Water Water Everywhere, Pt. 2

In my first article, I discussed a few methods of water purification you could use if you found a natural source of water. Tabs, pumps, and cooking pots can all be purchased at tactical and sporting goods stores, but what if you run out of tabs or fuel?

You can’t always buy your way to survival (but it does make it easier).
The following are a few methods taught in various military survival courses designed to keep a fighter going despite the odds. Some methods have been used for centuries in some of the world’s less hospitable environments.

1. The Solar Still – This method will require a sheet of plastic (ideally about 3’ x 3’), a cup, and ideally a long plastic tube. They don’t produce much, but it works just about anywhere you can dig a hole and if you’re settling in to wait for rescue, make as many of them as you can.

First, dig a hole about 2.5 ft. in diameter (or a bit larger if you have significantly more plastic) and about 3 ft. deep. Place your cup, can, or whatever you have in the very center and place any green foliage you can find around it. You can also pour unpurified or salt water in the soil around the cup to make it drinkable.

Place one end of your drinking tube in the cup and brace the other end on the outer edge of the hole. Lay the plastic over the hole and weigh down the edges with rocks and heavy sticks so it’s secure and mostly taught. Place a small rock in the middle of the plastic over the cup to create a downward cone shape.

As the sun dehydrates the soil and the foliage, the water will condense on the plastic and drip into the cup. Replace the foliage as needed if you’re there for the long haul.

2. Charcoal Filter – Want your water faster? Willing to take a bit more of a risk? The charcoal filter uses clean sand, gravel, and (of course) charcoal to filter bacteria and other impurities out of natural sources of water.

Sadly, many of our national parks and wilderness areas have been inundated by trash and plastic. While this is bad for the environment, this could be good news if you can find a plastic bottle. Cut off the bottom, poke some holes around the new opening, and hang it from a branch. You can also cut some birch bark in a large square and wrap it into a conical shape.

Next, cut a piece of cloth to stuff in the mouth of the bottle (at the now bottom). Fill a few inches of the bottle with charcoal from your camp fire (do NOT use pieces with white ash on them, they contain harmful elements). Fill the next inch or so with clean sand, leaves, or finer gravel. Then a layer of coarse gravel, then another layer of sand and gravel.

Pour a small amount of water through and take a drink. Before running a whole river through it, wait a few hours to see if stomach issues occur. If they do, you may need to remake your filter. You should renew the filter ingredients after about 2-3 days of regular use.

3. Leaf Bag – There is no dignified name for this method. If you have some plastic bags (ideally zipper bags) place them over the end of a branch of a small tree with as much foliage in the bag as possible.

After a few hours (if it’s hot) or a day, you will find a small bit of purified water in the bottom corner of the bag. Once again, it doesn’t produce much if you’re really thirsty, but several placed around your hold out site should keep you going until you’re rescued.

There are plenty of other ways to get clean, drinkable water in the wilderness, but these are the easiest and most effective ways to improvise. Always study up on your environment so your adventures can continue.
Stay safe.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Bryan Bintliff

Bryan Bintliff

Bryan is an Army veteran, Masters Student at NYU, and a freelance writer dabbling in travel advice and survival tips... sometimes both at once. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and is enjoying his new weekend warrior status.
Bryan Bintliff

Latest posts by Bryan Bintliff (see all)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *