Which iodine do I use?

A confusing aspects to iodine has to do with there being several forms & blends. But once we see the commonly used forms laid out together, I think the situation becomes pretty simple. If these (KI) and (I2) labels are confusing or overwhelming, just skip past them for now or try to remember them by the sound they make etc. We don’t need to know these details, but being aware of the different forms and names makes learning other aspects to iodine much easier.

There are two main “raw” forms of iodine used for health. Elemental iodine(I2) and potassium Iodide(KI). Any of the forms we want to use for healing are going to contain either or both of these along with distilled water. There are forms of iodine with alcohol instead of water that we don’t want to use for this purpose. Those are antiseptics for external use.

Elemental Iodine(I2)

Seaweed has been used for its health benefits for thousands of years. Back then, they had no idea it contained iodine though.

The element was first discovered by the French chemist Bernard Courtois in 1811 and named two years later due to its purple color.

Sometimes people use the generic term “iodine” to refer to any of the many forms of iodine, which adds to the confusion.

But iodine is an element, and technically elemental iodine is I2 which is two molecules of the element I which has an atomic number of 53 on the periodic table. Confused yet? For now, just remember there is a form which is commonly referred to as elemental iodine.

Some people call elemental iodine other names like

  • iodine
  • molecular iodine
  • atomic iodine
  • (I2)

Then if we cause the proper chemical reaction involving potassium, we can mix the elemental iodine with potassium and create Potassium Iodide(KI).

Then if we cause another proper reaction, we can add more elemental iodine to KI and create potassium triiodide, more commonly known as Lugols.

Potassium Iodide(KI) and SSKI

Potassium Iodide(KI) is elemental iodine bound with potassium. This just happens to be a stable form that iodine can hang out in, and parts of our body can utilize.

SSKI is Super Saturated Potassium Iodide and is just a mixture of water and enough Potassium Iodide(KI) to keep the water suspended with as much of this stuff as possible. The amount that can be suspended by water depends on room temperature, but we shouldn’t have to worry about that unless the temperature its stored in changes rapidly.

Forms of iodine commonly used

Above I tried to explain what raw iodine is and how it can be mixed with other substances, like potassium.

Below are forms we can create with raw iodine. These are the forms we’ll read about as we learn about iodine and health.

  • Lugols liquid
  • Lugols pills
  • SSKI
  • Nascent
  • Kelp

Lugols Liquid

  • First blended by a guy named Jean Guillaume Auguste Lugol in 1829
  • The most commonly recommended and used form of iodine
  • 1 part Elemental Iodine(I2), 2 parts Potassium Iodide(KI) and distilled water
  • Contains both forms of iodine our body prefers. Some organs require one of these two forms
  • Can stain most surfaces and can usually be removed with vitamin C or hydrogen peroxide
  • Has an orange-brownish color that increases with the strength
  • The strength of the solution is adjusted with the amount of water vs total iodine
  • Should not be mixed directly with vitamin C
  • Usually the most economical form
  • Easily calculated at http://dropulator.com/

Lugol’s Pills

Common brand name: Iodoral

  • Same ingredients as Lugols Liquid without the water. 1 part Elemental Iodine, 2 parts Potassium Iodide
  • In a pressed pill form, which can be convenient to transport and consume
  • Bypasses our throat, tissue around thyroid, and our stomach. This can be slightly beneficial at first or to some of us with digestive issues, but these important cells eventually need access to iodine
  • Some people with poor digestion pass the pill completely undigested or absorbed which means we are not able to absorb as much as liquid
  • Usually one of the more expensive forms
  • Usually only available in 12.5mg or 50mg making it difficult to regulate small starting dose
  • Might evaporate the elemental form of iodine 1

SSKI Liquid

  • Approximately 50mg per drop, which makes it very economical
  • Yellowish, but clear on the skin compared to Lugols
  • Only contains one form of iodine compared to Lugols
  • Commonly used to avoid radioactive fallout in pill form

Nascent Liquid

  • Claims to be better by being “Activated”
  • Can be handy for getting started due to being weaker
  • Only has one form of iodine
  • Usually has fillers or additives
  • 2-3 times as expensive as Lugols
  • Does not have any science to show benefits over it’s raw form of iodine


Not a form of iodine, but a common supplement with iodine, so I’ve included it.

  • People claim its toxic, apparently forgetting which planet we live on, where everything is toxic anymore. I expand on this in my page about kelp
  • Contains small amounts of iodine as well as many various forms of iodine, which are handy for getting started
  • Also contains small amounts of various nutrients, making it easier than jumping right into the whole iodine protocol

Other forms of iodine

There are a few random brands of iodine with 150-250mcg or so of either or both forms of iodine. As long as they don’t have flavoring and odd fillers, they can work out well as we’re getting started. It’s best if they have both iodine and potassium iodide.

These weaker blends can be great for reintroducing our body to iodine. Some of these require 3 drops per serving to reach the 150mcg or whatever the label indicates, which means each drop a very small fraction of 1 drop of Lugols 2%. It’s still a good idea to learn about the supporting nutrients even when we are using very small amounts of iodine. My goal with all of this has eventually turned into cycling through as many nutrients as I can without overdoing any of them.

Just about any iodine is going to be better than no iodine. If I only have access to a poor form of a nutrient, I still use it sparingly for the time being till I have a chance to get my hands on something better.

Forms of iodine such as ammonium iodide or sodium iodide should probably be avoided. Once we have replenished our iodine levels over the course of several years, we might be able to use small amounts of these to force iodine into different places, but we should avoid them for the bulk of what we are doing.

Gimmick products

As iodine gains popularity, a lot of people are looking for ways to increase their profit margin by creating unique products which contain iodine. This section will contain a lot of my opinion.

There are companies like Miss Lizzy’s which add quality and value to their product. Other brands of iodine feel like someone is making and shipping stuff from their living room because some are. 

But then there are products which combine iodine and selenium as one example. This isn’t horrible but its best avoided. Not all of us are able to use selenium yet, and there is only a small chance this predetermined blend will provide enough of each. It’s best to get the hang of these nutrients in individual form so we understand how our body uses them better.

Some people will defend Nascent iodine to their grave, but my personal opinion after years of research is that it is a gimmick. It’s handy because it’s weak enough to allow us to avoid detox, but we can do the same thing by taking less Lugols. There is no need to pay 2-3x times as much for a “special” form which has no added science.

At some point I may cover some of the forms that we don’t want to use. Povidone is an example that has a (natural)plastic added to it so it sticks to our skin better as well as “hold” enough iodine. This polymer has connections to increased cancer incidence in mouse studies. I’ll link it here the next time I see it, but it’s out there somewhere. Imo there is no need to include a polymer with iodine. This would be like adding glue to our engine oil because its leaking/burning. There is no reason to use povidone over Lugols. Povidone even has a chance of becoming contaminated with.. bacteria, one of the things we’re attempting to avoid with it. It also loses its potency over time.

Povidone is commonly available to doctors. This causes more medical oriented people to know iodine by the name povidone. This is likely the only reason we ever hear it mentioned. If doctors had Lugols instead of povidone, we’d hear more about Lugols. When I see povidone mentioned, I just think Lugols.

Buying iodine

I’ve pulled together info about various common brands of iodine that are purchased by the iodine community. https://whyiodine.com/iodine-buyers-guide/

  1. https://restorativemedicine.org/journal/evaluation-content-powdered-iodine-supplements
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June 7, 2022

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