Getting Water in a Frozen Land

When everything is covered in snow and otherwise frozen, finding water to drink can be harder than you might think.

I am staying in a pretty remote log cabin which is nice but it has one drawback, there is no obvious water source.  I like to be self reliant and independent so this is an obvious problem for me.

You may think – Well I will just melt some snow and it is true that snow is basically just frozen water and air.  The trouble is that it is it seems that snow is mostly air, not water.  The colder it is, the more air the snow will have in it.

At the moment, while writing this, it is a balmy -10 c which really is not that cold so the snow should be less airy than it usually is.

I have filled a 2 liter pot with snow and compacted it down as much as possible to get as much snow in there as I can.  I intend to melt this down and see how much water it gives me at the end.

It is worth noting that snow takes a long time to melt like this.  This 2 liter pot took 20 minutes sat on top of a very hot wood stove.

While we wait for it to melt I will remind you, the reader, that we need to drink quite a lot of water in a day.  Up here in the arctic, I am drinking about 3 liters a day and am still feeling slightly dehydrated at times.  This is because my body is using my own water to humidify the frozen air as I breath it.

Melted snow water is still liable to contain turbidity, debris and the other range of contaminants such as protozoa and bacteria so must be regarded with suspicion and treated accordingly.

Ok so that took 20 minutes to melt, indoors, on a hot wood stove.  My 2 liter pot yielded about 500ml of water.  So just to get by with drinking water, not accounting for cooking or washing, I would need to collect 12 liters of snow per day and spend at least 2 hours melting it.

As you can now see, snow does not represent a convenient water source in the cold north but if this is all that you have then this is what you will have to accept and deal with.

Ice on the other hand, has far less air in it and is mostly water. if you find any ice then go for that first, once melted, it will yield far more water.




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