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This is the 4th installment in this series about procuring water in an emergency situation. Read it from the beginning at the introductory article, “WATER WATER, NEVERWHERE”.

So far in this series, we have learned the 5 simple steps of acquiring potable (drinkable) water:

  1. Storing the water (read Step 1 here)
  2. Looking for water (read Step 2 for “bugging-in” and urban environments here) (read Step 2 for “bugging-out” and outdoor situations here)
  3. Collecting the water (you are here)
  4. Pre-filtering the water
  5. Purifying the water

This blog article will cover Step 3, “Collecting the Water”; different ways how-to gather water and prepare it to filter.

After finding potential sources of water, we need a way to gather it up for purifying and drinking.

This will depend on the tools you have on hand, and your access to the water.* At the most basic level, even just a knife and tarp will get you far.

NAKED WATER If you have absolutely nothing – not even any clothes on your back, take a lesson from the ancient natives and tie tufts of grass around your ankles, then scoot around in the morning dew.

The grass will absorb the moisture. If you aren’t naked, use part of your clothing instead of grass, then wring out the dew liquid into a container.

The same goes for gathering water up from a shallow basin or moisture off the hood of a car.

DRINKING PLANTS (Not really) We know that many plants** contain enough liquid to drain and drink. It is important to remember to only drink the liquid – do NOT swallow the pulp, especially in hard outer shell fruiting plants, like cacti and coconut.

The pulp is a laxative, so you would end up losing more water than you’re drinking (and not very comfortably!). So, suck out the juice; spit out the pulp.

In the cases of liquid filled vines or bamboo; cut off the plant near the base and drain upside-down into a container. Be patient! Sometimes the older plants will take overnight to produce.

Trees with deep cruxes in the structure will usually be holding some water if it has rained recently. Also, look for bees, other flying insects, or extra animal droppings on certain trees.

These might point toward sources of water for these creatures; look for either deep forks or notches or any other formation of a natural bowl.


Even if not near an obvious source, you can unearth water at the bottoms of trees, hills, sand dunes, and dry creek beds. Follow the circling birds to find an oasis of vegetation in the desert.

These are indicative of places with water beneath the surface, easily accessible by digging.

Drill straight down at the location until ground water begins seeping into the hole. Collect the water by scooping it into a small container, use a cloth to sop up the moisture, or steam it.

In hot and sunny locations, you can steam out the water: heat up rocks in your campfire or in the sun, drop them in the water hole, and cover with a cloth.

The hot rocks will boil and vaporize the ground water, which will turn into steam. The steam will rise and saturate the cloth, which can be wrung out and drank.

This is the same process to desalinate sea water if you are on a boat and have no access to freshwater. It will also clean over chlorinated water in order to drink it.

Next, PART 5 – The Last 2 Steps: PREFILTERING AND FILTERING THE WATER, our last entry in the “Water, Water, Neverwhere” series on procuring and cleaning water in case of a shortage or emergency situation.

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