Friday, January 22, 2010

Gear Review: Polar Pure Water Disinfectant

Polar Pure Water Disinfectant is a simple, inexpensive and effective way to purify drinking water:

Obtaining drinking water and making sure it's safe to drink is a top priority in any bug-out scenario or wilderness travel situation.  You have to assume that practically any water you find is not safe to drink as is, unless you catch rainwater or find a spring right at the source, coming out of the ground.  Assuming this, all water from streams, rivers, lakes or pools must be purified - either by boiling, filtering, or chemical treatment.

All methods have advantages and disadvantages.  Boiling is extremely effective, but requires a heat source and a container that can be used on a fire or campstove.  You should certainly have such a container if you are bugging out, as I have stated before, a metal pot for this purpose and for cooking plant foods that must be boiled to be edible is a crucial piece of gear.  But if you are just out for a hike or are separated from your gear, it may not be possible to boil water.  Most recreational hikers and campers these days seem to favor filtration systems, and there are many on the market that are excellent and will be reviewed here later.  But filters have their disadvantages as well.  For one, the best ones are fairly bulky and take up precious space in the BOB.  Two, they all eventually require replacement filters, making them less suitable for a long-term bug-out solution.  Good water filter systems are also expensive, as are the replacement filters.

The third option - chemical disinfection - is much more economical and takes up much less space needed for other gear.  Various types of chemical disinfection options are available, some of which are not long-term solutions because they require dissolving tablets that you will eventually run out of.  This is not the case with Polar Pure.  Polar Pure uses an ingenious particle-trap bottle design that contains iodine crystals, allowing you to make an almost unlimited supply of water treatment solutions without depleting the iodine source, see illustration below:

The Polar Pure bottle can last for years before all the iodine is depleted.

So how well does it work?  Well, based on my own experience, I can tell you that I have complete confidence that a treatment with Polar Pure will get rid of water-borne pathogens such as Giardia and worse.  I have used it extensively in my wilderness travels for nearly 20 years, even in such places as the jungles of Nicaragua and Honduras, where the rivers contain all sorts of stuff that will kill you.  In all of these places I have used Polar Pure to treat water taken directly from big rivers, small streams, and even swamps, and not once have I gotten sick from drinking water.  Here is some additional info on how it works from the Polar Pure website:



Iodine has a long history as a safe, effective water disinfectant with no ill effects in normal people over long use in community water treatment at up to 20 ppm (parts per million) iodine.

"Tincture of iodine" (alcohol / iodine solution) can be used, but to assure disinfection, milligrams of iodine per drop must be known.

Iodine complexes such as Potable Aqua and Globaline are convenient and effective when fresh, but degrade on air exposure. -- These tablets should be discarded 3 months after opening bottle.--

Use of Betadine (povidone/iodine complex) in water treatment has not been tested.


Polar Pure Water Disinfectant uses pure crystallized iodine in a unique delivery system to destroy water-borne pathogens including giardia cysts and micro-organisms (viruses) that pass through filters. Simply add water to your Polar Pure bottle to create and use a saturated solution to disinfect your water.

Pure iodine crystals are stable and slightly soluble in water but evaporate easily. Keep your Polar Pure bottle filled with water and tightly capped to maintain a ready to use iodine-saturated solution.

When used as directed, a saturated iodine solution for disinfection is maintained in your filled Polar Pure bottle. This saturated solution is then used to disinfect your drinking water at an optimal concentration of 4 - 5 ppm (parts per million - about 4 - 5 mg) iodine per quart/liter of water.

Saturation concentration varies with the solution temperature, but a green dot on the liquid crystal dosage chart on the Polar Pure bottle shows how many capfuls are needed for disinfection. For complete instructions, refer to our directions for use page.


  • Does not deteriorate with extremes in temperature
  • Has an indefinite shelf life
  • Is safe and fully effective to use as long as you can see iodine crystals at the bottom of the bottle
  • One bottle treats up to 2000 quarts of water at less than 1/2 cent per quart
  • Dosage chart is printed on the bottle
  • Bottle cap is used to measure and decant solution -- no other equipment needed
  • Small size and light weight makes it convenient for backpacking and travel
  • Essential for emergency preparedness

You can read more about it on their website at:

I like Polar Pure because the bottle can be carried in a small fanny pack or even a pocket, so you can have one or more with you at all times, and it's inexpensive.  Here's a source on Amazon for just$13.34 a bottle:

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