Surviving in the wild: How to melt snow for drinking water without a fire-proof vessel
This method also provides you with a steady stream of water — pretty handy for when you'd need it most.
Fresh, clean drinking water is an essential necessity for life and crucial in a winter wilderness setting. In this survival segment, wilderness survival experts Zach & Cody will demonstrate a unique method for melting snow without the aid of a metal cooking container (pot, pan or cup) in a winter environment.
While only using the following resources – a full tang-fixed blade knife, split log, plastic container, spruce or pine resin and a hot fire, this technique proves to be useful when you cannot find flowing water from lakes or streams and have non-ideal, non-compact snow to work with. A subtle nuance with obtaining drinking water from melting snow, is the smoke from the fire can affect the taste of the water. Other successful snow melting methods call for the snow to be suspended above the fire line, which usually resulting in an undesirable taste, due to the smoke penetration. In a survival situation, that matters less still, this V-Vessel method will limit the amount of smoke that comes into contact with your melt runoff plus protect a plastic container from the fire, leaving you with clean drinking water and an undamaged container for further use. Perhaps the best part is that once established, the V-Vessel will give you a steady flow of water and the ability to complete other camp chores with an occasional inspection and top up of snow. In place of the V-Vessel, a hollowed out log can be used, if that's available.
Here's what you'll need:
- Cutting tool
- Fire-starter (learn how to build a fire for survival here)
- 2 ft log, 2-3 inches in diameter
- Container to fill with water
- Spruce or pine to create a resin
Here's how to do it:
- Begin by locating a safe spot to start a fire. Look for an area with lots of snow, as you want to be close to your main resource for this task, it will play a crucial role in the ability to feed your V-Vessel with fresh snow as it melts
- Safely split your log equally down the middle.
- Extract 1-3 clumps of spruce or pine resin. Resin is a sap oozing from open wounds or branches on evergreen trees. (Do not take the entire amount of resin off of the affected area, as it will leave the wound exposed.)
- Collect two fork-branched sticks, 12-inches in length, for the melting of your resin.
- With your resin, sticks and log collected, proceed with starting a fire at your designated fire spot.
- Pile a large, even, heap of snow beside your fire. Keep in mind once your fire gets hot the snow will begin to melt, keep your pile at a distance of about 6 inches from the initial flames. Snow may be added as needed.
- Wedge your split log halves into your snow pile on a slight downward angle, with the end of the vessel that will provide the melt runoff closest to your fire.
- Spread the spruce/pine resin into the two forked sticks.
- Slowly heat the resin using the flames or embers from your fire. Be careful of hot dripping resin once ignited.
- With your resin ignited, begin to drip the melted resin into the crack of your two split logs. This will act as sealant and greatly help the flow of melt runoff, and help generate a greater amount of water at a faster rate since you won't lose water through the crack.
- Now that your V-Vessel is sealed and wedged in your snowbank, loosely place ample amounts of snow or ice inside. Piling the snow 1-2 inches above the V-Vessel line will help limit refill time and generate melt runoff faster.
- At the end of your V-Vessel, closest to the fire, dig down through the snow and place your container to collect the melt runoff. If using plastic, encompass the entire container with snow to prevent melting and warping.
- Build up your fire to generate the maximum amount of heat without damaging your V-Vessel and container.Allow sufficient time for the snow or ice to slowly melt and work its way towards the lip of the V-Vessel and into your container
- Remember to occasionally monitor the distance of your V-Vessel to your fire. Anything more than 1-2 feet from your fire will drastically affect the melt time and runoff rate.
- With your V-Vessel constructed and container full of fresh drinking water you can now stay hydrated in a winter environment!