How To: Make Water in a Desert

Posted: 14th February 2014 by Michael Levanduski in How To, Water Survival
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DesertIf you ever find yourself stranded in a desert it is absolutely essential that you find a source of water as quickly as possible.  The hot dry temperatures during the day can cause you to become severally dehydrated quite quickly.  Unless you are confident that you can find help quite quickly, it is best to find water and shade during the day, and attempt to travel at night when the temperatures are much cooler.  If you have the right equipment, getting water from the desert isn’t nearly as difficult as many people imagine.

The first method is a pit style solar still, which harnesses the power of the sun to pull water out of the ground and plants for you to drink.  It requires a few items, including clear plastic wrap and some sort of container, so make sure you have those available.  Follow these steps as soon as possible because it will take some time to gather enough water to keep you hydrated.

  1. Find a dry riverbed or other low laying area in the desert.  It is important that the area you choose is exposed to direct sunlight, you don’t want any shade going over the area during the day.
  2. Dig a hole at least 20 inches down, until you notice the sand is moist.  In very dry areas, you may need to dig deeper.  The hole should be a circle with as flat a bottom as possible.
  3. Find any green plants you can and place them at the bottom of the hole.
  4. Place a cup, bowl, canteen in the center of the hole, surrounded by the plants.
  5. *If you have a length of plastic tubing, run it from the bottom of the container in the hole up the edge of the hole and out of it, so you can drink the water without destroying the still and having to start over.
  6. Take the clear plastic wrap and stretch it tightly over the hole, securing it with sand or rocks along the outer edges.  Make sure the entire hole is covered with this plastic.
  7. In the center, just over the container in the hole, place a rock so that the plastic dips down directly over the container.

At this point, the still is created and all you have to do is wait.  The sun will quickly heat up the air within the hole, causing any moisture in the plants and the soil to begin to evaporate.  Since the water can’t escape through the plastic, it will condense on it, and then drip down into the container.  If you have sufficient plastic wrap, making multiple holes is a good idea, and will get you a lot more water.

Once the plants and soil in a hole are dried out, either dig a new hole or dig deeper into the existing one, and replace the dried plants.  This strategy can produce sufficient water to keep you alive long enough for a rescue to be made, or for you to get out of the desert by walking in the early morning or late evening hours when the temperatures aren’t as hot.

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