If you find yourself in the desert, one of the most important things to do — if not the most important — is to make sure that you stay hydrated. As beautiful as deserts maybe, staying hydrated is pivotal for ensuring that you survive in these difficult conditions while you enjoy these exotic places.
You already know that deserts are huge and arid places and it’s often difficult to get water in them. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try. In fact, you probably already have some knowledge about how to collect water without even realizing it.
As usual, your survival greatly depends on your ability to be prepared. It is a lot easier to survive in the desert when you arrive there fully prepared.
Don’t worry, though, there are still ways to ensure that you will be fine even if you don’t have the equipment. These are certainly a little trickier, but provided that you keep your wits about you and that you are armed with the knowledge that you need to take on a landscape like this, you should be fine.
This is what you need to do in order to find water in the desert.
A water container
This may seem really obvious to you, but it bears repeating. Don’t leave your house and go into the desert without already having water on you. Taking potable water to the desert is strongly recommended — up to two gallons per day, so if you are going to be in the desert for three days, that would be six gallons. If you run out of water for whatever reason, you should still take a container with you. This is because you need to be able to store water once you find some. You should not have to rely on finding water every time that you need to drink water.
An old-fashioned map can help you a lot when it comes to finding water in the desert. A topographical map in particular will help you find landmarks and places where people have marked their prior access to water. These indicators are not likely to be available on your phone’s GPS, which you should not rely on when it comes to navigating the desert. If you know that you are going to go into the desert, buying a map from the locals is often a good idea. They will know where and how you can find water in ways that you won’t since they have been living around the desert for a really long time.
Finding water in the desert is tricky. Finding potable water in the desert is incredibly difficult. The water that you drink from the tap at your home or your hotel has been specifically selected and treated to ensure that it is safe for you to consume. You don’t have the same luxury when it comes to being in the desert. You need to make sure that the water that you find is water that you can drink. The easiest way to do this is by finding ways to filter and disinfect the water that you have discovered. If you know that you are going to go into the desert, then iodine or chlorine tablets can purify water by killing all the bacteria in it.
A portable burner
Lodine tablets are great, but if you are out in the desert without one and have a portable stove or burner on you, there is an easier way to purify the water. Just boil it to get rid of any bacteria and then wait for it to cool before you drink it.
The issue with this method is that you need to be careful about your timing since keeping the water on a rolling boil for too long will make it start to evaporate. In addition to this, boiling water is efficient at getting rid of bacteria but it does not get rid of any solids in the water.
This is something you need to be aware of when you find water in the wilderness. If you remove the water from the boil and then let it sit there for a little while as it cools, all of the solids that are in the water should eventually fall to the bottom.
If you don’t have time to wait or if you are doing the iodine purifying method, then having a strainer is a must for making sure that your water doesn’t have any huge solids that you may end up accidentally ingesting, including things like animals and rocks.
Now that you have all your stuff together, it’s time for you to try and go find some water in the desert.
Don’t look for water
It seems incredibly counterintuitive not to look for water when you are trying to keep yourself hydrated, but if it’s too hot, you should stay where you are. Wait until it’s cooler. Ultimately, remember that you are expending energy and sweat every time you do something and that goes even further when you are in the middle of the desert and right under the hot desert sun.
Even if you find water, you are probably not going to be able to replenish all of the sweat and energy that you have spent. If you are tired, stay put, regardless of how thirsty you are. Wait until it gets cooler before you start moving. If somebody knows that you are out there and stranded, you’re probably better off staying where you are and waiting for someone to arrive with help.
Don’t drink cactus water
Yes, a cactus will have water inside of it. However, this water is not fit for human consumption in general. Unless you really know your flora, you should steer away from drinking the cactus water.
Drinking cactus water can cause almost instant sickness, which can, in turn, cause diarrhea, vomit, and pain. These are things you really don’t want in the desert! Getting this sick would mean instant dehydration. Even a “safe” species of cacti should only be used as a very last resort. The water will taste bitter and may cause bone pain and kidney issues.
Look for wildlife
If you see nothing for a while and suddenly you are able to spot insects and birds, this is a good indication that there are water holes around the area. Birds and insects need water to live, so if you follow them, you may be able to find the water that you need.
Look for vegetation
Fauna isn’t just there for you to seek shade under. In fact, vegetation is a great indicator that there is water around where you are. Some trees really love water. These are the trees that you need to be on the lookout for. Look for trees that are bright green and broad-leafed. If it looks way too green to be where it is, that’s a great sign! Those usually have water on the surface or there will be a water hole nearby. At worst, you can always dig a hole near its roots and watch it fill up with water.
Look for canyons, especially ones that face north
Canyons can fill up with water or snowmelt. That water can dry up quickly. However, if the canyon is facing north, you are in luck. This is because these canyons tend to retain water for up to months at a time. The water is murky and it is likely that it will need purification, but the important thing is that you found water.
When you are looking for water in the desert, it is pivotal to remember that you can’t just drink the first bit of water that you come across, thirsty as you may be. Water requires a purification process so that your body will be able to accept it as nourishment. If you just drink the first bit of water that’s available to you, you may end up getting sick and ultimately, getting dehydrated.
Follow these tips to make sure to find water in the desert and remember that, sometimes, the most important thing isn’t the water that you need to find but rather the sweat that you need to be conservative with.
Do you have any tips for finding water in the desert? Share them with us! Don’t forget to spread this article around to your friends and family if you found it useful.