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Wilderness Environ Med. 2011 Dec;22(4):329-32. doi: 10.1016/j.wem.2011.08.003.

A blinded, randomized, palatability study comparing variations of 2 popular field water disinfection tablets.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam, Houston, TX 78234, USA.



Halogen-based water disinfection tablets may render an unpleasant taste to treated water. Proposed safe additives such as ascorbic acid may reduce this objectionable taste. We compared the palatability of 2 field water disinfectants: iodine-based tetraglycine hydroperiodide (TGHP) and chlorine-based chlorine dioxide (CD) both with and without the concomitant use of an ascorbic acid taste neutralizer.


Blinded participants randomly sampled 5 different distilled water samples containing combinations of disinfectant tablets and ascorbic acid: 1) water; 2) water with TGHP; 3) water with CD; 4) water with TGHP plus ascorbic acid; and 5) water with CD plus ascorbic acid. Participants rated beverage taste via a 100 mm visual analogue scale (VAS) and ranked the samples from "most pleasant" to "least pleasant."


Sixty participants evaluated the samples. On the VAS, water with TGHP tasted worst and water with CD tasted second worst. Water with TGHP plus ascorbic acid, water alone, and water with CD plus ascorbic acid measured similarly as significantly best tasting. Water with TGHP was ranked by 58% as "least pleasant" tasting, while water with TGHP and ascorbic acid was ranked by 40% as "most pleasant" tasting.


Participants found halogen-based disinfected water significantly less palatable prior to the addition of ascorbic acid. Addition of ascorbic acid to treated water created a beverage of similar preference to distilled water. These results may increase compliance with the use of disinfecting tablets by increasing the palatability of drinking water made potable via addition of ascorbic acid to halogen-based chemical disinfection.

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