Water Sanitization Methods


Water Sanitation – 2 Drops of Tincture of Iodine

Don’t Drink the Water. Ancient Wisdom says: Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well. Prov. 5:15

If you don’t own an “AquaBoy” atmospheric water maker, a machine that makes water from the air, and available at places like Office Depot, then you will need to know how to sanitize the water you want to drink . To properly understand water disinfection and purification methods, you must first understand what makes water non-potable. For the most part, we can call contaminants “pathogens.”

Major Pathogens

1.)   The primary water contaminants are known as protozoa.

  • These include Giardia, which is a contagious parasite that infects the intestinal tract of humans. This parasite is spread by contaminated food and water.
  • Cryptosporidium is another water contaminant, which is a microscopic parasite that can live outside of the body for long periods of time and is tolerant to chlorine disinfections. This parasite is spread mostly by contaminated drinking and recreational water.

2.)   The next water contaminant is bacteria. These include:

  • Campylobacter: This is an intestinal bacterial infection, usually developing from food poisoning or bad water while traveling in a foreign country.
  • Salmonella: This is a bacteria transmitted by foods contaminated with feces, human or animal. The best defense against this bacteria is to wash your hands when handling any type of food.
  • Shigella: This is an infection in the intestines associated with food, water and swimming contamination, especially in daycare centers. Inadequate sanitation in nursing homes and cruise ships, relating to food handling, have seen more outbreaks of this infection.
  • E. coli: This is the main source of the bacteria strain is cattle. Don’t eat pink hamburger. Be careful of cross-contamination of meat and vegetables when you are cooking. Wash the produce, your utensils and your hands when handling any types of food.

3.)   Lastly, viruses also contaminate water. The most common viruses include:

  • Rotavirus: The rotavirus can be found in private wells from sewage overflows and polluted storm water runoff. This virus is the leading cause of severe diarrhea in infants and children.
  • Norovirus: Norovirus is the leading cause of inflammation of the stomach and intestine. Contaminated drinking water can be a source of this virus.
  • Hepatitis A: This virus can be found in contaminated wells, unpeeled fruits and vegetables that have been handled by unsanitary food handlers and eating uncooked raw shellfish.
  • Enterovirus: The Enterovirus is found in respiratory secretions. Covering your mouth and nose when sneezing can help prevent the virus, as well as practicing good hand sanitary habits.

Source of Pathogens

Almost all harmful pathogens find their genesis in animal and human fecal waste. These pathogens can arise from poor disposal techniques or upstream contamination, whether in an above ground water source or in an underground water table. Run off of sewage systems and broken sewage pipes can allow the viruses to enter the water system.

Water Treatment

There are a number of ways to purify water. According to the Centers for Disease Control, few water treatment methods, except for boiling water, are completely effective in removing pathogens.

When boiling is not an option, the CDC recommends combining,

No matter what, if your water source is cloudy, make every effort to filter it first. Filtration can be accomplished by pouring the water through clean cloths, allowing the water to sit and the remaining contaminants to settle out. Then skim the clear water for further treatment.

A number of commercially available water filters and water purification systems (and there is a difference) are available on the market. Alternatively, you can build your own filtration system for longer term use, but in many cases this is not feasible or you may lack the supplies.







Water is brought to a rolling boil for at least one minute.



Available in a variety of tablets, tincture or crystals and are dissolved in water. Requires a minimum 15-minute wait time. (Important: not for pregnant women or people with a thyroid condition).

Water purifier

Same as a filter but may include a chemical component.

UV light

Water is exposed to UV light; takes about 90 seconds per 32 fl. oz.

Chlorine dioxide


Tablets are dissolved in water; requires 15 minute wait time.





* Not effective or minimally effective against cryptosporidium.

Source: REI

Two Effective Methods of Treating Water

1.   Boiling: Boiling water at a rapid and rolling boil for at least a minute is the most effective means of treating your drinking water. This has the highest effectiveness against the greatest variation of pathogens.

2.   Iodine: This chemical is available in a number of similar forms that can be confusing for the average person. However, it has been used for the better part of a century to disinfect drinking water. Although short-term use (two to six months) appears safe, the effects of long-term usage are unknown. The CDC does not recommend continuous use by anyone for more than several weeks. Regardless, people with thyroid disease, an iodine allergy or women who are pregnant should not consume water treated with iodine. Iodine has been shown to be ineffective against cyclospora or cryptosporidium.

Iodine should be added to the water in an established average of about eight to ten drops of iodine per liter of water. This is approximately 32 ounces or the size of the average water bottle. The two largest treatment variables are dosage and contact time. Personal taste preferences and contamination of the water will also govern these factors.

Other methods of chemical and non-chemical treatment are available in addition to iodine and many have been shown to be more universally effective. Still, iodine is perhaps the easiest to carry and deploy. Knowing how to use iodine and understanding its limitations is still very important survival knowledge

Disclaimer: This information is intended to be informational only in nature and is not medical advice. You should always consult your physician regarding any specific medical conditions or questions and before taking any medications or chemicals.

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