View Full Version : are iodine and chlorine safe?

09-04-2003, 11:26
I know plently of people have done it, but is it really safe to ingest the amount of iodine or chilorine you would have to over the course of a thru-hike? and, I know that Potable Aqua comes with neutralizer tablets- I assume those neutralize the taste and not the chemical properties of the iodine. Is this right?


Rain Man
09-04-2003, 12:06
You may recall that common table salt usually has iodine added as a health supplement.

I seem to recall that South Carolina used to be nicknamed "The Iodine State" because of healthy naturally occurring iodine there!

Rain Man

09-04-2003, 12:27
You're certainly right; I'd forgotten about the salt thing. I was/am just curious about the potential long term effects of ingesting such a large quantity of iodine.

09-04-2003, 12:33
The "neutralizer" tablets are just a little ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) and won't change whether or not you get sick from iodine. They do interfer with the work that the iodone has to do, which is why you need to wait a while before adding them.

The amount of iodine you take in from 2 tablets is rather massive compared to that in table salt. Something like several times the daily required amount. I can't remember the exact document, but there was something written addressing this issue. Take a look on the PCT website (www.pcta.org), where it might be. I think that the conclusion was: No, it won't hurt you unless you are iodine sensitive or have a thyroid problem. If you have either condition, you'll noticed a problem quickly.

I was worried about the same thing for my summer hike. I treated water in southern California and most of Oregon. I used PolarPure, rather than Potable Aqua, due to its low cost. I liked it rather a lot: Less iodine taste (lower dosage) and a $7 bottle will treat 2000 liters or so. I drank the iodine-treated water for a month with no ill effects. For most of the hike, I didn't treat the water at all and suffered no ill effects either. I was careful with choosing water sources and took mostly from snow or glacier melt, springs or small streams. Sometimes I would treat water if I was unsure. In Oregon, most of the water sources were either potentially cow polluted or from stagnant ponds: Very few springs or creeks.

If I resume my AT hike this summer, I'll carry PolarPure and treat when I think it is appropriate.

09-04-2003, 12:39

Thank you! You seem to have done your homework on the subject and I really appreciate your help.