41 votes

How to melt snow without fire or body heat?

If you have a clean black garbage bag with you (and if you don't, you really should :)), put the snow into the garbage bag, arrange it in a thin layer inside the bag, and lay the bag in the sun on a ...
  • 22.6k
35 votes
Accepted

Can you boil/decontaminate water with heat from a magnifying glass?

Let's do some back-of-the-envelope calculations. The specific heat of water is the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of a particular amount of water by 1 degree C. This is 4.186 joules/...
  • 1,313
29 votes
Accepted

When hiking, is it harmful that I wear more layers of clothes and drink more water?

There are a couple of concerns to worry about, though neither is quite what your friends are saying: First is electrolytes - depending on how much/what you eat you might end up short. Electrolyte ...
  • 23.6k
23 votes

Can a person picky about water taste use a hydration bladder?

I'm pretty picky about the taste of my water, I grew up high enough in the mountains that our tap water wasn't chemically treated, they simply filtered the spring water coming out of the mountains, ...
  • 53.2k
21 votes

How to melt snow without fire or body heat?

A dark coloured water bottle strapped on top of your pack would absorb quite a lot of solar heat on a sunny day. Getting the snow in would be easier with a wide neck, like a bike bottle or Nalgene. ...
  • 23.6k
20 votes

Had to drink untreated water: Any immediate action to avoid getting sick?

The best thing you can do to both ward off illness, and catch any illness so it can be treated early, is to schedule an appointment with your doctor, soon. When you request the appointment, make sure ...
  • 4,364
19 votes
Accepted

Is it safe to drink snow?

If it is clean, fresh snow, it is safe to drink. This is basically drinking rain water. It hasn't had time to pick up pollutants when it is newly fallen. I live in New England, and kids do this all ...
  • 4,199
18 votes
Accepted

What is the most effective means of melting snow with body heat for drinking?

The best way to melt snow is to put it in a bottle inside your jacket under your mid layers while you're on the move and let your body heat melt it. Do not place it against the skin, leave a layer or ...
  • 53.2k
15 votes
Accepted

What is the most efficient strategy to melt snow using a stove?

For maximum efficiency (i.e. melted water per used fuel) make sure the following things are always true: Always have some water in the pot. Never have only water in the pot. Having water increases ...
  • 21.6k
15 votes
Accepted

Can a person picky about water taste use a hydration bladder?

I've found lemon juice and baking soda works quite well. I've also found that different brands of bladders have more or less plastic taste to them. If all else fails you could look into using a ...
  • 2,644
13 votes

What is the most effective means of melting snow with body heat for drinking?

Pee on it. To keep the water drinkable, you'd want to have the liquids separated but still have good thermal transfer between them. A well equipped traveller will pick his/her thermos bottle and a ...
  • 139
13 votes
Accepted

How to calculate how much sugar to use as antifreeze in drinking water?

This can be calculated using a property called cryoscopic constant Kf which links the concentration of a solved substance to the freezing point depression Td: Td = m * Kf where m is the molality ...
  • 21.6k
12 votes

Filtering fine silt/mud from water (not necessarily bacteria etc.)

While coffee filters would work great as suggested in a different answer I would probably just use something I was going to bring anyway like a handkerchief. That should work reasonably well, be ...
  • 9,628
12 votes
Accepted

UK blanket bog peatland water - safe to drink?

EDITED TO ADD: Please also read the other answer by cbeleites unhappy with SX about the risk of heavy metal contamination. The information in my original answer (below) is still accurate regarding ...
  • 4,364
11 votes

What is the safest and most effective additive to keep drinking water from freezing?

It's pretty easy to keep your water from freezing without adding anything to it, actually. If you keep it under your shell, your body heat will keep it from freezing. If you bury it under a foot or so ...
  • 711
10 votes
Accepted

How to get drinking water if I am stuck below Matterhorn summit?

The solvay biwak is solely an emergency shelter. There is an emergency radio available. So if you sleep there without declaring an emergency (even if just to inform the authorities) you have to expect ...
  • 21.6k
10 votes
Accepted

What is the safest and most effective additive to keep drinking water from freezing?

There are two natural options; none of them is quite pleasant. Alcohol Per Wikipedia, 8.5 vol% of ethanol make the freezing point drop to -3C (26.6F) (more values at at Wikipedia, also a diagram is ...
  • 232
10 votes

Why is boiling water making my steel pot brown?

Is this rust by chance? If so, let it dry and it'll be powdery at the bottom. Run your finger on the surface and some will come off on your finger. If it's rust, you may be able to get it clean with ...
  • 279
10 votes
Accepted

Filtering fine silt/mud from water (not necessarily bacteria etc.)

Leaving aside your assertion that water in the high mountains is likely to be biologically safe. The answer depends on how big the particulates are. The smaller they are, the harder it is to find an ...
  • 8,016
8 votes

Is it safe to drink snow?

As already explained in the other questions, the primary concern is possible contamination. For fresh snow and far from civilization this is very easy to identify: White is good: yellow, brown, ... ...
  • 21.6k
8 votes

Obtaining drinking water from a glacier or icefield, in the absence of snow or reachable meltwater

Another answer talks about hardness. There is some relevance to that, but more importantly, ice is brittle, regardless of how hard it is. You don't need much of a tool to scrape or crack chunks from ...
  • 21.3k
8 votes
Accepted

What is a good way to clean the inside of a water bottle straw while on a multi-day backpacking trip?

I would make an improvised bore snake with a piece of string or fishing line and a small piece of clean cloth and pull the piece of cloth through the straw just like you would a gun barrel. Everyone ...
7 votes
Accepted

Vaseline or Teflon grease near potable water?

Teflon is a brand name. The scientific name is Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). Searching more I find there are food grade PTFE lubricants available. (Super Lube) Points making PTFE appropriate ...
7 votes

Why is boiling water making my steel pot brown?

When you boil water, the minerals and anything else dissolved in the water will remain and can build up as deposits. This is true for filtered water as well, filters don't really soften your water, ...
  • 53.2k
7 votes

What micron level is needed to properly filter viruses from water?

Let's look at the absolute here. The hepatitis B virus is 0.042 microns in length; this is about as small as viruses get (http://www.who.int/csr/disease/hepatitis/whocdscsrlyo20022/en/index2.html). ...
  • 284
7 votes
Accepted

How long can I trust the purity of water in a water bottle?

You are way over thinking it. Presuming the water in the bottle was properly clean, potable and microbiologically safe to begin with, and you're a normal healthy human, the water in the bottle will ...
  • 10.7k
7 votes

Can a person picky about water taste use a hydration bladder?

I usually store my* Platypus empty, and don't fill it until I'm about to leave, in order to minimise the length of time that the water's sitting in it before I use it; I find that waiting until as ...
  • 215

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