Finding and Purifying Water in the WildIf you do happen to get lost in the wild, it’s important to remember first and foremost to try and stay calm. I know that this is easier said than done but the more you panic the higher the likelihood you’ll get yourself into trouble. We tend to lose most of the moisture in our bodies through sweat, so if you are lost in the wild, running around frantically is just going to dehydrate you faster.

If you’re going hiking or camping it’s always a good idea to be as prepared as possible. Make sure that you bring warm clothing and extra water along. When the voice in the back of your head tells you that you won’t need it, take it with anyway, you’ll be happy you brought it if you do run into trouble.

Make sure that you check the weather conditions before you go anywhere. If bad weather is forecast, rather postpone your trip just to be one the safe side.

Strangely enough, when most people get stranded the first thing they tend to worry about is finding food. While you do need to eat to survive, it’s important to note that you can survive for up to 3 weeks without food but only 3 days without water. 60% of our bodyweight is made up of water and our bodies need it to flush out toxins and carry nutrients to cells. Water also aids in processes such as digestion and blood circulation.

No method of finding water in the wild is fool proof and any water that is found should always be purified, even if it appears to be clean. In fact as much as possible you should try to use one purification method in conjunction with another. This way any bacteria that may have survived the first attempt at purification will be taken care of second time around.

If you’re having trouble finding water, look for animal tracks, birds or insects. Following animal tracks can be a good way to find water (Don’t follow the animals directly, tracks only) and as annoying as insects are, if they’re near there’s a good chance that water is too.

Some rules you should stick to as much as possible:

1.) Rivers and streams are always better than still water. If water is flowing it’s less likely to be contaminated.

2.) The clearer the water the better. Be careful however, not to mistake clear water for clean water. It MUST always be filtered.

3.) If you find water and there’s any algae growing in it, stay away! These are usually breeding grounds for harmful bacteria.

4.) If the water has a strange, unnatural smell, rather steer clear.

Some water sources may look harmless enough but can contain bacteria such as cryptosporidium and giardia. These bacteria can cause severe abdominal cramps, diarreah and vomiting, which are the last things you want to have to deal with when you’re already in a compromising position.

The following are some of the methods you can use to purify water:

1.) Boiling. The old tried and tested. Boiling water is probably the most effective way to kill any bacteria that may be present in water before you drink it. According to the CDC, the water must be boiled for at least one minute and left to cool down to room temperature before it can be considered safe to drink. At higher altitudes (Greater than 2000) water reaches boiling point at a lower temperature, so it needs to be boiled for up to three minutes to be safe.

2.) Filtration. Most outdoor and camping supply shops sell portable water filters or water filter bottles. It might be worth investing in one of these to take with you on your hike. If you don’t have access to a water filter, you’ll need to improvise. A cloth or socks, make good enough substitutes.

3.) Iodine 2% Tincture or Iodine Tablets. This method involves adding an iodine solution to the water. As a rule you need to add 5 drops of iodine per litre of water if the water is clear or 10 drops, if the water is dirtier or cloudy. Once the iodine has been added the water needs shaken and left to stand for 30 minutes to be sure it’s safe to drink.

Image by woodleywonderworks

If you’re not lost in the wild but would still like to make sure that your water is free of impurities, table top water coolers not only provide the you with cleaner water, they’re also great space savers.

This article was written by Jolly_Roger who is an avid gamer, occasional surfer and loves the outdoors.