Finding water in a cactus is common survival lore, but it’s not exactly true. While you can, in fact, find hydration in a cactus, it’s not as simple as cutting one open and glugging down some fresh, clean, drinking water.
Cacti can, on the other hand, still save your life, if you know what you’re doing. They do in fact retain water, or moisture, rather, and if you open them up correctly, you can access that life-giving hydration. Here’s a simple guide:
There are two main types of cacti, and one is the kind with flat parts. What you
do if you’ve got these is to chop off the piece you want, and cut off the outside as best you can. It’s the inside that you want. It will be slimy, but it will provide you with hydration. Simply suck on the plant and spit out the pulp. You can extract a good bit of moisture this way.
The other type of cacti is barrel cacti, and in this case, you can cut off the top and chop up the insides. This will be more spongey, but again, you can suck the moisture out and spit out the pulp.
Prickly pear is another good resource to be aware of for survival hydration. It is a fruit that grows on the top of flat cactus. It can be difficult to de-skin, but they are delicious and sweet, and while their sugary meat is not as good for hydration as the cactus itself, it can provide some much-needed carbohydrates.
Agave is another type of cactus that can also hydrate you. They can actually collect water at their base, and while these leaves are thick and thorny, making the water difficult to access, it’s probably still worth the effort to look for it if you’re stranded in a hot climate.
Not all folklore about survival is false, it’s just not as simple as we’ve grown up believing. Keep these basics in mind in case you ever need to extract hydration from a cactus.