1ksfbanner95 great eastern knife ad
Survival Equipment

Review: Polar Pure water disinfectant is a good addition to emergency gear

Polar Pure drinking water disinfectant is lightweight, compact and easy to carry. It's also very effective.
Review: Polar Pure water disinfectant is a good addition to emergency gear

Pure drinking water is a necessity anywhere. This product is an efficient way to quickly disinfect questionable drinking sources. 

by Leon Pantenburg

Polar Pure in hand

Polar Pure is lightweight, compact and effective.

The water in the northern Minnesota lakes looked pure enough to drink without any treatment whatsoever.

But you never knew if a flock of waterfowl just vacated the area. Or if there was a dead beaver in the creek or if a moose had pooped upstream in that sparkling brook. So we treated all the water.

Our Boy Scout troop was on a nine-day canoe trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness,  a 1,090,000-acre wilderness area in northeastern Minnesota.

The Boy Scout Northern Tier High Adventure Center supplied everything. The standard water purification system for all the crews was handled by two bottles of Polar Pure.

Using Polar Pure was simple: We mixed a cap full of the solution with a quart of water, let it set for 30 minutes, and the water was safe to drink.  There was never a problem keeping everyone supplied with drinking water

Back home, I got my own bottle and it was frequently used on hiking and hunting trips. I never got any nasty bugs from drinking water treated with it.

Edge of a wild rice/aquatic weed bed.

Edge of a wild rice/aquatic weed bed in the Minnesota Boundar Waters. (Bob Patterson photo)

But Polar Pure went off the market for a while around 2010 because some meth cookers reportedly used the iodine crystals to manufacture methamphetamine. This resulted in more stringent – and expensive – laws regarding iodine crystals.

Retired metallurgist Bob Wallace and his partner, Marjorie Ottenberg, came up with the Polar Pure idea about 30 years ago as they planned to scale the Popocatépetl volcano in Mexico.

Ottenberg, a chemist, read an article in Backpacker magazine about two doctors who had been infected with Giardia and recommended treating water with crystalline iodine.

“We knew the water was questionable down there, so we stole their idea,” Wallace said in a 2011 article in the San Jose mercury news (Read the entire San Jose Mercury News story here.

So in 1983, the couple began selling their brown bottles with a small sprinkling of iodine crystals — about a quarter of an ounce — in the bottom.

Polar Pure was a hit among backpackers and world travelers. It was effective, light and never expired, unlike many other products. One bottle can disinfect about 2,000 quarts of water, and costs about $20. I frequently took my bottle of Polar Pure along on hikes and outings as a backup, because if another water filter failed the Polar Pure wouldn’t

Now Polar Pure is back. Here are some of the strong points, according to the product website:

  • Portable water disinfectant ideal for camping, backpacking, or traveling
  • Unique bottle design deploys pure crystallized iodine into water
  • Destroys waterborne pathogens, including Giardia and microorganisms
  • Treats up to 2,000 quarts of water per bottle; indefinite shelf life
  • Bottle cap measures and decants solution–no other tools required

I used and appreciated this product long before I ever considered doing a review. I think PolarPure is a good addition to any emergency or survival kit.

Follow Me on Pinterest

Please click here to check out and subscribe to the SurvivalCommonSense.com YouTube channel, and here to subscribe to our weekly email update – thanks!




Survival Equipment

Leon Pantenburg is a wilderness enthusiast, and doesn't claim to be a survival expert or expertise as a survivalist. As a newspaperman and journalist for three decades, covering search and rescue, sheriff's departments, floods, forest fires and other natural disasters and outdoor emergencies, Leon learned many people died unnecessarily or escaped miraculously from outdoor emergency situations when simple, common sense might have changed the outcome. Leon now teaches common sense techniques to the average person in order to avert potential disasters. His emphasis is on tried and tested, simple techniques of wilderness survival. Every technique, piece of equipment or skill recommended on this website has been thoroughly tested and researched. After graduating from Iowa State University, Leon completed a six-month, 2,552-mile solo Mississippi River canoe trip from the headwaters at Lake Itasca, Minn., to the Gulf of Mexico. His wilderness backpacking experience includes extended solos through Yellowstone’s backcountry; hiking the John Muir Trail in California, and numerous shorter trips along the Pacific Crest Trail. Other mountain backpacking trips include hikes through the Uintas in Utah; the Beartooths in Montana; the Sawtooths in Idaho; the Pryors, the Wind River Range, Tetons and Bighorns in Wyoming; Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, the Catskills in New York and Death Valley National Monument in southern California. Some of Leon's canoe trips include sojourns through the Okefenokee Swamp and National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia, the Big Black River swamp in Mississippi and the Boundary Waters canoe area in northern Minnesota and numerous small river trips in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. Leon is also an avid fisherman and an elk, deer, upland game and waterfowl hunter. Since 1991, Leon has been an assistant scoutmaster with Boy Scout Troop 18 in Bend, and is a scoutmaster wilderness skills trainer for the Boy Scouts’ Fremont District. Leon earned a second degree black belt in Taekwondo, and competed in his last tournament (sparring and form) at age 49. He is an enthusiastic Bluegrass mandolin picker and fiddler and two-time finalist in the International Dutch Oven Society’s World Championships.

More in Survival Equipment