Survival Water

Can You Turn Seawater into Potable Water

primitive survivors potable seawater

Have you ever imagined being stranded on an island or in the wilderness with no fresh drinking water? Remember that you can’t survive even a few days without water! You’ll think you’re lucky since the sea is just right beside you. The majority of the water that you’ll find in the wilderness is salty. But let me tell you how dangerous it is to drink seawater! Here’s why you shouldn’t drink seawater and whether or not you can turn it into potable water.Β 

Why You Shouldn’t Drink Seawater

As you may know, seawater is toxic to humans, so you can’t just regularly drink it especially if you’re stuck on an island.Β 

Seawater is toxic because the body cannot get rid of the salt that it contains. Your body normally gets rid of excess salt by having the kidneys produce urine, but it needs fresh water to dilute the salt in your body for the kidneys to work properly. That is usually not a problem since we always drink water and eat food with water. Freshwater can also be found in the tissues of our body which can also be used.Β 

However, too much salt in the body can be dehydrating and your kidneys will not get enough fresh water to dilute the salt, causing your body to fail.


While the above is correct, you can still find ways to make seawater safer to drink. It turns out that we can do this through a process called desalination. This simply means getting rid of the salt from the seawater. It removes dissolved minerals like salt from seawater, brackish water, or treated wastewater.Β 

This process is important since seawater provides unlimited and reliable water supply to humanity. All of the earth’s water is 97% seawater, leaving potable water to only 1%. Without desalination, it would be hard for us to survive.Β 

Β Of the more than 7,500 desalination plants in operation worldwide, 60% are located in the Middle East. The world’s largest plant in Saudi Arabia produces 128 MGD of desalted water. In contrast, 12% of the world’s capacity is produced in the Americas, with most of the plants located in the Caribbean and Florida.Β 

But if you’re in a survival situation, you can always desalinate your own water.Β 

Ways to Desalinate Water

Here are some methods you can desalinate water in a survival situation

This is easy to do. You simply heat water until it turns into steam, then capture the steam. Here’s a step by step guide.

  1. Place a cup in the pot and add saltwater to the pot.
  2. Don’t fill the pot high that you can risk the water boiling in the cup.
  3. Turn the lid upside down on the pot, ensuring that your cup is below the lowest point of the lid and the lid is properly sealed.
  4. Turn up the heat for the water to boil gently.Β 

Here’s another distillation evaporation method you can try.


This method may be trickier but it will allow you to distill a bit more water. You need a heat-resistant glass or metal bottle for this, a cork or rubber seal, a few feet of tubing, and a catch-basin.Β 

Lastly, you can desalinate saltwater through a solar still. This method uses the natural energy of the sun to purify water. This requires digging a hole, adding some plants for moisture, pouring the water, leaving the catch cup in the middle, and covering the hole with a large plastic.

Watch this video for a visual guide!Β 

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