does potassium iodide expire

Does Potassium Iodide Expire? Tablets Shelf Life – Answered

You might wonder, “Does potassium iodide expire?” (Potassium iodide tablets are used for an extent of nuclear radiation thyroid protection.)

In case you have been wondering if potassium iodide expires (such as the branded iOSAT™ tablets and others)… I found out that I had been wrong in my assumption. This was based on what I had heard from others, and the dates on packaging.

For those of you who don’t know what these tablets are… They’re basically ‘nuke pills’. They help prevent radioactive iodine from getting into the thyroid gland during a nuclear radiation emergency.

You do have some, right? (Good preparedness item to have, just in case.)

I always keep several packs of iOSAT™ (Potassium Iodide Tablets) on hand as part of my medical preps. Although I do not live near any nuclear power plants, it’s still cheap insurance to have on hand. There’s also that ongoing threat called nuclear war… But that would never happen, right?

>> Potassium Iodide Tablets, 130 mg (14 Tablets)
(view on amzn)

As with all types of ‘medications’, there is an expiration date printed on the package. I do know that generally in many or most cases these dates do not mean that the drug will ‘go bad’ the next day (for example).

In fact, far from it… Many drugs / medications will be quite effective for significantly longer, despite a slightly degraded efficacy.

With that said, we were going through our Medical / First Aid supplies and came across packets of iOSAT™ potassium iodide tablets. The “expiration” date indicated several years ago.

I decided to do some research on it, and guess what I found out? They are apparently still good!

Here’s what I discovered about their shelf life:

From the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, FAQ,

“Is it safe to take KI tablets with an expired shelf-life?”

(KI is potassium iodide)

Quote, “Yes, potassium iodide tablets are inherently stable and do not lose their effectiveness over time.”

“According to FDA guidance on Shelf-life Extension,

Studies over many years have confirmed that none of the components of KI tablets, including the active ingredient, has any significant potential for chemical degradation or interaction with other components or with components of the container closure system when stored according to labeled directions.”

“To date, the only observed changes during stability (shelf-life) testing have been the failure of some batches of KI tablets to meet dissolution specifications. Some tablets tested required slightly longer than the specified time to achieve dissolution. Even in the case of a failure of this sort, the product remains usable.”

So apparently and evidently, iOSAT™ tablets (or other potassium iodide tablets) do not expire in the context of suddenly “going bad”…

Source: U.S.NRC

What is Potassium Iodide?

Potassium iodide is a salt, similar to table salt. Its chemical symbol is KI. It is routinely added to table salt to make it “iodized.”

Potassium iodide, if taken in time and at the appropriate dosage, blocks the thyroid gland’s uptake of radioactive iodine and thus could reduce the risk of thyroid cancers and other diseases that might otherwise be caused by exposure to radioactive iodine that could be dispersed in a severe nuclear accident.

When potassium iodide is ingested, it is taken up by the thyroid gland. In the proper dosage, and taken at the appropriate time, it will effectively saturate the thyroid gland in such a way that inhaled or ingested radioactive iodines will not be accumulated in the thyroid gland.

iOSAT™ [potassium iodide] Nuclear Radiation Protection

Radioactive iodine (primarily I-131) is a waste product of nuclear fission produced in nuclear reactors and nuclear bombs.

In the event of such a nuclear catastrophe, and what makes I-131 so dangerous, is that the body cannot distinguish I-131 from ordinary iodine.

As a result, if it’s inhaled or swallowed following a nuclear ‘event’, it will be absorbed into the thyroid gland and will poison its victim.

Depending on the absorption, the effects can lead to thyroid damage, cancer, growth and birth defects, or even death.

Potassium iodide protects against radioactive iodine by preventing absorption into the thyroid gland. It does this by saturating the thyroid with stable iodine, “filling it to capacity”. Once filled, the gland “turns off” its absorption mechanism. It will remain off long enough for the radioactive iodine to disappear naturally.

This method of protection is extremely safe and effective. Up to 99% of all radiation induced thyroid damage can be avoided by the use of iOSAT™.

Because of the inherent safety, the FDA allows iOSAT™ to be sold without a prescription for radiation protection. Its use, however, should be limited to radiation emergencies. “And only when recommended by emergency response authorities.”

Note: People should not take iOSAT who have a specific allergy to iodide.

[ Read: US Nuclear Target Map ]

[ Read: The First Cities To Be Nuked? ]

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  1. Thanks for this,,,
    was just looking through stuff the other day and this was one ofthe items

  2. A good follow-up section or article would be to know what the dosage is per day, and how many days you need in an average scenario? Anyone? Bueller?

    1. Instructions are included with Iosat. It’s one tablet per day for adults and minors over 150 pounds. For younger or smaller individuals, it is less and explained in the directions. How many days would depend on the proximity to the event, strength of the device, weather conditions (wind direction, etc.) and other factors. As often said, better to have it and not need it….than the alternative.

      1. Also become familiar with warnings and side effects which may occur. Again, clearly explained in the instructions. On the other hand, an allergy to iodine would probably be the least of your worries if you needed to take this…

  3. Great prep to have in hand! We ordered a few packs after watching Chernobyl on HBO.

  4. Thanks, Ken. I also have some and was thinking about whether to keep or replace… very timely! :)

  5. Am I correct in thinking, that if your Thyroid has been removed you should not take potassium iodide?

  6. I did read somewhere that if you are older (40+) you do not need to take this since most people’s thyroid is low functioning by that age. Can anyone verify this?

  7. Great article. My husband doesn’t want to carry a GHB with him all the time* but I still put a little ziplock bag of KI pills in the center console of his car.

    *yeah I know. Don’t look at me like that, I’m doing my best here.

    1. Your husband is very lucky to have such a wonderful and caring Wife👍🙏👍

  8. I bought the ingredients to make Lugol’s iodine, pretty simple stuff.
    usp/acs Potassium iodide and iodine crystals, but they weren’t cheap.
    About $45 total and shelf stable so will last indefinitely in crystal form.
    Enough to supply me for a very long time if that’s what I want and it’s a decent substitute for
    the potassium iodide pills Ken talked about above.
    Easy enough to change the process slightly to make a Tincture of Iodine for Sterilization.
    Only bought the ingredients, haven’t gotten around to mixing the actual solution yet.

    Though I do have about 1 1/2 pounds of potassium iodide crystal in my preps.
    Bought that many years ago.

  9. Thanks for sharing this great info on the NUKE PILL and the other related

  10. Thanks for this info Ken. I have some that have expired but I wasn’t sure if they would still be useful.

  11. Just as Horse did above, I have also bought some Potassium iodide (prills) and Iodine crystals to make Lugol’s solution. My iodide has not come in but my bottles of iodine crystals show an expiration date of May 2024. I bought three of each and I know I will not use all that by 2024. Do they really expire? Or do they have an indefinite shelf life?

  12. Sorry, in my post above the Iodine crystals are the prills, which I have not received yet. My potassium iodide crystals do have an expiration date of May 2024. Same question, do they ever expire? Thank you.

  13. There’s no mention here of the shelf life for a liquid form of potassium iodide. I have a bottle of Liquid Iodine Plus, a mixture of iodine and potassium iodide and purified water. 3 drops give you 150mg. The expiration date is 2018. Does this liquid mixture expire any quicker than the tablet form?

    1. Iodine does evaporate into the air. As long as the bottle has an airtight inner seal it should be good forever. But realize some plastics are gas permeable and that will shorten then best by date.

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