If you find yourself stranded in the middle of nowhere with next to no resources, water will be the most important priority to find. Your body can go for some period of time without food, and you don’t immediately need shelter unless you’re in extreme heat or in freezing conditions, but more than 24 hours without water will take its toll on your physical and mental state, killing you faster than starvation.
Water can be found in almost all kinds of environments. Wherever you are, if there’s rain, you can catch some in any container, including tarps.
If you’re in frigid areas, you can melt and purify snow and ice. Gray and opaque ice is frozen saltwater and may not be fit to drink unless desalted. Sea ice that is bluish in color and crystalline has little salt in it. Do not drink seawater without desalting.
If you’re stranded on a beach, you can get water from the ground. Dig a deep hole where the water can seep in, get some rocks and heat them on the fire, then drop them into the water. Hold a cloth over the hole to absorb the steam as the water is warming up or boiling. Wring the water from the cloth.
In the desert, all trails lead to water. Follow trails where they converge for signs of camps, campfire ashes, or animal droppings. Flock of birds will also circle around waterholes. Another way to find water in the desert is to look for some barrel cacti. Its water is stored inside its tough rind covered in sharp spines. Cut off the top part and mash and squeeze the juice out of the pulp. Don’t eat the pulp – discard it once all its juices have been sucked out.
Heavy dew can also provide water. According to a figure presentation by Wilderness Survival, the best way to get water from dew is to tie rags or tufts of fine grass around your ankles and walk through dew-covered grass. As the rags or grass tufts absorb the dew, wring the water into a container. Repeat the process until you have a supply of water or until the dew is gone.
If you haven’t found any water source near you and you’re feeling desperate, don’t substitute the following liquids for water:
(Related: Water: The World Is Facing a Dire Shortage of This Essential Element.)
Insects such as bees or ants may point you to water-filled holes in a tree as they make their way up the trunks. Siphon the water with plastic tubing or stuff a cloth in the hole to absorb the water and then wring it from the cloth.
Plants are an excellent source of water. Some of these are:
The following trees can also provide water:
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