Gathering water is a must in any survival situation, but you don’t always have a guarantee that the water is drinkable. This is why it is always indicated to gather water that doesn’t require purification. If you manage to do so, you will save time, fuel and energy. Natural water sources are all around us and we must learn how to make good use of them.
The methods below are the most practical ones when it comes to gathering water that doesn’t require purification. These methods will help you conserve energy, but most importantly, everyone can use them to gather a good water quantity. You don’t need a water filter to consume the water; you just need to make sure you’re doing everything right when exploiting these natural water sources.
Natural Water Sources – Rain
Rain can be collected and consumed without having to purify it, but in order to be safe, you need to collect it in your own container. If rainwater comes in contact with any surface or another water source (e.g. puddle, pond), it needs to be purified.
When it comes to collecting rainwater, most people think that if they set their container in the rain it will be enough to gather rainwater. This method takes a very long time and you don’t have any guarantee that the container will be filled by the time rain stops.
You should try a more effective method and this means building a rain-catching system. If you have a tarp, a plastic sheet, a rain jacket or even a trash bag in your bug out bag, you can use any of these items to capture and funnel rain water into one or more containers. Digging a hole and lining it with a waterproof material is also a good method of catching rainwater and it can hold more water than most containers.
Another good method of catching rainwater is to use natural materials of nonpoisonous trees and plants. Bark and large leaves are ideal for funneling water into your containers. Remember that every square inch of surface counts when you need to collect rainwater and you should always think big. No environment is the same and rainfall will not be available for a long time. An increased surface area will help you gather a large water quantity in a short amount of time.
Natural Water Sources – Snow
Snow is a valuable source of water, but you should never eat it if you want to survive. Eating snow will put pressure on your digestive system and you will lose valuable energy. In a cold weather environment, losing energy is not something you want to experience. You should concentrate on melting snow before you consume it. When collecting snow you should target only snow that is fresh and white. The longer the snow sits on a surface the higher the risk of contamination.
To melt snow you can use heat from a fire or the heat from your body and it all depends on the time you have.
Recommended article: How to collect and store rainwater for your home
Melting snow in a metal container over a fire is probably the fastest way to melt snow for drinking. You can use whatever metal container you have (pan, cup) or you can improvise one from tin foil. However, if you don’t have a metal container you can use a piece of cloth to melt snow. You place the snow in a bandana or sock and you hang it next to a fire. Improvise a container from leaves or bark or any other material you have at hand and position it so that melting snow drips into it. If you use this method, the cloth will also act as a water filter. Another method to melt snow implies skewering a snowball with a stick and placing it next to a fire. Position the container under the snowball and wait until most of the snow melts.
Melting snow using your body heat is indicated only if you have a good layer of clothing. For this method to work, you need to pack a container with snow and place it under your clothes, close to your body without it touching the skin. Your body heat will slowly melt the snow and you should have a good amount of drinking water. This method will take away your body heat and should be used as a last resort. Remember to change the location of the container from time to time.
Natural Water Sources – Evaporation and Condensation
Most living things experience water loss and this can be harnessed by the survivor to increase their chances of survival. If you heat anything which holds water, it will cause the water to evaporate. When it comes to natural water sources, this method can be used to extract water from, urine, seawater, mud, etc. Evaporating water and collecting the condensation also removes impurities so this process is recommended for most survival situations.
Related reading: How to make drinkable water from urine
For this method to work you need to build a classic solar still or improvise an inflatable solar still. The first method requires more energy as you have to dig a hole in the ground. Once you have the hole ready you have to position a container in the middle of it and cover the hole with a plastic sheet. Weight the plastic down with rocks and seal around the edges with sand, dirt, stones or mud. The second method doesn’t require so much energy and it implies placing a plastic bag over the end of a branch. You leave it like that for several hours so that the sun can heat the air inside and cause the moisture in the leaves to evaporate. You might have to set more than one solar still on natural water sources to get a good water supply.
All stills work on the same basic principle of using heat to evaporate the water content from a substance and if you are not able to build one, you should at least buy a portable solar still and keep it in your survival bag.
Natural Water Sources – Dew
During nighttime the temperatures drop and the moisture in the air condenses and collects on exposed surfaces. This is the common dew, one of the natural water sources that accumulates in surprisingly large amounts each morning. The dew that collects on grass and vegetation is your main target as it is considered by many survival experts perfectly fine to drink. The trick here is gathering it as fast as possible since dew is one of the natural water sources that evaporates fast. To do this right you need to tie off as many fabric items as you can to your lower legs.
You can use t-shirts, towels, bandanas and anything you can find in your bug out bag. Once your legs are transformed in supersized sponges, all you need to do is walk through as much dewy grass as possible and ring out the dew into a container. You can repeat the process for several times and if you move fast enough you can gather one gallon of fresh water in less than one hour.
There are more ways to find water in the wild and the article below should provide you with some fine examples. The methods presented in this article will help you gather water that doesn’t require filtration and although some may argue that air pollution could be a problem, these methods are recommended by many survival experts.
Related reading: How to find water in the wild
Stay Safe and God Bless!
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