Finding water in the wild is the cornerstone of survival skills. Without water, you will die within 3-5 days. The difficulty of finding water varies with the area you are in. Places like the tropics will be much easier to find water, while arid environments will be much more difficult.
We will focus this article on the tropics, like a jungle or island. Because jungles are so wet, from the reserves of water in streams and small lakes, to the dew and rainwater you can find collected on large leaves, finding water in the jungle is probably one of the easier parts of surviving if you find yourself there.
Here are a couple of ways to distill and filter water found in the wild.
If you find some large leaves, you can create a makeshift “bowl” out of them and use them to collect dew and especially rainwater in them. Set up several of these to ensure you have enough collected.
If you have any containers with you (or even a tarp or poncho), use these as well to collect rainwater when the opportunity presents itself. The water you collect may taste a little funny, this is probably due to the lack of certain minerals you get from groundwater.
If you find a running water source you’ll be in even better shape, and since animals need water just as much as you do, you can search for tracks and see if they follow to a water source.
If you do find a stream or river, do not start drinking right away. If you have a water filter with you (which you should include in your a bug-out-bag), use it. The water may contain, and probably does, harmful bacteria and parasites that could easily make you incredibly sick. As a general rule, boil the water for at least 10 minutes.
Green bamboo can contain a clear and odorless water inside that is safe to drink. Bend the top of a tree down about 1 foot off the ground and tie it off. Next, cut a few inches off the tip and put a container underneath. Leave it there overnight and the following day you should find some drinkable water waiting for you.
Photo credit howstuffworks
You can create a solar still to help you collect water as well. In order to do this you’ll need the following items:
- some plastic sheeting
- digging tool
- drinking tube
First you’ll need to find an area that is moist and gets sunlight for most of the day. Then, dig a bowl-shaped hole 2 feet deep and 3 feet wide and add an additional deeper pit in the center. Grab your container and place it into the deep pit. Put your drinking tube into the container and run it up and out of the hole where you can access it. Next you need to get the plastic sheet and place it over the hole, covering the sides with rocks and soil to secure it down. Get 1 rock and place it in the center of the sheet, letting it weigh the center of the sheeting down around 18 inches over the container.
Now that your solar still is set up, you’ll be ready to start collecting water. The ground’s moisture will react with the sun’s heat, producing condensation on the plastic sheet. Your rock weight causes the plastic to sag which forces the condensation to run down and fall into your container. If you set it up in the right place, a successful still can offer you up to 1 quart of drinking water per day.
In order to get better-tasting water, let it sit for 12 hours if you can afford to do so. You can also set up a water filter with very few components so that you can remove particles.
Homemade Water Filter
Photo credit howstuffworks
Setting up your own makeshift water filter is relatively easy and pays off big time when properly made. In order to do this you’ll need the following items:
- 2 containers or plastic bags
Take one container and punch 5-10 holes around the base of the container. Fill the container with alternating layers of rocks and sand (even cloth), with a layer of charcoal at the bottom (see photo above). This creates both fine and course layers for your water to fall through, resulting in effective filtration of particles of varying sizes. Suspend the container off of the ground by hanging it or tying it to a branch or other object. Place your second container beneath your filter to catch the falling filtered water.
Now your homemade water filter is all set up! All you have to do is to gently pour your collected water into the open top of the container (or plastic bag) and let gravity pull the water through the varying layers of rock, sand, and charcoal. The water should then fall into your second container below, fairly clear (if not clear, then pour the water through the process a second time). The charcoal removes the water’s odor, but make sure you filter the charcoal out with some cloth. It removes large sediment and can improve taste.
Remember to always boil the water before drinking it, even after you have filtered it.