Water is essential for survival, especially if you are far from civilization. Studies have shown that the body can only survive for about three days without water, and finding new sources on its own can be problematic. Of course, those rivers and lakes may seem drinkable, but they are plagued by bacteria and viruses that can make you extremely sick. It is strange that the Earth is composed of 70% water, but only 1% of it is drinkable. There are ways to avoid that which make it safer so that you do not end up getting sick.
But what can you do when you’re stranded near the ocean? That large body of water seems tempting, but it is full of so much salt that you will only end up more dehydrated than before. Never fear, there are ways that teach you how to purify salt water so you can stay hydrated, no matter what situation you find yourself in.
The process of learning how to make ocean water drinkable is called desalination. This is the elimination of salt from water so that it is safe to drink it. There are many methods that can be used to do this, and some of them involve very expensive equipment, especially those that are owned by large companies to generate a lot of water for consumption.
But if you are alone, you will not have access to these tools, so knowing how to purify salt water when you are in a hurry can save your life. The most common way to do this is through evaporation. This is the process where the water heats up and becomes steam. It is through this that salt is eliminated and pure water is created. It requires the use of heat, but there are several sources that you can use.
Desalination method one: using a pot lid
This method is best used if you need water for some people or if you are running away. You will not get much water from the process, but it is definitely good to use it in case of an emergency.
What you will need is a metal cup that is heavy enough to sink, a pot with a domed lid and a source of heat.
- First, place the cup in the pot and then add a little salt water. Make sure it is at a level where the cup does not fill when the water starts to boil.
- Take its domed lid and turn it over so that the cup is in the center of the dome. Make sure it is well sealed around the edges so you do not lose water.
- Place the pot in its heat source and watch the water boil. The increase in temperature will turn the water into steam, which reaches the cold surface of the lid of the pot. This small decrease in temperature is enough to convert the steam into water again. Water will run through the lid and into the cup.
- If you do not have a pot lid, you can always use a little saran wrap with a weight placed in the middle to create the same vaulted effect.
The good thing about this method is that the salt does not evaporate, so it stays behind in the boiling process. It is possible that the water does not taste as pure as expected, but it will definitely be much less salty than regular seawater and will keep it hydrated.
Above there is a useful video on how to use this method.
Desalination method two: using tubes
This method will help you create a little more water and use the same theory that is used in an alcohol.
What you will need is a metal bottle or a heat resistant glass bottle, a cork or rubber seal that fits in the mouth of the bottle, a few feet of pipe and a collection container.
- First, you need to make a hole in the rubber or cork you are going to use. The hole must be large enough to fit the tube.
- Fill the bottle with water, leaving space at the top. If it fills it completely, it will only draw the salt water from the tube into its container.
- Place the tube through the hole in the cork or rubber so that it is flush with the bottom of the cork and then place it in the mouth of the bottle. Make sure he is well enough.
- Place the collector at a lower level than the bottle and place the tube on it. You need the water to run through the tube and into the container instead of going back to the bottle.
- Place the bottle on its heat source, taking care not to heat the tube. It will burn or melt, and it will be harder for you to collect water.
- Bring the water to a boil. The steam must enter the tube and begin to cool so that it becomes water again when it reaches its basin.
It is only limited by the size of its catch basin with the amount of water it collects using this method.
Desalination method three: using aluminum foil
This method combines the first two, and should be used if you do not have access to anything other than the pan you brought for cooking.
What you will need is a pot, some aluminum foil, tubes, a collection container and a heat source.
- Fill your pot halfway with salt water.
- Create a cone with aluminum foil that is large enough in the mouth to cover the pot and small enough at the other end of the tube to fit.
- Place the pot in its heat source, place the cone on the top and then place the end of the tube in its collection container. Bring to a boil.
- As steam is created, the sheet will channel it into the pipe, where it will cool and drip into its container.
Be careful not to touch the sheet, as it can be very hot.
Desalination method four: use the sun
What happens if you do not have firewood or any means to start a fire? Why not harness the power of the sun? The sun itself is capable of evaporating huge amounts of water daily, and you can take advantage of that power to your advantage, but the process will take longer than usual.
This is the best method to use during your trip, so always have water on hand in case of emergencies. What you will need is a container, a drinking glass or a container, a stone or a small weight, and some wrapping paper.
- Place the container you plan to drink in the center of the container. It should be shorter than the bowl but higher than the water level.
- Fill the container with salt water.
- Cover the container with wrapping paper and place a weight or a rock in the middle.
- Leave it in the sun for evaporation to occur.
It can take a few hours or even all day to get enough water to drink, but it is better than being stranded without any form of hydration.
The method can be done again and again as needed and requires very little preparation.
Desalination method five: using your life raft
If you suddenly get stuck in the sea without any of the previous equipment, that does not mean you are in a stream without a paddle. The tools you have with you can help you make ocean water drinkable. This method was developed by a soldier in World War II who had been stranded in the Pacific Ocean.
- First you will have to find the gas bottle of your life raft. This is the cylinder that is used to fill the raft with air. It is important that it be empty first before trying the next step.
- Once you have opened it, fill it with salt water. Do not fill it completely, since you do not want it to spill.
- Take the container to the place where you made a fire, as well as the hose and the leakage plugs with which your raft came.
- Connect the hose to one end of the leakage plug, making sure that a good seal has been created between them. You do not want water vapor to be wasted.
- Use the opposite end of the leakage plug to cover the hole in the gas bottle. Make sure that a seal has also been created around these two.
- Bury parts of the hose to prevent it from falling when water travels through it, keeping the end of the hose exposed so that water can accumulate in a container. Make sure the hose is straight and free of kinks.
- Place the gas bottle directly on the flames of your fire. This will definitely warm up very quickly, given the metal of the container. Observe how water collects in the pan and make sure it is cold before drinking it.
It is the same method as the one described above with the tube, but made from different parts for when you are not ready to be stranded in the middle of nowhere.
Above there is a useful video that details the previous steps.
Desalination method six: dig a trench
For when you do not have a multitude of containers to collect the water, you will have to look for other ways to collect the water. Say you’ve been sailing, and suddenly a big wave is dragging you to an abandoned island. Your ship has been smashed and you have nothing on your person other than a survival knife and your clothes.
All this can be used to help you get fresh drinking water. What you will need to gather is your sail, a waterproof windbreaker or other waterproof material, and your knife.
- First, inspect the surroundings to see if there are sand dunes around. Even the little ones will do it. You want one that is close to where the wet sand is, since that is how you will be collecting the water. If you wish, you can trim the candle into several smaller pieces so you can have several sources of fresh drinking water.
- Place the candle on the ground and make sure it is flat. Then trace the size of the sail in the sand.
- Dig a ditch in the shape of the candle that is approximately two feet inside the traced shape. Place the excavated sand inside the edge of two feet, as well as in a small pile in the middle of the shape.
- Continue digging until there are approximately two feet of water in the hole.
- Create a divot deep in the mound in the center of the shape to create a bowl, and place your windbreaker or waterproof material in the center.
- Place the candle over the ditch and the bowl and step on the edges with rocks or heavy objects you can find around the beach.
- Place a heavy stone in the center of the candle, directly over the bowl. The power of the sun will begin to evaporate the water underneath and, as it attaches to the canvas of the candle, it will condense and channel itself into the improvised bowl that it has created.
And even if you decide to rain, fresh water will only be added to your drinking water supply, so you will not have to worry about covering these stills or keeping them dry.
Knowing how to purify salt water before it ends up in a crisis situation can help you survive much longer than you would without it, and gives you the skills to be more self-sufficient. It is important that if you are in an emergency where you do not have the usual tools, you should remain calm at all times.
Panic can make it hard for you to think clearly, and additional stress can put an unnecessary burden on your body that minimizes your chances of survival. Being prepared for any situation does not require you to carry around 500 pounds of equipment; it only requires a little ingenuity and creativity to manipulate what you have in your favor.
DO IT YOURSELF