Potassium Iodide In Large Quantities

Potassium Iodide, the one prophylactic chemical every disaster conscious person should have in their arsenal in case of a nuclear disaster. Often mistaken as an “anti-radiation pill,” potassium iodide is taken prior to exposure to flood your thyroid with good iodine which in turn blocks the uptake of radioactive iodine.

Standard warning, DO NOT confuse potassium iodide with iodine in tincture or other medical forms. These forms of iodine are poisonous!

Many sources of potassium iodide tablets can be found online or in survival catalogs. My favorite source is KI4U.

But what if you need a lot of it? You have a large family, a factory full of workers or perhaps you work for local emergency management and need a cheap way to protect a lot of people for example.

I happened to be reading Nuclear War Survival Skills the other day and the author mentions using reagent grade KI, which is available cheaply in 100 g or 500 g amounts. That’s over 750 and 3800 daily adult doses!

Excerpt from NWSS:

Individuals can buy chemical reagent grade potassium iodide, that is purer than the pharmaceutical grade, from some chemical supply firms. No prescription or other authorization is necessary. In 1990 the least expensive source of which I am aware is NASCO, 901 Jamesville Avenue, Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin 53538. The price for 100 grams (100,000 mg) in 1990 is $10.50, plus $2.00 to $4.00 for shipping costs. Thus the cost in 1990 for a 130-mg daily dose is less than 2 cents. NASCO sells 500 grams (500,000 mg- about one pound) for $35.50, plus $2.00 to $4.00 for shipping-making the cost per standard daily dose only one cent.
For years of storage, crystalline or granular potassium iodide is better than a saturated solution. Dry potassium iodide should be stored in a dark bottle with a gasketed, non-metallic cap that screws on tightly. Two-fluid-ounce bottles, filled with dry potassium iodide as described below, are good sizes for a family. Separate medicine droppers should be kept with stored bottles.
Thus at low cost you can buy and store enough potassium iodide for your family and large numbers of your friends and neighbors- as I did years ago.

Practical expedient ways to prepare and take daily prophylactic doses of a saturated solution of potassium iodide.
To prepare a saturated solution of potassium iodide, fill a bottle about 60% full of crystalline or granular potassium iodide. (A 2-fluid-ounce bottle, made of dark glass and having a solid, non-metallic, screwcap top, is a good size for a family.
About 2 ounces of crystalline or granular potassium iodide is needed to fill a 2-fluid-ounce bottle about 60% full.) Next, pour safe, room-temperature water into the bottle until it is about 90% full. Then close the bottle tightly and shake it vigorously for at least 2 minutes. Some of the solid potassium iodide should remain permanently undissolved at the bottom of the bottle; this is proof that the solution is saturated.
Experiments with a variety of ordinary household medicine droppers determined that 1 drop of a saturated solution of potassium iodide contains from 28 to 36 mg of potassium iodide. The recommended expedient daily doses of a saturated solution (approximately 130 mg for adults and children older than one year, and 65 mg for babies younger than one year) are as follows:

  • For adults and children older than one year, 4 drops of a saturated solution of potassium iodide each 24 hours.
  • For babies younger than one year, 2 drops of a saturated solution of potassium iodide each 24 hours.

Potassium iodide has a painfully bad taste, so bad that a single crystal or 1 drop of the saturated solution in a small child’s mouth would make him cry. (A small child would be screaming in pain before he could eat enough granular or crystalline KI to make him sick. Some KI tablets are coated and tasteless.) Since many persons will not take a bad tasting medication, especially if no short-term health hazards are likely to result from not taking it, the following two methods of taking a saturated solution are recommended:

  • Put 4 drops of the solution into a glass of milk or other beverage, stir, and drink quickly. Then drink some of the beverage with nothing added. If only water is available, use it in the same manner.
  • If bread is available, place 4 drops of the solution on a small piece of it; dampen and mold it into a firm ball the size of a large pea, about 3A inch in diameter. There is almost no taste if this “pill” is swallowed quickly with water. (If the pill is coated with margarine, there is no taste.)

As stated before, 4 drops of the saturated solution provide a dose approximately equal to 130 mg of potassium iodide.

Today’s prices at eNasco are $13.80 for 100 g and $48.70 for 500 g in reagent grade. Dirt cheap compared to tablet form. I think Mr. Kearny did a stellar job of describing just how nasty this stuff tastes. As long as you take the above advice in masking the taste, you’ll have more than enough KI for personal use and for sharing with your neighbors in the event of a nuclear emergency.