Whether you’re camping, lost, or stranded, drinkable water is crucial to staying healthy and hydrated. It’s also crucial to survival if you find yourself in a dangerous situation. You can last up to three weeks without food but only about three to seven days without water. Staying hydrated is critical. You need water to help nourish your brain, regulate your body temperature, and help dispose of waste, among other things. Lack of water can result in decreased blood, which can force your heart to pump faster and harder to distribute oxygen throughout your body.
Maintaining proper hydration levels is important if you’re outdoors, especially in humid or arid climates. You don’t necessarily have to carry gallons of water, or dozens of water bottles, however. Instead, if you know how to acquire, filter, and purify water, then you can increase your chances of staying hydrated and survive. You can even decrease your load to make camping and hiking easier.
By attempting to drink unclean water, you run the risk of exposing yourself to countless bacteria or parasites. These invaders can wreak havoc on your body. They can make you ill, give you life threatening diseases, or even kill you. When drinking water in the outdoors, you must always be certain that you’re drinking clean water. There are numerous methods for filtering and purifying it, which we’ll cover below.
Collect Your Water
First things first: in order to filter or purify water, you must procure it. While this sounds obvious, it’s not always easy to collect water in the wild. The kind of water, and how much you can collect, of course depends on your region.
Water can be abundant in nature. You can collect it from streams, ponds, creeks, or lakes. Some underground passages contained hidden or obscured bodies of water. You can even find water in or near some trees. If you’re in a snowy climate, you can collect snow, pack it tightly into containers, and wait for it to melt. You can even collect rainwater.
The level of cleanliness of the water depends on where you collect it. It’s possible that you’ve encountered a fresh water source, so you might not have need to clean it. However, in many cases you should err on the side of caution and operate under the assumption that the water requires filtering and purifying. (LINK: http://www.outdoorlife.com/photos/gallery/2015/01/survival-skills-10-ways-purify-water#page-2)
Purify Your Water
Boiling water is the best method for eliminating most parasites and bacteria. “Most” is the key word here. If you do boil water, you shouldn’t assume the heat will eliminate everything, though. So please keep in mind that although effective, boiling water isn’t a magical activity.
The best method of boiling water is to use a heat resistant container—metal, glass, and so on—over an open flame. Try to avoid any containers that can melt. You’ll want to boil the water for 5 to 10 minutes, although you should keep in mind that the longer you boil it, the better. If you can, try to boil it for 10 minutes. You should also bear in mind that your elevation level might affect how water boils, so you’ll probably have to boil it a little longer if you’re in an elevated region.
If you’re having trouble maintaining an open fire, you might want to consider heating up a pile of rocks and carefully depositing them into your container of water when they’re red hot. As long as the rocks are hot enough, they’ll boil the water.
You can also purify water through tablets or chemicals you can readily purchase online. Carrying these on you might be a good idea, especially if you plan on staying out for a while. You should probably include a bottle or two in a bag of necessities. These chemicals or tablets are often cheap and can succeed in killing most bacteria or parasites. (LINK: http://www.practicalsurvivor.com/waterfiltration)
Filter Your Water
Numerous water filtration devices are available on the open market. You can choose from a variety of filtration bottles and devices with filters of varying pore size. Using these devices isn’t difficult and they function similarly to filtration devices you might have on your kitchen or bathroom sink.
The downside to these devices, of course, is that they require considerable foresight. If you’ve purchased one and brought it with you, then you’re set. If, however, you didn’t purchase one, or you didn’t know such a thing even existed, then it’s obviously not going to help you in the wild.
Another way to filter water is by doing it yourself without the aid of gadgets. This method is especially useful for people who may be stranded without the advantages of having planned for an excursion in advances. It might take trial and error, so you could waste valuable water while you’re trying to master the craft of water filtration.
Aside from containers you’ll need as part of the filtration method, you can find everything else you need in the wild. Activated charcoal, sand, and gravel are the three key ingredients to this method. If you’ve used an open fire, collect as must of the ashy remnants of the fire as possible. In one container you’ll want to layer the bottom with charcoal. Above the charcoal, layer sand. Follow that with gravel. (LINK: http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Water-Filter)
Having put the charcoal, sand, and gravel in one container, you’ll want to create a small hole in the bottom and set that in another container. Then you’ll want to pour water onto the gravel and wait for the water to filter through the three layers. Believe it or not, the bottom container will collect the filtered water, and you’ll be surprised by how clean it is.
Again, to be certain you’ve eliminated as much bacteria or potential parasites as possible, you might want to boil your filtered water. This one-two punch should greatly reduce your risks before you consume the water.
Dehydration can seriously weaken you, make you gravely ill, or even kill you. No one can overstate how crucial water is to survival. If you’re going to drink water in the outdoors, you’ve got to be certain it’s not infested with bacteria. Some of the methods above will greatly reduce the number of bacteria in the water, making it safer to drink. As with any trip, you should plan in advance. When planning, you should make considerations for worst case scenarios. Such considerations could lead you to purchase filtration devices, chemicals, or tablets.
You should also bear in mind, however, that if you’re not in a position to filter or purify water, and you’re in a position in which staying hydrated is critical, that you should go ahead and take a risk. If you simply have no other options, drink dirty water. Granted, this should remain a last resort, but it’s better to treat an infection or a parasite later than it is to experience your body breaking down as it struggles to survive without water. (LINK: http://gizmodo.com/how-to-find-and-purify-drinking-water-in-the-wildernes-1580821351)