Introduction: Extract Clean, Drinkable Water From Plants

Water is the most important thing if you are stuck in the wilderness. Sure, food is important too, but you can live for a while without it; you can't survive more than a few days without water. Unfortunately, in many environments there is either a lack of water, or the water is unsafe to drink. Fortunately, there are often plants. When plants absorb water from the ground they filter out many impurities, and you can extract this clean water from them. Plants transpire water, meaning that water vapor evaporates from the leaves, and this water can be collected. The great thing is, this process doesn't harm the plant and can be repeated over and over again on different branches, and works relatively quickly.

Thanks to everyone who voted for me in the Great Outdoors Contest!

Step 1: What You Need:

- A plastic bag, preferably clear (check the bag beforehand to make sure it is free of holes. If not, seal them with tape.)
- String
- A plant (I will go over what types of plants work best in the next step)

Step 2: Choosing the Plant

- The best types of plants are those with large, green leaves. Berry bushes also work well. There is a conspicuous lack of trees in my back yard, so I used a blueberry bush. Avoid toxic plants!
- Select a plant that receives a good amount of sun. The heat from the sun will speed the transpiration process.
- Choose a branch that has a large number of healthy leaves; give it a shake to dislodge any insects or debris that might be on the branch. Place your plastic bag over it. Tie it very tightly; you don't want any water vapor to escape during the process.
- Make sure that part of the bag hangs lower than the point where you tied the bag to the branch. Water will run collect there.
- You will want to have several bags up at once, since one branch doesn't provide enough water to live on. 

Step 3: The Process

- It will take about 3-4 hours in sun to get a decent amount of water from the plant.
- After about 30-60 minutes water will begin to condense on the sides of the bag.
- After another hour or so much larger droplets should form. These will start to run down the sides of the bag and collect in the lowest point.
- You should get at least 1/3 a cup of water after 4 hours.
- Before drinking the water pour it through some fabric like a t-shirt to filter out anything that may have fallen into the water.
- Reattach the bag to another branch and restart the process.

Comments

author
jimwi made it!(author)2013-06-23

You should be careful what plants you use. Because some plant and there leaves contain toxins like arsenic and cyanide.So be very careful.

author
tkjtkj made it!(author)2013-06-24

that's an interesting point .. Logic suggests both points of view might be true:
1) arsenic, eg, existing in nature as a salt, doesn't evaporate , and/or :
2) 'transpiration' is different from 'evaporation .. and who kNOWS what a plant will decide to do! .. afterall, each instance of noise from a smokey lawn-mower is reason enough for aNY plant to extract revenge .. and what could be more poetic than to extract it while we are extracting what we might think as healthy water!

and remember, all too often it's our own doing that could be our uNdoing .. adding pesticides, etc ..

So, I here request that anyone having access to a chromatograph or spectrograph do a lil testing ... and fill us in !

At same time, this clever device could be life-saving in emergency circumstances .. and costs really nothing in weight/energy/etc to include bags in one's backpack (or watch-pocket!) .. One could even eliminate the weight of the string by tying the end of the bag around the branch in some clever way ...

I like this 'structable!! I'm especially drawn to 'clever simplicity' .. a.k.a. 'exemplified by the paperclip'

Thanks for this one!

author
M3G made it!(author)2013-06-23

Good point. Thank you.

author
2wsdesed made it!(author)2017-01-23

this is called transpiration

author
jOker58 made it!(author)2016-05-06

will this work with a lavender tree

author
BellaC4 made it!(author)2016-02-07

this really does work I've used it for a school project and was told great idea

author
SteveSi made it!(author)2015-10-11

Would breathing into the bag before sealing it help (more CO2) or hinder (more moisture/humidity?). Presumably moisture would condense out when the ambient air temperature is cold, so the best time to collect would be in the early morning?

I have heard of getting moisture from the air overnight by stretching a plastic sheet over a hole with a cup underneath and few pebbles in the centre if the sheet.

http://adventure.howstuffworks.com/survival/wilderness/how-to-find-water2.htm

author
M3G made it!(author)2015-10-12

That is a very good question, I will look in to that!

author
kenneth+k made it!(author)2015-08-05

Great survival tip. Thanks

author
gaieb made it!(author)2015-05-31

Lets see, you said

You should get at least 1/3 a cup of water after 4 hours. So to get the required 8 glasses a day you would need twenty four of the bags for four hours or twelve if you did each twice during eight hours, I think I need to find a better method of getting water,

p.s. you have the same problem with the hole in the ground covered with plastic, the energy you expend digging the hole will cause you to lose more water than you will gain in a day or two. Ideas that look good until you analyze them better.

author
elpayo made it!(author)2015-05-12

excelent !!

author
Sonnodeldrago made it!(author)2014-12-16

I've seen this technique before but never saw instruction on how it works. Great post :) And yes, you must be careful of which plant you use. As for the danger of BPA, this water maker device is used to stay alive in an emergency survival situation. So, even if some BPA does leach I to the water, it cannot hurt you as much as dying of thirst. :)

author
The1andonlyDaniel made it!(author)2014-11-11

Won't this be toxic? A chemical known as BPA would be released from plastic bags, so it would poison the water? Otherwise, great idea!

author
M3G made it!(author)2014-11-11

It shouldn't be toxic; the time the water would be in the bag probably wouldn't be enough for much BPA to be released. Also, BPA is not used in all types of plastic, so it may not even be present. According to an FDA assessment released in March 2013 BPA is safe at the very low levels that occur in some foods (Wikipedia).

author
The1andonlyDaniel made it!(author)2014-11-11

Ok then, thanks

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M3G made it!(author)2014-11-11

No problem!

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flashinstructor made it!(author)2014-04-21

smart one. think about it with choosing mangrove plants or trees :)

author
pertamax11 made it!(author)2014-03-07

This 'ible might become a life saving in emergency cases. Thanks, and Favorited this.

author
M3G made it!(author)2014-03-07

Thanks for the kind words!

author
Southpaw69 made it!(author)2014-01-26

A plentiful, easily accessible source for bags that are perfect for this is the produce aisle at the grocery store!

Get the plastic bags they have on a roll for putting fruits & vegetables in. They are perfect for this. They're a good size, clear, and strong.

author
M3G made it!(author)2014-01-26

Great idea, thanks!

author
Clarencepercy made it!(author)2013-06-28

If I put a bag over a hop plant will I get beer?

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finton made it!(author)2013-10-22

No, but hop flowers are used to flavour beer, so you might get a beer-flavoured water drink!

author
bajablue made it!(author)2013-10-20

This is a FANTASTIC idea! Thanks for sharing... and congrats!!!

author
M3G made it!(author)2013-10-20

Thank you!

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radicalmart made it!(author)2013-10-17

a fantastic but simple instructable as well as being a good recycling idea.

author
M3G made it!(author)2013-10-17

Thanks!

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monterreymachito made it!(author)2013-10-02

Simple, cheap, effective. BRAVO!

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M3G made it!(author)2013-10-02

Thanks!

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serendipitous made it!(author)2013-09-05

amazing!! definitely life-saving knowledge! I would have never thought of it. THANKS!

author
poofrabbit made it!(author)2013-08-31

Just wanted to say congratulations on being a finalists in the Great Outdoors Contest! Good luck!

author
M3G made it!(author)2013-09-01

Thank you very much!

author
Picturerazzi made it!(author)2013-08-31

It's interesting how you cherry-pick replying to the comments with the most praise. Heh.

author
Tin+Man made it!(author)2013-06-28

It may sound silly, but if you are out in the sticks, give the plant a good shake to get rid of poisonous insects, spiders, 'guano', etc.

author
Picturerazzi made it!(author)2013-06-30

Venomous* :D Poisonous suggests eating them would cause poisoning. Venomous means they can bite or sting you with venom.

author
Kiteman made it!(author)2013-08-31

Poisonous bugs are also handy to avoid, in case they fall into, and contaminate, the water.

author
M3G made it!(author)2013-06-28

Good point.

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jackreiter made it!(author)2013-08-05

can you do this with tree leaves

author
M3G made it!(author)2013-08-05

Yes, that would work great.

author
M3G made it!(author)2013-08-05

Yes, that would work great.

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LaffyDuck187 made it!(author)2013-06-29

would poison ivy work or would only the water come out

author
M3G made it!(author)2013-06-29

Poison ivy would be a bad idea, since it would probably release toxins as well.

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simayanan made it!(author)2013-06-28

Thank you for this. I have posted the link on Facebook and Pinned it, too. This could save many lives, especially in disaster areas.

author
Picturerazzi made it!(author)2013-06-28

Nice to know!!! I'm curious though, would sucking on the leaves also give you hydration? Like sage leaves, for instance?

author
M3G made it!(author)2013-06-28

I have no idea.

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Rohinton made it!(author)2013-06-27

This instructible is the best I've come across ! It is a matter of life or death for a treker who is lost for days without any food and water. Superb idea.! from now on I will make sure I have some plastic bags and some string when going out overnight treking. Thank you !

author
M3G made it!(author)2013-06-28

Thanks for the comment! I always carry a plastic bag and string because they weigh next to nothing and take up barely any space, yet can still save your life.

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KOJohnson made it!(author)2013-06-28

Try to avoid toxic plants, by the way.

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desertranger made it!(author)2013-06-27

You better have a lot of plastic. Water from plants yields about 1/2 a cup in 8 hours. About as useful as a solar still. Better to keep an good supply of water in yur car.

author
DIY-Guy made it!(author)2013-06-27

Oleander (often used for landscaping in dry climates such as southern California) is toxic! Stay away from plants like this. On a side note, and only partly related, kids have cooked hot dog son Oleander sticks and died. But some plants (such as Oleander) do exude toxics and should be left alone. Poison Ivy and poison Summac are some obvious choices to avoid.

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