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Six Ways to Obtain Drinkable Water

Find water in a pinch using these six ingenious ways to gather drinkable water. With a bit of patience, it’s almost as easy as flipping on the faucet.

| April 2019

Tree Tap

1. Some trees produce sap that can be drunk by humans. These are the exception to the rule, as most trees make chemicals that render their saps incompatible for human consumption. Maple, most hickories, birch, walnut, and sycamore can be tapped for their sap. (If a taste of hickory sap has a strong medicinal flavor, don’t use it.) The results of tapping vary with the seasons – the ideal time being very early spring. From summer on the process will likely be disappointing. Slash a large V-shaped cut (3” along each slope of the V) deep enough into the trunk to cut through both bark layers into the sapwood. At the point of the V, bore an upward-angled, 1/2”-wide hole into the sapwood (2” in all). Insert a smoothly carved, top-grooved, downward-sloped drip-stick (a crude spile) and collect the drip in a container.


2. In spring and early summer wild grapevine can be severed at ground level, then notched from one side high up on the vine. (Cutting the notch performs the same principle as lifting your finger from the top of a liquid-filled drinking straw.) A steady drip of sweet water can be collected at the ground-level cut.

3. Distillation occurs naturally on those clear nights when the earth cools off enough to condense the humidity in the air. Gather dew drops by mopping wet surfaces with a cloth (a piece of clothing) and wringing it out into a container.


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