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Best Water Purification Tablets: Stay Healthy and Hydrated

Best water purification tablets
Mark Foster
Written by Mark Foster

When it comes to being out in the woods, you’re going to need some way of taking care of yourself, and we mean a lot more than defending yourself from wild animals.

The biggest risk of camping and hiking is dehydration, as you may be surrounded by water sources, but there’s no way to know for sure that they’re actually clean.

With the body consisting of more than 75% water, you need some way to replace the water you’ve lost while you were out hiking or taking care of your campground chores.

That’s why having the best water purification tablets on your side will take care of all of your problems. They eliminate bacteria, viruses, and other foreign bodies that contaminate water, providing you with not only clean water you can drink, but it also tastes great too.

However, it’s a good idea to know what you’re getting into before you go to the store and pick up the first product you see.

Oasis Water Purification Tablet

Knowing how these tablets work, the different ingredients used, and what harmful elements they remove from the water will help you to make the best purchasing decision possible.

Factors Effecting Water Loss

We lose naturally lose water from our bodies every day, and it’s important to replace this water so that the body can continue to function properly. There are a few factors that contribute to the loss of water from the body.

  1. Internal factors: here we refer to factors generally limited to the body, and whilst there may be many contributors to abnormal water loss, the most significant is the effect of diarrhea on the body.
    Diarrhea is not limited to the evacuation of the bowels alone; it also exacerbates sweating, which is another underestimated form of water loss. In the event that you start experiencing loose stool, it’s important that you stay hydrated.
    Another internal factor that affects our levels of hydration is urination. Water and natural salt is excreted from the body in this process, and it’s important to rehydrate.
    A failure to do so will result in a concentration of the natural salt, which can result in kidney damage and bladder infections.
  2. External factors: The most significant of which is simple heat exposure, and here the body can lose anything between one and 1.5 liters of water through perspiration. Wear breathable clothes to minimize the retention of heat on the body and drink water frequently. If you start to feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.

How to Minimize Water Loss

There are number of basic guidelines one can adopt to limit the amount of water we lose, and in emergency situations, it is a very good idea to anticipate what our bodies are likely to experience if we don’t manage our situation and environment.

Minimize Water Loss

For the purposes of our review, we will concentrate only on avoiding unnecessary water loss, and clearly these will be situation specific, and therefore may not always apply:

  1. Remain calm: panicking only increases the heart rate and, in turn, the need for the body to expend energy, which requires water. Take deep breaths to calm yourself.
  2. Reduce your movements: running around will quickly deplete your water reserves. Only move when necessary.
  3. Avoid risky water sources: this may provide temporary relief, but remember that they could cause diarrhea, which will remove more water than your body has taken in. This will cause your condition to deteriorate even further to the point of life-threatening.
  4. Stay out of the sun: heat will quickly dehydrate the body given that an adult can lose between one and one and a half liters of water through sweating.
  5. Whilst salt is an important mineral for the body to function normally, during episodes of acute potable water shortage, avoid eating salty foods. In fact, it is safer to reduce your intake of dehydrated foods of any type, as these generally require that body utilize its supply of water for digestion.

If you’re not careful, you could start experiencing the symptoms of dehydration in no time. These symptoms include:

  • increased thirst
  • dry mouth
  • swollen tongue
  • dizziness and confusion
  • dark urine and decreased urine output
  • heart palpitations
  • fainting

If you start to notice any of these symptoms, then you should seek either medical attention or a clean body of water to drink from immediately.

The Difference between Purification and Filtration

You may think that these two processes are exactly the same, but they’re not. They work in two entirely different ways.

Filtering water is not effective in the killing / inactivating / neutralizing of most waterborne viruses, since these foreign bodies are typically smaller than 0.1 microns.

The Difference between Purification and Filtration

Filtration can reduce or eliminate the sediment in the water (mostly nothing more than plant material), and can be achieved by using one of the commercially available water filters or, when in an emergency simply run the water through a cotton shirt.

Purification, however, neutralizes the viruses and bacteria so that the water can be safely consumed. It is very important to pay attention to the package inserts or directions, since treatment times and concentration strengths may vary depending on the possible contamination levels of water.

Water purification is intended to make the water safe to drink, and this does not mean that the result is going to be crystal clear and sparkling. If you’d like water that looks perfectly clear, you may want to filter it first before purifying.

The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention reports that between 30% and 70% of international travelers suffer from some form of travelers’ diarrhea (TD), calling Td the most predictable travel-related illness.

Water Purification Chemical Treatments

In the water purifying process, there are two main chemicals that are used. They’re relatively safe, have been used for decades, and aren’t very expensive for manufacturers to produce.

Water Purification Chlorine treatment

The two main kinds of water purification treatments are:

  1. Chlorine treatment: Chlorine has been around for several centuries, and the biggest objection to its use is related to its taste. It is however effective against a broad spectrum of bacteria. Its a great alternative to those who are allergic to iodine.
  2. Iodine treatment: iodine has been proven to be more effective in the treatment of Giardia cysts – a bacterium which causes abdominal cramps, bloating, nausea, and episodes of diarrhea. It is advisable to consult your physician if you are over 50 years old, have thyroid problems, are pregnant, or have iodine allergies.

REMEMBER: Purification of the water container is just as important as purify the water. Always agitate the container with the lid partially closed to allow some of the treated water to spill out and in the process remove any untreated water which may remain in the groves or threads of the bottle opening or cap.

The Importance of Electrolytes

The process of losing water through dehydration affects more than the simple loss of water as we know it. Along with the water, the body loses a multitude of electrolytes, minerals and salts.

The most important electrolytes are sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphate, and bicarbonate, which are all critical to the normal functioning of our bodies through a very complex process.

The Importance of Electrolytes

This is where rehydration salts play such an important role in restoring this delicate balance of minerals, which are normally available in the foods we eat every day.

In the case of a bout of diarrhea, particularly if it is a serious case, our bodies will expel the essential minerals rather quickly, and will require some assistance in restoring concentrated minerals.

That’s why rehydration salts are important, as the body absorbs water more quickly than food, allowing you to replenish your supply of electrolytes much faster.

Alternative Situations

When a natural disaster occurs, the first services to usually go down are the power grid and the water supply.

Alternatively, you could have running water, but the supply lines have been damaged, resulting in contamination of what should be potable water.

Invest in Water purification tablets

Apply this scenario to a populated area, and you could easily end up with an epidemic. It’s very easy for E. Coli to contaminate the water supply, and that can lead to a lot of sick people.

So instead of waiting around for this to happen, you could invest in a few water purification products to take care of the problem for you.

We’ve found a list of the top rated products in the market so that you can get an idea of what you should be looking for when you head to the store.

Top Purification Tablets

Taharmayim – Israeli Water Purification Tablets

Taharmayim - Israeli Water Purification Tablets

Pack Size: 50

Pack price: $12.99

Output: 1 tablet treats 1 liter of water

Chemical Element: Chlorine Dioxide

Description: In addition to the Israeli defense force, armies from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, and the UK consider the Taharmayim as their gold standard.

A slight chlorine smell or taste after treating with Taharmayim – Israeli Water Purification Tablets is quite normal, and is an indication that your water has been treated. To reduce the smell or taste, one can aerate the water either by agitating the container or by pouring from one container to another.

One tablet is capable of treating a liter of stream or pond water, and it is possible to use as many as 15 tablets in 50ml of water for irrigating wounds for example.

For fecal-contaminated water, the recommendation is one tablet for every 500ml of water, and for general household water quality concerns, one tablet per 5 liters is adequate. The purification process takes 30 minutes.

Related Products: In addition to these water purification tablets, it is a good idea to include a LifeStraw personal water straw, and this is ideal where you need to drink directly from a potentially hazardous water source.

We would strongly recommend that you include a pack of 3, one-liter emergency water bags, these bags weighing almost nothing, and are certainly not going to encroach on valuable packing space.

Katadyn Micropur Purification

Katadyn Micropur Purification

Pack Size: 20 or 30.

Pack price: $8.99 – $25.80

Output: 1 tablet treats 1 liter of water

Chemical Element: Chlorine Dioxide

Description: The manufacturer claims that the Micropur tablets are the only EPA registered purification tables, and the only system which is effective for the treatment of viruses, Giardia, cryptosporidium, and bacteria.

This would account for the vast majority of potential water contamination hazards that you are likely to encounter in all parts of the world, including those with questionable water sanitation.

Whilst the mandated treatment time for cryptosporidium is 4 hours, the majority of harmful organisms will be neutralized in 30 minutes.

Related Products: Purifying water is part of ensuring you have safe water to drink, but this will not always result in a visually appealing bottle of water. To achieve this, consider including a Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System.

AquaMira Water Purifier Tablets, Chlorine Dioxide

AquaMira Water Purifier Tablets, Chlorine Dioxide

Pack Size: 20

Pack price: $23.29

Output: 1 tablet treats 1 liter of water

Chemical Element: Chlorine Dioxide

Description: Individually packed tablets are contained in a re-sealable pouch for your convenience. AquaMira Water Purifier Tablets, Chlorine Dioxide is an accepted water disinfectant system, and is created when one of these tablets comes into contact with water.

It is a unique formula which releases nascent oxygen (an active form of oxygen) which is a strong anti-bacterial agent. This system does not contain any iodine or other halogen chemicals.

Related Products: To complete your hydration equipment, we would suggest that you include a pack of 6 Whirl-Pak 36oc (1L) water container bags. And just in case you need to get water before you have time to collect and purify, why not include a LifeStraw personal water filter?

Potable Aqua PA+Plus Water Purification

Potable Aqua PA+Plus Water Purification

Pack Size: 50

Pack price: $7.99

Output: 2 tablets treats 1 liter of water

Chemical Element: Iodine

Description: Potable Aqua PA+Plus Water Purification is an iodine-based germicidal drinking water tablet, and whilst most water purifiers are chlorine-based nowadays, iodine is arguably more effective at combating most bacterial organisms.

Iodine does leave an unpleasant taste which can be neutralized by adding two tablets from the second bottle, supplied with the Potable Aqua PA. One can also add flavors or vitamin C to mask this taste.

Clearly people who are iodine intolerant should avoid using iodine-based water purification solutions.

The Potable Aqua water purification solution is designed to manage most water sources where there is a possibility that bacterial contamination is present.

And it is easy enough to use: simply drop two tablets into your one liter container (or one in a 500ml bottle), cap loosely while agitating to moisten the threads of the lid or cap, and wait 5 minutes.

Then close up tight and wait 30 minutes, the water may still be a little cloudy and will have an iodine taste. To remove the iodine taste and color, drop two tablets of the PA Plus tablets in the container, agitate, wait 5 minutes and drink.

Related Products: Potable Aqua also supply a chlorine based option for a broader bacteria spectrum kill.

Aquatabs Water Purification Tablets

Aquatabs Water Purification Tablets

Pack Size: 200

Pack price: $25.90

Output: 1 tablet treats 2.5 liters of water

Chemical Element: Chlorine Dioxide

Description: Aquatabs claims that Aquatabs Water Purification Tablets is the number 1 most utilized tablet worldwide, and in addition to NATO, and various NGO’s, they also have 13 million daily users.

As with most water purification tablets, a single Aquatab will take 30 minutes to treat water of doubtful quality. And a single tab will treat 2.5 liters, which is significantly more than the others we have reviewed.

The Aquatabs tablet is effervescent, which will eliminate micro-organisms, preventing cholera, typhoid, and dysentery, amongst other waterborne bacteria and viruses.

Related Products: We don’t always expect our water to be potentially harmful, and it is quite likely that only one or two individuals in your adventure group may succumb to a waterborne infection.

This should clearly signal the need to treat your drinking water, regardless if the rest of your group hasn’t shown any symptoms. We would suggest that you include a pack of rehydration salts like the Oral Rehydration Salts ORS.  These will restore the essential minerals and salts lost through dehydration.

Conclusion

Water purification tablets represent what can only be described as the most valuable inclusion in your travel pack, and they are not limited to just travel.

From as little as 26 cents for a liter of purified water, one can agree that this is insignificant to the risks of falling ill, especially if you’re in a foreign land.

Choose your Water purification tablets

Don’t take a risk on that river or stream near your campsite; bring these purification tablets with you, and you’ll never have to worry about searching far for your water supply ever again.

Have a story you’d like to share regarding any of these products? Have we neglected to mention one of your favorites? Share your tale or leave a comment in the section below.

We’d love to hear from you and your experiences with any of these purification tablets or any other products that have given you great results.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Foster
Mark Foster

Mark Foster loves to push his limits when it comes to survival in the wilderness. He might go for a 30-days adventure without any food or equipment except for a survival kit and a knife. We should mention that his survival kit has 122 items in it, so he know what he is doing. Mark is working on his book to share with the world all his experience gained during those brave adventures.

  • Linda Green

    I think Katadyn is the Cadillac of the water-purification market and their products are always top-notch. There is absolutely no excuse for not having a pack of these! The water is slightly yellow after treating with the tablets but this is pretty much gone by morning, and the best thing about these tablets is that the water tastes very good with no after taste.

  • Mark Foster

    Yes, these are good purification tablets and one that does not leave any aftertaste. These are also inexpensive to get and one that you need to stay safe from dirty or polluted water sources. Good for camping or for your bug-out bag!

  • Emma Sturdy

    Got a box of the Taharmayim tablets for our camping trips. Nice little Israeli tablets! They come foil wrapped and take up literally no space in your backpack. I cannot stand the taste of iodine tablets and so decided to take a chance on chlorine tablets instead. These certainly do not leave a bad taste like the iodine tablets do. I’d highly recommend these tablets, whether for camping and hiking; emergency preparedness; or simply making your tap water taste better!

  • Mark Foster

    Ah, so you’ve discovered the Taharmayim tablets which are, in my book – wicked! They’re very effective and like you’ve mentioned, no aftertaste like iodine tablets. Although Aquatabs are more mainstream and well-known. Thanks for the comments Emma!

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