How To: Make Snow & Ice Safe for Drinking
Do you ever see freshly fallen snow, or a delicately thin icicle and think it looks good enough to eat? Or maybe you are going on a camping trip soon in cold climates and don’t want to carry around heavy water bottles, but still need to stay hydrated. Whatever the reason, use these tips before you consume snow or icicles. They may look good enough to eat or drink, but it isn’t always a safe choice.
If you are out on a short stroll and decide you want to chow down on some freshly fallen snow or a perfectly clear icicle, it is generally safe. Just be sure to check the color of the snow before you ingest it. Colored snow could mean the presence of algae or that someone’s pet relieved themselves. Contrary to popular belief, organisms and germs are not killed by freezing.
If you are hiking or camping in the wilderness, ingesting snow could be very dangerous to your health and may impede your survival. Along with germs and organisms still being present, eating cold snow will lower your body temperature and can cause hypothermia. Your body also needs to use a substantial amount of energy to convert the snow or ice into water. When hiking or camping in colder temperatures, it is imperative that your body temperature stays high and that you conserve your energy. A handful won’t do much damage, but if you are dehydrated, you need to use other methods to get your water intake.
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Boil the Water
If you have a pot and a fire source available, the best option to create safe drinking water is to boil the snow, but it’s not as simple as it sounds. Since snow is mostly air, it will take a large amount to get enough to drink. If you have the choice, use icicles instead, as they are more compact and are made up of more water than snow. Start with a little bit of snow or ice. Since snow is an insulator, you can burn the bottom of your pot if you put too much in at once. Add the snow or ice gradually, until you get the amount you need to be hydrated. Once the water is at a roiling boil, continue to let it boil for five more minutes to ensure all of the contaminants are gone. Let the water cool a little before drinking.
Bring Purification Tablets
If you do not want to carry around a heavy pot and gas tank to boil your drinking water, you can always purchase purification tablets ahead of time. The best options to use are iodine or chlorine tablets. You can use many methods to melt your snow or ice without fire. You can use body heat and a water bottle, or use the sunlight and a water bottle or plastic bag. Once the snow is melted from whichever method you choose, drop in your tablets. Just make sure you are using the right water to tablet ratio to ensure all of the bacteria is eliminated before drinking.
Whether you just want to try some snow while building a snowman, or you need it for your survival, be sure the snow is freshly fallen or properly filtered before ingesting. If this got you thinking about the quality of water you drink at home, call Leaf Home Water Solutions for a free water test today!
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