Our world is 71% water, but only a half of on percent of that water is drinkable. Why? Because 95% of that water is ocean water and ocean water is salt water. Drinking salt water will dehydrate you quicker than drinking no water at all. The reason is due to it’s salinity being four times higher than that of our bodies. When drinking salt water, our bodies attempt to balance out our systems by excreting water from our cells, thereby shrinking those cells and causing us to become dehydrated. Since our bodies are a 9 on the salinity scale, and salt water is a 35, dehydration happens quickly as our bodies attempt to regulate by excreting water from our cells, causing them to shrink.
So what are you to do if the only water source available to you is salt water? Well, first, don’t drink it. There are ways to filter the salt out of the water to safely consume. Desalinating the water can be done in a few different ways, depending on where you are when water becomes scarce and when salt water is your only alternative.
Distillation By Evaporation
Heat is the best way to desalinate water. With this method, you heat the water until it makes steam and then capture the steam. This steam will turn back into liquid form that is free of salt.
Below are three methods to accomplish this. Method 1 and 2 are ways to distill water at home, while method 3 is a way to do this when you are out in nature.
- A heat resistant glass or metal cup
- A pot with a domed lid
- Heat source
Place the cup into the pot and then add your salt water, making sure not to go over the top of the cup. Fill to about an inch below the cup rim. Place the domed lid upside on the pot, making sure that your cup is centered under the tip of the lid. Also, make sure that the lid fits tightly. Turn on the heat and wait for the water to begin to boil. You don’t want to heat it so quickly that it turns into a full rolling boil, because that can cause the water to splash into the cup. Once you get the water to a low boil, lower the heat a bit to keep it at just this temperature. The heat from the water will create steam, which will rises up to the lid, turn to liquid, and then drip down the lid into the cup. The salt will stay in the boiling water in the bottom of the pan.
- A heat resistant glass bottle
- A cork or rubber seal for the bottle
- Tubing; a few feet
- Catch basin
Fill the bottle with your salt water, leaving about an inch at the top, then make a hole in the cork or rubber tubing, big enough to fit the tubing through. Place the cork, or rubber tubing, onto the bottle and push the tubing through until it hits the bottom of the bottle. Place the other end of the tubing into a catch basin that is lower than the bottle. Place your bottle over a heat source and bring the water inside the bottle to a boil. The steam will rise in the bottle and enter the tubing, converting to liquid and dripping out the other end into your catch basin.
- Camp pot
- Aluminum foil
- Rubber tubing
- Fire or other heat source
Fill camp pot with salt water, about half way to the top, then fold a sheet of aluminum foil into a cone shape, with the bottom sealing the top of the pan tightly. At the top of the cone, create a hole and slip one end of your rubber tubing through the hole, then cinch tightly around the tube. Place the pot over a fire, running the tubing into a bottle, cup, or any other clean receptacle. As the water heats up steam will rise through the tube and then turn to liquid, dripping out into your receptacle at the other end. The water will be salt free and safe to drink.
Bug Out Bag
Whenever you plan to be out in nature, whether it be by sea or land, you should carry a bug out bag and inside it should always include matches or a lighter, aluminum foil, a receptacle, rubber tubing, and a mini tarp. This will provide you with a means to create a fire for warmth, if necessary, a shelter from rain or heat, and a way to distill water. Even fresh water sources benefit from distillation, to remove pathogens and debris.
It is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to drinking water. Never, ever drink salt water as it could dehydrate you. Instead, distill it to give yourself some safe, fresh water to drink.