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Monday, May 19, 2014

How to Create Clean Water Out of Thin Air

Make a Solar Still

This will work anywhere, but if you are in a place where the days are hot and the nights are cold then it will work even better. Each solar still you make can generate about a pint of water a day, so if you have no other water source, that means you will need to make eight to twelve of these stills to get to the four to six liters of water a day that are usually required in survival situations.

One way to have that much plastic on hand is to carry ten large garbage bags in your backpack. Garbage bags can be unbelievably handy in the outdoors. They can be a poncho, a sleeping bag, a tent footprint, a signal, a trap and a water catchment system. Oh, yeah -- and a trash bag. That's quite a lot of use for less than an ounce of weight for each bag. For solar stills, you want a plastic bag sheet (you cut the bag on two sides to create an extra large sheet of plastic) that is about 36 inches square. If one side of the plastic is less smooth, put that side down. The extra surface area makes a difference.

To make the still, dig a shallow hole 18 inches deep and 36 inches wide. Put a pan down in the center of the hole. If you don't have a pan you can also make a pan out of a sheet of plastic covering a dug-out part of the bottom of the hole. Weigh the top plastic sheet down at the edges with rocks and then very, very carefully, drop a large pebble in the center of the plastic sheet to create a low point. Your dish needs to be under the low point, so it can collect the water droplets as they condense and roll down the sheet.

One of the best things about a solar still is that you can use semi-polluted water. That's because the water you will be drinking has evaporated and condensed, purifying itself. If you are at the beach, you could even set a still up in the high sand and distill the salt water into drinking water.


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