are effective against Cryptosporidium.
Choose a product that will eliminate any microorganisms you might come across on your wilderness journey.
In the list at the top of this article, we’ve listed which of the products we tested are effective against Cryptosporidium.
Water Purification Tablets Aren’t Your Only Option
Here are two other options for purifying water:
- Use a water filter when trekking. This is the most common strategy utilized by trekkers and campers, to our knowledge.
- Using a camp burner or backpacking stove to boil the water. If your main water filtration technique fails, it’s a good idea to keep the appropriate extras on hand.
To ignite the stove, our reviewers prefer to carry a lightweight camping lighter. We also know some travelers who like to bring fire sticks with them when they go camping.
How long can you keep a solution for?
It depends on the water purification tablet you are going to purchase. Some tablets are only good for one year, while some can be kept for four to six years.
The expiration varies depending on the brand and type of tablet, so make sure to check the expiration date on the package to be safe and aware.
Do water purification tablets really work?
Water purification tablets are certainly an excellent backup whenever you are on the go, and your equipment fails. They are a perfect choice in decontaminating water from organisms, such as viruses and bacteria.
However, it is essential to purchase them from a reliable company to ensure the tablet consists of adequate water purifying chemicals. It is also imperative to check the substances present in the tablet before giving it a try.
If you use the correct quantity of water and chemicals, you will absolutely get the most out of your water purification tablet.
Despite a few drawbacks, there are numerous advantages to using tablets for water filtration. The major advantage is that you don’t need complicated equipment to produce safe drinking water.
Tables and a water jug are all you’ll need. You don’t even need power, as some water filters do. As a result, it is one of the most cost-effective methods of water treatment. Because the tablets are thin and light, they are easily transportable.
That is why they are so popular among outdoor enthusiasts. When equipment fails, water treatment tablets are a good backup.
Finally, for water compromised by microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses, water filtration pills are an ideal alternative. You must, however, obtain the necessary quantities, including both water and chemicals.
Before taking these tablets, make sure you don’t have any thyroid issues, allergies, or are pregnant. That’s how you’ll make sure your water purification tablets are getting the most use out of them.