Three Ways to Get Safe Drinking Water From Snow




About: Former New Brunswick Ground Search and Rescue Officer. Former Cub Scout Leader.

One of the things I like about winter in Canada is that we get LOTS of snow! This means that drinking water is abundant, you only need to know how to process it out of the snow we get.

I created a YouTube video here:
And I also posted this on my blog here:
As many of you are aware, a handful of fresh snow is mostly made up of air. That's right, a little bit of water and a lot of air. If you were to fill a pot with snow and set it on a fire, you would likely scorch the bottom of your pot.

The following are three ways that I like to use to melt snow into drinking water:

Step 1: Body Heat

In the winter I carry a wide-mouth Nalgene bottle on a lanyard inside my coat. This keeps the water from freezing when it gets particularly cold outside. Whenever I take a drink, I scoop up some clean snow and put it in my bottle. The wide mouth makes it easy to add the snow. The heat of the remaining water in the bottle and the body heat from inside my coat are enough to melt the snow and replenish my water supply. It is simple, effective and is my favourite method because it doesn't require you to stop and make a fire. It also works in the worst of weather conditions.

Step 2: Warmth of a Fire

If you don't have a metal container to slowly melt snow near a fire, you can make do with a bandana and a cup or other container. Simply open the bandana flat then fill the middle of it with clean snow. Tie or pin the four corners of the bandana so it holds the large snowball. Now, using a sturdy branch, suspend the bandana near the fire. Soon the heat of the fire will start melting the snow. Before too long, the large snow ball will start dripping through the bandana. Use a cup or other container to catch the dripping water. This method works well basically unattended. You can go about your business doing other things and just checking back from time to time to make sure your container is still catching the drips and not overflowing.

Step 3: Solar Power

Putting snow on a black garbage bag (a.k.a. drum liner) in the bright sun will melt the snow to give you drinking water, but then it's difficult to get that water into a container. Because of this difficulty, I didn't add it to my video. Then my brother John told me about a simple improvement on this method. By putting the clean snow in a clear zip-loc bag on top of the black plastic solar collector, all your drinking water is conveniently made inside the easy-to-handle zip-loc bag! BRILLIANT !! So this method works if you're camped in a bright sunny location for a while and if it isn't so cold to re-freeze the water as it melts.

If this interests you, consider visiting my YouTube Channel at

I have over 75 videos in my Muskrat Survival Series.
My blog at has other survival topics as well.

Step 4:



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    8 Discussions

    Tess Hipps

    10 months ago on Step 3

    Thanks so much for this great info. I like it best because it's helpful to do this without a fire. I am looking into moving to a place where there is abundant snowfall during my later years so finding you is very nice today. I'll look deeper at your work. Thanks again.


    1 year ago

    Actually melt ice rather than snow. You will twice as much water for half as much heat. Lower snow is generally more granular and gives more water than surface snow.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I have many more videos on my Youtube channel at


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks, I have subscribed and look forward to watching more videos later this week.


    4 years ago

    also if in a survival situation, snow takes less energy to melt than ice. peace