Jungle Survival: Finding Water
Because jungles are so wet, collecting rainwater is probably the easiest part of survival. Leaves on the rainforest floor are large because of the limited amount of sunlight they get. The larger the leaf, the more of the sun's rays it can soak up. Large leaves are useful in collecting dew and rainwater. If you have a container to store water, simply angle a leaf into it overnight or during a rainstorm and you have some fresh drinking water in no time. If you have a poncho, tie it to a tree on a slant to allow the rain to collect and drain. If it tastes a little funny, it's because rainwater lacks certain minerals found in groundwater or streams.
You'll fare even better if you can find a running water source. Animals need water, so look for wildlife or animal tracks to lead you to a stream. If you find a stream, don't just start drinking; it could contain parasites that can make you seriously ill. You should purify the water by boiling it over a fire --10 minutes is a good rule of thumb. Boiling water means you need fire and a container of some kind. If you don't have a container, you can probably find an aluminum or tin can in most any natural environment.
Believe it or not, plastic bottles also work for boiling. One method is to completely fill the bottle with water, cap it and drop it into some hot coals. The lack of air in the bottle should keep it from melting. If you don't have enough water to fill the bottle, suspend it above the fire with rope or vine so the flames just touch the bottom. The risk of boiling in a plastic bottle is that your collection device could melt.
Green bamboo has clear and odorless water inside it that you can drink. To access it, bend the top of a tree down about a foot off the ground and tie it off. Cut a few inches off the tip, put a container underneath and leave it overnight. The next day, you should have some drinkable water.
Another way to collect water is to make a solar still. To do this, you'll need some plastic sheeting or a poncho, a digging tool, a container and a rock.
- Choose a moist area that gets sunlight for most of the day.
- Dig a bowl-shaped hole about 3 feet across (91 centimeters) and 2 feet deep (60 centimeters), with an additional sump, or deeper pit, in the center.
- Place the container into the sump.
- Place the plastic over the hole and cover the sides with rock and soil to keep it secure.
- Put your rock in the center of the sheet and let it hang down about 18 inches (45 centimeters), directly over the container, to form an inverted cone.
The moisture from the ground reacts with the heat from the sun to produce condensation on the plastic. The sag in the plastic forces the condensation to run down and into your container. A successful still can produce up to 1 quart of drinking water per day.
These are just a few methods you can use. Read more techniques in How to Find Water in the Wild. But first, skip ahead to the next page and learn about what edible plants and animals you can find in the jungle.