Survivalism & Self Sufficiency Topics > Primitive Skills & Earth Skills

Purifying Water in the Wild


Hey everybody, I've got a kinda random question. I'm writing a story, and the main character is out in the wilderness and has to purify water. She knows that boiling water will purify it, but she's been dropped in the middle of the wilderness with just the clothes on her back as part of a test of her wilderness knowledge. She doesn't have a container to boil water in and I'm having a hard time coming up with something that she'd be able to make with the materials available to her. It's late summer in an eastern/midwestern forest, and she's found a creek that leads into a small pond. She's broken off a sharp piece of stone to use for cutting, and used a bow drill to make a fire.

I've tentatively decided that she can make a bark container for rock boiling, but I'm not sure if there's something that would be easier/faster that someone with training would try first. Any suggestions, or am I on the right track?

She has a few options. The quickest is to find hollows in rock that get lots of sun and are filled with rain water. The fact that it's rainwater and the UV light can reach the bottom makes them safe enough by most peoples standards. Another option is to dig a hole a foot or two away from the stream or pond and the water that fills it is filtered by the surrounding soil, so it is cleaner than the stream or pond water. Not perfect, but far better than drinking from the source itself.

Finally, stone boiling, whether using a hole in the ground lined with a piece of plastic or tarp or using a cup or bowl constructed in the field. Creating a bowl by using fire to hollow out a log or branch takes a lot of down time, but is frequently a good goal because of the container issue.

This is also why I always try to carry purification tablets and a container. ;)

Cut a branch on a Maple tree, Aspen, or the like, about 3-4 feet up, and she may get sap running from it. Purified water with trace minerals in it, no boiling required. At some times of the year, the day and depending on the tree, you can get quite enough to sustain water needs.


Ooh Thanks!

I had her find a grapevine that she cut for water, but I didn't think that it'd give very much. I guess I'll have her collect grapewater/maple sap in her temporary bark containers until she can make something more permanent to use for boiling. I'm tentatively thinking that she'll find some clay, which is fairly common in this area.

Grapes will also give alot, depending on the time of year. My brother and I set a bucket out when dad was pruning our vineyard and it was amazing how much we got in an hour. It was around March however?



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