You could be stranded in the backwoods and chances are you won’t always have what you need at hand. Every survival situation requires a good amount of improvisation and finding creative uses for a water canteen could make the difference between life and death.
If you go on a trip into the wild, a water canteen is probably the most likely item you would take with you. It will keep you hydrated, but it can also save your life in case you find yourself in a survival situation.
The next time you go camping, remember the following uses for a canteen:
1. Signaling device
If you’re canteen is reflective or brightly colored you can use it to get the attention of rescue parties. Any item could be a good signaling tool if it contrasts with its surroundings and attracts attention with movement. If you have a brightly colored water bottle, you can attach it to a string and wave it to attract the attention of rescue planes. If you have a shiny metal canteen, you can use it to reflect the sun and signal for help.
Suggested reading: How to signal for help when being lost in the wild
2. Fire starter
When you were a kid, you were probably trying to start fires with a magnifying glass, just like the rest of us. Using the same principle, your water bottle can work as a great substitute for a fire starter. You can use it to focus light into a tight beam through reflection or refraction. To start a fire using refraction you can use a metal canteen and focus light off it. However, if you have a see-through canteen, you can focus light passing through it to ignite grass or any other type of tinder. The power of refraction will help you sleep warm.
3. Improvised alarm system
Any survivalist that got stranded in the wild knows that it is not always possible to keep your sleeping area safe from intruders. Your water bottle can be used as a personal alarm system and it will keep you stay watchful if someone plans to disturb your sleep. You can put some rocks inside your canteen and suspend it by a trip wire to make an effective warning system for nighttime trespassers and predators.
4. Cooking or Boiling container
If you haven’t packed your pots and pans, cooking can become a difficult task and you have to find ways to improvise otherwise you will starve. If you have your canteen, you shouldn’t worry because you can use your imagination and improvise. Metal canteens can, of course be placed directly into an open fire while cooking, but the situation changes when you have a plastic canteen. If your canteen is made of plastic or any other material that is not fireproof, you will have to use an indirect heat cooking method like rock boiling. This is a technique that has been used by many survivalists in order to boil and purify water and it’s actually pretty simple to use it. All you need is to heat rocks that will fit into your container and still allow room for water or food. After heating the rocks over your fire for an hour or two, you can put them into your container to boil the water. You will need to change the rocks frequently to help maintain an even boil. Quick tip: don’t heat rocks that have water trapped in them as these can explode.
Related article: Survival improvised cooking
5. Heat pack
A canteen can come in handy during this time of the year as it will keep you warm. Many people use their canteens to keep them filled with cold water, but it can also serve the opposite purpose. You can fill it with hot water and keep it close to your body so that it can release heat over time and keep you warm. This can be done while traveling or when you’re sleeping at night and it can work really great if done right. If the container is insulated, this method won’t work and you can use it just to keep beverages warm. Being able to enjoy a warm cup of tea during a cold night is still better than nothing.
6. Improvised fishing-line bobber
If you’re trying your luck with some fishing in the wild, you might need a quick bobber. Your canteen is useful once more and it will serve just as fine. Canteens have a buoyant nature and they could serve well as a fishing line float with improvised tackle to get your bait out to where it needs to be without much hassle.
7. Irrigation syringe
If first aid is required in an emergency situation, your canteen will become a useful tool for cleaning out wounds All you need to do is secure a piece of plastic bag with a pinhole over the canteen’s mouth and you have an improvised syringe.
8. Hunting trap
Food can be scarce and without enough supplies, you could find yourself in a desperate situation. While foraging is a good alternative to finding food, many people have no clue about what is edible and what is not, out there in the wild. You canteen can also provide you with a meal and the slick walls of your metal canteen are perfect for trapping edible critters. You will need to bury the canteen in an upright position with the mouth exposed at the entrance of an active critter den and check every few hours for a meal.
9. Dry storage
Your canteen does a great job keeping liquids in, but it can also do a good job keeping them out. If you need a place to keep things dry, you can use your canteen and it will work great. For example, if you need to keep your tinder and matches dry during a heavy rain, you can store them inside your canteen.
10. Improvised lantern
If you didn’t bring your lantern with you, there is still hope and you can use your see-through water battle to light up the darkness. You can set up a flashlight so light refracts through the water and diffuse light for a lantern effect.
These are just a few suggestions on how to use a canteen for survival purposes and as we all know necessity is the mother of all invention. You can find alternative uses for your canteen if you are forced to do so. I’ve heard of people sacrificing their canteens and using them as tinder, as a last resort. Since many of the plastic canteens are petroleum base, they will burn and keep your fire strong in wet or cold conditions.
There are many ways in which one can use a canteen in a survival situation and it all depends on what might fit better with your environment and resources at hand. Your imagination is the main survival tool and it will expand your options when it comes to improvising your way out of a survival situation.
Be safe and God Bless!
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