October 19, 2012

Survival Priorities: WATER

Water is one of the key survival priorities, and it is vital to make sure your water is safe to drink.  One of the oldest methods for water purification is boiling.  This week (October 17th) students in the Alderleaf Wilderness Certification Program got to practice using a primitive water boiling technique that involves a coal-burned wooden container.  First, they worked on making these containers - often called coal-burned bowls - so that they could purify water from a local stream.

Students Kristian and Bethany utilize their breath to encourage hot coals to burn down into the top of a log round.

Here Scott, Kristian and Bethany utilize the hollowed out stems of horsetail to focus air down on to the hot coals.

Once the burning process is completed, water is added and glowing red-hot rocks are place in it after being cleaned off to get rid of the ash.  Within a short time the water will start to boil and steam dramatically.  This is a very satisfying part of the day, as you can see by the faces of students Nick, Allan, Ethan and Austin.

Once the water is finished boiling, the rocks are removed and the leaves of western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla)  are added for flavor.  Students Joanna, Bethany, Alyssa and instructor Michelle look forward to drinking this primitive wild tea.

When one of the water containers sprung a leak, students Christine and Torin utilized a creative approach to the problem by using a form of natural epoxy: pitch mixed with charcoal.  This simple solution kept their water in and allowed them to enjoy their success in the form of vitamin C-rich tea.

Keep an eye out for more updates soon from Alderleaf!