The Treatment of Water & Lugol's Solution - Please Research

Hello everyone,

I hesitate even posting this as I am unsure of the product even after considerable research.  I stumbled across an item while looking to add 2% tincture of iodine to our water treatment 'section' of sorts of our Prepare page.

First, let me tell you what I know.  There are a number of ways to treat/disinfect water, some of them more effective than others.  Most all products you see for water 'purification' do not purify water.  Products and techniques most often utilized in the survival/prepper communities either filter water to varying degrees, or disinfect water to varying degrees.  Special and careful attention as to what all is filtered and what exactly the chemical kills should be made.  The best method for disinfection of water is boiling.  The CDC website states: 

     "Most germs die quickly at high temperatures. Water that has been boiled for 1 minute is safe to drink after it has cooled. If no other method of water disinfection is available, very hot tap water may be safe to drink if it has been in the tank for a while."

This information is not entirely complete as I understand it.  The reason the CDC recommends the above is that germs begin dying at about 165 degrees Fahrenheit.  The recommended boiling duration of one minute for water disinfection that the CDC provides factors in the time it takes for water to heat from 165 degrees to a boiling temperature of 212 degrees when speaking of the time it takes to disinfect water (killing the bacteria, viruses, cysts and protozoa etc.) using this method.  However, at high altitude, water boils at a lower temperature so I would suggest extending the boil-time to 3 minutes to allow enough time to properly disinfect water.  Regardless, it is always best to filter as many particulates out of your water as possible before attempting to chemically treat, further filter and/or disinfect your water via ultraviolet saturation or boiling. 

Just because you see animals drinking from a source of water does not mean it is safe for people to drink.  All water that you are not 100% positive that it is safe should be filtered, treated, and/or boiled prior to consumption whenever possible.  There are times when boiling water may not be possible so other means of disinfection may become a must due to circumstance.  This is why there are so many products available to filter or chemically treat water to make it more potable prior to consumption.  2% tincture of iodine can be a useful thing to pack in your backpacking, hiking, and/or bug out bags because it is a multi-use item that can be used to both treat wounds as well as help make water more safe for human consumption.   

There are many different iodine tinctures available on the market.  The most common that I see for use of the above purposes seems to contain the following chemical composition/active ingredients:  Iodine (2%), Alcohol (47% by volume), Purified Water, and Sodium Iodine (2.4%).  However, using iodine of any kind for water or wound treatment by people with allergies to shellfish or have thyroid problems should be avoided.  The following website, contains the following with regard to using iodine for water treatment:

Iodine is required for a proper thyroid function, but it can effect the thyroid function if you use too much or too less iodine. Iodine is also added to table salt in many countries around the world to insure the right amount of dietary iodine.  Iodine is rapidly metabolized and cleared from the body and the intake of iodine are accommodated by the normal thyroid gland. Iodine tablets can be used by persons with a normal thyroid function for a short time (six weeks or less). You must not use iodine tablets if you have thyroid problems, an iodine allergy or when you are pregnant. 

Thyroid problems can seriously affect metabolism and body function. Iodine is an essential element that enables the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones. But, if you are using too much iodine it leads to hypothyroidism and autoimmune thyroiditis. If you have a thyroid condition, you should not use iodine.  If you have an iodine allergy or when you are pregnant, you should not use iodine. 

If you use water purification tablets you have to be careful of the temperature of the water you are purifying. If the contaminated water has a temperature of about 75 degrees Fahrenheit you need at least 20 to 30 minutes for purification. If the contaminated water has a temperature of about 40 degrees Fahrenheit you need at least one hour to purify the water. So, colder water will take longer for purification. Warm the contaminated water in the sun before adding the water purification tablets.


Enter in Lugol's Solution.  This tincture/solution is sold as a talisman only which is why I am unsure of the product.  Its chemical composition varies from the aforementioned and is generally sold as a 2% tincture or 5% tincture containing the following ingredients: Aqueous solution. 94% distilled water. 4% Potassium Iodide. 2% Iodine. or with 85% distilled water 5% Iodine and 10% Potassium Iodide.  This is a link to J.Crow's Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for their 5% iodine Solution:

The product description is what caught my eye concerning the Lugol's iodine solution which states, in part, the following:  "The iodine used in J.CROW'S® Lugol's Solution is derived from mined crystals, not from shellfish or kelp. Always fresh. Does not expire. Store at room temperature. Keep out of direct sunlight. No need to refrigerate."  Iodine tablets used for water treatment have a shelf-life of approximately 4 - 5 years from the date of manufacture if stored in their recommended environment and temperature.  Most people are unaware of this, and some companies do not expressly state an expiration date on the front of the product.  Take for example the following:  The expiration date is not stated clearly on the package.  You have to learn to use their lot number on the product to determine the date of manufacture, and thus when it will expire. 

This Lugol's solution does not expire apparently so will stay usable as long as it is stored properly.  It might even be usable by people if they are allergic to shellfish since the iodine used in this solution is derived via other means.  However, if you have any allergies , are on any medications, have thyroid problems, or are pregnant you either should not use this product or should at least consult with a doctor to see if the product is usable by you.  If any of you have any further information regarding this product, please let me know.  I hope the information in this post proves useful.

God bless,






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Iodine is an element and should not have a shelf life. 

Iodine in combination with other elements make compounds which can and do have shelf lives.  Lugol’s solution is an example.  Other names for Lugol's solution are I2KI (iodine-potassium iodide); Markodine, Strong solution (Systemic); and Aqueous Iodine Solution BCP.

I hope the links are useful to you.

Hello JB,

Thanks for the reply.  I am aware that iodine is an element.  What I discuss above are tinctures, solutions, and compounds in the form of tablets used in both water treatment and/or wound care.  I had already looked at the Wikipedia link early on in my research.  Wikipedia being the unreliable source of information that it is, I researched considerably more information prior to and after reading the information provided by Wikipedia.  J. Crow's Lugol's Solution does not have an expiration date as far as I can tell.  There is information regarding using this product for water disinfection.  What I am curious about is whether people that have allergies to shellfish etc. would be able to use this product, and also how effective this product would be for wound care by those who are able to use iodine.  Anyways, thanks again.

God bless. 

Sorry it wasn't as useful as I had hoped.  I should have known that you would have already researched wiki someplace close to the start of your search.

JMO here, but if the compounds are pure, the source (shellfish) should make no difference since there will be no chemical trace of anything that is shellfish to react to.  It may be that the answer to this question would be with the 1) purity and extraction process and/or 2) what causes a shellfish allergic reaction in the first place.  I understand your concern since some people who have peanut allergies are highly compromised if they are exposed to peanuts in even trace amounts.  Unfortunately, all I have to offer is opinion -- beyond that not much that's useful.  :)

No worries JB. 

I just find it interesting that J. Crow's makes it a point to derive their iodine from a different process.  I am also unsure as to whether or not the other active ingredients in other tinctures are necessary for the tincture to function effectively for either wound care or water treatment, and if they are the reason why all tablet compounds have a shelf-life.  Something that is effective for both, and has no shelf-life would be far more ideal to purchase and store with our supplies for obvious reasons which is why I thought I would call people's attention to the product, and inquire as to whether anyone had access to any concrete information as to its use for water treatment and/or wound care. 

The following from the Mayo clinic has some more information regarding this matter that people with allergies might be interested in:

There are a few parts I will call attention to:

"Even trace amounts of shellfish can cause a severe reaction in some people."

"Some people mistakenly believe that allergy to iodine or allergy to radiocontrast dye used in some lab procedures can cause reactions in people with a shellfish allergy. Reactions to radiocontrast material or iodine are not related."

"Glucosamine, a supplement used to prevent and treat arthritis, is made from crab, lobster or shrimp shells. While it does not appear to cause an allergic reaction in most people who have a shellfish allergy, more studies need to be done to determine whether it is safe for people allergic to shellfish."

"If you are at risk of a serious allergic reaction, talk with your doctor about carrying emergency epinephrine (adrenaline). If you've already had a severe reaction, wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace that lets others know that you have a food allergy."

God bless.

Good post, Rahth!

It amazes me the amount of time you put into researching things. I appreciate ALL that you do to bring us good information!  People really need to know these things. Survival depends on it!  I had posted an article from a financial person telling people to prepare for collapse, to have a bug out bag, guns and ammo! People are finally understanding that they need to be able to take care of themselves.  We need to know how to do things, how to prepare, what to get, and you are my go to guy for all of it!   

Thank you! ;-) 

Great research once again, Rahth!

Hello Robin,

Thank you for the compliment.  I have wanted to get some of this information on our site for awhile now.  Work has just made it a little difficult to put the amount of time in to give the topic proper attention.  As to the rest, you're most welcome.  I'm always glad to try and help.

God bless.

I just want to speak to safe drinking water. Boiling does kill bacteria but it doesn't remove solids and heavy metals. A healthy immune system can tolerate many bacteria. If you look at well water in a microscope you will find it filled with active bacteria.  Many of these bacteria are actually good for us.

When out in the wild drink only from moving water and it's also a good idea to check upstream first. There are many charcoal and HEPA filters available for filtering water.  The only true way to know water is 100% safe is through the distilling process. Collected water vapor is also a reasonably safe way to gather drinking water.

Additives can help, but household chlorine bleach in small amounts can kill most bacteria. I grew up in the woods and drank from many springs and streams. Just learn the safest sources of water.

Hello TLC,

You are correct that boiling does not remove heavy metals.  Boiling will also not remove radiological contaminants which is why I drew the distinction from the oft stated misnomer of water 'purification' from filtering, chemically treating, and disinfection via boiling.  Boiling will also not remove asbestos and other chemicals from various drugs and pesticides that might be present during or after a flood. 

People with wells should have their wells checked if they may have become compromised due to a flood or other disaster which may have either effected the well itself, and/or the ground supply feeding it.  To illustrate how varied the information can be that is found on various websites and government sources, I posted above that the CDC recommends 1 minute of boiling.  The Utah Department of Environmental Quality suggests the following: 

"Boiling is the safest method of disinfecting water.  It is preferred over any method of chemical disinfection because most disease causing microorganisms cannot survive the heat of the sterilizing boil.  Water must be heated to boiling and held in a vigorous rolling boil for 5 minutes minimum (preferably 10 to 20 minutes).  Let the water cool before drinking.  Boiled water will taste better if you put oxygen back into it by pouring the water back and forth between two clean containers.  This will also improve the taste of stored water."

I have often drank water from one of the lakes and rivers here when I was a child.  Obviously, while it was not smart to do, as my writing this response indicates, it did not kill me.  I was also lucky to not acquire any ill effects from it.  Having said that, it is extremely important for people to realize that "even crystal clear, mountain stream water can be contaminated with disease causing parasites such as giardia".

As for various water filters on the market today.  People should pay careful attention as to what the filter does and does not filter out.  For instance, many of the filters out there will filter out bacteria, cysts and protozoa, but do not filter out viruses let alone other possible contaminants.  The micron size of the filter can be a good indicator as to this.  Careful attention as to what is filtered and the percentage of those things filtered should be made.  People should also make sure they know what to do with the filter once it has been used.  Simply using, then storing for a long period of time, then using again is NOT a proper way to care for most of these products IF they can even be reused after storage.  So please always pay close attention to the use and care instructions for any filtering device you acquire.  For a very good portable filtering device, you may wish to check out the following products:

As per chemical means of disinfection like bleach.  This what is recommended by the Utah Department of Environmental Quality:

"You can use household liquid bleach to kill microorganisms.  Use only regular household liquid bleach that contains 5.25% sodium hypochlorite.  Do not use scented bleaches, color safe bleaches or bleaches with added cleaners.  Each gallon of water should be treated with 4 – 5 drops of liquid chlorine bleach or 16 drops of liquid chlorine bleach if the water is cloudy.  This is just under ¼ of a teaspoon per gallon.  One teaspoon of bleach disinfects 5 gallons of water.  Treated water should be thoroughly mixed and allowed to stand for 30 minutes before using.  A slight chlorine odor should be detectable in the water.  If it is not, repeat the dosage and let it stand another 15 minutes before using.  Treated water may have a slight chlorine taste, but this is additional evidence of safety.

Since liquid chlorine bleach loses strength over time, only fresh bleach should be used for water disinfection.  For bleach that is 1 to 2 years old, the dosage should be doubled.  Bleach older than two years should not be used unless absolutely necessary because of uncertainty as to how much the active ingredients have deteriorated."

That information concerning bleach looks pretty solid to me, but I will say that my own research has led me to believe that bleach can lose much of its effectiveness after being stored for only 6 months.  I would recommend everyone do their own research on the matter.  It is also important to note that bleach will not remove cryptosporidium. 

God bless.

great info all.  thanks for sharing the research results and sites.  may we never have to use these methods for our survival.  I have numerous times as a Scout and a Scout leader.  On the Appallacian Trail (50 mile hikes) we hardly ever carried much water, just got it along the way.  treated it every time we found it.  Had iodine and hallazone tablets back then.  boiled it often, especially when used to cook with.  God Bless one and all and a very happy and healthy New Year.

Hello Patriot Eagle,

Thank you for the reply, and you are most welcome.  I would just like to point out the following which can be also be found on the following website: 

"Halazone tablets (4 dichlorosulfamyl benzoic acid) for emergency water disinfection are commonly carried by pharmacies and drug stores.  The label should show an EPA registration number.  Be certain to note the expiration date since the shelf life is only about 2 years.  According to the manufacturer:  “It is important that the containers are tightly closed to prevent the absorption of moisture from the air.  If decomposition of the tablets should occur, they take on a yellowish appearance, have a strong objectionable odor, and of course, should not be used”.

Chemical disinfection, liquid bleach, iodine tablets, and Halazone tablets will not remove cryptosporidium."

As always, I recommend that everyone do their own research on the above topic as information can vary greatly.  I hope you and yours have a happy and healthy New Year as well.

God bless.

Hi Rahth,

I was doing a bit of research on Iodine and I found this to be very interesting! Thought all might like to read this!

:) Robin

The health benefits of iodine are so far-reaching, it boggles the mind. And, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), iodine deficiency is rising in America with estimates of over 2 billion at risk. Severe deficiency can result in brain damage. Over one third of the global population (1.5 billion people) is living on iodine deficient soils resulting in 72% of global population as iodine deficient.

Iodine increases the production of thyroid hormone which in turn increases all hormones in the body, including testosterone and adrenalin. The hormones affect behavior, metabolism and libido.

Health benefits of iodine include:

Fluoride detoxification
Improved cognitive functioning
Improved metabolism because it helps the body bio synthesize food into usable nutrients
Deficiency leaves thyroid gland susceptible to free radical exposure
Balances hormones resulting in emotional balance (increased libido)
Can improve fibrocystic breast disease
Hair growth and hair color restored
Increased energy
Radiation protection
Destroys pathogens, molds, fungi, parasites, and malaria
Supports apoptosis (programmed cell death of unhealthy cells) to protect against cancer and facilitate youth
Iodine patch test

Obviously, iodine is important to health. A simple “patch test” reveals deficiency. Take regular drug-store iodine (it has to be red colored) and smear a 1” patch on the skin. If the patch disappears within 2 days, you are deficient. It's that simple to determine. Please note, if highly sensitive, test the skin's reaction by applying a drop of iodine to the skin to see the reaction.

Iodine intake

The next step is to determine how to increase iodine in the body. This same drug-store iodine may be applied daily so it is absorbed through the skin. This is actually a safe way of administering dosages because the body will only absorb what it needs.

Supplemental iodine is also available. Some supplements are taken orally, however; many choose to apply the oral supplements topically as well. If using topical application, make sure to apply patches at different locations on the skin each time to prevent skin sensitivity.

Foods containing iodine

Remember, food will only have minerals, such as iodine, if the soil has it in the first place. Generally, seafood contains the most iodine, followed by animal foods and plant foods. However, seafood often has mercury so be cautious. Most commercially sold iodine is a waste product of petro industry so it's not a good source. The body can't store iodine so a little must be consumed every day. With these tips, everyone can enjoy the health benefits of iodine.

Hello Robin,

I was surprised to see how much research has been dedicated to iodine.  There are several books written by various doctors on the iodine situation in this country and the world over as well as its effects both long and short term on the body.  The FDA has not done anything with Lugol's solution from what I can tell.  Based on what I've seen from the Mayo clinic, that shellfish allergies do not necessarily mean there is an allergy to iodine could mean that this product is very usable and useful to a lot of people for a variety of purposes. 

Regardless, if one can use regular 2% tincture of iodine, it is a great multi-use item to have in their kits.  I hope folks give it some thought.  Perhaps someone will see this post, and provide some useful information regarding Lugol's solution in the near future.  If it indeed can be used like the other tincture of iodine, the fact it has no shelf-life can be a really nice asset as well.

Thanks again and God bless. 





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