The soundest reasoning leads to the [worst] conclusions when the premises are false. We are certain that the ocean is salt, so it is logical than that the ice of salt water must also be salted

Wrong! It so happens as Dr. V. Stefansson notes, the sea ice becomes fresh during the period intervening between its formation and the end of the first summer thereafter.

If, during freezing weather, you are ever in a position where you have no other source of water but salted water, you'll want to catch small amounts of the available brine and allow ice to form in it. The slush and any remaining liquid should then be removed.

The ice you'll find fresh enough to use in emergency. Ocean ice loses its salt so rapidly that ice over 1 year old is nearly fresh.

And ice formed 2 or more years old can not be distinguished as far as taste goes from river ice unless waves have been breaking over it recently or spray has been dousing it.

Melted hollow otherwise will usually be found to contain ample fresh water. Salted ice is grey and opaque whereas unsalted ice is bluish and crystal colored.



Rain water will often furnish drinking water at sea. When it starts to fall, the precaution is immediately taken to let it wash any accumulated salt from everything that is to be used for catching it and storing it.

Dew is heavy enough is some areas to merit being caught in a sail or tarpaulin stretched with sufficient sag to allow any condensation to collect.

One may be out of sight of land and yet so near the mouth of some great river that even far at sea the water will still be fresh.



The proportion of water in fish is so high that at sea, except when large enough emergency water supplies can be secured from ice or rain, fish are the most dependable source.

They can be caught in many different ways and in some waters many fish will even leap freely aboard at night especially if a light is shown to attract them. Most sea life can be used although crabs and sharks are excessively salty.

Sea snakes which, unlike eels, have no scales are edible but have poisonous fangs. They are 10 times worse than the land ones.

Unless the fish you catch has ordinary scales and looks like most fish you are used to seeing, a good rule, especially in warm waters, is to leave it alone. For example, Jelly Fish should neither be handled nor used.



Water can be obtained from freshly caught fish in several different ways.

The most fundamental method is to divide the fish into small portions and chew each of these thoroughly spitting all solid matter before going to the next morsel. The fish can also be sectioned and twisted within a cloth, the freed juice is either sucked or caught.

One primitive way of dealing with a large fish is to hack holes in its side and allow moisture from the lymphatic vessels to ooze into these. If you like the juice of raw clams or oysters you are apt to find all this surprisingly pleasant. You'll be able to satisfy thirst as long as you can catch sufficient fish for your needs.

REMEMBER, it will take you several hours to obtain 1/2 litre of this liquid, so be patient while squeezing the fish.


Even when you have found water, you have won only half the battle. You must make this reserve last and for that to happen you must not sweat or do so as little as possible.

Your body exits heat either by evaporation or sweating. As soon as the body fluid volume lowers, sweating diminishes, the body temperature rises and you exhaust quickly.

An increase of only 6 degrees in your normal body temperature is of lethal consequences. Even though you seem to be less hot when you remove clothing; you also quickly lose your organic fluid that way. If you stay clothed; you will prevent the heat to penetrate and this will also slow down the evaporation.


Experience proves a man in normal working condition spends 3,000 calories a day and that a man in good health can subsist for a long time on only 500 calories per day without bad effects on his organism.

Of course in condition of great fatigue or cold exposure, one has to eat more to maintain his body temperature. Water is still much more necessary than food. One generally needs at least 1/2 pint (2 cups) per day minimum. Once exposed to desert heat, one needs a minimum of 3.8 litres (1 gallon) of water per day.

This will enable you to cover a distance of 30km (18.64 miles) as long as the sweating is well-controlled and the moving is done at night. During the day, it would give you 15km (9.32 miles) distance on the same amount of water.



If you have ample water at the moment but may have little or none later, the soundest procedure is to drink as much as we reasonably can before quitting the source of supply. Fill up before abandoning a ship or a plane.

If in dry country; drink a lot while and just before leaving the water hole unless there are extenuating circumstances. Every effort MUST be made to take adequate water with you when leaving what may be an isolated supply. Water comes first.

We repeat that an unbelievable amount of water is exuded through the skin’s pores and the rate of perspiration is markedly increased both by heat and by exertion. The need for water intake can be much lessened by your keeping as quiet as possible and as comfortably cool as one can.

Keeping the clothing wet will help at sea in hot weather although it should be rinsed in the latter part of the afternoon to prevent collecting too much salt. Allow to dry out before evening if the nights are chilly.

If in desert without sufficient water and obliged to depend on your own resources to get out, your best chance will be to stay as relaxed and cool as possible during the torrid hours. Travel at dusk, night and dawn.

If on flat shelterless desert, one can always scoop a narrow pit in which to lie while the sun is blaring down.

The utmost shade will be obtained if this trench extends East and West. Two or 3 feet of depth can result in as much as 30 degree or more difference in temperature between its shadowy bottom and ground level.

Before you take such refuge, you should leave some sign of your presence in case help passes near by. Weighting a shirt over one of the excavated piles may serve this purpose.



When water has missed for a long while, you MUST NOT DRINK A GREAT DEAL AT ONCE; once you find it. It will cause nausea beside the body will not retain it, thus wasting much of it later.




Many of us have seen those old water hand pumps but few of us REMEMBER or know how to make them pumping water.

Before one starts to pump himself crazy and not get any water, remember that water must be added to the upper cup at the base of the crank.

The reason is simple. The addition of a cup or two of water will create the suction needed to pump the water. If you don't add this water, you will pump air and think there is no water underground which would be false.

Every morning or after a couple days without use, this same process must be repeated in order to create the vacuum. So better leave a jug nearby which contains enough water to get the machine going. This might sound silly or childish to say such a thing but one would be surprised how few of us know this tip.


Precautions to take to save your body fluids are equally important as your necessity to drink water.

1) If you don't have water to drink, don't eat. Food needs water to be digested, especially protein.

2) In hot countries, avoid sweating as much as possible so you will avoid losing body water faster.

3) Dampen your clothes in the sea, wring them and wear them. Take advantage of any cooling wind. If your body is covered with a salt crust, remove it with a cloth.

4) Stay in the shadows as much as possible.

5) Sleep and rest as much as you can. You will reduce to a minimum the loss of body fluid.

6) Prevent if you can sea sickness; there are pills for it.

7) Don't drink any alcohol, for it increases the dehydration process.

8) If you smoke, you will increase your thirst. If you must smoke, make it in the evening or at night.

9) To remove the thirst temptation, suck on a button, it will make you salivate more.


There are no handy kitchen faucets in the wilds---except in the larger campgrounds with their trailers and recreation vehicles bumper to bumper, and six-man tents guy line to guy line. If you're not in one of these, and don't happen to be hiking along the course of a river or canoeing over chains of lakes, where do you find water?

Your map will help if it's detailed enough. Almost any water source of any size, including annual spring freshets, will be marked on a geodetic map. Even so, it's a good idea to be aware where water is most likely to be found, in case you left the map at the last log rest stop. Besides, knowing nature, being familiar with its habits, gives you a real sense of understanding and accomplishment that is very much a part of the joy of camping.

In mountainous and forest regions such as Eastern and Western Canada, and the United States, and most of Northern Europe, water rarely presents a problem. Almost any downhill country, be it a long slow valley or a deep gorge, will lead to it. These natural formations developed through water erosion and the sculpture tells the tale.

As you walk, keep your eyes open for a change not only in terrain but in vegetation as well. If you see a crooked line of Willows or Willow like trees in the distance, it's almost a sure bet you'll find a stream when you get there.

The mountain ahead is bare, with no water or greenery in sight. One side comes down steeply to a heavy rock formation; the other side slopes gently down to a valley and gently up to another mountain. Head for the sloping side rather than the steep escarpment. It has a much slower run off larger surface area, and thus a greater likelihood of retained water.


In arid country, cottonwoods serve much the same purpose as willows in country more hospitable.

A chain of cottonwood indicates a river bed. Whether that bed turns out to be wet or dry is another question. But if it's dry, examine the ground by one of the largest and most ancient of the cottonwoods. On the inside bank of the old river's curve, you will usually find a small pool of water. At least there should be enough ground moisture so if you really need water you can dig down a foot or so and find seepage.

Remember, it does not usually pay to dig for water.

With the amount of energy used, the moisture lost in sweat usually far exceeds that gained from the hole you have dug.

Any lush vegetation in arid terrain indicates water in one form or another. Birds such as Doves or Blackbirds, in flocks on the ground or quail in any quantity, are other signs of a water source nearby.

You will need 2 quarts (2 liters) a day under average conditions, but in the desert or during periods of heavy activity, this raises to 4 quarts (4 liters) or more per person per day.



If water is plentiful, as well as wood, make sure you always have some hot water boiling or close to the flame to keep it hot. REMEMBER, to sterilize water, it takes 10 minutes boiling no matter what some may say. Be safe.


Drink when thirsty often and in small amounts. DON'T ATTEMPT TO RATION LIMITED QUANTITY OF WATER, LIFE WILL NOT BE PROLONGED. DON'T gulp water, swish first mouthful around mouth, swallow slowly, otherwise you will be sick and vomit this precious water.

Avoid unnecessary activities that cause perspiration. Seek shade. The less you perspire, the longer you'll live without water.



Some examples of expected survival times are:

50ºF (10ºC) without water, with minimum exertion: life expectancy is 14 days, with 1 gallon water: 16 days.

120ºF (49ºC) — under same conditions: 3 days; with 1 gallon water: 4 days.

Those are rough estimates for adults. For children and sick folks, the estimate is about 1/3 less. As you see, water is more important than food. Limit food and salt intake when water is limited, especially protein foods which absorb much more water from your body.


Under hot, dry conditions where little possibility of finding water exists, the search for water will cause greater fluid loss than amount of water found. It is best to stay in shade, move as little as possible and wait for help.

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