How to Make a Solar Still

Thousands every year become stranded in the mountainous and desert terrains for days or even weeks. If that was you stranded, could you survive? One of the most important assets you can have is knowing survival. One of the most important survival issues is how to retrieve water.

Your body is comprised of a large percentage of water and before food even, your body needs water to survive. You can die in a matter of days without water and knowing how to get water, even when a water source is not available, is crucial to your survival.

The solar still is a bowl shaped hole that you dig in the soil about three and a half feet in diameter and about two feet deep. Once you have dug your hole, place a small can or cup in the center of the hole. This hole is then covered by a piece of plastic like the tarp you carry when backpacking.

First, after you have dug your hole to the above specifications and you have your plastic ready to go, you will need to find a method of securing the plastic to the ground around the hole you have dug. Large rocks work well if they are placed no more than one fourth inch apart and heavy enough to make sure the plastic is secure. You may also try your hand at using dirt to secure the plastic but this does not always work.

Sometimes the dirt is dry and over the course of the day, the wind can take the dirt away and just enough to loosen the plastic and cause your plastic to crash inward. In a pinch, I would use the dirt technique by placing large amounts of dirt all around the rim of the hole and on top of the plastic sheeting that runs around the rim of the hole. Like I said though, that would be only if I could not find other means to secure my plastic.

Once you have secured the plastic to the ground,take a small rock and place it in the middle of the plastic area that is over the hole. If your rocks around the rim are not secure around the hole the placement of the rock in the middle will make the solar still crash and you will have to begin a new one.

The solar still will work if you follow these steps. The heat and sun will then pass through the plastic and is absorbed by the soil in your hole causing condensation to form on the plastic. The rock placed in the middle on top of the plastic allows the condensation to have a path to run off the plastic and into your cup or can. Depending on the condition of th soil the usual amount of water collected is one to three pints. The water in the still will attract rodents, snakes and insects which can be used as a food source in desperate times.

Make sure when you are selecting your site for your solar still you look for a sunny location or at least a partially sunny area. This will allow maximum condensation to occur during the day and the more condensation, the more water you will have to drink.

Be sure to avoid splashing polluted water, or the condensation that is on the ground into your container or the plastic sheet you are using to collect the water. Take care to remove the plastic as few times as possible. The more you take it off and put it on again, the better chance you have to pollute your drinking water.

Once you have filled your container, you can re-assemble your still as you did in the beginning the only difference being is that your condensation will begin quicker. This happens because the ground is already saturated with water and this allows the process to begin earlier than it would on totally dry ground.

This process and these few simple steps could insure your survival in the wilderness if disaster should strike. The best medicine in any wilderness scenario is to be prepared.

Never put yourself in harm’s way, and also never panic.
If you familiarize yourself with some simple survival skills before hitting the trail your betting on survival and not die in the wilderness.

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