There was a time when outdoors enthusiasts understood the need for purified water but had few options. Some people drank straight from the stream, either not knowing the risk involved or because they were willing to suffer the consequences of drinking contaminated water. Other people boiled water, which will sanitize the drink but takes a lot of time and effort. Still, others added a few drops of chlorine bleach or iodine to sanitize water.
These methods worked in the sense that the water was safe to drink and would hydrate after a long day of hiking or other outdoor sports, but the water didn't taste good. There have been a variety of filtration systems available over the years, but they tend to have their own problems.
Some can be bulky for long treks when space in a backpack and weight is an issue. They can also be expensive. Another problem is how they can be complicated to use correctly and might require a good deal of time before they produce drinkable water. The solution to each of these problems is to use water purification tablets.
Water purification tablets are easy to use with proven results, and they are appropriate not just for outdoor lifestyles but also when refilling a water bottle from a public drinking fountain or when traveling abroad in areas where the tap water is questionable. They are also good to have around in an emergency such as a storm which knocks out power and water supplies and people have to be creative about how to get water until FEMA transports bottled water to the area.
Considerations toward Choosing the Best Water Purification Tablets
Not all water purification tablets are the same. It's important to find tablets that kill all viruses, bacteria, and cryptosporidium which might be found in local water supplies. The best way to assure good tablets which not only work but work well enough for most needs is to purchase known name brand versions.
Lesser known or generic brands, if they work at all, are likely to make the water taste horrible. Well-known brands tend to be priced reasonably, and the little extra price tag is well worth knowing for a fact they produce healthy drinking water which doesn't end up with a bad flavor or lasting aftertaste.
Ease of Use
A few considerations apply to ease of use. The packaging is important, in that it needs to be strong enough to get tossed around in a backpack, or a purse or pocket in urban settings, without breaking open. With that said, they also need to be lightweight enough without taking up excess space to actually carry.
There's also a consideration of how easy they are to open. A backpacker is going to have a pocket knife they can use, but unfortunately, even small pocket knives designed as tools rather than weapons might be illegal in certain places.
There's also a time considered for the tablets to be effective. Some work in less than an hour, others can take four hours or longer. Such a consideration is more important than it might seem when someone is thirsty, or when conducting outdoor sports.
If the tablets take four hours to work, that assures someone has to carry two or more water bottles to keep a rotation of clean water and water being treated. Not only is that extra weight to carry, but almost assures at some point someone will get their bottles mixed up and drink unsafe water.
- Test after test shows Katadyn Micropur MP1 tablets to be a favorite popular choice. They kill cryptosporidium along with any other microorganisms which might be in the water. Katadyn is a well-known company for their water filters as well, whether small personal ones or larger base camp styles.
- Their tablets are relatively inexpensive, easy to carry, and use with little packaging to carry out, and have been tested and proven to be reliable water purification.
- Potable Aqua Chlorine Dioxide tablets are known to work well, they don't add a strong taste to the water, but some people complain about having a sore throat after using them for an extended period.
Purchase Potable Aqua Chlorine Dioxide
- Potable Aqua with PA Plus is actually iodine tablets (Potable Aqua also sells iodine tablets without the PA Plus.) What the PA Plus does, is neutralize the taste of iodine, which results in some of the freshest tasting water available with the use of water purification tablets.
- Aquatabs work well in most situations, but don't kill cryptosporidium. Their main bonus is how inexpensive they are, which can be great to keep on hand for emergencies, and they only take 40 minutes to be effective.
They don't have a strong taste but can add a chemical flavor to water for people who are sensitive to such issues.
An important aspect to understand about the best water purification tablets is how they use chemicals to clean the water. For that reason, what works great for one person might taste awful to someone else, or even give a third person a sore throat.
It's important to try out different tablets at home before relying on them for a multi-day camping trip. With that said, it's not only okay but advised to have multiple layers of backup plans for producing clean water.
Tablets can be used in conjunction with filters. It will wear out the filters prematurely if the tablets are used first and then the water goes through the filter, but some people need such a process to make the water drinkable in terms of taste. There's also nothing wrong with boiling water after supper, so it can cool overnight, and have it available in the morning; tablets can then be used for water bottle refills in the afternoon.
All told, in today's world, water has to be treated before drinking. It's no longer a matter of “if” water might be contaminated, it's assumed to be even in the most remote and beautiful mountain streams. The best water purification is what works for you and your situation, and allows you to remain hydrated.