In This Article
In this article, I will explain easy ways to make saltwater drinkable.
Did you know that more than 95 percent of the water on our planet is unfit to drink because of its high saline content?
To put it another way, it’s so salty that drinking more than a glass or two can make you sick. Not only is it possible to desalinate water, but it is also the only way for many people to obtain potable water.
Purifying saltwater will require basic tools that can often be makeshift in the wilderness. This should be a very last resort source of water if you are stranded on an island or cannot find any nearby fresh water.
Why Salt Water is Dangerous
The reason saltwater is so dangerous to drink isn’t that you can’t eat salt. We drink salty liquids all the time, such as soups and stews, and our kidneys have no trouble filtering it out and processing it. However, that process works because we also drink a lot of fresh water, which dilutes the total salt concentration in our bodies. It’s a delicate balancing act.
When you only drink salt water, you throw that balance out of whack. Your kidneys go into overdrive, sucking salt out of your body and forcing you to urinate. Every time you pee, you lose water, and no matter how quickly you drink, you will never catch up.
While most desalination is done on an industrial scale, providing water to millions of people at a time, you can build your own desalination system to remove the minerals that make saltwater unfit to drink. Distillation is producing drinkable water by heating salt water until it evaporates and then collecting the condensation.
Note: Filtering water and desalination are two completely different things
Myth: Boiling Saltwater Will Somehow Make It Drinkable
Boiling salt water will not, in fact, make it drinkable. The desalination process consists of more than just boiling salt water.
Boiling salt water is insufficient to make it drinkable. To make the water drinkable, the salt must be separated from it, and boiling water will not do this permanently. If you would like to learn how to find water, check out our How to Find Water in the Wild.
How to Make Salt Water Drinkable
To use this method, you need to make a small fire so that the water does not boil over when it is placed over the fire. This is critical because if the water boils, everything will be ruined. If you need to know how to make a fire, check out how to start a fire in the wild. The fire should be constructed so that the large pot can sit level on the embers.
First, set the 1-gallon pot on top of the embers. Place the medium-sized rock in the quart pot and the 1-quart pot in the center of the larger pot.
Then, once the saline water is added to the larger pot, the rock must be heavy enough to keep the smaller pot from floating. Fill the large pot with seawater until it reaches just below the brim of the smaller inner pot.
Take the plastic sheet and loosely but completely cover the top of the larger pot. Tie the string around the plastic and the pot to make a complete seal. Place the smaller rock in the center of the plastic sheet, so it is directly over the center of the inner pot.
Monitor the still so the water does not erupt into a rolling boil, which may upset the inner pot. As the saltwater heats, notice how small drops of condensation gathering on the inside of the plastic sheet. This is clean water that should run down the depressed plastic sheet and drip into the inner pot.
When the water in the outer pot is completely evaporated, remove the still from the heat. The salt from the saline will remain at the bottom of the inner pot. The process can be repeated until you have enough water.
Now that you have learned how to make seawater drinkable, you have just improved yourself.
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