Melting Snow for Survival Tips

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Check out these melting snow for survival tips that may save your life. You’ve been trying to ration your drinking water for several days now, but in the next day or two, your family will be left with nothing. Yikes! This can be an alarming situation because you and your party will only last for a few days without water.

Yet if this situation takes place in the wintertime, it’s not as bad as it seems. Survivalists will tell you that snow can be used as a liquid drinking beverage when your water supply has run out. 

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Melting Snow for Survival Tips

Melting Snow for Survival

Once you’ve run out of drinking water, you’ll have to rely on the snow around you to stay hydrated. I’d strongly encourage you not to suck on the snow or ice that’s around you. Do you know a few of the best ways to melt the snow?

That’s okay if you don’t because I’m more than happy to share with you a few different ways of doing so. Here are a number of tips for melting snow, especially for survival purposes. 

Boiling Snow

Boiling is probably the most effective way to melt snow, and everyone should take the time to learn this basic survival skill. This method also helps to kill any bacteria that may be present in the snow.

As long as you have a fire and a cooking pot, there’s really no reason why anyone should become dehydrated as long as there’s snow available.

Though it would be nice if you had a camping stove available, it’s not necessary. A fire pit would also do the trick.   

To start out, place a small amount of snow in the pot while it’s nestled over the fire. Then begin to add more as it starts to melt, but make sure that you don’t add too much snow such that it melts over the top or causes the pot to sink into the fire itself.

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You don’t want your water overflowing everywhere. Another thing to remember is to keep the lid on your pot as your snow is boiling. That way it’s able to maintain heat and the snow will melt faster for you. I have these pans with a lid, they would work great: Farberware 4-Quart

Use Warm Heat that’s Nearby

You may think that a pillowcase is something that you should only use to cover your pillow, but it can also function as a filter too. All you need to do is fill it up with snow and then tie it to a low hanging branch that’s close to your fire. Just make sure that you don’t place the pillowcase directly over your fire. 

Then place a pot or large bowl below the pillowcase in order to catch the water. In as little as 30 minutes you should have up to a quart of drinking water available. 

Some survivalists prefer to use a mosquito head net to help drain out the water, but be careful not to put it too close to the fire if this is what you decide to use. The head net is made of nylon and it will melt fairly easily. 

Hot Water

If you happen to have a flask of hot water and an extra container with you, melting snow for drinking purposes will be easy peasy. To get started, put a handful of snow into your empty water bottle or insulated container and follow up behind it with a splash of hot water. Do this repeatedly until the container is filled to the top. In case you missed this post, How To Use A Kelly Kettle  

Rely on Solar Heat

Though this method takes a little longer than the previous two, it’s still quite effective. Even if it’s a cold winter day, as long as you have plenty of sunshine, it should work. Start out by filling up a trash bag with snow and then place it in a spot that’s nice and toasty with direct sunlight.

Allow it to sit there as you go about your tasks for the day and when you come back, you’ll be surprised how much drinking water you have.

Now you might be thinking that a trash bag filled with water isn’t necessarily the easiest thing to lug around. And I agree with you. If you want to try something that’s light and portable, you could also use clear sandwich baggies or larger Ziploc bags that will be much more convenient.   

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Passive Melting

When you don’t have a campfire at your disposal, that’s okay. Relying on solar heat is already a passive method for melting snow, but there’s also another you could try. This is something that you could do when you’re out on a hike or when you’re going about other business while you’re outdoors. 

Start out with a small amount of water in the bottom of your water bottle. This helps to aid the snow with the melting process more quickly.  Then go ahead and add a little bit of snow, allowing it to slosh around as you’re walking.

After going a little bit further, add some more snow to your water bottle. Repeat this process until you’ve reached the desired amount of liquid in your water bottle. 

Avoid Sucking on Snow and Ice

When you’re facing a critical survival situation, you certainly don’t want to find yourself sucking on snow or ice to stay hydrated, because you’re actually doing the opposite. Doing so can actually reduce your core body temperature, which can be a very dangerous thing when you’re having to spend several cold winter nights outdoors.

Hyperthermia is the last thing that you need to be dealing with at the moment. Believe it or not, sucking on snow and ice can also have a dehydrating effect on your body. This is why you should always boil or melt snow beforehand.   

Final Word

As you’re gathering your snow to melt for your drinking purposes, be sure that you’re collecting clean and fresh snow. You don’t want to be using snow that’s stained or discolored for obvious reasons.

For some of these melting tips that you can use out in the wilderness, it will require you to be a bit more patient because it may take a while, but as long as there’s snow, you’ll be fine. Let me know if you have other ideas we can share with my readers. May God Bless this world, Linda. 

Copyright Images: Man with a pot of snow Deposit photos_315318826_s-2019

14 thoughts on “Melting Snow for Survival Tips

  • February 5, 2021 at 7:18 am

    Linda, another great post. We rarely get snow, and even more rare that we get enough to melt. We do have a lake near-by, and I would filter the water and boil for at least 5 minutes.

    • February 5, 2021 at 8:45 am

      Hi Deborah, thank you!! You are so lucky to have a lake nearby. I love it! Linda

      • February 5, 2021 at 10:42 am

        Hi Linda. We don’t live on the lake, but within walking distance. We also have motorized adult trikes, so we can haul water on them. At our age and health conditions, e can’t manually haul heavy items. We had to get our son to replace the 5-gallon bottle on our water cooler. The 5 gallon bottles weigh about 40 pounds.
        Plus the water table is real close to the surface in the back of our property. I love that. I’d love to have a well, but don’t have one yet and don’t see it happening in my lifetime.

  • February 5, 2021 at 8:08 am

    Great article.
    In the years I and my children, lived in a mobile home in the wild’s of Alaska, I learned some things about survival. We were in survival mode most of the time there as we didn’t have much money, no running water and no indoor plumbing.
    We would melt snow in a 1/2 metal barrel on top of the wood heating stove. We would bring in it in 5 gallon bucket’s and dump them straight into the barrel. Worked great.
    I discovered though that each snow crystal forms around a grain is sand or dirt in the atmosphere and it would be left in the bottom of the barrel, as the snow melted. We would have to dump out the “sand” about once a week because it would accumulate to the point that I couldn’t tolerate it.
    The heat from the stove would sterilize the snow and we would have a supply of drinking water until we could go get water.

    • February 5, 2021 at 8:49 am

      Hi Mae, wow, you know how to survive for sure! The stories you could tell about surviving in the wilds of Alaska!! That 5-gallon bucket of snow would have been heavy!! The snow crystals were an interesting thing I hadn’t thought about. Great comment, Linda

  • February 5, 2021 at 10:37 am

    Back in my Yukon years there was always a canning pot of melting snow on the wood stove. It’s amazing how no matter how well you pack it down the amount of water relative to the amount of snow was so small. The kids liked packing snow in buckets kept on the porch so it was easy to keep adding more snow. We had no well so snow melt water was mostly used for everything except drinking and it was a lot easier than going down to the lake for water since that required keeping a hole chopped open. Also uphill all the way home with the toboggan load of water.

    • February 5, 2021 at 10:39 am

      Just to add that winters were longer in those days but lest people get the wrong idea, the snowpot only operated during the season, not all year long!

    • February 5, 2021 at 10:56 am

      Hi Alice, oh my gosh, I love hearing this!! The toboggan load of water going uphill, oh, that’s brutal! Just think of the skills your family learned! Linda

  • February 5, 2021 at 7:37 pm

    Linda, it’s only snowed 4 times in the past 8 years at our place. A bit more than a week ago we got 5 inches. Anyhow, if you have a sun oven that would be another way to melt and even pasteurize snow for drinking or cooking water.

    • February 5, 2021 at 7:48 pm

      Hi Ray, oh my gosh, 5 inches!! That’s a lot of snow, especially for your neighborhood!! Oh my gosh! Oh, yeah, I should have put the SunOven in the post, great reminder. I wish everyone who had sunshine had a SunOven. I love mine. Great comment, Linda

      • February 5, 2021 at 8:09 pm

        Linda, tonight we had shrimp stir fry made with onions, garlic, bok choi, snow peas and baby carrots from our garden. I added mung bean sprouts from my sprouting set up. I also added canned water chestnuts.

        I stored our mature Yellow Granex onions in the ground, since the ground doesn’t freeze here (they were planted last spring). I pull one anytime I need one. The Purple Queen Garlic is from a planting done late last summer and it also is still in the ground. It won’t really be mature until April or May but the small bulb I harvested for the stir fry had excellent flavor. The Bok Choi, Snow Peas and carrots were all planted last fall and are mature now. The Bok Choi has bolted but the smaller leaves are still very good–not bitter like so many veggies get after bolting. The eggs for the stir fry came from our chickens. So, except for the shrimp, coconut oil, sesame seed oil and soy sauce, it all came from our homestead. On, I could have thrown in some broccoli (whichis interplanted with the garlic and onions, but my wife doesn’t like it (except in broccoli cheese soup).

        Life is good, sometimes just better than at other times.

        • February 6, 2021 at 7:24 am

          Hi Ray, you have a little piece of heaven where you live in my opinion! Whenever you can eat almost 95% of your meals from your yard give or take, You hit the jackpot! Life tastes better when you produce the food! I love your comment! Linda

  • February 6, 2021 at 12:04 pm

    We rarely get snow where I live so I would have to rely on rain water for staying hydrated during the winter. I would still filter the rain water and bring it to a boil though.

    One thing I would caution people is to not “over” boil the water, whether from snow melt or rain water, lake water, etc. When you boil water, you can concentrate all of the things you do not want to drink. All you have to do to test this out is to bring water to a boil and leave it boiling – as the water evaporates, you will see rings around your pan – those are concentrated metals and other things we don’t want.

    I saw this on a post:
    The time that it would take for the water to reach a boil and cool down is enough time to kill all the dangerous organisms that might make you sick. To be safe, you should follow the recommendation of the experts, which is boiling water for one full minute or three minutes if you’re 2000 meters above ground level.

    • February 6, 2021 at 2:45 pm

      Hi Leanne, I will have to hope for rainwater as well. No snow here, we did have 2-inches a couple of weeks ago. It melted within hours. I have to hope people will buy filters or have fuel to boil the water they gather. Great comment, Linda


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