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By January 1, 2011 Read More →

Purifying water in a survival situation

Post by Crusis

First of all:

If you go to Mexico, don’t drink the water!

If you come to Colorado or live here, don’t drink the water that isn’t treated.

The water here can contain disease causing organisms, parasites, or chemicals. Possibly toxins from mines. Giardia lamblia is an intestinal parasite that is common to Colorado waterways.

There are different ways to purify the water you drink from a stream, lake, pond, or surface spring though.

Boiling:

Boil water for 5 minutes + 1 minute for every 1000 feet above sea level. This is because the pressure is less the higher you go, which reduces the boiling temperature of water. Since it is boiling at a lower temp, you have to add time to the boiling process to get it sufficiently hot enough for long enough to kill any living organisms in it. You might just toss a few more minutes on the total anyway because safe is far better than sorry.

Still:

If you have plastic and a container, you can make a solar still. I am not going into details here, but we have a lot of Sun in Colorado so this is a really good way to accomplish your goal of clean water. Do your research, and if you’re heading out into the mountains or high desert you should consider having the supplies for this especially if you’re in a vehicle and don’t have to carry the weight.

Water Tabs:

Drop one in, wait the time indicated on the instructions, drink. Simple, easy to carry, and convenient for short trips. You may want to learn other methods, though, as your short trip could always become a long trip.

Filter:

Katadyn makes filters that will purify water.   While not a permanent solution like boiling and a still, it will certainly give you water quickly if you’re traveling.

Don’t forget to consider the unconventional methods of getting water.

Plants, either by squeezing out their moisture or by a ‘tree still’, which is just a plastic bag over a section of leaves. Heat will make the leaves expire moisture into the bag which will then collect in the bottom.

Dew. Take rag. Soak up dew. Wring out in container or mouth.

Snow. Never eat snow straight. You must heat it to keep from lowering your internal body temperature. You can pack a container and store it under your coat until it’s heated or use a fire, but your core temp must stay as close to 98.6 as possible. If it goes lower you are heading toward trouble. If you’re in snow you’re probably already in a situation where hypothermia is a concern, so don’t aggravate the situation by eating cold snow.

Digging. You may find water digging in the lower areas or in washes. Particularly in the high desert. Look for green plants in numbers, and dig at a lower point in that area.

Urine. As a last resort, don’t forget the supply you carry. It makes me want to gag to think about it, but you can consume your own urine at least once. Don’t forget to share with your friends!

Herbivore feces. I saw Bear Grillz do it, if I’m desperate I’ll try it myself. Grab a big cow pie, wring it out, and boil the water. Good luck!

That’s all I have. What did I forget? Coming from Indiana where water was often abundant enough to be a problem in overabundance instead of a serious concern as a missing necessity, it took me a little while to realize I should probably know how to get water here. In Indiana you go to the nearest stream, probably within a few hills, and get what you want. You still treat it, of course, but I can think of a lot of times as a stupid kid that I drank straight out of a stream while mushroom hunting or just messing around in the woods. Here, you might not find a stream easily. Get water where you find it. It’s worth taking time out to make sure your supply is topped off if you find it while traveling.

Your survival without food is likely measured in weeks. Your survival without water is likely a couple of days, especially if you’re exerting yourself. Keep your eyes open and drink safe! One thing of note: Only the still method will remove metal and chemical toxins. Never drink water running out of a mine unless you distill it.:

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