How do water purification tablets work? Well, these tablets work by discharging free ions into the water and quickly kill disease-causing microorganisms.
Water purification chemicals come in tablet, powder, or liquid form and they contain Chlorine and iodine. The Chlorine and iodine are disinfectants that are added to water to remove harmful microorganism. These chemicals are also widely recognized as an effective and safe water disinfectant. Thus, you get to drink contaminant-free water.
Therefore, Water purification tablets are an important addition while going hiking, camping, or when faced with an emergency situation like a hurricane. So you may be wondering, how do water purification tablets work? Related: Is Tap Water Safe To Drink
Details: How Do Water Purification Tablets Work?
Water purification tablets contain active chemical ingredients like iodine, chlorine, and chlorine dioxide. These ingredients work by deactivating harmful contaminants like pathogens, viruses, and bacteria, making the water safe for drinking.
Most of these harmful contaminants can cause serious illnesses or even death. The most common disease-causing microorganisms you’re likely to encounter during your outdoor activities include Giardia, Cryptosporidiosis, and Naegleria fowleri (brain-eating amoeba).
While water purification tablets are effective at removing impurities and chemicals from drinking water, they will not eliminate large particles. What these tablets do is they eliminate the tiny contaminants and chemicals that can cause harm.
Thus, when you’re unable to access clean drinking water, always use water purification tablets or portable water purifiers. These two methods will guarantee your safety regardless of your water source.
How Different Tablets Work
The market is flooded with different water purification tablets. Each of the tablets has a different working mechanism.
To ensure effectiveness, one or two tablets are introduced in one or two liters of water and allowed to sit for approximately 30 minutes. Read the back of the tablet pack for use instructions.
Some tablets leave behind a nasty after taste. Chlorine-based tablets leave behind chlorine taste, so the water tastes like a swimming pool. But, you can avoid this taste by allowing the treated water to remain uncovered for some time to evaporate the chlorine.
1. Chlorine Dioxide-Based Tablets
Chlorine Dioxide Based Tablets are considered the most effective chemical ingredient. These tablets remove a wide range of microorganisms including parasites, viruses, and bacteria. They work through oxidation. Whereby, they penetrate the cells of these harmful microorganisms to completely kill them.
Chlorine dioxide eliminates odors and after tastes in water. It also kills algae and bacteria that generate bad taste in the water. Hence, it’s widely used in most city water treatment plants.
However, Chlorine dioxide tablet takes roughly 4 hours to treat contaminated water. Compared to chlorine and iodine this is a long time.
2. Chlorine Based Tablets
Chlorine tablets are the most widely used water purification tablets. Chlorine tablets are very effective at treating contaminated water. However, if you treat your water with chlorine, then store it for long, it’s likely to become contaminated again.
Chlorine also leaves an after taste in water. But, this can be avoided by allowing the chlorine treated water to remain uncovered. This way, the chlorine will evaporate, leaving the water with no chlorine after taste.
3. Iodine Based Tablets
Iodine tablets kill giardia, viruses, and bacteria. But, it leaves a nasty after taste. Hence, you need to use iodine in conjunction with neutralizer tablets to get rid of the iodine taste in water.
Note that, the effectiveness of iodine tablet is largely dependent on the temperature of the water. Cooler water will require more purification time than warmer water.
For instance, if the contaminated water is 75 °F you will need to purify the water for 30 minutes. Conversely, if the contaminated water is 40 °F you’ll take an hour or more to make the water clean.
People with iodine sensitivity, thyroid complications, and pregnant women, are advised against taking iodine based tablets.
What These Purification Tablets Don’t Remove
Water purification tablets don’t eliminate chemical pollutants, large particles, and sediments. Thus, it’s recommended that you filter the sediments first before dropping the purification tablets in the water.
Some purification tablets are less effective against microorganisms like protozoans. So, it’s good to check before buying what the tablet can or cannot remove.
Chlorine dioxide is effective at eliminating most contaminants but requires a prolonged treatment time compared to chlorine or iodine-based tablets.
How To Use The Water Purification Tablets
First, you’ll need to filter out the large particles present in the water before adding the purification tablets.
Check the manufacturer’s instructions at the back of the product for the recommended dosage. But. Most of these purification products require two tablets for a liter of water.
After adding the purification tablets, shake the water bottle for about three minutes for effective mixing of the tablet and the water. When the tablets have completely dissolved, let the water sit for 30 minutes before drinking. The wait time can be more or less depending on the tablet used or water contamination level.
However, some purification tablets leave a strong after taste. But, if you want to remove the nasty taste, you can buy neutralizer tablets. These tablets will provide you a neutral taste free of the iodine or chlorine aftertaste.
Are Water Purification Tablets Safe, Can They Be Toxic?
Well, when used as instructed, water purifying chemicals are safe. After all, they are a safety measure designed to protect one against harmful contaminants. But, the tablet form can be mistaken for candy or medications. Hence, should be kept away from children reach to avoid unintended swallowing.
Water purification tablets are irritating. If used incorrectly, excessively, and when swallowed, they can cause instant irritation of the throat, mouth, or stomach. This leads to symptoms like burning sensations in the mouth or throat, abdominal pain, and vomiting.
The risk of poisoning by water purification tablets is dependent on various factors like age, overall health and the type or amount of product swallowed.
Therefore, Iodine-based water purification tablets can cause more severe and unprecedented health effects when used over an extended period.
Benefits of Using Water Purification Tablets
Everyone deserves access to clean drinking water, but this right is not always guaranteed. That’s why you’ll need to need to protect yourself by using water purification tablets. Contaminated water will make you sick or worse kill you.
Water purification tablets promote a healthy lifestyle. Using these tablets allows you to have contaminant-free drinking water. Thus, eliminates risks of water-borne diseases.
Purification tablets also eliminate harmful minerals like copper which may be in the water. Some of these minerals are poisonous, thus, harmful to health.
However, if you notice symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or stomach aches after drinking untreated water, seek medical attention immediately.