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How Do Water Purification Tablets Work? Are They Proven Safe?

drinking water on tablets

If you want to purify water while on the go, then water purification tablets would be your best option. This method of water purification is commonly used by backpackers and other outdoor adventurers due to their ease of use. They are also widely used during disasters such as floods when the available water is unsafe for drinking.  

However, the question most people ask is its effectiveness and how it really works. We are going to look at the way these tablets work in this guide. We are also going to look deeper into their safety and effectiveness.  

How Water Purification Tablets Works 

Just like most of the water purification methods, these tablets are typically chlorine, iodine and chlorine dioxide. When these chemicals mix with water, they create an environment which bacteria, parasitic protozoans and viruses cannot survive. So, they will kill all these diseases causing microorganisms in the water, rendering them harmless and safe for drinking. 

For the backpackers and other outdoor adventurers, there are many contaminants in the water that can cause serious health complications. For example, Campylobacter jejuni and Giardi Lumblia are some of the harmful microorganisms in the wilderness. Therefore, even the stream water is deep in the wilderness could be having deadly contaminants. That is why you should bring water purification tablets with you when venturing outdoors.  

group of mountaineers

Water Purification Steps 

For these tablets to work, there are several things you must get right. First are the steps that you need to follow to be sure that the water is safe for drinking. Second is the chemical concentration in the tablet. Note that these tablets effectiveness may vary depending on the amount of the active ingredient. Here are three main steps to follow to purify water using the water purification tablets. 

  1. The number of tablets. The first thing that you need to get right is the number of tablets you need to purify the water. However, this goes hand in hand with the amount that each tablet can purify. Note that if you put a small amount of the chemical, you will not kill the bacteria, viruses and protozoans in the water. Similarly, too much chemical can turn your water acidic. So, get the values correct. 
  2. Once you have added the tablet in the water, you need to shake the water container thoroughly. For the tablets to work, you should have them broken down completely. So, you need to shake your water container for the tablets to breakdown and until they disappear. 
  3. After the tablets have been broken down completely, you wait for several minutes for the purifier to dissolve in the water. If you drink the water immediately, the contaminants may be still alive. So, wait several minutes to be sure that all bacteria, viruses and parasitic protozoans. The most recommended time to wait is about 30 minutes. That’s when you will be almost certain that all microorganisms are neutralised. 

It is also important to note that some water purification tablets leave behind an unpleasant taste. If you are using iodine, you might also need to bring iodine neutraliser to remove the flavour. However, for those using chlorine, you just need to keep the container uncovered, and the chlorine component will evaporate. These are two ways to deal with the problem of unpleasant taste after purifying water. 

Are They Proven Safe And Effective? 

fit woman drinking water

When it comes to the safety and effectiveness of the water purification tablets, there are several things you need to consider. First, the safety of the tablets is a guarantee, but you need to buy from a reliable company. That is to ensure that the amount of water purification chemicals in the tablets is adequate. You should also check the type of chemical used to ensure your safety. There are three main chemicals approved safe for consumption but in the right amount. They are chlorine, iodine and chlorine dioxide. 

The other thing you need to consider is the type of contamination that these tablets can remove. These tablets only remove microorganisms in the water. If you want to purify water contaminated with heavy metals, chemicals, sediment, and other particles, then this is not a reliable method. So, these tablets only work for water contaminated with microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and parasitic microorganisms.  

The time needed for purification is a crucial factor to consider. Unlike when using a water filter that gives instant safe water for drinking, water purification tablets take a longer time to purify the water. For example, chlorine dioxide is very effective in killing a wide range of microorganisms but requires a longer time to treat the water.  

Lastly, not everyone can use water purification tablets. If you have a thyroid condition, iodine allergies or pregnant, then iodine tablets might pose health risks to you. In addition to that, tablets that have stayed for long since manufacturing or poorly stored might be ineffective. These are some of the major concerns about water purification tablets. 

Benefits of Water Purification tablets 

Regardless of the few shortcomings, there are many benefits of using tablets for water purification. The biggest benefit is that you don’t need sophisticated equipment to make water safe for drinking. What you need are tables and your water container. You also don’t need electricity as it is with some water filters. Therefore, it is one of the cheapest methods of treating drinking water. The tablets are small and light, and thus, portable. That’s why they are popular with outdoor adventurers. Water treatment tablets are also an excellent backup whenever equipment fails. 

In conclusion, water purification tablets are an excellent choice for water contaminated with microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses. However, you need to get the quantities of both the water and the chemical. You must also ensure that you don’t have thyroid problems, allergies or pregnant before using these tablets. That’s how you will ensure you are getting the most out of your water purification tablets.