Quick Tip #7

If you find yourself in a survival situation and need to filter water but you don’t have a commercially made filter you can make one. One way that you can make a simple filter is to use a sock filled with some charcoal from the fire (cold not hot), sand and pebbles. You first place a 1-2″ layer of crushed up coals in the bottom of the sock. Then you add a 1-2″ layer of sand on top of the charcoal. Lastly you put a 1-2″ layer of pebbles or small stones on top of the sand. Now continue to keep layering these same materials in the same order until the sock is full and pebbles are the top layer.
All you do is hang the sock up if you can and carefully pour water into the top center of the sock. Make sure that you have a collection container underneath the bottom of the sock to collect the filtered water as it pours out. This is just a simple way to make a filter with materials you will most likely have in a survival situation. You can also use a plastic bag to house the filter materials but you will have to poke some small holes in the bottom of the bag to allow filtered water to drain out of the bag. Have fun making your own water filters at home and testing them out so that if you are ever in a survival situation you’ll know what works best and how to make one. As always all survival skills need to be practiced. Have you ever made a homemade water filter? How did it work?

Finding Water in a Survival Situation

These are just a few ways to find and purify water if you find yourself in a survival situation in the wilderness. Obviously if you find yourself in a true survival situation you’re going to first want to assess your situation. Make sure you and whoever else might be with you are okay. Next you will want to take stock of what supplies you might have and what could possibly hold water. Once you have completed everything you needed to, such as cleaning and patching up wounds, gathering supplies and building a shelter you are going to want to find a good source of drinking water.

When looking for water start by just looking around the area you are in. If you can’t see anything nearby then stand quietly for a bit. If there is a fast moving river nearby you will most likely be able to hear it. You can even hear small bubbling brooks pretty well if there is one nearby and you really listen for it. It helps sometimes to close your eyes when you’re listening because you’ll actually be able to hear better than when your eyes were open. I know it sounds crazy but it works.

If you can’t see or hear any water then you will have to start searching to find some. If you have them, take a pen or pencil and paper or something else you can write on and draw a map as you are walking or mark your path. This way if you find water you’ll have a map of where it is in relation to your camp. If there are others with you, you’ll be able to send them for water without having to go with them.

Well searching for water look for lush green plants, swarming insects and animal tracks. If there are lush green plants around there is most likely a water source somewhere nearby. Animals need water just as much as we do. Look for multiple species of tracks converging and heading in one direction. They are all probably drinking from the same water source. If you are high up on a mountain head down hill towards a valley or low lying area.

If you still are not able to find a good source for water there are a few ways that you can collect water if you have a few supplies. One way to collect water is to make a solar still, but you will need a piece of plastic and a collection container. Find a shallow hole in the ground with some vegetation in it and place your container in the center of the hole. Place a piece of plastic over the hole and cover the edges of the plastic with small rocks and some dirt or sand to make it air tight. Place a small stone in the middle of the plastic so that the plastic dips a little towards the inside of the container. It will take a bit of time before you collect a decent amount of drinking water but it will work. You can also “pull” water out of leafy green trees and shrubbery buy placing a bag over the end of a branch with leaves on it and closing off the open end of the bag tightly around the branch. Make sure to place a small rock in the bottom of the bag so that it stays lower than the branch. This way water can collect in the bottom of the bag.

Another easy way to get water is to collect as much rain water or dew as you can. Of course it will have to be raining for this to work. If you have a tarp, make low spots where water can collect. You can also divert water into any containers you might have. If you find yourself in an area where there is snow, you can just melt the snow with a fire or with body heat. When you are active during the day you can eat snow and this will also help you regulate your body temperature so that you aren’t sweating when you are exerting a lot of energy. Do not eat snow when you are not moving or exerting any energy. It will lower your internal body temperature and cold mean death.

Another area where you can sometimes find water is in a dry river bed. Sometimes there will be small pools of water in shaded areas, under rocks or on the inside bend of the river bed. If you find ground that is damp or moist, dig a hole and see if it begins to slowly fill with water.

If you did by chance find a decent water source you are going to want to make sure it is drinkable as best you can. Whether it is a small brook, large river, lake or pond, look around the water source. Make sure it is not near any pastures or farm land because of contamination. Make sure there is no human waste or garbage all around or in the water source. See if there seems to be a lot of life around this particular water source. Check for animal tracks to see if they are using this as a source for drinking water. You want to start with a healthy looking water source if at all possible. You also want a water source that is moving and not stagnant.

If you have containers and a bandana or some sort of piece of cloth you can place the cloth on top of the container to pre filter the water. It will help filter out large objects as well as some sand and sediment. Next you will want to boil the water in whatever container you may have. You can boil water in plastic if it is done properly and watched closely. I don’t recommend it unless you don’t have any other option. If you have a clear plastic container and can get fairly clear water you can use the sun to purify the water. Preferably you want a sunny day. Fill the bottle completely full and lay it on its side on a rock or a piece of reflective metal for four hours. If the sky is cloudy or the water isn’t clear you will want to let it sit for 24-48 hours.

Every survival situation is different and it could be as simple as you forgot your water filter well out hiking or camping. I have drunk water without any filter or purification but I was up high in elevation and it was a spring flowing out of a rock face. Everyone has to make their own decisions about what chances they are willing to take but it is a good idea to practice primitive water collection and purification to be better prepared for a survival situation. You can get water from some plants and vines as well but you must learn ahead of time what those plants and vines are. It’s all about knowledge and practicing what you have learned. How do you purify or filter your water now when you are out in the wild? Have you ever thought about what you would do if you didn’t have a water filter or some form of purification? Water is too important to our bodies to not know and learn as many ways to collect it as possible in a survival situation.