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How To Collect, And Make Healthy, Potable Water In the Wild

The purpose of this article is to show you How To Collect, And Make Healthy, Potable Water In the Wild. It might even come in handy in the cities and towns if the electricity goes off.

In any survival scenario, In the wild or in civilisation, water is definitely your most important priority. You can go days orRain Water weeks without food. Shelter is generally not an immediate necessity, depending on where you are, such as in freezing conditions.

Not having any water for 24 hours, while you could survive, will deplete both your mental and physical strength. This will make it more difficult to perform the tasks necessary to survive. After three days without potable water, your body will shut down, and you will not make it out.

You need to collect about two liters per day of clean water for your body to be able circulate blood, process food, regulate body temperature, think clearly enough to successfully carry out other internal processes.

So now I have you worried, let me show you how to survive it.

The Obvious – Streams, Rivers and Dams

Streams, Rivers and Dams are the most obvious places to look for water, but beware, they can also be a source of some terrible diseases and contaminants. If the run through or are close to any human settlements or activity, the chances are that the water will not be fit to drink unless filtered and boiled, and even this might not be enough.

Still concerned? Good, this might keep you alive. Complacency in these circumstances could literally be the death of you, your family and friends.River

If you have to use this water, make sure you filter it and boil it continuously for about 5 minutes before cooling it down. The drawback with these water sources, if they are near human habitat, is that they probably have some heavy metals and or poisons in them.

If you have a life straw or sawyer filter, you could be 99.9% certain that it is all removed. That being said, if it was a serious situation like civil war or genocide, you should probably be avoiding human habitation. So then, where would one find water.

Birds, Animals and Greenery

Animals generally know where the water is, so lookout for wildlife or animal tracks. Birds usually go and drink before roosting at night so watch the birds in the afternoons. Lush green vegetation is also a sign that water is nearby. Swarming insects may be a hassle, but they also signal that a water source isn’t far away.

Once you have found the water source, filtering and boiling would be a good precaution. Some people will likely have chemicals and filters to clean and purity the water. If the circumstances are likely to prevail for longer periods of time. Try to spare these items for when you truly need them.

UV Lights & The Sun

UV Lights are handy for purifying large amounts of water but they require facilities and power. As effective as they are, they would probably only be really useful when you get to your destination and you can set up the pipes and tanks to use them. They kill most of the bacteria in the water. But there are issues:

  • There must be a constant flow of water through the light to prevent it from being damages and thus being ineffective
  • the flow rate must not be too high preventing sufficient exposure to the UV light
  • The water must be clean (filtered) and clear so that contaminants do not block the UV from reaching the bacteria.

Another option for UV is to use clear glass or plastic bottles with no labels. Clear plastic bottle

  1. Fill the bottles with clear filtered water ( filter through T-shirt or some other filter material to remove solids.
  2. Lay the bottles flat in the direct sunlight for at least12 hours on a bright sunny day or two days if the sky is overcast. They must lay down to get the most UV coverage on the entire bottle as possible.

At your destination this will be an effective way to treat larger quantities if you do not have special equipment. Just collect clear bottles to fill and leave in the direct sun for the required amount of time.

Filter And Boil Everything

I have mentioned this already but it deserves repeating under its own heading. I would strongly suggest that you boil all the water that you source for at least 5 minutes before letting them cool down. Do not trust untreated water.


There are many water treatment chemicals on the market which can make your life much easier. Drop a tablet into a water bottle, wait a few minutes and you have potable water. WRONG! These chemicals only kill bacteria, other things like heavy metals and poisons still have to be removed.

Contaminated water

For these chemicals to be effective, the water must be free from heavy metals and poisons. In the wild, away from the effects of human habitation and industry, you might find water free from these items, but you need to be sure. This is where the sawyer filters and lifestraws come into their own, albeit that they are fairly pricey.

Don’t Drink

No matter how dire your circumstances, you should never drink the following:

  • untreated water
  • Salt water
  • Urine
  • Blood
  • Alcohol
  • Fish juices
  • Sea ice

Do the research now and source the correct equipment. It is better to have it and never need it than to need it and not have it. My advice, keep a life straw or sawyer filter in your backpack.

How To Make A Solar Still

This is not the most efficient water collection method around but, when you are in dire straights, it can give you some water. I know all the TV shows and videos tell you how you can collect water with them but you should keep in mind that, depending on the amount of water/moisture available in your still determines how much water you will collect.

Digging a hole on the beach that collected a lot of sea water only produced about a cup of potable water after two hours in the Solar still. You would need 2 stills per person, running all day to collect what your body needs in a day. Will it help you survive? Yes, but it is not a reliable source, especially if you are moving/hiking.

Making a temporary Solar Still is fairly easy. All you need is:

  • a plastic sheet about 1m X 1M
  • a container to collect the water
  • a water source (salt water, dirty water etc)

To start, Solar Still

  1. dig a hole about 300 X 300mm and down to moist ground.
  2. If you don’t have enough moisture in the ground, you can add dirty water or non-poisonous vegetation to the hole.
  3. Place the container in the center of the hole.
  4. Lay the plastic over the hole
  5. Place stones and soil on the plastic’s edges to hold it in place and to avoid moisture from escaping
  6. Place a small stone in the center of the plastic, over the contained to form a sloping funnel over the container in the hole.

That’s it. The sun will draw the vapor out the vegetation and it will condense on the plastic, running down the slop caused by the stone on the plastic and, if your cup is under the stone, the liquid will drip into the container.

Using Transpiration

Vegetation contains water and it gives off a fair amount each day. You can harvest this water, To do this you will need:

  • A large, strong plastic bag. Black bags work well but clear will do
  • String
  • A container
  • Non toxic tree

On the sunny side of the bush or tree, Transpiration

  • collect some leafy branches
  • Place the plastic bag carefully over the branches.
  • Tie the end of the plastic bag closed with the string
  • wait two hours or more
  • Cut a small hole in the bag where the water has collected
  • Drain the water into your container
  • tie the hole close with another piece of string, making sure it will not leak.
  • Rinse and repeat every two hours or so.

Water Water Everywhere Except Along The Shore

Well, that is not exactly true. No we should not drink the sea water is we want to survive but there is fresh water close by. You just need to work a little for it. It is quite simple, walk over the first due and on the inland side of the dune, dig a hole at the base of the dune.

If you dig down you will get to water and it will be fresh water. I would still boil it before using it though.

Collecting Rain Water

While we have no control over when or how much it rains, you should be ready to take advantage of it. Have a Sheet of plastic that you can open and collect water in. A waterproof poncho works well for collecting water too.

After it has rained, go and collect water from all the rock pools and in the forks of trees etc. It will be a bit of work but it will all help. Just remember to treat it before you use it.

No Need To Die Of Thirst

There is really no need to die of thirst when you are out and about in the wild outdoors. With the techniques I have Clean watermentioned above, you should be able to find enough water to survive. There are a lot more ways to find and purify water for your consumption.

As always, I really suggest that you research and try to put these suggestions into practice before you ever need to use them in any situation.



Your Opinion Counts

Please leave your comments, suggestions and opinions in the comments section below.

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18 thoughts on “How To Collect, And Make Healthy, Potable Water In the Wild

  1. Wow.Excellent informative  artical about “Water in Wild”.I have just finished reading the whole artical.what a excellent artical it is! We all know in our daily life how much important water. For me,pure water means life. By reading your artical i learn a big thing that also rain water is not trustable without  purified by boiling or filtering it.For a wild travellers/photographers  its such  a great artical for how to collect water & purified this on his wild life.

    1. Romy, it depends where you are when it’s raining as some industries put up a lot of bad stuff in the air, but the main factor is that you don’t know what bugs were laying in the rock pool or tree fork before the rain so it is safer to treat it.

  2. Water is very essential and must be sourced and purified as appropriate to avoid certain health complications. Thank you for this information. There are so many people who drink anything they see called water and end up in hospitals looking for one way or the other to help themselves out. I am happy I have got so many ways of purifying water in your article and I am going to research further on them before I decide which technique I am to use. 

    1. Clean water is absolutely vital for everyone’s survival yet we are contaminating it as if it is an endless resource. People really have to take greater precautions when sourcing water for human consumption. 

      You have a great idea of researching and testing methods before using them.

  3. Good article, this is not just a blog post, but a safety procedure for millions of people. In the wild or not the first necessity of any human is water, water is life. Simply put, without water there is no life. This article in my humble opinion is a life safer. My uncle once found himself in a situation with dire need for portable water. Had he this experience he wouldn’t have ended in the hospital, admitted for acute dehydration.

    1. Thanks for the comment Olanike. It surely is a pity that your Uncle did not have this knowledge when he needed it.

      My stock in trade expression is, It is better to prepare and not need it than it is to not prepare and then need it.

  4. Awesome article and a purposeful one! Being fully aware, Whether you get cut off from basic resources because of an attack or natural disaster, or are headed out for a long hike, knowing how to get clean water is vital for survival. Water can be deceptive, and what may look like a clean, fresh spring, can sometimes be filled with dangerous chemicals or bacteria that can seriously jeopardize your health.
    I like this three method being taught since childhood, which is Boil and Filter the water. Is a great privileged to know more method through this article. But I want to ask, won’t water purified by chemicals be harmful to our health?

    1. Thanks for the comment. Water is absolutely an important resource under any circumstances and being able to find it and make it postable is of great importance,

      As the years have gone by, there are more and more dangers of drinking water found in nature. Using the correct chemicals to purify the water will not do you any harm. Municipalities use them all the time to provide the cities and towns with potable water.

      The chemicals, if used correctly, will definitely do you less harm that water full of bacteria and heavy metals.

  5. What else do I have to say but thank you for this article? This information will go a long way in saving humanity. And now I can say that I know how to collect and Make Healthy, Potable Water In the Wild. Could remember back then in higher institution, when we went for a field course in a very far forest, we had challenges of getting water when the individual water ration that we brought from home got finished. We just drank from a stream we saw in the forest and that was really dangerous  

  6. I am going to have to try the transpiration idea and see how much water you could get. I love doing these kinds of things with my kids, we homeschool and survival skills are always a good thing to know. I didn’t know that fresh water was so close to the sea, you would think it would be salty, another good thing to know.

    1. Hi Anita, It is awesome that you are homeschooling your kids. that really takes dedication and is a lot of hard work. Making it interesting is the key and you seem to have it down pat.

      When doing the transpiration thing, please remember to ensure that the tree is not poisonous. I must say that this method is not the fastest method around.

      Have fun with the Kids.

  7. Thanks for writing this article on how to collect and make healthy water in the wild. I must commend you for all this findings and your research on this article. I find every part of the article useful as an information on how to make good drinkable water because no one can survive without drinking water for a long time.most of this methods in this article need practicing and more findings for it to workout well. But thanks again for good head start on how to create healthy water in the wild

    1. I am pleased you found this article useful and it will certainly help you if you research and practice this before you need it in real life.

  8. Water is an essential for the survival of humanity. However, it’s disheartening to know that some parts of the world don’t have access to clean, healthy water. These techniques you’ve listed are really wild, and it truly should be used by only people in the wild. I hope I will never have to use these techniques, but if at all I have to, then you’ve truly equipped me.

    How does one tell if a plant is toxic or not?

    1. It is not just people in the wild that should know this. What happens if the power goes off for a long period of time? There would be no water in the taps and the water in the shops would only last a day or two. What then?

      The best is that you research the plants in your area and make sure you can identify the poisonous ones before you need to make your own potable water.

  9. This is an informative and educative article. You have thoroughly put everything in perspective for anyone reading this post to understand the points. I have always wanted to know about treated water infact I heard reverse osmosis is tge best purifier. I think from my experience. it is a must for everyone to use water filter for water water consumption. Thank you for this live changer sensitization..

    1. Thank you for your kind words. Yes, reverse osmosis is a great system but most people find it a bit pricy. so I have only mentioned the more economical options.

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