Four foolproof ways to collect water in the wild

Its a well known fact that humans cannot last longer than three days without water. So what do you do if you’re stuck in the wilderness and your last drop of water is all but gone?

If you can’t find your way to safe drinking water, there are a few ways to collect some valuable H2O that any survivalist will keep up there sleeve.

1. Rain Traps

Before we start overly complicating things here, there is a relatively straightforward way to get drinkable water, as lets face it, it rains a lot in this country. All you really need to do is collect the rainwater.

If you have a lightweight tarpaulin it’s relatively simple to rig it up as a means of collecting and funnelling falling rainwater into a suitable container. Rainwater is usually safe to drink, although you should be careful to avoid using any treated fabrics that may taint the water.

Use a rain trap to collect water

Use a rain trap to collect water

2. Dew Traps

Collecting dew is another relatively straightforward method of drawing moisture for drinking.

The simplest method of doing this is “mopping”, for which you will need an absorbent bit of fabric (such as a t-shirt) and a cup or other container.

  1. Wipe the cloth over plants soaked with dew.
  2. Wring out the soaked fabric into container. Although dew is safe to drink, you can’t assume that the surface it has condensed is, therefore it’s always a good idea to sterilise water before drinking.

Another good technique to use in saturated ground, and one that will generate more fluid than the Solar Still.

It works particularly well in saturated areas next to stagnant pools, and essentially filters the water through the soil. All you need for this technique is a small dogging implement and a cup.

  1. Dig a hole in the aforementioned water saturated soil. Make it deep enough so that the bottom of the hole is 30cm below the point at which you strike water.
  2. Let the hole fill with water.
  3. Bail out the muddy water and allow it to refill.
  4. Shazaam, drinking water. It will be clear if allowed to settle and should be drinkable. If in doubt, purify.

3. Transpiration

If you’re out and about in a hot environment and you can find a bush, then this technique might work for you. This is normally most effective in arid environments where there is no obvious watercourse. Trees can draw moisture directly from the water table, which can be 15 metres underground.

To get some water you will need; a large, heavy duty transparent plastic bag, some cord, a tree/bush with a decent amount of foliage and plenty of hot sunshine.

  1. Find a leafy branch on the sunny side of the plant.
  2. Cover the leafy end with the bag. Tie the open end tightly shut with some cord.
  3. Pull the bag down at one end to collect the water in. This should help prevent any leaves from sitting in the collected water where they could emit toxins. To help with water collection, preventing any leakage and getting the most from the sun, you can bend the branch over and tie it to the ground.
  4. Chillax until you’re ready for a lukewarm cup of grassy water.

4. Solar Still

This is probably one of the more common techniques you will see if you’ve looked at any survival books, although it is unlikely to be able to draw enough water to keep you going for long. One for true emergency’s then. To create a Solar Still you will need a clear plastic sheet, some sort of receptacle for capturing the liquid, a few rocks, plenty of sunshine and (if you can find one) a length of tubing to double up as a straw.

  1. Dig a hole with sloping, rounded edges. The ground really needs to be saturated with water for this technique to work properly; think sun-baked shorelines and arid riverbeds that are prone to flash flooding.
  2. Place your receptacle in the bottom of the hole in the middle,
  3. Lay the plastic over the hole holding it in place around the edge with rocks. Place another rock on top of the sheet in the centre and allow the sheet to sag a little. The idea is that any evaporating water will catch on the sheet and roll along to the centre of the sheet and drip into the cup.
  4. By using the straw draped from the cup up out under the sheet, you can drink the collected liquid without the risk of losing any of the water yet to drip down.
Making a solar still can help you collect water

Making a solar still can help you collect water

Melting Snow

If you’re lucky enough to be stuck out in a snowy mid-winter locale,–just make snow cones, right? Wrong. You will lose way too much energy melting the snow in your mouth, negating any benefits to hydration. Not to mention the ice cream headaches.

Simple fill a pot half-full with snow and place over a fire to melt. Don’t pack the tin full as the insulating properties of the snow will work against the heat from the fire and the pot will burn. Try to dig down and get some older, more compacted snow that will yield more water. In fact, it’s even better to use ice which will generate twice as much water from half as much heat as snow.

Words: Andy Cremin