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How to Make a Solar Still

If you ever run out of drinking water while you're hiking or camping, use a few lightweight materials and construct a still to purify the water in the ground.


  • Step 1: Find a spot Find a damp, sunlit location, such as a dry steambed, the bottom of a hill, or another place near a water source.
  • Step 2: Dig a hole Use a standard or collapsible shovel to dig a 3-foot-deep hole into damp ground. The water in the hole is what you'll be drinking, so you can add plant matter and undrinkable water to the hole -- the still will purify any water.
  • Step 3: Add the water bottle Push your water bottle into the center of the hole, packing soil around it to prop it up.
  • Step 4: Cover the hole Cover the hole with plastic sheeting and hold the sheeting down by placing dirt, rocks, or other debris around the edges.
  • TIP: Make sure the plastic is tight and the seal is airtight.
  • Step 5: Put a rock on the plastic Place a rock in the center of the plastic, over your water bottle. When the water in the hole evaporates, it will condense on the underside of the plastic. The indentation caused by the rock will lead the condensation into the water bottle.
  • Step 6: Wait two hours Wait two hours to make one quart of potable water. Have a drink and then reset your solar still to make more water.
  • FACT: Only 1 percent of the Earth's water is suitable for drinking.

You Will Need

  • Damp
  • sunlit location
  • Shovel
  • Water bottle
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Dirt
  • rocks
  • or debris

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