Survival Skills's Articles Archives
Survival Debris Shelter
Get Water From a Hole in the Ground
You can get a steady supply of distilled drinking water simply by digging a hole in the ground, putting a can in the center and covering the hole with some plastic. This technique can produce water as long as there is abundant direct sunlight to cause evaporation. This is by far the easiest way to distill water in the wild, and learning how to apply this method may save your life one day if you ever get stranded. Follow the few steps that are described below in order to put this practical trick to good use.
The first step is to dig a big hole, at least three feet in diameter and three feet deep. Of course, you need a piece of plastic wide enough to cover the hole as well. However, this method will work with smaller dimensions, but smaller setups will produce less water. Once you have dug the hole, place a can directly in the center. You can use any kind of can, as long as you are checking on it periodically to make sure that it is not overflowing.
The next step is to place some moist content in the bottom of the hole. You can add anything from dirty water or urine to moist moss, grass or even dirt. You can also combine everything you got and fill up the hole about a third of the way up. These moist items will contribute to the process of evaporation and increase the amount of water that is distilled. If you are digging in a moist area, there will also be a lot of water locked into the surrounding soil that will contribute to production as well.
Next, place the plastic over the hole, but leave enough slack so it can dip inward. Secure it in place by taking some of the dirt that you dug up and make mounds over the plastic. You can also use rocks if they are available. Then, place a small stone directly in the center that is also above the can. As the light from the sun passes through the plastic, it will heat the moist items inside and evaporation will occur. The plastic will trap the water and the inward cone in the center will funnel it back into the can. The process of evaporation separates impurities in the water, making what is collected in the can safe to drink.
One useful variation of this method is to insert a long plastic tube into the can that reaches beyond the plastic cover. You can use this as a straw instead of having to remove and reset the plastic every time that you want a drink. This simple solar still can turn out to be a life saving resource in a survival situation.
Keep in mind that the amount of water that it can collect will relate to how much moisture is in the ground and the things that you’ve added to the hole. The intensity of the sunlight, outside air temperature and the dew point will also contribute to the amount of water that will be distilled. Consider making more than one of these as a way to fortify your water supply, especially if yields are not what you were anticipating.