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6 Top-Rated Water Purification Tablets and How They Work

Are water purification tablets truly useful? Finding safe potable water can be difficult without the right tools when you’re an off-grid explorer. However, today’s technology grants us several ways of providing drinkable water on the fly. 

There are sippable straws that filter the water as it moves through the straw. Some pitchers and containers filter water, and there are even tablets that can make the water safe to drink. Let’s look into those magical little tablets. 

What Are Water Purification Tablets?

Backpackers, outdoor enthusiasts, international travelers, and people in natural disasters often use water purification tablets. They are small tablets you put into the water that help kill any pathogens. As a result, you’re guaranteed to have safe drinking water available.

P&G Water Purification Packets Test and Review

How Do Water Purification Tablets Work?

Purification tablets usually contain chlorine, chlorine dioxide, or iodine. These chemicals can break down and disarm harmful bacteria, viruses, and parasitic protozoans common in contaminated water sources. 

The chemicals work by breaking down the cell membrane of harmful microorganisms, which allows the chemicals to enter and deactivate the cells. After the tablets have done their work in the water, you can safely drink without worry. 

Person putting water purifying tablet into glass of water
Whether you’re hiking, camping or in a sudden survival situation, water purification tablets ensure you have safe drinking water no matter where you are.

How Long Do the Tablets Take to Work?

How to use water purification tablets can differ between products. Always look at the instructions carefully before using water purification tablets. The time to fully purify the water sample can be from 30 minutes to 4 hours.

In general, you check the mixture ratio for your product. Place the correct amount of tablets into your water. Wait for 30 minutes or so, and you’ll have potable water. 

Some people say the tablets make the water taste bad because of the iodine or chlorine. There are iodine neutralizer tablets to help with the iodine flavor. If you want to remove a chlorine flavor, just let your water breathe. The chlorine will evaporate from the water, and you’ll have a clean, flavorless product left behind. 

What Are the Pros And Cons of These Tablets?

Pros: There are many pros and cons of water purification tablets. Some pros include convenience, portability, and a long hold time. Many purification tablets stay good for many months, making them essential in emergency and survival kits.

Also, you don’t need to be able to build a fire to achieve potable water when you have water purification tablets. In a survival situation where you are at serious risk of dehydration, easy access to safe, drinkable water will help greatly. A person can only go up to 3 days without water, so it is essential to have multiple ways to get this vital resource.

Cons: There are some health concerns regarding the long-term use of water purification tablets. They’re sufficient for a quick lifesaver in a pinch, but you don’t want to use water purification tablets in large doses for extended periods.

The chemicals and byproducts of the breakdown remain in the water, and you could face trouble over time. Also, the tablets usually leave a residual taste in the water.

Pro Tip: Water purification tablets aren’t the only way to purify water. Check out these 5 Ways to Purify Water for Survival in the Wilderness.

Man using hands to drink water from a creek
Not all water in the wilderness is safe to drink! Always purify your water before you drink it.

6 Top-Rated Water Purification Tablets and How They Work

If you need direction on which tablets to choose, we can help. Here is a quick overview of a few top-rated water purification tablets. 

#1. Potable Aqua Iodine Based Water Purification Tablets

About: These iodine-based water purification tablets can make your water safe to drink in just 35 minutes. A bottle of 50 costs around $8.00, and they are proven effective against Giardia lamblia. However, they do not protect against cysts like cryptosporidium. 

Potable Aqua Water Purification, Water Treatment...
  • One bottle of 50 count Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets
  • Water treatment tablets, providing water purification for...
  • Potable Aqua emergency water purification tablets for drinking...

One Tablet Treats: Dissolve two tablets into one quart or liter of water. Cap the container loosely. Wait five minutes. Shake it up. Wait 30 minutes, and drink. 

Close up on hiker holding a water bottle
There are iodine, chlorine, and even charcoal purification tablets available to clean your water.

#2. Potable Aqua Chlorine Dioxide Water Purification Tablets

About: These are chlorine dioxide tablets that make your water safe to drink in four hours. This product takes a while to work, but it claims protection against bacteria, viruses, and cysts like cryptosporidium. A bottle of 20 tablets will cost you a little more than $13.00. 

Potable Aqua Chlorine Dioxide Water Purification...
  • One pack of 20 Potable Aqua Chlorine Dioxide Water Purification...
  • Effective against bacteria, viruses and cysts, such as Giardia...
  • Emergency water purification for camping, hiking, traveling and...

One Tablet Treats: One tablet will purify one quart or liter of questionable water. Drop the tablet into the water. Keep in an opaque container or in the dark for 4 hours, then have a safe drink. 

#3. Aquatabs Water Purification Tablets

About: Aquatabs water purification tablets are chlorine-based, but they’re not your typical chlorine tablets. A pack of 100 tablets will cost you around $14.00, and they remain active for up to five years. These tabs take 40 minutes to provide treated, drinkable water. 

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One Tablet Treats: Mix two tablets into a half-gallon of water. Stir and shake it up for ten minutes, and then let it sit for another 30 minutes to complete the cleansing process. 

#4. Coghlan’s Drinking Water Tablets

About: These chlorine-based tablets claim to make your water safe in 35 minutes. Therefore, if you need potable water quickly, these tablets can be beneficial . You can purchase 50 tablets for $9.00 on Amazon. 

Coghlan's Drinking Water Tablets, 50 Tablets
  • Drinking water tablets
  • One tablet will disinfect approximately 1 quart of water
  • Great to have on hand while hiking or camping

One Tablet Treats: Add two tablets to one liter or a quart of water. Wait five minutes, then shake it up. Wait 30 more minutes, and drink. 

Woman sitting in mountain view drinking water
Always keep a stash of portable water purification tablets in your emergency bag.

#5. P&G Purifier of Water Portable Water Purifier Packets

About: Calcium hypochlorite is the active ingredient in these water purification tablets. It claims to clean your water in just 30 minutes. You can purchase 12 packets for $25.00 on Amazon, making it the priciest option thus far. 

P&G Purifier of Water Portable Water Purifier...
  • TREAT YOUR WATER - P&G Purifier of Water Packets are highly...
  • PREPARE BETTER - Take this portable water treatment system...
  • NEVER WORRY ABOUT CLEAN WATER - Clean water is critical to...

One Tablet Treats: Dissolve one packet into 2.5 gallons or ten liters of water. Stir it up for five minutes. Wait 20 minutes for debris to settle at the bottom. Filter the water, and drink up! 

#6. Katadyn Micropur Purification Tablets

About: These chlorine dioxide-based treatment tablets take four hours to complete the purification process. You can purchase 30 tablets for less than $12.00 online. 

One Tablet Treats: Dissolve one tablet into one liter or a quart of water. Wait four hours for the process to complete, and drink. 

Man drinking water in front of tent while camping.
If you don’t have time to boil your water, purification tablets can be a quick and effective way to have safe drinking water.

What Is the Most Effective Way to Purify Water?

Boiling water is a standard and effective way to purify water. Consistent high temperatures make unpleasant things in the water die and break down. Ensure you bring the water to a rolling boil, then boil it for at least 20 minutes before cooling and drinking. 

However, unless you bring campfire starters with you or you are skilled with a ferro rod, sometimes boiling water isn’t the easiest task to accomplish. Purification tablets are a great failsafe backup if a fire is out of the question.

Pro Tip: Being able to purify water isn’t the only survival skill you should know! Check out these Basic Survival Skills Everyone Should Know!

Ten Ways To Purify Water For Drinking In The Backcountry For Bushcraft, Camping, or Survival

Are Water Purification Tablets Worth It?

Water purification tablets are worth having on hand for survival situations. You need a safe backup if you can’t get a fire going while camping in the wilderness and need to drink. Dehydration can set in fast in warm climates or when being active. Having these tablets on hand could save your life. They make safe drinking water much easier to acquire.

Are purification tablets missing in your emergency kit?  Tell us in the comments!

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About Tom Morton

Tom, a Pacific Northwest native, is our technical genius. Born in Washington and raised in Alaska before settling in Michigan. He's the man who keeps our operation running, both figuratively and literally.

With a background in Electrical Engineering, Tom specializes in RV solar systems and lithium batteries. He made history as the first documented individual to use a Tesla battery module as an RV battery. Tom has personally assisted countless RVers with system installations and has educated thousands more through his videos and articles.

Cinematography is another of Tom's passions, showcased in his work on the Go North series. You can see his camera skills on display in The RVers TV show on Discovery Channel and PBS where he also stars as a co-host.

Tom's mechanical expertise extends beyond RVs to boats, planes, and all things mechanical. He's renowned for taking on maintenance and repair projects single-handedly and is often spotted underneath RVs, making him the technical backbone of our endeavors.

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