Survival Skills: Finding Water in the Wild

Have you ever caught yourself in the middle of nowhere? If you do get lost in the wild, survival becomes key in such a situation. You definitely need to learn some new survival skills to make sure you make it out alive. Out of the many survival skills, finding water in the wild is a great skill that you can learn. Since our body’s functionality heavily relies on water, it is the most vital aspect of survival.

Water – The Most Essential

There is no doubt that water is the key resource for survival. Without water, you won’t be able to last long in the wild. According to research, an adult can last as long as only three days without water. You can easily spend a day in the wilderness without food. At the same time, you won’t be needing any shelter immediately unless the conditions are freezing. However, if you don’t get water for a single day, you will start to lose your mental and physical strength.

Making decisions or performing various tasks for survival will become more and more difficult without water. And after three days, your body will give up on the hopes of returning back to safety.

Our body requires two liters of water in a day to perform numerous activities effectively. These activities include blood circulation, food processing, regulating body temperature, thinking clearly, and carrying out other internal body processes.

Therefore, if you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, the first thing you need to do is find water. Once you have found it, there would be a greater chance that you would be able to make it out alive.

How Long do I Last without Water?

You cannot survive without water for more than three days. You need two liters of water every day to carry out internal and external body functions. If you don’t have any water to drink, these functions cannot be carried out effectively. As a result, your body will suffer from dehydration, and you will feel weak and uncomfortable.

How Long do I Last with Water Only?

Let’s say that you have found a water source. But you don’t have any other food supplies. In that case, you can survive for three weeks without having to eat anything. Your body will use body fats and proteins as a source of energy until you completely run out of resources.

How to Find Water in Nature?

To make sure that you survive in the wild, finding a water source should be your utmost priority. There are a number of water sources that you can find in nature to utilize as fuel for your body. In case you are trapped in a no-man land, here are a few tips and tricks to find water in nature.

Streams, Rivers, and Lakes

Streams, rivers, and lakes are the most common sources of water you can find. Finding clear and flowing water is your best bet in such circumstances. Since bacteria cannot fester on flowing water, there is a greater chance that the water is not polluted. This is why looking for small streams with clear, flowing water should be your first target.

Rivers are also a great source of water. However, the water of the rivers tends to be polluted from upstream. In a life-threatening situation, the water from a river can be the difference between life and death.

Lakes and ponds are yet another reliable sources of water. The only problem with these water bodies is that the water found here is usually stagnant. That means that there is a greater chance that the water is contaminated with bacteria. Although you can try and filter out water from these sources, it is not as good as flowing stream water.

find water

There are multiple ways which you can use to find these water bodies, the first being using our very own senses. If you listen closely, you might be able to hear flowing water from a huge distance.

Another way of finding these water bodies is by looking out for animal tracks. Animals tend to inhabit themselves near water sources. If you are lucky enough to find animal tracks, following them might lead you to a water source.

Insect swarms are also an indication of the presence of water nearby. Although they might be annoying, their existence is a good sign of finding water in nature.

If you have ever noticed closely, bird flocks are also a good way to judge the presence of water bodies. These birds tend to move in various patterns, especially at sunrise and sunset. If you happen to find them, following their directions might lead you to a water source.

Last but not least, using your own thinking can help you find water quite quickly. Water flows downhill, so watch out for valleys, gullies, and ditches. If you manage to find your way to the low ground, there is a high possibility that you will find water.

Collecting Rainwater

Rainwater is a great source of keeping yourself hydrated in the wild. It is not only the safest but also a convenient way when compared with other options. The reason is that rainwater has a very minimal chance of being contaminated by bacteria. If you find yourself in a tropical rainforest, consider yourself lucky.

It is because tropical rainforests receive a lot of rainfall. That means that you can easily collect a good amount of water to hydrate yourself.

There are two ways in which you can collect rainwater effectively. The first method includes collecting rainwater in a container or anything that can hold water. If you happen to have your coffee mug with you, it would be enough to store quite a bit of rainwater.

Another way of collecting rainwater is by using a tarp. All you need to do is tie it around some trees a few feet above the ground. Now, place a small rock in the center of the tarp to create depression and allow the rainwater to collect.

Collecting Morning Dew

Morning dew can be an effective way of getting water for your survival. In some areas, you can expect heavy morning dew. The good news is that if you are stranded, this morning dew can be a good source of water. But how do you collect this morning dew for yourself after all?

morning dew

Well, an easy way to collect this dew is by using an absorbent cloth. Tie the cloth to your ankles and take a stroll through tall grass. Once the cloth is saturated, wring out the water and repeat the process several times. However, make sure that you don’t collect water from polluted areas or poisonous plants.

Fruits and Vegetation

In tropical environments, fruits, and vegetation are often found in abundance. The good news is that you can put it to good use for your survival. Fruits are often high in water content. Finding a few of those means that they can replenish your water storage and keep you hydrated.

Another way of extracting water from these fruits and vegetation is by collecting a few fruits and smashing them. Smash the fruits in a container using a rock until you are left with the fruit pulp. The water from the fruit can then be used to keep you alive. A good example is coconuts. Green coconuts are an excellent source of water that can keep you hydrated for longer.

Collecting Plant Transpiration

Plant transpiration can be put to good use for water in desperate times. It is a naturally occurring phenomenon in which the plant transpires and produces moisture during the day. Well, you can easily collect that moisture as a source of water to keep yourself hydrated.

The process of transpiration usually involves the moisture being carried from the plant’s roots to the underside of its leaves. Once it has reached the underside, it vaporizes; however, you have to grasp the water before it disappears!

In order to collect water from plant transpiration, you are going to need a bag. Tie the bag around a leafy tree branch in the morning. Place a small rock inside the bag so as to create a depression and weigh the bag down for water collection. As the day passes by, the plant transpires and produces moisture. Rather than getting vaporized, the moisture accumulates at the bottom of the bag. However, be sure not to try this method with a poisonous plant.

Rock Crevices

Just like fruits and vegetation, this is another source of water. Rock crevices tend to hold some water, especially when it rains. Although it’s not a lot, however, in desperate times, even a little bit of water would help. If you happen to find yourself in a desert, rock crevices can be a good source of water.

All you need to do is watch out for bird droppings around a rock crevice. It is a clear indication of the presence of water, even if you are not able to see it. To extract the maximum water out of these crevices, you will probably need a cloth. Use the cloth to soak up as much water as possible. Now, wring the cloth and perform the process repeatedly if possible. You can also expect a fresh supply of water at the same crevice, once it rains.

Using an Underground Still

Creating an underground still can be an effective way of collecting a substantial amount of water. You can witness different types of aboveground and underground sills. Underground sills are a better option as you are able to collect more water. However, an aboveground sill can also prove to be useful, especially if you are exhausted and are unable to dig a large hole.

Considering you have the right tools for the process, here are a few steps to dig an underground still.

  • Find a place that gets a maximum amount of sunlight during the day.
  • Start digging a bowl-like pit with a width of three feet while having a depth of two feet. Dig another hole within the pit for your container.
  • Now, place the container inside the pit. Make sure to run the tubing out of the hole for proper functionality.
  • You have to cover the hole with a plastic sheet while using rocks and soil to keep it in position.
  • Position a small rock at the center of the plastic sheet. Place it such that it forms an inverted cone right over the container.
  • You can now use a tube for drinking water from it or by collecting the container from the bottom.

This is an effective method to collect an ample amount of water. Using the above technique, you can store as much as 0.5-1 liters of water per day.

Melting Snow and Ice

If you’re stranded in a polar region, melting snow and ice is a perfect way to replenish your water reserves. You need to look out for freshwater ice that typically has a bluish tint. The salty ice, on the other hand, is something you need to avoid. It generally has an opaque and greyish color.

Considering that snow and ice offers a reliable way of hydrating yourself, melting and purifying it is recommended. Make sure that you do not eat snow or ice as it is. It is because doing so can lower your body temperature. As a result, the body tends to speed up the metabolic process to maintain natural body temperature.

An ideal way to melt snow or ice is by mixing it with small amounts of water. Not only is it convenient, but it also produces an acceptable taste. Heating snow or ice is yet another way of melting; however, small quantities of water must be added. This is to ensure that the snow doesn’t burn, resulting in a drink having a bad taste.

Digging Wells

If you find yourself helpless in a desert, don’t worry. There are several tips and tricks that you can use to keep you going until help arrives. Out of those, digging a well in a desert increases your chances of finding water. If you happen to stumble across an area that is damp, start digging at the site.

Dig enough until you can witness water seeping in. Although the water might be rather muddy, it is the best you can get in a desert. Don’t forget to purify the water before you drink it.

Condensation from Metal

Areas such as a desert experience a huge transition in temperatures between night and day. However, this transition can be put to good use to extract some water in a life-threatening situation. With such a huge dip in temperatures, you can witness condensation on metal surfaces which can be used for water. You can collect that water before the sun rises by using an absorbent cloth.

What you Shouldn’t Drink?

Not everything you find in nature can be drinkable. Some sources might seem a good way of keeping you hydrated. In fact, they are not and can adversely affect the outcomes. In a desperate situation, you might even get tempted to try out liquids other than water. Such substitutes of water must be avoided until and unless it becomes a matter of life and death.

sea water

The following are some of the non-water substitutes that you should avoid.


Drinking your own urine can be harmful to your health. Although it comprises 95% of water, the remaining 5% comprises harmful waste products. Your body gets rid of these waste materials through urine. If you drink it over a longer duration, you are most likely to experience kidney failure. It might keep you alive for an extra day or two, but you cannot ignore its harmful effects in the long run.


Drinking blood is considered as an ineffective way of keeping you hydrated. This is because your blood is usually high in salt content. Moreover, it might increase the chances of disease transmission. Therefore, blood as a substitute for water is a no-go for everyone.

Seawater/Sea Ice

Seawater or sea ice is high in salt content. It contains up to 4% salt. Drinking seawater or sea ice can leave you in need of more water to get rid of the waste you acquired from them. As a result, it can quickly deplete your body’s water supply.

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