If you have planned to go hiking in the back country then you have likely read about the importance of packing iodine tablets, with which to purify drinking water. A novice hiker may not realize that the reason for this is because of bacterial parasites, especially one called giardia, which can cause a particularly nasty illness that is similar to food poisoning and that can last as long as several weeks. Iodine tablets are a quick and easy way to purify water if you know how to do it correctly.

If you do not follow the instructions then you can indeed get sick. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there a few ways to disinfect water while camping or hiking:

“If you can’t boil water, you can disinfect it using household bleach. Bleach will kill some, but not all, types of disease-causing organisms that may be in the water (Chlorine and iodine may not be effective in controlling more resistant organisms like Cryptosporidium). If the water is cloudy, filter it through clean cloths or allow it to settle, and draw off the clear water for disinfection. Add 1/8 teaspoon (or 8 drops) of regular, unscented, liquid household bleach for each gallon of water, stir it well, and let it stand for 30 minutes before you use it. Store disinfected water in clean containers with covers.”

For a visual instruction, check out this YouTube video from @Thunderbombman that clearly and walks you through the details of how to purify drinking water with iodine.

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