November 20, 2015 8:16 PM MST - Subscription purchasing, account maintenance, forum profile maintenance, new account registration, and forum posting have been disabled
as we prepare our databases for the final migration to our new server next week. Stay tuned here for more details.
Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter

Reader Reviews

Add your own review

Potable Aqua Iodine Drinking Water Germicidal Tablets

in Hydration - Water Treatment

Average Rating
2.92 / 5 (12 reviews)

Display Avatars Sort By:
Mike Barney
( eaglemb )

AZ, the Great Southwest!
Potable Aqua Iodine Drinking Water Germicidal Tablets on 11/10/2006 22:24:34 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 2 / 5

The good news is this little 2 step 2 bottle water treatment kit is inexpensive and good to have around in a pinch. Iodine has been used for a century for purifying water, it is very effective and inexpensive.

The bad news is, even with the 2 step process for eliminating the Iodine taste, you can still tell something was added to the water. Further, you need to wait 30 minutes after adding the first step Iodine tablets. Then, you can add the second step iodine taste eliminator "neutralizing" tablets and wait another 30 minutes. (you can't do them both at the same time).

There are allegedly some dishes that are improved by the iodine taste, (uber bland maybe???)for some people, but I've yet to try them or think of them.

If you're not that sensitive about the taste of the water, then this is an inexpensive choice, about 1/3 the price compared to Chlorine Dioxide tablets.

Price comparison from GearBuyer:
Potable Aqua Iodine Tablets priced at: $4.69 - $6.49
Potable Aqua Tablets priced at: $6.49
Vlad Putin
( Primaloft37 )

Radio Free Pineland
Reliable, effective and cheap on 11/14/2006 01:23:24 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

Potable Aqua has been around forever and Ive used these pills for decades. They are cheap, they work, they have a short wait time and if I am on the trail, sweaty and thirsty, Ive found that the iodine tasting water doesnt bother me much, if at all.

The bad thing about Potable Aqua is once you open the bottle, the life of the tablets is rather short. The pills must be kept bone dry and out of high humidity or they can lose their effectiveness.

If you are concerned about getting sick, just add two pills in stead of one. The company that makes these pills used to just recommend you use one Potable Aqua pill per quart/liter of water if the water was clear or not cold. They used to recommend you use 2 Potable Aqua pills if the water was turbid or cold.

Now though, the company that makes Potable Aqua recommends you use 2 pills ALL THE TIME. I noticed this in the instructions and on their website. I would like to know the reason for the change in recommendation. Is this a CYA liability issue for the company that makes Potable Aqua? Or is it a genuine concern that 1 Potable Aqua just isnt really enough?

Either way, I prefer Potable Aqua to chlorine dioxide. I am old school in this regard.


Devin Montgomery
( dsmontgomery )

one snowball away from big trouble
Chlorine Dioxide is just better on 05/01/2007 12:44:10 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 2 / 5

These have been around forever, and I think just about everyone has used them at one time or another. If you're an absolute novice, use them once: chugging the resulting antiseptic rinse is a right of passage.

Personally, I have a very non-descriminating pallet and don't really mind the taste with or without the vitamin c tablets. But unless you're really, really strapped for cash, Chlorine Dioxide tablets or drops are just as light, store longer in their bottles or individual bubbles, kill more yucky stuff, and don't have the taste. Iodine can even be toxic if used long enough, but unless you're living on the stuff that shouldn't be a problem.

I still have an unopened bottle of these in my gear box. I'm saving it for the day when they stop iodinizing salt, so I can munch on a couple and prevent my thyroid from developing into a goiter.

I'm giving it a 2 rather than a 1, because it is still soooo much better than not treating water at all.

Edited by dsmontgomery on 05/01/2007 12:48:10 MDT.

Shop These products at GearBuyer
Bob Bankhead
( wandering_bob )

Oregon, USA
2 Step Rip-Off on 05/02/2007 20:48:32 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 3 / 5

The Iodine tablets work great, subject to the caveats mentioned. I used them for years before going over to AquaMira.

The 2nd step taste eliminator is a big rip-off. Yes, it works. Guess what? Good old vitamin C tablets (ascorbic acid) do the same thing and you can buy a whole bottle of 500 for less than the cost of a single Portable Aqua dual bottle set.

Guess what else - it is an instantaneous chemical reaction. The ascorbic acid complexes the iodine on contact, removing both taste and color. Try it in a clear container. Watch the color disappear entirely before your eyes in a heartbeat when you invert the container to mix it. That color change tells you it's done.

There is an important caveat: it only takes a VERY tiny amount (fits easily on the tip of a knife blade) of ground-up vitamin C tablet to do this in an entire gallon of water. Be advised that you will always add more than you really needed. No big deal UNLESS you forget to thoroughly rinse the water container before you add iodine the next time.

You want all the vitamin C out before you add the iodine to the impure water or it will complex the new iodine too and you get no kill. ALWAYS WAIT the required 30 minutes for the iodine to kill the cooties before you add the vitamin C to kill the iodine.

Edited by wandering_bob on 05/02/2007 20:50:10 MDT.

Shop Step products at GearBuyer
Eric Riddick
( 50Miler )
Iodine taste isnt very noticeable when you are real thirsty on 02/13/2008 23:06:03 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I used Potable Aqua for years. Until recently, it was really the only reliable way to make your water potable short of boiling and boiling isnt practical for backpackers.

What I found is that when you are really hoofing it on the trail and sweating profusely and thirsty, the iodine taste isnt very noticeable. That stuff, despite its iodine taste, tastes darn good when you have just humped 5 miles in the mountains, and have 5 to 10 more to go.

People who complain about the iodine taste are whiners.

Shop Potable Aqua products at GearBuyer
Unknown abc
( edude )
Potable Aqua Iodine Drinking Water Germicidal Tablets on 03/02/2009 21:29:09 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 1 / 5

Well, the first thing I can say about this is that I just out right hate them. They are messy, and if you want to use the tablets that make the iodine taste "go away", that just complicates the process.


1.Some people are allergic to iodine.
2.Iodine is lab tested to not be effective against smaller cooties, better is chlorine dioxide.
3.Leaves a distinctive bad taste.
4.If ingested over long periods of time, the user may be at risk for thyroid disorders.

I much prefer Aquamira.

Edited by edude on 03/02/2009 21:29:40 MST.

Price comparison from GearBuyer: Potable Aqua Tablets priced at: $6.49
Ashley Brown
( ashleyb )
pretty good... on 03/03/2009 23:02:59 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

I am always amazed when people say that idodine treated water tastes horrible. Sure it does -- if you don't do it right.

The key step is to neutralise the iodine with vitamin C... but don't use the tablets they provide. As mentioned in an earlier review, use powdered ascorbic acid that you buy from the chemist (drug store).

If you treat it like this, water from a mountain stream actually tastes like water from a mountain stream. No trace of iodine at all. Unlike chlorine-based tablets which make your water taste like you scooped it out of a pool.

I've used this stuff for years. It is simple and effective. I don't drink from obviously contaminated water sources though. I like it best of all though because it doesn't make the water taste any different.

( ericj )
It works on 03/05/2009 09:08:13 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 3 / 5

PROS: light weight, takes up little space, cheap, effective

CONS: taste, have to wait 30 minutes

Have used these extensively in the Pacific Northwest, have never gotten sick when using them. I don't find them to be a particular bother to use (I crush them before adding them to water) though waiting can sometimes be a bother. Certainly nice not to have to carry a filter. Adding Vitamin C (again crushed) to eliminate the taste is instantaneous and completely effective.

Shop Pacific products at GearBuyer
Mary D
( hikinggranny )
Potable Aqua Iodine Tablets on 04/07/2009 18:44:29 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 1 / 5

I used these back in the mid-1980's to disinfect drinking water (that's about all that was available then other than filters or boiling). After one month, using them only on weekends, I broke out in a severe rash all over my body (except, fortunately, my face). The lesions were deep (lichen planus), took months to heal and left permanent scars.

Since then I have not been able to tolerate any seafood, anything made with iodized salt or any mineral supplements that contain iodine (almost all do). I have to carefully read labels on everything to be sure there's no iodine added. Eating out at a restaurant or a friend's house requires me either to request special food preparation or refuse the invitation. Should I ever need a diagnostic procedure requiring iodine (such as an angiogram)--that's just too bad; I'll just have to drop dead of the condition they're trying to diagnose. A number of physicians have told me that iodine allergies are surprisingly common. Iodine is contraindicated for small children and pregnant women, which should tell you something.

There are so many better and more effective ways to remove harmful organisms from your water (iodine is not effective against cryptosporidium and takes up to 4 hours to work in really cold water against giardia cysts) that using iodine is not worth the considerable risk of iodine allergy.

Edited by hikinggranny on 04/07/2009 18:45:25 MDT.

Price comparison from GearBuyer:
Potable Aqua Iodine Tablets priced at: $4.69 - $6.49
Potable Aqua Tablets priced at: $6.49
Elliott Wolin
( ewolin )

Hampton Roads, Virginia
Not nearly as convenient as chlorine dioxide on 07/18/2009 13:50:11 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 3 / 5

Results of some web research: one Potable Aqua tablet in a liter of water generates 8 mg/l or 8ppm iodine, which does the work.

Ignoring cryptosporodium: in clear, warm water the nasties are gone in less than 10 mins. If the water is not so warm or not so clear, wait 20-30 mins. In the worst case you can use two tablets to get 16 mg/l and wait 20-30 mins...this is what the bottle says. The manufacturer figures they won't get sued if they always assume the worst case, and of course they sell more that way.

Make sure the water container is sealed after treatment, as the iodine can evaporate into the air. Another reason the manufacturer recommends double the standard dose.

Finally, if you use a whopping 32 mg/l, or four tablets per liter, you can kill everything really fast, in minutes, but who could stand the taste!

As with all chemical treatments, what is important is the dose times the contact time. I.e. you can e.g. halve the dose and double the contact time to get the same effect. But don't take this too far as other effects come into play with long contact times (evaporation of active ingredient; interaction with container or impurities; UV deactivation of the active ingredient, particularly for ClO2, etc).

Edited by ewolin on 07/18/2009 13:51:13 MDT.

Price comparison from GearBuyer: Potable Aqua Tablets priced at: $6.49
Michael Reagan
( MichaelReagan )

Southern California
The lightest water treatment on 07/05/2011 09:39:06 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 3 / 5

I have used these little tablets on and off for a couple of decades with good results always. As has been stated, the two major downsides are that they make the water taste pretty awful and they have a short shelf life (about 6 months) once opened.

The advantages are that they are just about the cheapest and lightest option available for water treatment. If you repackage them in a smaller bottle (opaque glass with plastic lid, please) you wind up with something tiny enough to satisfy the worst ultralight fanatic. For a package about half the size of a tube of lipbalm you can have a week's worth of water treatment.

For those who hate the taste of iodine water, the trick of adding Vitamin C after the dope has done its work has been mentioned. One tip rarely mentioned effectively eliminates ALL iodine taste from the water and is the simplest one of all. Just don't use them.

Yep, if you wanna go old school just choose your water sources carefully and drink it straight without treatment. This is enough to evoke dire warnings of doom and gloom from many, but a lot of us old-timers have been drinking from springs and streams and lakes for years without incident.

For this reason I like to drink natural water, and carry a tiny bottle of pills for backup in case my water source looks questionable. In over 40 years of doing this, I have yet to become sick from the water.


Sam Farrington
( scfhome - M )

Chocorua NH, USA
Iodine has its place on 07/05/2011 23:13:45 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 3 / 5

It is a good emergency item, because, as already pointed out, it takes up almost no weight or space. It addresses both the crypto and giardia if one waits the recommended times.

Should the main water treatment method fail, and boiling is not possible, as when a severe storm precludes use of a stove, it is nice to have a back-up in order to have essential water. Have seldom had to use it in the field, but have used it with other methods to moderate giardia and gut infections until an antibiotic could be obtained.

It is quite toxic, and should never be used in greater than recommended concentrations, and not if toxic symptoms develop, such as described by Mary D, or if any pain develops in the thyroid area.

Add your own review