Dowsing or water witching, does it work, who knows for sure. What we do know is there is water underground and we walk on it without a second thought, until we need it.
How to locate water
The most obvious water sources are the surface systems, streams, lakes, rivers, etc., the fresher the better. Stagnant or turbid ponds, streams, puddles require filtration and or boiling before being safe to drink. For safety’s sake, treat all water before consumption.
Remember the gnarly dude; he likes to hang out in slow moving water, collect-aerated water if possible.
One of the quickest ways to locate underground water is to find the greenest spot on the landscape. The shallower the root systems of the plants, i.e. grasses and forbs vs. trees the more likely you are to find water closer to the surface.
Plants that are key indicators of water are cattails and willow.
Let’s face it; no one has time to dig a well in a survival scenario, best to leave that to the water diviners.
A plant closely associated with water retention and found in many locales is miner’s lettuce. As with many plants the greatest value is in earlier specimens consumed during spring and early summer.
Desert plants are most associated with water storage; however, there is a caveat. The barrel cactus idealized in the movies as the preeminent water source causes many people to react unfavorably after consumption due to the alkaloids found in the juice (not water). The severe cramping and vomiting that usually occurs aides in dehydration.
The only non-toxic barrel cactus is the fishhook and it’s likely you’ll need a chain saw to get at the juice without causing severe injury to yourself.
The sun can create moisture for you using a simple baggy and the branch of an evergreen tree (leave it attached to the tree) no need to defoliate the landscape.
What about the solar still, it is best utilized as a skill for living “off the grid.” The practical application in a survival scenario is limited. You must have a means to dig a pit, plastic to cover the pit with a container at the bottom to collect water. If you have the foresight to have these items with you, it is likely you’ve seen the wisdom in carrying ample water with you.
Other possible water indicators and locales
- animal trails
- dry stream beds
- rock depressions
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Step 6 – Fire