Water is the stuff of life. As much as 65% of the human body is made up of water, and after going four days without it, a human being cannot survive. Any situation where water is not accessible can be life-threatening, so it's best to be prepared and informed on how to identify sources of water and ensure that water is safe for consumption. In this post, we’ll be discussing the potential that snow has as a clean, consumable water source. So without further ado, here’s how to turn snow into drinking water:
- A vessel or container
- A heat source
- A purification method
There are a variety of options for converting snow into drinking water, so these instructions should merely act as a basic guide. Read below for more specifics on your available options.
Step 1: Collect your snow - Avoid snow that looks discolored or tainted. Seek out a patch of deep, clean-looking snow to reduce the prevalence of pathogens.
Step 2: Melt your snow - Depending on what heat source is available, warm up your snow so that it converts into a liquid. Be aware that it will take a lot of snow to make a little water.
Step 3: Purify your water - To ensure that your newly melted snow is safe for drinking, it is advised that you put it through the purification process before consuming.
Fire or Stove - If you’ll be melting your snow over a fire or stove, you’ll need a heat-proof pan or pot. Start by putting a little bit of water into your pot before adding your snow. Adding snow directly will burn your pot, evaporate your water, and tamper with its taste. After putting snow into your pot, heat it gently, stir it, and continue to add more snow until you get your desired amount of water. Because snow is made mostly of air, you’ll need to melt a significant amount of snow.
Body Heat - You should only use your own body as a heat source if you are safe from the potential of hypothermia. To melt, simply put your container filled with snow, such as a water bottle or canteen, into the pocket of your jacket or coat. Leave it be as you go about your daily business and your body heat will slowly melt the snow to water.
Solar Heat - You can use the sun as a heat source to melt your snow into water. To make a solar snow-melter you’ll need a Rubbermaid-type tote or bin. Line the inside with a large, black garbage bag, and insulate the outside to create a thermal barrier. Cover your exterior insulation with black duct tape. Then fill the inside of your container with snow and place a clear piece of plastic or glass over the top before setting it in direct sunlight. Give your snow plenty of time to melt.
Boiling - If your heat source is a stove or fire, then your easiest method of purification is probably going to be boiling. Simply bring your water to a frothy, rolling boil and let it continue boiling for at least 5 minutes. Then remove from heat and let it cool.
Purifying Systems - You can purchase a water purification system that will filter the water and eliminate any contaminants. These systems can come in the form of water bottles with built-in purifiers, hand-held pumps, gravity-fed filtration containers, solar-activated purifiers, and even UV light purifiers!
Tablets or Drops - Although these products can alter the taste of your water, they are another viable option for purification. Iodine and chlorine are the two most common types of disinfectant chemicals used, but be aware that most tablets or drops can become ineffective if your water is too cold.
Did we miss anything? If you have another effective method for how to turn snow into drinking water, tell us about it in the comments section and help keep our readers well hydrated!