Lone Survivalist Field Guide: From The 24 Hour Survival Sanctuary
Fire & Water
Alright, at this point the top priorities have been taken care of.
The shelter is up. The signals are put into place. And one smoke generator is built and ready to go if it needs to lit at a moment’s notice.
The next priority is staying hydrated.
So you have to secure a water source. Along with that is getting fire material ready since you’ll have to sanitize the water through boiling.
Also, when you’re trekking looking for water and fire material. Keep an eye for easy to eat food.
Just because food isn’t top of the priority list in the first 72 hours, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t fuel your body when you have the chance.
For example if you come across an autumn olive.
Easy to identify. The bottom of the leaves have a silver look to them. The berries have little silver spots.
They’re delicious, and a great pick me up.
No reason to ignore them if passing by.
Now, if it’s recently rained. Or the environment you’re in is generally damp. You’re going to have a hard time finding dry material for fire.
Inner and outer barks are ideal to look for. And easy to harvest.
Eastern Cedars are great for outer bark.
To harvest, take the back side of your knife (always preserve your blade) and scrape it down the tree.
You’ll get a fine, dry material as pictured. This is perfect for your tindle bundle. Keep collecting until you have a good ‘palm-size’ amount.
|Bow Drill: The Eastern Cedar is also great wood if you’re in need of a fire source. |
Next tree to look for is the tulip poplar.
It’s easy to identify with a smooth, grayish bark.
The great thing about these trees are the speed in which they grow. As they shoot up above the rest of the trees, they’re left with unnecessary branches that die off.
|Easy ID: This tree also has a very distinct leaf. It looks a little like a cats head with the pointy ears at the top. Just another quick way to make sure you’re dealing with the tulip poplar.|
You can grab one of the dead branches, and peel off a layer of bark as pictured.
The innerbark is what you’re going for. So strip that out.
Take it in your hands and grind it back and forth between your finger tips.
You’ll be left with a nice fibrous material.
This is also a great tree to use for building a bow drill.
|Cordage: The tree that keeps on giving. Strip away the outer bark, to expose the inner bark. Use a quick reverse wrap to make some very strong cordage.|
Now depending on how dehydrated you are, or maybe you don’t have a water source for miles.
Grape vines can give you a quick, clean shot of fresh water.
First you want to hack the vine clear off near the bottom.
Then about 3 feet up you want to cut it again as there’s a vacuum trapping the water.
Then just hold the grape vine over your head and let it drain into your mouth.
You’ll get a pretty significant amount of water from it.
When you’re scouting for water you’re looking for water indicators.
This is a plant that tells you where water is. You’ll see these before you actually find the water source.
In this case, I spotted this water source due to the cattails sticking up. They’re around year round. So they’re great to look for.
Another water indicator would be a willow tree.
|Super plant: Cattails aren’t only a water indicator, but they’re also edible. |
So keep an eye out. Great for survival.
Signs of Life
You don’t always get the water you want. But you have to figure out how to the drink the water you get.
In this case, the water is dirty, full of bugs, overgrown and muddy.
But, you can’t allow yourself to become dehydrated because you don’t want to drink the water.
One of the best indicators of whether it’s safe to drink is signs of life.
Are there animal tracks? More importantly, is there amphibian life?
If you see frogs for example, it’s a good indications the water isn’t toxic. Since their skin is extremely permeable, they wouldn’t be able to survive in a toxic environment.
So frogs are a good sign.
If you don’t get a visual, or an audible indication of a frog. Look for raccoon prints. They eat amphibians.
Here’s my quick and dirty water filtration kit.
Take a cotton bandana and a stainless steel water bottle.
Drape the bandana over the top as pictured.
Keep in mind this isn’t going to filter out the stuff that would make you sick.
All you’re doing here is getting rid of the debris to make the water more palatable.
Drip your bottle in and let it fill up.
You can see all of the nasty stuff this managed to keep out of your water source.
Once you’ve got your water it’s time to head back to your shelter to get the fire started and get this water safe to drink.
|Another man’s trash…: If you don’t have a stainless steel water bottle for thermal disinfection. You can use a plastic bottle like this. Simply keep it away from the flame and let the water slowly come to a boil. Not ideal, but in a pinch this will work.|
Before starting your fire you want to clear roughly a four foot diameter.
This will prevent any dry material catching on fire and potentially burning down your shelter spot.
Take your tulip poplar and cedar bark and really process it down as fine as you can get it.
The goal is to use your lighter for no more than 5 seconds to get the fire going.
You don’t know how long you’ll be stranded for. You may need the lighter for many more fires. Always conserve.
Once that’s done, put your tinder bundle to the side.
|Fireball: If you’re down to one match, or the weather’s damp and you need to make sure your fire gets going the first time. Put together a mix of sap and some needles and keep this in the middle of your tinder bundle. This will give it a real “oomph”.|
Lay out your three bundles of kindling.
They should vary in size from matchstick, pencil and marker.
Obviously as you layer these on the fire you’ll go from smaller to larger. Only moving to the larger material once the smaller material has caught hold.
Now, in this case, we only need the fire to boil our water. If you’re looking for a more long-term burn. You’d want to have wrist-size material to carry on the burn.
Each bundle should be large enough that you can touch your thumbs and pinky together.
When you’re boiling water your goal is to kill off the majority of the waterborne pathogens.
This happens at about 185 degrees. This is confirmed by a lot of scientifically backed papers. The only thing you won’t kill at this temperature is smallpox.
Boiling point is 212 degrees. So the only reason we bring it to such a high heat is because it’s the only visual indicator that it’s hot enough to kill the pathogens.
Now, you’ll hear people say you need to keep it at a boil for 3, 5 or even 10 minutes. But, all that’s doing is evaporating off the water you’ve trekked hundreds of meters to collect.
There’s no need.
If it’s boiling at 212. You know it’s been past the 185 degree mark for enough time to kill off everything you can kill.
Okay, so first thing you want to do is take your matchstick material and prop it up as pictured.
This gives the fire something to climb, and it allows for air flow.
Next take your tinder bundle and put it inside the matchstick material.
Bring your light to the center of the tinder bundle. This should be the finest material that will catch quickly.
Make sure your matchstick material is directly over top of your kindling bundle so it begins to catch.
As mentioned before, do not begin adding your thicker material until the matchstick has caught. Namely the flames are above the matchstick.
At this point you want to bring your water in.
Nestle is next to the flame. You want this boiling as quickly as possible, because even after it’s boiled, it will take a considerable amount of time to cool off.
Begin adding your thicker material.
Stack it around your water bottle to stabilize while focusing the heat at the desired point.
Once your water has come to a rolling boil to start to push of the burning material.
Every second your water is left in there, is more time you’re losing it to evaporation.
Your water kit may have come with a fish jaw spreader.
In which case you can grab your bottle out of the fire as shown.
Put it off to the side to let it cool.
While you’re doing that, you can drop a few pieces of charcoal into the water as it cools.
This will help absorb some of the flavour and smell from the water.
Scrap your fire back together. It’s always good to have a fire going for warmth and security through the night.
Also acts as a great passive signal at night.
Depending on the area you’re in, you may have access to pines.
You can take these and place them in your water to steep, and essentially turn it into a pine tea.
Apart from adding flavour, it will also pull nutrients like vitamin C into your water.
Obviously just make sure you know what pine you’re using and that it’s safe.
After you’ve let it cool the water is now safe to drink.
If you put in the charcoal and pine, the water should actually taste okay.
Again, never let yourself become dehydrated just because the water source is stagnant or looks gross.
In a survival situation. You must make due with what you have.
Bonus: Lighter Rescue
Let’s say you’ve accidentally soaked you water in the rain or dropped it in the pond.
Here’s how to save it.
To simulate this I’m going to take my working lighter and drop it into a cup of water and let it sit for a few minutes.
First thing to do if you haven’t already is pop off the child safety.
This will allow you to dry it quicker.
Next you want to shake it a few times as hard as you can.
Then you wanna blow directly into the working parts.
It’s essentially a mini ferro rod with a rotary steel striker. You need this to be as dry as possible.
Lastly, drag the lighter up your pant leg to create sparks.
This will help dry up the rest of the lighter.
And there you go.
It lights right back up again.
If your fire source is a lighter, you need to become aware of everything about it. Including all of the ways to save it when it’s been jeopardized.
The big takeaways from this guide are:
- When you’re scouting your shelter location, always be looking for water indicators like willow trees and cattails.
- Drink the water you get, not the water you necessarily want.
- Always be looking for sources of food, even if it’s not the top priority in the first 72 hours.
- Know everything about rescuing a lighter if it’s your preferred fire source.
- Do the little things that make your life easier and more enjoyable. In this case adding charcoal and pine to your water to make it more palatable.
There you go.
Last thing on the agenda is to watch and listen for potential rescue. If you are interested in this in video form, it is all part of the 24 Hour Survival Sanctuary Master Class That You Can Get Here
Check out Josh Enyart’s You Tube Channel