Drinking Salt Water

In most survival situations finding water is the hard part, then all you need to do is treat it, filter it, or boil it (or hope for the best if you can’t do any of those).  But if you are near the coast, or in an area that has been hit by a hurricane or tsunami, all the water in your area could be salt water.  Iodine tablets won’t get salt out, filters won’t help either, and simply boiling it will only leave you with hot salt water.  But, if you have a few items available to you, it is possible to make salt water into drinking water.  Here’s what you need:



Two bottles, canteens, or other containers that can hold water while over a fire to be boiled

Duct tape

Tubing, can be plastic, rubber, or copper pipe, anything really

A fire source capable of boiling the water


  1. To get started, get a fire going with enough fuel on hand to bring the water to a boil and sustain it.
  2. Fill one container with water. Preferably this container will be metal, but if metal is not available water can be boiled in a plastic bottle or even a cardboard milk carton if the container is suspended at the right height above the fire.
  3. Put one end of your tubing into the container with water that will be boiled, don’t put it in too deep. It just needs to barely be inside.
  4. Then secure the container, and seal it so that no air can escape without passing through the tube.
  5. Next, put the other end of the tube in the other container.
  6. Make sure the empty container is lower than the container with salt water.
  7. Then secure the tube, but don’t make it air tight.
  8. Bring the salt water to a low boil and sustain it.


As the salt water boils, it will steam.  The steam coming off the salt water will be fresh water.  The fresh steam should rise through the tube since it has no place else to go and the expanding, hot, moist air will have no place else to go.  It will make its way to the other container and condensate onto the sides, where it will drip down and gather.  All the water in the second container will be drinkable.

Water treatment tablets and filters are great to keep in your stash, but they won’t work for everything.  If you live in a coastal area knowing how to get drinking water from salt water is a necessary skill.

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