Smart Survival: This is How You Find Water When There Is None To Be Found


Three weeks without food is survivable, but three days without water will kill you. With water being one of your main survival priorities, you want to know multiple ways of procuring this vital resource in an emergency situation. There are hidden water sources in your home, as well as in the wild. Knowing how to fine tune your skills in order to make the most of a precarious situation will save you time, energy, and perhaps your life.

Survival Tips for Locating Water

If you find yourself in the wild without water, there are ways to locate it – you just need to know where to find it. The following survival tips are common sense, but many forget them when lost in the wild.

  1. Locating contour lines in the earth and following them will more than likely direct you to water source you can use. Keep in mind that all rivers and streams will end up in one central location. For example, if you come across a dry creekbed and follow it far enough, you will find a water source.
  2. Another common sense survival tip to remember is when snow melts, it travels down mountain ridges and creates rivers, streams and lakes. The further you move down a mountain crevice, the more likely you will find water. Therefore, when locating water on foot and near mountains, follow the crevices the crevices of mountain ridges and you will likely find water sources near the bottom.
  3. If you are walking in a muddy area or hear streams or rivers, you know that you are close to water and may be able to dig for it.

If you are unable to find water sources, check out these videos on ways to find water in the most unlikely places.


Heavy dew can provide one with an ample source of water. Dew will settle on foliage such as grasses and tree limbs at night. If you have a plastic bag (sandwich bag, trash bag, grocery bag, mylar blanket) in your pack, you can cover the limbs of trees and add a rock to provide weight. Secure the bag to collect moisture from the air. Over the course of the day the plant will transpire and produce moisture that will collect at the low point. Poke a hole in the bottom of the bag and collect the water. The video shows you the classic way of collecting moisture from the air, but it also shows you a quick and easy way of accessing it. Watch the video to see what I mean.

Tap a Tree

The guys over at Sigma 3 Survival School demonstrate a rather primitive way of tapping a tree to procure water. Bear in mind this technique only works in late winter/early spring and when the sap is running high in the tree. As well, this only works with certain trees such as birch and maple. Although I have never tried this method, the video states you can get enough water to fill a canteen and the water is already filtered.

Dew Collection

Here’s another great video from Sigma 3 Survival School and is a relatively easy way to collect a considerable amount of water. Absorbent bandanas, towels or shirts can collect water in a short amount of time. You can also tie absorbent material to your shins and walk through tall grasses to collect morning dew. Remember, you want smart survival tricks in order to conserve energy levels.


I’ve always been apprehensive on making the suggestion of using copper dowsing rods as a way to find water, but it has been used for centuries to locate underground water supplies. The two main items needed for dowsing is a metal “L” rod and a humble stick shaped like a fork. Click on the video below to see how easy it is to use these simple tools to locate water. Once water is found, all you need is a shovel to dig it up.

Knowing the hidden sources of water in your area and how to procure it will keep you alive. Remember, just because water looks clear and clean, does not mean it is safe to drink. You can chemically treat your water using purification tablets, iodine and chlorine, have a portable water filter such as the Katadyn Pro Hiker or LifeStraw, or distill or boil it. Ensure that you have a means to filter or purify your water in order to avoid water-borne illnesses.


The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published May 11th, 2015
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5 Responses to Smart Survival: This is How You Find Water When There Is None To Be Found

  1. Jesus must increase says:

    When the pioneers and our ancestors came to America, they looked for the sycamore tree in order to find water. It can be tapped at certain times of the year just like maple and birch. The sycamore is easy to identify due to the distinctive mottled appearance of its bark. Do an internet search in case you currently do not know how to identify it. Once you do this once, then it’s very easy to commit to memory.

    Some of the early explorers actually lived in the hollows of sycamore trees, for the really old ones can develop these hollows. So these trees can serve a dual purpose when caught out in the wild.

    Birch has a distinctive wintergreen taste to the sap water.

    People have different expectations about the taste of sap water, but it’s only when it’s greatly boiled down that you have syrup and life giving calories. It does however have potent electrolytes which will also aid you when dehydrated.

  2. Mike Lashewitz says:

    One thing I have never seen is someone recommending to filter water first with layers of cloth before using a lifestraw or other survival filter. For some of us it is common sense but as we can see EVERY DAY lately commonsense is in such a short supply as to be considered a super power.
    A life straw or other survival filter can only last as long as the quality of the water being sourced, meaning using a lifestraw in a muddy (high particulate) water source will cut the life of the filter drastically.
    So folks use a cloth or any type of filtering material like a tshirt or chamois to get the crap out first before using your survival filter.

    Additionally if you find a truly clean source of water you can reverse flush your survival filter and make it last longer. Once it is all crapped up with sediment it becomes useless.

    • Leif says:

      Some cheap coffee filters can also help cut down the sediment dramatically… and the run something like $1.29 for 100… 😉

      • Mike Lashewitz says:

        Great suggestion. Another filter media is charcoal from a camp fire use this layered between cloth or paper towel media.

  3. Bolofia says:

    There are tens of thousands of washes in the Southwest that don’t lead to water. There are several thousand “creeks” that carry water on an intermittent basis, but it will only be found below the surface. Not sure where the author lives, but it isn’t in the arid Southwest.

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