How to Survive: Finding Water in the Desert

These springs supplied water for human residents for 13, years ; Native tribes were amongst the earliest users. Look for water around and under rocks. Quick Summary The easiest way to make water in the desert is through condensation. Do not eat snow or ice without melting it. Cookies make wikiHow better. Be careful what plants you eat, as a lot are poisonous.

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Wait until a cooler part of the day recommended. Digging during the afternoon is risky, since you'll lose sweat to exposure. If you can afford to wait, stay in the shade until the temperature starts to come down. Groundwater tends to be closest to the surface in the early morning, especially in areas with vegetation. Look for moisture about a foot under the surface. Dig a narrow hole about 1 ft 30 cm deep. If the ground is still dry, move on to a different spot.

If you notice damp soil, move on to the next step. Expand the hole until it is about 1 ft 30 cm in diameter. Wait for water to collect. Return to your hole after a few hours, or at the end of the day. If there was water in the soil, it should collect at the base of your hole.

If the water is difficult to reach, soak it up with a cloth and squeeze it into a container. Collect all the water right away, using makeshift containers if necessary. Water holes can empty fast in the desert. Disinfect the water recommended. Whenever possible, purify the water before drinking it. Boiling the water, using iodine tablets, or pouring it through an anti-microbial filter will remove almost all biological contaminants.

Infections from contaminated water may cause vomiting or diarrhea, which dehydrate you rapidly. However, these infections often take a few days or weeks to cause serious symptoms. Drink the water now if you're in an emergency situation, and visit the doctor when you're back in civilization. Look for dew drops on vegetation before dawn. To gather it, pass an absorbent cloth over the dew, then squeeze it into a container. Search in tree hollows. Decaying or dead trees may contain water inside the trunk.

To reach into small holes, tie a cloth around a stick and fit it through the hole to absorb water. Look for water around and under rocks. Rocks slow evaporation, so dew or rainwater may linger around them a little longer. Turn over half-buried stones in the desert just before dawn and dew may form on their surface. This works because the base of the stone is cooler than the surrounding air. Check for scorpions and other animals before reaching underneath rocks. These juicy fruits are safe to eat and contain enough moisture to supplement other sources.

Collect the fruit carefully to avoid injury, then roast them in a fire for 30—60 seconds to burn off the spines and hairs.

They are best when gathered young in the spring, then cooked. During other seasons they may be tough and hard to eat. Collect water from eucalyptus roots Australia. In Australian deserts, the mallee eucalyptus is a traditional source of water, though it can be difficult to access for an untrained person. Each eucalyptus looks like a grove of small to medium trees, growing outward from a single underground plant.

If you see a eucalyptus that matches this description, try to get its water as follows: The most promising roots are about as thick as a man's wrist. Pull out the length of the root, breaking it off near the trunk. Break the root into pieces 1. Stand the roots on end in a container to drain.

Look for additional roots. There are usually near the surface around each mallee eucalyptus. Drink barrel cactus water only as a last resort North America. Most barrel cacti are poisonous. Drinking the liquid inside them can cause vomiting, pain, or even temporary paralysis.

Only one type of barrel cactus contains drinkable water, and even that is a last resort. Here's how to access it: It's usually about 2 ft 0. It may have red or yellow flowers at the top, or yellow fruit. It grows in drainages and on gravelly slopes. Cut off the top of the cactus with a machete, tire iron or other tool. Mash the white, watermelon-like interior into a pulp and squeeze out the liquid.

Minimize the amount you drink. Even this fairly safe option tastes bitter and contains oxalic acid, which can cause kidney problems or bone pain. Wrap plastic bags around plants. Shake the plant to reduce possible contaminants, then tie a plastic bag around it, sealing it shut around the stem. Weigh down the closed end of the bag with a rock to form a collection point for water to flow. Return at the end of the day to see if water has collected, due to the plant releasing vapor.

Test an unknown plant with extreme caution. If you have run out of options, you may need to search for fluid in plants you can't identify. Follow these precautions whenever possible: Leaves, stem, roots, buds, and flowers may have different effects. Select a piece that produces fluid when you break it.

Rule out plants with strong or acidic odors if you have other options. Do not eat for eight hours before the test. Touch the plant to the inside of your wrist or elbow to test for a reaction.

Urine is your body's way of excreting any toxins it has caught. If you drink it, you're putting these toxins back into your body. Plus, urine contains ammonia, which is an alkali. It would not have a good effect on your body which is why it's being excreted. Not Helpful 21 Helpful What could I do if I was lost without tools in the desert and needed to find food and water? Dig for water, or try your hardest to find vegetation, because where there are plants, there is water.

Be careful what plants you eat, as a lot are poisonous. The prickly pear is safe, once you get to the inside flesh. Not Helpful 11 Helpful If you know where to look, in theory, yes. In practice, it can often be very difficult to get to or locate, and you risk losing more water finding it than what you find.

Not Helpful 22 Helpful Not Helpful 6 Helpful 8. It's full of toxins, your body is getting rid of it for a reason. Not Helpful 0 Helpful 1. What kind of rocks are most likely to have water under them? Answer this question Flag as Look for birds and insects. Those critters are in that area for a reason, so situational awareness will help you notice that sort of thing.

Get to higher ground. Don't drink from a cactus. Those are the two myths that show up again and again in the TV shows and literature. You don't get 'water' from cactus; you get a stomachache and vomiting.

In movies, you see a cowboy lop off the top of a barrel cactus—a big, beach ball-shaped cactus—dip his ladle in and get a drink of water. Eat cactus fruit, but don't count on it. Throw this advice away. So think like a cowboy: So if you've let somebody know your hiking plans, sit tight and wait for help.

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