Feb 6, 2010 at 9:31 am #1254921
Many years ago, and on the tail end of serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon, I traveled for three months around the globe. We used Betadine solution to purify our water exclusively because of the ease of handling, flexibility of dosage (4 drops per liter) and availability literally ANYWHERE.
When we came back to the states and got back into backpacking folks looked at us as if we were completely crazy for using betadine, that it would not work and that if we insisted on iodine then we had to use the pills. I hate to admit that I have just assumed that information to be true until I did some web searching and found lots of data to support that betadyne usage works just fine.
Search of this site did not produce much information, a few references. So my question is why would this not be a popular water treatment option within the ultralight backpacking crowd?
I am not trying to open a debate to multiple purification techniques, I have researched many different options and keep coming back to iodine for our needs. It just seems with the far greater flexibility, availability, lower cost, faster dissolve rates, etc. That drops are a much better option than pills and have the added bonus of being a great multiple-use item for topical sterilization. What am I missing??
Read, but search for other info which is abundant:Feb 8, 2010 at 12:13 pm #1571209
No interest in this topic? I just filled a 1 oz bottle which is enough 150 liters of water treatment, that would 6 bottles of pills…Feb 8, 2010 at 12:28 pm #1571219
Travis LeannaBPL Member
How fast does it purify?
Is it safe to drink in large quantities? Not the stuff itself, but water treated with it.
What is it guaranteed to kill?
Edit: just read the contact times on the link you provided.Feb 8, 2010 at 12:51 pm #1571229
Read the whole article. Same protection as iodine since it is iodine.Feb 8, 2010 at 1:05 pm #1571233
Betadine is not elemental iodine. It is an iodine compound.
Read down the bottle label to the place where it says "Warnings." "External use only."
Years ago we used elemental iodine in very carefully controlled concentrations for water treatment.
As far as water treatments go, Betadine is an excellent topical first aid liquid.
–B.G.–Feb 8, 2010 at 1:08 pm #1571235
Travis LeannaBPL Member
So in other words, look for some other chemical treatment?Feb 8, 2010 at 1:16 pm #1571238
Go with chlorine dioxide, dude!!!Feb 8, 2010 at 1:19 pm #1571240
Rick DreherBPL Member
@halfturboLocale: Northernish California
Iodine isn't considered especially effective against crypto or giardia, so ClO2 would seem to be a better route. Betadine as an emergency treatment measure might be worth investigating, particularly with respect to minimum concentration and contact time.
RickFeb 8, 2010 at 1:29 pm #1571244
It seems like we keep going back to some original principles. First, you have to know what the problems in your water are, and then you _might_ be able to treat the water for them. If you don't know your water threats, you are just thrashing around. There might be heavy metal contamination, bacteria, viruses, or protozoans.
Halogens will treat some of these problems in the water, and iodine and chlorine are the two most likely candidates, again depending on what it is you want to kill.
Betadine could be a rich source of iodine in the water, but its not very desirable in some regards. It would certainly be better than nothing, but standard water treatments might be a lot better.
I have some friends who have problems with iodine compounds, and chlorine compounds are a lot safer. I have yet to find anybody allergic to chlorine compounds, which is why so many public water systems use chlorine compounds in their treatment.
–B.G.–Feb 8, 2010 at 1:38 pm #1571247
"I am not trying to open a debate to multiple purification techniques, I have researched many different options and keep coming back to iodine for our needs."Feb 8, 2010 at 1:56 pm #1571251
“A closed mind is like a closed book; just a block of wood”. –old Chinese ProverbFeb 8, 2010 at 2:15 pm #1571263
Dean F.BPL Member
@acrosomeLocale: Back in the Front Range
FWIW the package insert says "Do Not Swallow." All of the formulations I've found are topical- non are enteral. But that might mean the full-strength stuff. I'm not sure how applicable that is for a few drops diluted in a liter.Feb 8, 2010 at 2:15 pm #1571264
Bob, I tried to be very clear in my first post that I was looking for input on Betadine usage as a different way of dealing with Iodine treatment, that clarity was specifically with this exact thread drift in mind. I'm not being closed minded, I've just researched other options and found that Iodine treatment works great for the application range that I'm using it for. I understand there are lots of other applications, with different pluses and minuses.Feb 8, 2010 at 3:10 pm #1571290
Apparently Betadine is not popular among the ultralightweight backpacking crowds.
Personally, just for myself and for water treatment in the mountains, I don't have any huge problem with elemental iodine. I used it carefully and exclusively for years.
However, Betadine, No, Never.
–B.G.–Feb 8, 2010 at 3:28 pm #1571299
Rick DreherBPL Member
@halfturboLocale: Northernish California
In your OP you asked, "So my question is why would this not be a popular water treatment option within the ultralight backpacking crowd?"
If you could enumerate what source water and contaminants you typically treat for it would help further the discussion; otherwise I'm afraid the conversation will continue to go in circles. A search of forum threads will reveal in vast detail what drinking water contaminants our contributors treat for and which treatment options ultralighters both consider and choose.
At the end of the day the various treatment schemes (including no treatment at all) are merely tools to match against conditions within a framework of reasonable risk management.
RickFeb 8, 2010 at 4:14 pm #1571312
Tom KirchnerBPL Member
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
"At the end of the day the various treatment schemes (including no treatment at all) are merely tools to match against conditions within a framework of reasonable risk management."
As good a summation as I've ever seen. Well stated.Feb 8, 2010 at 4:24 pm #1571324
(Rick is now contemplating a second career as a lawyer.)Feb 8, 2010 at 5:21 pm #1571361
I understood that Iodine did kill giardia as long as the water was above 20 C, thus allowing the outer shell to soften and the iodine to get in?
I remember reading something on Roger's Bushwalking faq about betadine.
regardless, is there a difference between iodine tabs/ polar pure and betadine as a source for purification? The former results in 8 parts per million. What does 4 drops of betadine result in?Feb 8, 2010 at 5:36 pm #1571368
The relevent section from the link pasted below:
Iodine has been used to disinfect water for nearly a century. It has advantages over chlorine in convenience and probably efficacy; many travellers find the taste less offensive as well. It appears safe for short and intermediate length use (3-6 months), but questions remain about its safety in long-term usage. It should not be used by persons with allergy to iodine, persons with active thyroid disease, or pregnant women.
Note that Iodine and other halogens appear to be relatively ineffective at killing cyclospora, a troublesome diarrhea-causing bacteria seen in Nepal only in the late Spring and Summer months. At these times it may be reasonable to pre-filter water to remove the large cyclospora (about the size of Giardia cysts), and then treating with iodine. (See the comment from Dr. Backer)
Iodine is available in numerous forms, which can be confusing to the traveller. A simplified table is presented below; for more complete information refer to (Backer 1995).
Iodine Topical Solution 2%
Iodine Tincture 2%
Lugol's Solution 5%
Povidone-Iodine (Betadine®) 10%
(Globaline®, Potable Aqua®, EDWGT®) 8 mg
Disinfecting Contact Times
WATER CLARITY WATER TEMPERATURE
5 °C 15 °C
final drinking concentrations calculated at 8 mg iodine/liter
measure with a tuberculin syringe or dropper: 1 drop = 0.05 ml
In general, if you are in a hurry double the chemical dose and halve the contact time; if you want better flavor halve the dose and double the contact time.
If you believe the water may be heavily contaminated, double the chemical dose or double the contact time.
Iodine Topical Solution and Iodine Tincture also contain 2.4% sodium iodide, Lugol's Solution also contains 10% potassium iodide, increasing the dose of iodine ingested.
Povidone is a non-toxic polymer that binds the iodine and allows higher concentrations in a water-based solution. This complex system provides a sustained-release reservoir of free iodine, and makes calculation of the "strength" of the solution difficult.
A system comprising iodine crystals in plain water is available, and works well. It lasts an extremely long time. I have not shown it here because the amount of iodine dissolved in the water is highly temperature-dependent, and this is problematic in the universally cold environment of the Himalaya.
Addition of a small amount of vitamin C (50 mg) to your water after the contact time with the iodine will render the water nearly flavorless!
Discussion and Personal Preferences
Trekkers visit Nepal in huge numbers, and have a significant impact on the environment here. There are some important steps they can take to minimize this negative impact. Using bottled water in remote areas is unsupportable. It results in a terrible waste problem with non-reusable, non-biodegradable plastic bottles. Boiling water requires heat, which may be from a kerosene stove or dried yak dung, but is often in the form of a wood fire. Burning wood = deforestation in many of these fragile mountainous areas. For this reason I encourage trekkers to enjoy hot drinks in the tea houses, but not ask for boiled water to fill their water bottles. Filters do not do an adequate job of disinfection, and so I see no point in spending money on them or taking up valuable backpack space carrying them. I recommend iodine as the treatment of choice, unless there are contraindications to its use.
My own preference is to use Betadine® (10% povidone-iodine) in a small dropper bottle, and a one liter nalgene bottle. I fill up the bottle from a stream, drop in 4 drops of Betadine®, screw on the lid, and put it in my pack. Half an hour later, it is ready to drink. With minimal planning ahead, I rarely need water faster than this. I like this system because I carry Betadine® in my first aid kit anyway, and I personally think the flavor is less noxious than some other forms of iodine. I don't usually feel the need to add flavor crystals to my water, rather I joke that iodine is "the taste of safety." A little goes a long way: 30 ml of Betadine® is enough to disinfect 150 liters of water, or drinking water for about 50 days of active trekking (I am presuming that some additional fluid intake exists from tea, soup, meals, etc.).
I encourage trekkers to try a "taste test" at home with the various forms of iodine to determine which form tastes least bad, what strength they can tolerate (balanced against the necessary contact time), and whether they need to plan on carrying bulky flavoring crystals. Try the vitamin C trick!Feb 9, 2010 at 12:54 pm #1571709
Is Betadine just a stronger % of Tincture of Iodine? That's what Cody Lundin recommends for emergency purification. Or does Betadine have other nasties added?Feb 9, 2010 at 7:43 pm #1571914
Yes, Betadyne is just the trademarked name for provodone iodine. I'll leave it to the chemists to define that structure. WalGreens has their own marketed brand as I'm sure every major pharmacy does. Read the full article, it's very informative.
Again, my intent was not to stir the pot but to ask amoungst existing iodine users (pills or whatever) if there was experience with betadine. I think I got my answer, I'll let y'all know if I get sick this summer…Feb 11, 2012 at 6:16 am #1837859
Randall RazianoBPL Member
@rrazianLocale: SW Colorado
The reason betadine is not a good purifier is that the iodine is not immediately available in the solution.
But in a nutshell, it is used for hand purification, surgical preparation, etc, because of its sustained release properties….good if you are going to need sterile hands for an hour, bad if you want to achieve high immediate concentration.
I would love to use betadine, as it is cheap and readily available, but delayed release is not what you want.
see excerpt from zen backpacking…
"Providone-iodine is a polyvinyl pyrrolidone-iodine water soluble complex that works as sustained-release reservoir of free iodine. This enables providone-iodine solution to contain high levels of iodine without being too irritating to skin and without losing free iodine when mixed with water.
This disinfectant is often carried in first aid kits and because of its versatility as both a topical antiseptic and water purifier, it is the preferred chemical water treatment option by many backpackers, climbers and other outdoorsman. But since it contains both povidone-iodine and free iodine, you are consuming conceivably more iodine than if you used just iodine alone to treat your water.
The concentration of free iodine in providone-iodine solution is a complex matter. Dilution of providone-iodine in water seems to weaken its hold on iodine, causing a release of free iodine into solution. At full 10% strength, the concentration of free iodine is actually lower than when diluted down to 1:50 with water. This increase in free iodine concentration begins to decrease somewhere around 1:50 dilution but concentrations differ amongst the various brands and formulations and is difficult to calculate."Aug 10, 2012 at 12:39 am #1901593
Randall RazianoBPL Member
@rrazianLocale: SW Colorado
Oh and FYI after sufficient time allowed for iodine to work ?4 hours iodine taste color etc can be neutralized with Vit c, just 1 tab in a few gallonsMay 28, 2016 at 8:03 pm #3405326
Joshua StillwellBPL Member
@bearjoshLocale: Southern California
Thanks so much for all the info about Betadyne. I know this post is 4-6 years old, but this post is very timely for me. I’m going to be doing an overnight riverboarding trip and need a super-light packable way to treat the water so its drinkable. I need water filtration as small and as packable as possible as real estate on a riverboard is minimal to none. I was looking at iodine tablets, but they are super moisture sensitive as even one drop of water in the tablet bottle could be a problem. A betadyne dropper could work perfect though as its already meant to be water proof and its super ultralight. I’m not worried about any amount of iodine chemicals as its a short trip.
I think the ultralight community is a little close-minded to iodine because 1. A significant number of ultralighters don’t filter (at least in the Sierra) 2. Those who do use nice solutions like a Steripen, and 3. The outdoor crowd is a little afraid of chemicals in general. These days the word “chemical” is a bad word to most people even though everything is some kind of chemical even water. To each is own I say, but I really appreciate alternatives that fit to specific needs like Betadyne will for my trip, thanks! Look at all the hate that the MSR MIOX pen got, even though you can’t really beat it in certain situations such as large groups backpacking.
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