8 Crazy Ways To Get Potable Drinking Water Out In the Wild

So you’re in the wild, you need water and you weren’t prepared to “rough it.”

Don’t panic, we’ve got you covered. Even if you don’t have a pot, matches or the usual gear that Bear Grylls or any hiker is supposed to have in his backpack, surviving in the wild may be a bit easier if you know what to do.

Before you worry about food, worry about water. Edible plants and fruit usually grow near a water source so finding safe water to drink can double up as a search for food.

Here are 8 crazy ways to get your drinking water when you’re in the wild:

1. Filtered, melted snow

If you’re in an icy landscape, you’re in luck. You’re basically surrounded with water, you just have to make sure it’s clean and melted.

melt the snow and filter

According to hikers and veteran survivalists, the best snow to drink is pristine, white and filtered. You usually have to melt the snow and filter it afterwards—but as long as you’re reasonably healthy while hiking you can drink any melted snow that isn’t yellow, brown or black.

Keep in mind though, that eating snow isn’t going to hydrate you and could possibly make things worse since your core body temperature would go much lower.

You can melt snow by packing some into your canteen and keeping it close to your body.

2. Collect water from moist branches

clean branch that comes from a non-poisonous tree

If you have some time and room to spare in your pack, collecting water from a tree branch slowly can be a great way to supplement the water you already have.

You have to remember that you can only use a healthy, clean branch that comes from a non-poisonous tree. If you aren’t familiar with poisonous plants and trees, it may be better not to use this method.

If you’re sure about your tree, though, you can cut off a small branch (about a foot long) and put it in a plastic bag. You’ll find that fresh water from inside the branch will condense in one corner of the bag if you’ve held it up correctly.

Good for a few mouthfuls at least!

3. Just drink it

Wait, really?

Experts say that running water that’s clear and coming from streams are usually safe to drink as these have been filtered somewhat. They do advise you to “just drink it” when it comes to these sources of water.

 the surroundings of the stream

But they do have some precautions such as looking at the surroundings of the stream. There shouldn’t be any signs of animal fecal matter if you want to drink from the stream.

What’s more, if you want to preserve this water source for later use, make sure that you bury your feces at least a foot into the ground and away from sources of water to make sure you don’t contaminate anything.

4. Solar power purification

kill most parasites and bacteria in the water

If you have time and a water bottle, supplementing your water supply could be quite easy.

A transparent water bottle laid out in the sun for a day or two can kill most parasites and bacteria in the water. You may want to run the water through a rough filtration system made of rocks and sediments afterwards.

The UV rays in the sunlight will kill most microorganisms in the water. Keep in mind that you have to leave the water out in direct sunlight for six to eight hours on a very sunny day and up to two days if the sun isn’t that strong.

5. Taste the rain

If you happen to be in an area where it’s raining a lot, don’t forget to fill your water bottles! Rain is the easiest drink you can get out in the wild, so make sure that you get your bath, clean your clothes and stock up on water while it’s pouring.

filter the water through a cloth

6. Boil the water.

For quick gulps, you can boil a few mouthfuls of water in a small tin. The water boils easily and you don’t even have to build a large fire.

If you’re in wet or very cold and dry wilderness, being able to conjure up a fire can be difficult. You don’t have to boil a lot of water all at once, but experts do advise you that you filter the water through a cloth before you boil it to further lessen impurities.

7. Find underground streams

a dried-up stream

Here’s where you may need a little Aragorn characteristics to help you survive in the wild. If you’re in a wet, snow-capped area, you’ll likely be able to find small streams that come from the melting ice caps above.

For drier and more barren areas where there might be no moisture or water as far as you could see, you may have to find water underground.

What you essentially have to do is find a dried-up stream or bend that may be holding water beneath it. If you find an area that used to be a stream and sinks slightly from the surface, you can dig here.

If you come across darker soil as you dig, keep going as this means there’s more moisture underneath. Once you’ve hit the wet soil or darker soil, take a rest and come back after a while to see if there’s some water collecting in the hole you dug.

8. Follow the fauna

One of the best indicators of fresh potable water is the trail animals leave in their own search for water.

reservoir of fresh water

According to Australian experts, following an ant trail up into a tree can mean a hidden reservoir of fresh water. While you’re not supposed to cut the tree, dipping a clean cloth in the hole where the ants disappear into the tree may let you soak up the water. Squeeze the water into your tin to drink.

You may also follow birds and see their behaviour to tell you if they’re going towards water or away from it. Birds who fly low are usually on their way for a drink while birds who are hopping from tree to tree have drunk their fill.

In the end, finding potable water without most of a hiker’s usual gear is definitely an emergency situation. Whenever you want to rough it, make sure you have all your gear, including a tin, matches, materials for a still and a few water bottles to keep you hydrated.


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