Best Water Purification Tablets (2019)

guy standing near mountain
You need water tablets to drink the water.

Are you someone that spends a lot of time in the Great Outdoors?

Yes, then you probably have a need for some water purification tablets. Sure, the river might look crystal clear, but pathogens that could make you sick might be floating in the river.

This buying guide will explain what a water purification tablet is, how it can keep you safe, and how to choose the right one. First, we’ll take a step back and examine the top 5 water purification tablets on the market for you.

You will find everything that you need to know about these tablets in this article.


1. Aquamira

aquamira tablets label
Aquamira tablets are great.

These chlorine dioxide tablets make a great choice for any outdoor adventurer. Chlorine dioxide is probably the best form of water purification on the market for a variety of reasons explained below. Just know that it is the only tablet type that kills off cryptosporidium, which is the most frequent cause of an upset stomach. It also leaves no residual taste like the other chemicals.

You get 50 tablets with this package and each tablet can filter 1 liter of water. That gives you plenty of tablets for a long outdoor excursion or a long emergency situation.

2.  Aquatab TAC-H2O

Aquatab refills
Aquatab refills TAC H2O.

This NaDCC (chlorine) tablet works great for any kind of outdoor activity or emergency situation. Just like the Aquamira, each tablet will purify 1L of water. However, the Aquatab works much faster than Aquamira. It only takes this tablet 30 minutes to remove any pathogens and bacteria from the water.

3. Potable Aqua Chlorine Dioxide Water Purification Tablets

potable aqua tablets and box
Potable Aqua tablets use chlorine dioxide.

Another chlorine dioxide tablet. Very similar to the Aquamira tablet in the amount it can filter per tablet and the purification time.

These tablets, in particular, are more suited for a hydration pack than anything else.

4.  Best Value: Aquatabs AQT100

aquatab two packets
Aquatab tablets.

Another chlorine tablet. These ones come in a 100 pack at a very good price (check price here, it changes a lot). This one is an “add-on” product from Amazon, which means that you can only purchase it with a purchase of $25. This is why the price is so low.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What pathogens do purification tablets kill?

cgi bacteria
Pathogens that can do damage!

This is probably the most frequently asked question regarding these tablets. The answer really depends on the type of tablet that you purchase.

However, the tablets will target 4 different types of organisms:

  1. Cryptosporidium
  2. Giarlia lamblia
  3. Bacteria (e. coli, salmonella, etc.)
  4. Viruses (norovirus, entereovirus, hepatitis A, etc.)

Iodine and chlorine dioxide are both ranked equally well by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to effectively kill viruses and bacteria. They do have some differences for protozoans (cryptosporidium, Giarlia lamblia). Iodine is not effective against protozoans. Chlorine dioxide is effective.

Chlorine is about the same effectiveness as iodine for killing the organisms found in water.

Are chlorine and chlorine dioxide the same thing?


They are completely different compounds that have different effectiveness against the different types of organisms. Chlorine dioxide uses activated oxygen to kill organisms. This has the added benefit of bonding to the sediment and forcing it to the bottom of the container. That isn’t removing the sediment, but it does make it less likely that you will swallow sediment while drinking the water.

I heard that chlorine dioxide tablets are out of stock, is that true?

It’s half true. You are probably thinking about the recent increase in demand of chlorine dioxide tablets from a few federal government agencies (FEMA, the military, etc.). This caused the manufacturers to shift all of their focus onto producing tablets to fulfill their government contact.

For about a year there were no chlorine dioxide tablets available on the consumer market. You should purchase as many of those tablets as possible when available because the government can gobble up all the supply for a long period of time.

What Is A Water Purification Tablet?

First of all, great question.

A water purification tablet is just a portable water filtration system in the form of a tablet. You simply drop the tablet in dirty water and it makes it clean. Obviously, these tablets are very light. This makes them great for backpacking or any other type of outdoor activity where weight is a major concern.

People also use them during natural disasters especially hurricanes.

Do note, these tablets will only kill pathogens and bacteria found in the water. They do not remove dirt or chemicals. However, killing pathogens and bacteria makes them effective for all but the most extreme circumstances.

How Does A Water Purification Tablet Work?

First of all, a lot of tablets are available on the market and they all work in slightly different ways. However, the basic premise of the tablets is all the same.

The tablets all contain a chemical, which is usually iodine, chlorine dioxide, or chlorine. This chemical will kill the bacteria or pathogens found in the water.

How to use a water purification tablet?

Using one of these tablets is extremely simple. You simply place it in an enclosed container of water and let it dissolve. The time it takes for the tablet to dissolve will vary based on the tablet. Simply reference the instructions on the package for how long you should leave the tablet in the water.

Here are some general directions for the different types of tablets:

Chlorine Tablets Use:

Chlorine tablets (NaDCC) are fairly easy and fast to use. Simply drop them in the water and they will dissolve in under one minute.

Unopened Shelf Life: 3-5 years

Opened Shelf Life: 3 months

Taste: You can taste chlorine. Some advertise themselves as taste free though, which is debatable.

Wait Time: 30 – 60 minutes. It takes closer to an hour if the water is cold.

Iodine Tablets Use:

Iodine tablets are another easy and fast form of water purification. They kill the least amount of organisms, but they still have their uses.

Unopened Shelf Life: 4 years

Opened shelf life: 1 year maximum.

Taste: These tablets taste the worst. You can easily taste the iodine in the water.

Wait Time: 30 – 60 minutes.

Chlorine Dioxide Use:

Chlorine dioxide tablets are the best type of purification tablets available on the market. They are the only type rated to kill protozoans. Using these tablets is a little bit different than the other types though.

Unopened shelf life: 3-5 years.

Opened shelf life: 3 months

Taste: No taste in the water. It also will cause sediment to drop to the bottom of the container.

Wait Time: 30 minutes to kill bacteria in water over 60 degrees Fahrenheit. It takes 4 hours to kill all the bacteria, viruses, and protozoa in especially dirty water.

Do the tablets taste bad?

This depends on your sense of taste. Really though, most of these tablets will make the water taste bad.

Chlorine dioxide tablets taste the best. In fact, these tablets will leave no taste at all. This makes them the ideal choice for anyone that does not like the negative taste left in the mouth by the other two options.

Iodine tablets especially can make the water taste a little bit weird. This is such a common problem that companies sell iodine reduction tablets that take out some of the bad taste from the iodine. These tablets can be found on Amazon.

Chlorine will generally taste better. However, it can still leave a bad taste in the mouth. Removing the chlorine taste is much easier though. Simply leave the container open for a few minutes and some of the chlorine should evaporate out of the container.

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