Water is the most important element for our survival. We cannot live longer than 3 days without water.
When disaster happens, all resource became precious. It is not impossible to have shortages of fuels and electricity, which you will not be able to boil water for purification.
Drinking unpurified water is a bad idea and should be a last resort only. If you were infected disease like Cholera, you would not be able to travel and take care of yourself and others. You will become burden for everyone.
Under these disastrous circumstances, how can we purify water and ensure our health?
Let’s learn from the advice of US Military Field Manual FM 21-76 and learn how to use iodine tincture to purify water.
We purify water in order to kill pathogens in it, avoiding infection of disease like Cholera. We use heat to achieve this result when we boil the water.
Chemical purification kills pathogens inside water by breaking their ionic balance with iodine or chlorine.
Although these two chemicals can kill bacteria and virus inside the water, they cannot kill all parasites in the water. For example, they cannot kill cryptosporidium, a parasite that shows high resistance to chemicals.
If you suspect there are parasites inside the water, you either have to filter it after purifying it with iodine, or find a new source of water.
Boiling is the best way to purify water, but it is not always a viable method.
When you are camping or hiking in the wild, boiling water is luxurious. Not only would it consume your precious fuel, but also occupy your stove and yourself. Time wasted.
If you purify water with iodine, you can do it while you are cooking or on the go. Unless you really need boiling water for a cup of coffee or cooking, there is no reason to purify water through boiling in the wild.
In Hong Kong, tap water has been filtered and purified once in water treatment plants, which the chance of having parasites is minimal. Therefore, it is safe to use iodine to purify water in the wild, as long as you get tap water.
And tap water is easily accessible even in the wild in Hong Kong. Since there are many toilets in the vicinity of hiking trails here, you can bring less water but iodine tincture, and have an easier hike next time.
Avoid water purified with iodine if you are allergic to shellfish, as you are likely to be allergic to iodine too.
Besides, children, pregnant woman, elderly and people with thyroid condition should avoid water purified with iodine as well.
And a final note, no one should drink water purified with iodine consecutively longer than 14 days.
An empty water bottle
A bottle of iodine tincture
This tutorial will show you how to purify water with iodine tincture
Prepare an empty water bottle, and fill it up with water.
Add drops of iodine tincture into the bottle based on the volume of water. According to the US Military Field Manual FM 21-76, you need to add 5 drops of 2% concentration iodine tincture per liter of water. If the water is cloudy, add 10 drops per liter of water.
Give at least 30 minutes iodine to react and purify the water, then you are safe to drink it.
How many iodine tincture do I need to purify water?
According to US Military Field Manual FM 21-76, add 5 drops of 2% concentration iodine tincture per liter of water. If the water is cloudy, add 10 drops per liter of water.
How long do I need to wait when I use iodine tincture to purify water?
You have to wait at least 30 minutes after adding iodine tincture into the water.
It is possible to cover the unpleasant taste of iodine in the water?
You can add tablets of Vitamin C into the water to neutralize its taste.
Who should avoid drinking water purified with iodine?
Avoid water purified with iodine if you are allergic to shellfish, as you are likely to be allergic to iodine too. Generally speaking, children, pregnant woman, elderly and people with thyroid condition should avoid water purified with iodine as well.