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How To Collect Water In The Wild: Best Tips And Advice

How To Collect Water In The Wild: Best Tips And Advice

How To Collect Water In The Wild: Best Tips And Advice

Water is essential for surviving. You can survive without food for a week, but not without water. When situations are extreme and you’re lost in the wild, a top priority should be to find a water source and a way to filter and purify it (this is critical). In case you have limited supply at hand, managing your intake of water and envisioning a plan for finding additional sources of water should be on top of the list.

Water is the one element that can keep you alive.

Some things that can signal dehydration: Felling lethargic, dizzy, confused, headaches, urine becoming dark yellow or even brown. This is when you need to find something to drink as soon as possible.

“Dehydration can impair your judgment, which is something you need to avoid. Your life now depends on you thinking at this point.”

Best ways to collect [and drink] water

“Contracting a gastrointestinal illness can be life threatening. Treat any water you drink to skip the bacteria and diarrhea that can accelerate dehydration”.

  • Collect from Streams, Rivers, Lakes if available. The higher (in the mountain) the source is, the purer it is. But still needs purification.
  • Collect Rainwater.
  • Collect Heavy Morning Dew: Tie some absorbent cloths around your ankles, and take a pre-sunrise walk through tall grass, meadows, etc. When the cloths are saturated wring out the water and repeat. Make sure you are not collecting dew from any poisonous plants.
  • Collect Plant Transpiration. Early in the morning tie a bag around a leafy green tree branch. Place a rock in the bag to weigh it down a little bit so the water has a place to collect. Over the course of the day the plant will transpire and produce moisture which will be collected at the bottom of your bag. Do not do this with a poisonous plant.
Collecting Plant Transpiration
Collecting Plant Transpiration
  • Dig Wells
  • Avoid Water Substitutes: Alcohol (dehydrates), Urine (harmful body waste), Blood (high salt content), Seawater/Sea Ice (high salt content)

Always filter your water and purify (boil) it. Remember that filtering and purifying are two different things.

Purification Straw

Purification Straw

If you’re near the ocean, if you go to the landward side of a sand dune, you can dig a hole down to where you start seeing water filling in. You could drink this water, and although it will still taste salty, the sand acts as a filter and will remove enough of the salt from the seawater to allow you to drink it

Filtering water in the wilderness:

  • Wood and tubing: Cut a small piece of sapwood (a couple inches long by an inch or so wide) and insert it tightly to one end of a plastic tubing if available. Pour water onto the other end, and let it drip out (going through the sapwood) and into a container. Improvise other ‘tubing’ if you don’t have plastic tubing (t-shirt/cloth, the plastic from a water bottle, etc).

Wood and Tubing

  • Rock/Sand Layer Cake: Layer various materials in a hollow log or bag, and let water drip down from the top, through the layers, out through a small hole in the bottom, and into a clean container.
  • Use survival filter straws if available

Purifying water in the wilderness:

  • Boil it: At least for one minute (evaporation will make you lose some water, but it is necessary)
  • Use chemicals if available (Iodine/Chlorine/Bleach) – Use recommended dosage and use

Tip: If you don’t have a pot at hand, or where to boil water, you can dig a pit and put a tarp in it (secure it on the top sides with rocks), get your water in the pit and throw some hot rocks in it. You could boil water this way.

Tip: Don’t breathe through your mouth but through your nose. You will lose a lot less moisture by doing so. Use your available water only for drinking, and not for washing. Dehydration can quickly hit your brain function and won’t let you ‘think’ straight. This is very risky specially when dealing with the wild which is all about making decisions.  

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