Where To Find Water Outdoors and Ensure It Is Safe To Drink

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In the desert you can die of dehydration within a few hours. You can go without food for much longer, three weeks. I’m not pulling your chain, water encompasses a large portion of your body. You’re kinda like the earth’s surface, which is 70% covered by water.

Sidenote: Be sure to tell someone where you are going and when you are due back.

Bring a couple of liters of water.

Bring matches, a magnifying glass and a flint rock – in case you need to make fire to boil water.

Leave bread crumbs to show you the way back! Kinda kiddin on that one. No, but maybe you should set up some indicators to look for to find your way back. Like, perhaps leave sticks and rocks in unique shapes with arrows pointing toward your original start point.

Okay, so far so good.

If you are reading this stranded somewhere, your throat parched like sand in the Sahara, I suspect you are like, “Duh! I got it, I just don’t got any water to heed your advisory to drink water!”

I get it, you want to know where the water is.

Well, here we go…

Look for the presence of vegetation. Look where trees are growing more profusely, too. A puddle of water or even a river of water could be nearby if you find these indications of water’s presence.


If you see snow, you have a ready-made source. You are better off boiling it than swigging it down as is. You could opt to put it in a canister and carry that carrying vessel in your jacket pocket so the white magic will melt (not too close to your body). One word of caution: Do not try to melt snow in your mouth unless you are on the go and sweating (try to avoid sweating by dressing in layers and by not over-exerting yourself).

Generally, trying to melt snow in your mouth will cause further dehydration as it will consume your body’s heat and it can also chaff your skin and crack your lips. Then again, if it is the only choice, go for it, in moderation.

As briefly addressed above, you want to avoid sweating as the sweat can freeze. Besides water reduces body heat significantly more than air.

Water can be found by digging, of course. But, you need to know where to dig. Short of using a forked water-finding stick, you’ll have to look for river beds or damp spots. If you discover damp soil or mud, you’re on the right track. If not, don’t waste your energy and fluid any further, look elsewhere.

If you have any form of plastic wrap or other kind of plastic sheet, you could use it to capture some moisture early morning and late evening. Put up 2 posts, spaced as wide as the plastic wrap. Tie, paste, etc. the wrap to the posts. Put some sort of water catching thing-a-ma-jig along the bottom of the sheet.

Look where animals are flocking. Bees and birds will ultimately fly in the direction of water. Of course, you have to guess if they are in the process of flying towards water at that moment in time! Look for game trails that could lead to water. Be warned: Big animals could take that path to water. Look for incriminating tracks.

Don’t take a sip from a water source if there is anything dead in or near the water.

You’ve heard it before, of course, but here goes: be sure to boil water for at least 10 minutes. I’m conservative about things and usually add a safety cushion; I use a 20 minute term to boil water – a lot of that excess boiling is for psychological peace of mind.

Filter and treat water to make sure that it’s clean enough for consumption. So, don’t forget to always take with you water purification tablets. You should consider filtering water through some sort of filter like your socks or sand.

Some safety planning now will give you peace of mind later. Isn’t it amazing how something we take for granted, water, is the very thing that has played a pivotal, life or death role 1,000s of time.

I suggest you make a checklist of potential sources of water in deserts and forests and methods to make the water safe to drink. Bring that precious list with you every time you head out – keep it in your wallet or something.

Happy hydration!
Chris James, Editor


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Pat Reynolds, Sr Editor at http://comfortcamping.com. Feel free to repost this anywhere with a link to http://comfortcamping.com.


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