In the absence of clean water or the capability to filter water – you might have to chemically treat your water supply to make it safe to drink.
Water Disinfection Tablets
You can disinfect water with tablets that contain chlorine, iodine, chlorine dioxide, or other disinfecting agents. These tablets are available online or at pharmacies and sporting goods stores. Follow the instructions on the product label as each product may have a different strength.
NOTE: Chlorine dioxide tablets can be effective against Cryptosporidium, if the manufacturer’s instructions are followed correctly. Iodine and iodine-containing tablets (tetraglycine hydroperiodide) or chlorine tablets are not effective against Cryptosporidium.
Bleach To Make Water Drinkable
NOTE: Do not use scented, color safe, or bleaches with added cleaners. If the water is cloudy, let it settle and filter it through a clean cloth, paper towel, or coffee filter.
Bleach will not remove chemical pollutants or kill some disease-causing organisms commonly found in surface water supplies, such as Cryptosporidium. This protozoan parasite can cause gastrointestinal illness. For a person with a weakened or compromised immune system, it can cause prolonged illness, even death.
- Locate a fresh liquid chlorine bleach, or liquid chlorine bleach that has been stored at room temperatures for less than one year.
- Household bleach contains about 8 percent chlorine so 6 to 8 drops per gallon are recommended. If the bleach is old or the water is cloudy – you can use up to 10 drops per gallon.
- Stir and let stand for 30 minutes. The water should have a slight chlorine odor. If it does not, repeat the dosage and let stand for another 15 minutes before use.
- If the chlorine taste is too strong, pour the water from one clean container to another and let it stand for a few hours before use.
Iodine Tablets To Treat Water
Iodine tablets make most water suitable, in terms of bacterial levels, for drinking. It is recommended to use iodine tablets instead of iodine you may find in a first aid kit. Iodine tablets are also available in the same stores you will find chlorine tablets.
NOTE: Pregnant women and people with thyroid issues should avoid this method.
Iodine Tincture (see CDC guidelines)
Common household iodine (or “tincture of iodine”). You may have iodine in your medicine cabinet or first aid kit. Add five drops of 2% tincture of iodine to each quart or liter of water that you are disinfecting. If the water is cloudy or colored, add 10 drops of iodine. Stir and let the water stand for at least 30 minutes before use.
AVOID WATER that contains solid materials, has an odor, or a dark color. The treatments described here only kill bacteria or viruses. If you suspect the water is unsafe because of chemicals, oils, poisonous substances, sewage, or other contaminants, DO NOT drink the water.
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