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 or 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.
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.
- Fill the bottles with clear filtered water ( filter through T-shirt or some other filter material to remove solids.
- 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.
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.
No matter how dire your circumstances, you should never drink the following:
- untreated water
- Salt water
- 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)
- dig a hole about 300 X 300mm and down to moist ground.
- If you don’t have enough moisture in the ground, you can add dirty water or non-poisonous vegetation to the hole.
- Place the container in the center of the hole.
- Lay the plastic over the hole
- Place stones and soil on the plastic’s edges to hold it in place and to avoid moisture from escaping
- 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.
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
- A container
- Non toxic tree
On the sunny side of the bush or tree,
- 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 mentioned 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.
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