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Water, Water Everywhere, But Is It Potable?

drinking water -- shutterstockWithout a clean, potable source of water, you cannot survive indefinitely. You may make it for a few days, perhaps a week. However, your body will eventually dehydrate, and you can die if you do not find clean water soon. If you find yourself in a situation where clean drinking water is scarce, you need to know how to survive. There could come a time when basic water-finding skills could save your life.

Basic Skills

Water can be found or produced in even the harshest conditions; you simply need to know how to find it. That means that in most of the world, you can find water in one location or another. For example, if you are in mountains or hills, walk downhill. Water flows downhill, and you will eventually run into water. If you are stranded in the desert, you can find water using a solar still and existing plant material. You can find more on how to make a solar still later in the article.

Another water-finding tactic is to look for animal tracks and follow them as far as you can go. Animals need water, and you will most likely find water at the end of the animal tracks. Keep in mind that any water you find should be purified before you drink it. If you don’t purify it, you could become sick—just as sick as if you didn’t have water. You can use fire and boil water, or you can use water purification tablets if you have them in your survival kit.

Ultra Efficient Water Filter Fits In Your Pocket!

Filtering Water

Unfiltered water from ponds or streams can contain dangerous bacteria. If you drink it, you can become very sick and possibly die. In order to make water potable, you must filter it. The tips below will help you filter the water and make it safe to drink.

  1. Dig a Pit: You can make the earth work for you as a water filter by digging a hole in the ground near the water source. Start approximately fifty feet from the water source and dig until you see water pooling. Once water is flowing into the hole, wait a few minutes and allow the water become clear. If it doesn’t become clear shortly, dig further and scoop out the dirt. You can now drink the water that has been filtered by the earth. As the water moves from the source to your freshly dug pool, sediment and rocks in the ground act as the filter and make the water potable.  This method of filtering will also work for saltwater. When using this for saltwater, move as far as you can from the saltwater source. This will increase the chances of finding fresh water.
  2. Natural Water Filters: You can make a natural water filter using materials that you collect from nature. First, you need to collect a hollowed-out tree stump or something you can make into a tube. Next, make crushed charcoal using a piece of wood that you have charred. Crush this charred wood up into a powder consistency. Pack the charcoal ash with sand on both sides down into the log or tube you have prepared. Cover this with grass or plant materials to keep the sand from seeping out of the tube. If you have a piece of cloth, you can cover the tube ends and not use plant material. If you do not have cloth or plant material, push rocks into both ends of the tube to hold everything inside. Your water filter is now ready to be put into action. Pour water slowly into one end of the tube and wait for it to filter through the tube and out the other end. You will need to filter one or two gallons before you get clear water. This filter will eliminate the dangerous bacteria found in North American water. If you are in a tropical region, you should follow this filter with boiling to kill all bacteria.
  3. Bleach: Common household bleach can be used to make water potable. The main ingredient in bleach is sodium hypochlorite. This chemical will purify water; however, you don’t want to use too much.  Bleach reacts with microscopic cellular life and eliminates it. During this process, the bleach is also consumed. If the bleach has worked, you will smell chlorine in the water. You should keep plain, unscented bleach in your survival kit, along with an eyedropper. When drinking water is needed, you should add eight drops per gallon of water. Once treated, you should smell the chlorine; if not, repeat the process and allow the water to sit another fifteen minutes. If you have extremely green or nasty water, double the amount of bleach.

A more time-consuming method is a solar still. As mentioned previously, a solar still is handy when you have no other means of making water potable. A solar still is used to collect moisture from the soil and keep you from dying of thirst. Dig a hole in the ground, place a collection container of some sort in the center, and drape a tarp over it. Seal this tarp with rocks, sand or anything you can find that will hold the tarp in place and seal the hole. Put a small pebble or rock in the middle of the tarp to create a slope. Now, sit back and let Mother Nature do the work for you. As the heat from the sun warms the air beneath the tarp, moisture in the soil starts to evaporate. This moisture condenses on the tarp and runs down into the hole where the collection vessel waits to collect it. This is not a fast process and should be put in place soon after realizing you have no other water source. You can increase the rate of condensation and amount of moisture by putting plant materials under the tarp. You do not have to boil the water you collect; it is pure and completely potable.

Always keep in mind that safety comes first. There are many different ideas on how to make or find potable water. However, there are just as many hoaxes out there that can make you sick or cause you to die from drinking poisonous water. You should know both what is safe and what is not safe in order to be prepared for any disaster.

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