How to Find Water in the Wild by Charles W. Bryant:
Getting lost or stranded in the wild is something that could happen to just about anyone. Day hikers, tourists, Sunday drivers and experienced outdoorsmen are all subject to circumstances beyond their control. Any and all of them could end up alone and lost, with only their wits to rely on for survival. The single most important thing you need to live is water. If you're resourceful and know where to look, you can find or collect good drinking water in just about any environment on Earth.
Water Procurement on Wilderness Survival (parent article):
Water is one of your most urgent needs in a survival situation. You can' t live long without it, especially in hot areas where you lose water rapidly through perspiration. Even in cold areas, you need a minimum of 2 liters of water each day to maintain efficiency.
Many different forms of life are certain indicators of water in the near vicinity. The bees must have water. The mason fly, that big yellow and black hornet-like creature, requires mud and water for the tunnel wherein he stores the spider he has paralysed. Pigeons and all grain eaters need water, but the flesh-eaters such as the crow and the hawks and eagles can go without water for long periods.
By knowing something of the nature of the insects, birds, animals and reptiles you can often find their hidden stores of precious water.
Bees How to Find Water - Bees Bees in an area are a certain sign of water. Rarely will you find a hive of wild bees more than three or four miles from fresh water. A bee flies a mile in 12 minutes. You can be sure that if you see bees you are not far from fresh water, but you will probably have to look for further indications before you actually find the water supply.
Ants How to Find Water - Ants How to Find Water - Finding Water - Wilderness Survival - Observing AntsMany of the ants require water, and if you see a steady column of small black ants climbing a tree trunk and disappearing into a hole in a crotch it is highly probable that there will be a hidden reservoir of fresh water stored away there.
Birds — Finches How to Find Water - Finches How to Find Water - Finding Water - Wilderness Survival - Finches All the finches are grain-eaters and water-drinkers. In the dry belts you may see a colony of finches and you can be certain that you are near water, probably a hidden spring or permanent soak.
Birds — Wild pigeons How to Find Water - Wild Pigeons How to Find Water - Finding Water - Wilderness Survival - Wild Pigeons Wild pigeons are a reliable indicator of water. Being grain and seed eaters they spend the day out on the plains feeding, and then, with the approach of dusk, make for a waterhole, drink their fill, and fly slowly back to their nesting places.
Their manner of flight tells the experienced bushman the direction of their water supply. If they are flying low and swift they are flying to water, but if their flight is from tree to tree and slow, they are returning from drinking. Being heavy with water, they are vulnerable to birds of prey. It is obvious then that the direction of water can be discovered by observing the pigeons' manner of flight.
Birds — Grain eaters How to Find Water - Grain Eating Birds How to Find Water - Finding Water - Wilderness Survival - Grain Eaters All the grain eaters and most of the ground feeders require water, so that if you see their tracks on the ground you can be reasonably certain that there is water within a few miles of your location. An exception to this are parrots and cockatoos, which are not regarded as reliable indicators of water.
Birds — Flesh Eaters and Water Birds How to Find Water - Raptors and Water Birds The carnivores, being flesh eaters, get most of the moisture they require from the flesh of their prey, and consequently are not reliable water-drinkers. Therefore, do not regard the presence of flesh-eating birds as an indicator of water in the area, nor should you regard the water living birds as indicators of fresh or drinkable water.
Mammals How to Find Water - Mammals Nearly all mammals require water at regular intervals to keep themselves alive. Even the flesh eaters must drink, but animals can travel long distances between drinks, and therefore, unless there is a regular trail you cannot be confident of finding water where you see animals' trails. This is a general rule.
However, certain animals never travel far from water. For example, a fresh track of a wild pig is one sign that there is water in the vicinity,
How To Find Water From Vegetable Sources How to Find Water - Finding Water - Wilderness Survival - Water From Plants
The roots and branches of many trees contain sufficient free-flowing fluid to relieve thirst, and this can be collected by breaking into 3 ft. lengths the roots or branches and standing these in a trough (of bark) into which the collected fluid will drain to the pannikin. In some plants the amount of water stored is truly unbelievable, the fluid literally gushing out when the plant is cut.
How to Find Water - Finding Water - Wilderness Survival - Collection of Water From Plants These vegetable "drinking waters" cannot be kept for more than twenty-four hours. The fluid starts to ferment or go bad if stored, and might be dangerous to drink if in this condition.
The nature of the plant, if judged by the properties of its foliage, is no guide to the drinkability of the fluids which are its sap.
Eucalypts (Gum Trees) How to Find Water - Wild Pigeons For example, the eucalypts, whose leaves are heavily impregnated with oils of eucalyptus, and in many cases poisonous to human beings, contain a drinkable fluid, easily collected (from the branches or roots). This fluid is entirely free from the essential oils and with no taint of the eucalyptus.
Vines (Lianas, or Monkey Ropes) How to Find Water - Wild Pigeons The lianas or monkey ropes found in tropical areas are an example of a prolific source of water.
There are certain precautions, and a few danger signs, with regard to vegetable fluids.
Plants With Milky Sap How to Find Water - Reptiles How to Find Water - Reptiles How to Find Water - Reptiles If the fluid is milky or coloured in any way, it should be regarded as dangerous, not only to drink but also to the skin. Many of the milky saps, except those of the ficus family, which contain latex, or a natural rubber, are extremely poisonous. The milky sap of many weeds can poison the skin and form bad sores, and if allowed to get into the eye may cause blindness and severe pain.
Taste Test The Water First With all vegetable sources of fluid even though the water itself is clear, taste it first and, if quite, or almost, flavourless, it is safe to drink.
For vegetable sources of water in arid areas the best volume is generally obtained by scratching up the surface roots. They are discovered close to the ground, and if cut close to the tree, may be lifted and pulled, each root yielding a length of from ten to twenty feet. These must be cut into shorter lengths for draining.
Many people who have tried to obtain drinking water from vegetable sources failed to get the precious liquid to flow because they did not break or cut the stalk or root into lengths. Unless these breaks are made, the fluid cannot flow, and the conclusion is that the root, branch or vine is without moisture.
In general, water is more plentiful from plants in gullies than on ridges, and the flow is wasted if the roots are broken into sections and not cut. Cutting tends to bruise and seal the capillary channels.
1. Go downhill 2. Look around you while walking for birches, alders, cottonwoods and, willows 3. If you are lucky enough to find standing or running water you can assume it is home to many parasites 4. You can easily boil the water