Good and Bad Wilderness Water Sources


Survival Skills


Water is one of the basic survival necessities. Should you find yourself in a wilderness emergency locating a reliable source of water is one of the very first things you should do.



Remember the “Rule of Three” states your can survive for about three days with out drinking water. But, the longer you wait to find a reliable water source the the harder it becomes as the effects of dehydration will start setting in, making it more and more difficult to search. Remember if you do not have filter or other purification means with you, according to the American Red Cross, to make drinking water safe it should be boiled for at least one full minute before consumption. In the wilderness there are some hard and fast rules when it comes to good and bad water sources.  

Good water sources


  1. Fresh flowing streams and rivers must be purified before being consumed.
  2. Lakes, also must be purified before drinking.
  3. Dew that forms on plants is pure when it condenses. However collecting dew can prove difficult. There are some tricks to make this easier though.  Learn how to collect dew for drinking water in a survival situation.  If you do mass collect dew for drinking water make sure to purify before drinking, the risks of contamination are simply too high.
  4. Rain is generally drinking able before it hits the ground, but to collect enough to this viable source of drinking water you should purify before drinking as you don’t want to chance with drinking contaminated water.  In general it hits the ground it must be treated.
  5. If you are melting snow or ice for a drinking water source, it should be treated before consumption.
  6. If you are dig a hole and find a groundwater source, it should be purified before drinking.
  7. Water stored in plants such as barrel cactus and other plants is a pure water source.

Bad water sources


  1. Urine. Yes we’ve all heard of this being done in a survival situation. But, that does not make it a good idea. Urine packed full of your body’s waste and salt.  Drinking urine increases dehydration.
  2. Blood.  First off blood may carry diseases.  Secondly, in your stomach blood is burned like food, which in turn takes water to consume, thereby increasing dehydration. Lastly it contains salt which also increases dehydration
  3. Seawater.  If you drink seawater you are increasing your body’s dehydration.
  4. Alcohol.  Not only will it impair your judgement, but will also dehydrate you.
  5. Likely contaminated sources. If you find a water source that has a chemical smell or shine it’s  probably best to skip that source as it is likely contaminated.
  6. Lakes that do not drain make contain alkali salts.  This is common in desert basins.