This is Part 8 in Corcceigh Green’s Survival 101 series. If you missed Part 7, CLICK HERE
By Corcceigh Green
Finding water is a top priority in a survival situation. Even when carrying water with you, there is no way to carry as much water as you’ll need. What you carry with you can make a difference, however, in the quality of water you drink in the field. This can mean the difference in staying healthy and maintaining an active role in your survival or becoming ill. In the second entry to Survival-101, I recommended the old WWII or
Korean surplus stainless steel canteen, canteen cup and canteen/canteen cup carrier. This system is highly versatile when carried with a large square of aluminum foil and plastic tubing. Also carry a flannel or terrycloth towel. Carry two canteens if possible. If you can’t find stainless steel canteens, buy plastic ones or buy stainless steel sports bottles and make sure you have at least one stainless steel canteen cup. Hydration packs can carry a lot of water and in arid climates should be considered. Stainless steel canteen cups should still be considered a must in any kit no matter the climate.
The set-up described above is a complete water carry and decontamination system for any climate or terrain. When you have found a water source the odds are that source has been contaminated with one organism or another. You must make the water potable before consuming or risk becoming ill. In the absence of a water filter you may boil water in a canteen
cup to decontaminate before drinking. Once your water source is found, set up your camp close by. You will need to build a small fire. Collect water from your source by straining some water in your canteen cup through your flannel or terrycloth towel and place the cup over your fire. You can do this by straddling the cup across two rocks on either side of the fire and allow the water to boil gently for up to twenty minutes. This will kill disease organisms. When you have decontaminated the water in your cup pour the contents into your canteen and place into the water source to cool. Do not place the canteen so deeply into the water that the water level reaches the mouth of the canteen. That may contaminate your potable water.
The above procedure will kill disease organisms, but may still leave chemical and sedimentary contaminates in your water. Using your aluminum foil and plastic tube, you can make a water distiller with your canteen cup and canteen. Strain water through your flannel cloth or terrycloth towel into your canteen cup. Set the canteen cup on a small ring of rocks or straddling a couple of rocks. Make a funnel shaped cap from your aluminum foil so that the center of the square presents a hole that can be wrapped around your plastic tubing. Wrap the
foil around your tubing so that a very short end protrudes through the hole. This is the end that will face inward toward your canteen cup. Mold the foil around the tube to form a seal. Place the foil and tube over the mouth of your canteen cup and mold it shut to seal. If you have brought any tape, you may use the tape to secure and better seal the tubing and canteen cup’s mouth. You may also use string or cord to secure the foil to canteen cup and tubing. Place the other end of your tubing into your canteen. Use a stick as a small pole to prop up your tubing where necessary.
From your campfire, use your shovel or trowel to scoop coals and place them under and around your canteen cup. Do not bring the water in your canteen cup to a boil. Allow the water to slowly turn to steam, which will rise through the plastic tubing, leaving toxins and pathogens behind. As the steam travels through the tubing it will cool and condense becoming water again, which will drip from the tubing into your canteen. Repeat these procedures until your canteens are full.
Boiling and distilling water are excellent methods for purifying water in the field. Your water source also plays an important role. Slow moving water in shallow, mud filled ponds, water dug from muddy and sandy streambeds and shallow surface water are more likely to be contaminated. Fast moving streams with rocky bottoms and little to no silt or soil building up the banks are likely to contain less contaminates. While springs and rain water are the least contaminated, though any water source may be contaminated. It is the least contaminated water that will be more easily and more thoroughly decontaminated, so the better quality water source you can find, the more successful your purifying procedure will be. While using the boiling or distilling method you may notice that a silt-like substance is coating the inside of your canteen cup. These are solid contaminates that can carry bacterium, viruses, cysts or metals and toxins. If you are going to boil food in your canteen cup, it would be best to save some boiled or distilled water to wash out your canteen cup after every purifying task. This will keep your food from being contaminated.
As you may guess, your task this week is to locate the best quality water source in a remote area that you can find and purify enough water to fill your survival water carrying gear. Use both methods, boiling and distilling to accomplish this.
Some things to remember is to locate the purest water source available. Strain the water through a towel when filling your canteen cup. Wash your gear with purified water after use. It is very important to be competent at using field expedient methods to making water potable. Practice this well and hone your skills. We’ll talk about filtration next.
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