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Water purification tablets are effective, lightweight and affordable. This makes them an excellent choice for emergencies, survival situations and for outdoor enthusiasts. But not all purification tablets are created equal. Some are more effective than others and offer the best value.
In this guide, we review the 8 best water purification tablets on the market. In the second section, we highlight everything you need to know about using them.
Mightie Company Aquatabs Water Purification Tablets
Aquatabs is one of the most popular water purification tablets on the market, known for its effectiveness and affordability.
This product is effervescent and performs excellently at killing microorganisms that are found in water, preventing water-borne diseases such as typhoid, cholera and dysentery. It takes 30 minutes to work, giving you clean drinking water quickly.
This is the only water purification tablets with an NSF 60 certification and the formula has been approved by the World Health Organization for routine use.
Aquatabs are intended for use in emergency situations as well as in households which don’t have access to safe drinking water. Each pack can last up to 5 years if unopened. A single tablet treats 0.75L of contaminated water.
Aquatabs water purification tablets are affordable, easy to use and carry with you when you’re on the go. The quality of this product is impressive, and you can be sure that it will give you safe and great-tasting water whenever you need it. It’s also suitable for long term use and is EPA registered.
- Affordable price for bulk buy
- Effectively kills microorganisms
- For home and emergency use
- Approved by the World Health Organization (WHO)
- Over 3 billion gallons of water treated globally
- Not effective against cryptosporidium
Katadyn Micropur MP1 Purification Tablets
The Katadyn Micropur Water Purification Tablet is guaranteed to provide you with fresh drinking water no matter where you are. This is the only chlorine dioxide-based water purification tablet with an EPA registration as a microbiological water purifier.
What we liked about Katadyn Micropur is that it doesn’t alter the taste of your water too much, like most chlorine-based and iodine tablets do.
Each tablet is individually sealed in waterproof strips and pre-measured to treat 1 liter of water so you don’t have to do any mixing or measuring. It’s proven to be highly effective against viruses, bacteria, giardia and cryptosporidium in water conditions, needing only 30 minutes to complete purificatoin in most types of water.
However, if the water is cold or dirty, the tablets can take up to four hours. With a lightweight container and a 5-year-shelf-life, this Katadyn product is one of our best picks for water purification on the go or in an emergency.
- Effectively kills microorganisms
- No off taste to water
- Can be used with a plastic bottle
- 30 tablets per pack (30L capacity)
- Costly compared to some other brands
Aquamira Water Purifier Tablets – 50 pack
Used by emergency organizations and NGO’s for more than 20 years, these chlorine-based water purification tablets by Aquamira are great at killing viruses, bacteria, cryptosporidium and Giardia in only 30 minutes. This makes it perfect for the outdoors and emergency situations.
What we liked most about these tablets is that they are dissolvable and purify your water without leaving behind an unpleasant aftertaste or discoloration. The Aquamira water purifier tablets come in packs of 100 which are sufficient to treat up to 200 quarts of water.
Each pack is divided into strips of 10 and each tablet is individually sealed so that it’s easy to carry around and store. The reusable storage pouch makes it easy to store and use these tablets conveniently. Aquamira water purification tablets are military-grade and EPA-registered lasting for up to 5 years.
- Improves taste of water
- EPA registered
- Military grade product
- Effective against bacteria, viruses, cryptosporidium and Giardia
- 30-minute purification
Ef Chlor (NaDCC) Portable Water Purification Tablets
Another excellent water purification tablet approved by the WHO and used by the Red Cross, the Ef Chlor Portable Water Purification Tablets are guaranteed to kill 100% of all known viruses and bacteria, making your water perfectly safe to drink.
The tablets contain 60% of chlorine as well as an additive that’s included to counter the taste of chlorine in the water and keep you safe from possible overdose. The Ef Chlor is meant to be used just before drinking, so unused water should not be consumed.
One of the impressive features of the Ef Chlor is that a single tablet is capable of purifying 13 gallons of clear water or 6.6 gallons of contaminated water. This is extremely high capacity, compared to other purification tablets.
You won’t need to worry about boiling your water before you drink it or rotating stored water ever again with these purification tablets from Ef Chlor. If you want to be super-prepared in the face of an emergency or any survival situation, this is one of the best choices for you.
- 30-minute wait time
- Chlorine based disinfection
- 1 tablet per 13 gallons clear water
- Kills 100% of bacteria and viruses
- Approved by the WHO
Potable Aqua Chlorine Dioxide Water Purification Tablets
The Potable Aqua Chlorine Dioxide water purification tablets are used by campers, militaries, hikers, emergency organizations and practically anyone needing to drink safe water free of any questionable microbiological quality.
This product does a great job of eliminating microorganisms and leaving only clean, delicious drinking water for you to enjoy.
Add one tablet to a quart of contaminated water (this is equivalent to one liter) and allow it to sit for 4 hours for the treatment process. These tablets have 2.6 times the oxidizing capacity of chlorine which means that you can be sure your water will be well and truly purified.
These tablets from Potable Aqua are a popular choice among many because they are affordable, easy to use and EPA approved.
The only negative is that they don’t act as quickly as we would like. Since the treatment time is 4 hours, you would have to plan accordingly if you want to have your drinking water ready for you in time.
- Affordable pricing
- Meets EPA microbiological purifier standards
- Takes 4 hours to purify 1 liter
- No aftertaste
Potable Aqua Iodine Based Water Purification Treatment
These iodine-based water purification tablets are known to be extremely effective against micro-organisms such as bacteria, viruses and cysts. They offer clean, purified drinking water in any emergency situation. The Potable Aqua is perfect for camping, hiking and if you’re travelling to places where the water could be questionable.
Labelled as a germicidal, each Potable Aqua tablet contains 20mg of TGHP compounds that releases 8mg of germicidal iodine when placed in water. It’s very easy to use as all you have to do is to add two tablets to one liter of water, shake after 5 minutes and then wait for a total of 35 minutes. This product also includes
One bottle of the Potable Aqua holds 50 tablets which treat 25 quarts of water. These are good for use up to 1 year after the bottled is opened. If unopened, they have a shelf-life of 4 years. Don’t forget that these are not meant for continuous use but only for emergency situations and such.
- 35-minute wait time
- Perfect for emergency and military purposes
- Iodine-based disinfection
- 2 tablets per liter
- Portable and easy to carry
- 6-week limit of usage recommended
- Does not inactivate Cryptosporidium cysts
Polar Pure Iodine Water Purifier
Polar Pure is a liquid water purifier, and yes, we know this is a guide for purification tablets, but we had to include this one due to all the benefits it offers for portable and effective water purification.
This EPA-certified product is one of the most popular, famous for its effectiveness and value. It’s one of the best iodine-based purification tablets on the market, ideal for any storm shelter, emergency situation or outdoor adventure.
Polar Pure kills all bacteria and viruses in water before they have the chance to mutate and become immune. It completely disinfects your water of 100% of pathogens, making it safe to drink.
Polar Pure comes in a dark bottle weighing just 5 ounces, making it easy to carry. The bottle has a built-in temperature gauge which tells you how much you need to use. The lid of the bottle doubles as a measuring cup, telling you exactly how much you need to pour.
With all these benefits, Polar Pure also stands out as it offers one of the lowest costs per liter. This lets you filter water on a budget without compromising on safety and quality.
- 100% microorganism removal
- EPA certified
- Lightweight and easy to use
- Lowest cost per liter purification
- Lightweight – only 5 ounces
- A single bottle treats up to 2,000 liters
Expedition Research LLC TAC-H2O Water Purification Tablets
This is our top pick if you’re looking for purification tablets in a safety case. We were impressed by the packaging of this product, which is safety-sealed in a 140-micron thick Mylar pouch with 4 layers and a re-sealable zip-lock.
The great thing about the pouch is that it’s both sunlight and waterproof, ensuring that the tablets will be kept safe, regardless of your environment.
Each tablet, weighing 49mg, has the capacity to treat 5 liters of water so a single pack of Expedition Research tablets can treat up to 500L of water in as little as 30 minutes. This is perfect for group situations where you can purify a large batch of water and share it.
These tablets come with a tri-fold, illustrated color manual that tells you everything you need to know about using these them.
- 4-layer Mylar pouch
- Waterproof and sunlight proof protection
- 5L purification per tablet
- 30-minute purification process
What Are Water Purification Tablets?
According to the EPA, there are 4 categories of harmful contaminants in water – radiological, physical, chemical and biological.
Water purification tablets take care of biological contaminants, by killing microorganisms present in water and making it safe to drink. This method of purification targets pathogens like bacteria, viruses, cryptosporidium, Giardia and cysts.
While purification tablets aren’t a comprehensive water purification solution, they are ideal in emergency, survival or adventure situations. These tablets are routinely used by NGOs, the Red Cross and other organizations that provide emergency relief to disaster struck locations.
If you’re visiting a location where you may not have access to clean water, or are planning to go hiking in remote areas or backpacking around the world, a portable and convenient solution for treating water will ensure that you always have access to safe drinking water.
Water purification tablets fall into this category, as they’re easy to carry, affordable and effective.
How to Choose the Best Water Purification Tablet
Purification tablets disinfect water through either chlorine or iodine. These are the chemicals commonly used to disinfect public water supplies as well. Iodine is slightly more effective than chlorine, but because it’s sensitive to light, ensure that it’s stored in a dark bottle.
Both chlorine and iodine impact the taste of water, but some prefer chlorine over iodine, as the taste can be milder.
If you’re pregnant or are allergic to iodine, always opt for a chlorine based purification tablet.
Time Taken to Purify
Purification tablets typically take between 30 minutes to 4 hours to work, so check prior to purchase. If you’re not someone who plans far ahead or likes waiting around, a faster purification process is more convenient.
However, there may be a trade off between time and efficiency. Some of the tablets that work fast, like Aquatabs, don’t remove all bacteria in the water. Ef Chlor is our top pick for speed (30 minutes) and effectiveness (kills 100% of pathogens) but it seems you’ll have to bulk buy as we couldn’t find Ef Chlor sold in smaller quantities.
Taste and Smell
When it comes to water purification, there may be times when you can’t be picky about the taste and smell of the water. But even so, some purification tablets have a strong, chemical taste and can be unpalatable. Some purification tablets neutralize the taste of iodine and chlorine with other safe additives.
Consider your budget and how many tablets you’re expecting to use. If you’re usage is high, you could save money by purchasing a large supply at once. Because most of these tablets have an unopened lifespan of around 5 years, you can always store them to be used in the future.
Purification tablets are created to target biological contaminants, but not all of them are able to remove all types of microorganisms. Some of the products in our list were not effective against cryptosporidium.
The only purification tablet that guarantees a 100% removal of microorganisms was Ef Chlor. The most important thing is to check what types of pathogens you need to protect yourself from depending on where you’re going. Polar Pure also guarantees to kill 100% of all viruses and bacteria, but note that this is an iodine-based liquid, not a tablet.
If you want to travel light, carrying a bottle of tablets around can be inconvenient and weighty compared to tablets packaged in plastic strips. However, on the flip side, plastic packaging can result in the tablets being crushed to powder. Consider the hardiness of the packaging, ease of storage and size when purchasing. Also take into account the weight of the product.
How Do Water Purification Tablets Work?
Whether you’ve chosen iodine, chlorine dioxide or chlorine purification tablets, the working principle is the same.
You have to follow the exact instructions of the particular product to ensure its effectiveness. This means using the right amount of water and dosage.
As the tablet is given time to dissolve in the water, it spreads through the water, disinfecting it by killing pathogens and preventing diseases like cholera, diarrhea and typhoid.
If the water is very dirty, you may need to increase the dosage of the chemicals to properly disinfect it. As always, the instruction manual will guide you in this.
Benefits of Water Purification Tablets
Boiling, distillation or using a UV light to kill microbes aren’t always a practical option. These methods require equipment and energy. Purification tablets don’t require energy or special equipment to be used. All you need is the water in a container and the correct dosage of tablets. What could be easier than that?
Some other portable water purification systems can cost a pretty penny, but a pack of purification tablets costs a little more than a packet of aspirin. This makes this an excellent option for all budgets.
Waterborne diseases are typically caused by microorganisms, so being able to kill these ensures your water is safe to drink. Purification tablets are very effective at removing these microbes and cleaning your water in that regard.
You can take them anywhere you go. The portability of purification tablets is part of their great appeal for hikers, backpackers, travelers and emergency relief organizations.
If you store your water purification tablets correctly, these can last for months and even several years. However, if you don’t store them properly or the product isn’t of high quality, they can lose their effectiveness with time.
What Are the Downsides?
No single purification system can remove all contaminants from water. For a comprehensive filtration system that removes impurities like debris, sediment, rust, dust, chemicals and heavy metals, you will need to consider a filtration system. Don’t expect purification tablets to do more than kill microorganisms.
Another thing to consider is that iodine tablets can pose health issues for those with thyroid allergies or conditions and women who are pregnant. If you fall into any of these categories, avoid thyroid purification tablets.
Alternatives to Water Purification Tablets
If it’s a practical option for your situation, boiling water can kill almost all the microorganisms in your water and effectively purify your water. If camping or backpacking in the wilderness, you can use a camp stove to boil your water thereby purifying it.
Ultraviolet lighting is another effective option that works by attacking the genetic code of microorganisms. It also doesn’t affect the taste and smell of water, so you might want to consider that option if you’re averse to the impact of chemicals in your water.
You can also explore the endless options of backpacking water filters and purifiers available for outdoor enthusiasts.
The Bottom Line
Water purification tablets (and liquids) are one of the most lightweight, convenient and affordable ways to purify your water and remove bacteriological contamination from it. When used correctly, as per their instructions, water purification tablets are safe and effective.