How to Purify Salt Water: Drinking the Water You Find

Sea water
Written by Bradley Page

Water that is too salty or comes from the ocean is bad for your health and therefore should not be digested by your body without applying proper treatment methods. In fact, ocean water has plenty of bacteria in it that can cause sickness to your body and ruin your health. The water can be drinkable, however, first you have to learn how to purify salt water.

See also: Best Water Purification Tablets: Water Treatment and Solution

Therefore, learning how to apply the right cleaning methods can give you proper knowledge about how to purify salt water so that you can get a clean, pure and refreshed drink to satisfy your thirst as well as keep your body from becoming dehydrated. While there are various ways of purifying ocean salty water, here are a few methods to follow.

Why Drinking Ocean Water Without Desalination Is Bad

Unlike pure water, ocean water is dangerous for your body because it triggers dehydration. The more saltwater you drink the more dehydrated you become. Take, for example, if you should drink some ocean water, your body will be forced to pass out more urine than you drink.

The extra salt that you take into your body will result in you experiencing more thirst and eventually, your body will reach the critical state of dehydration. Eventually, you will die of thirst even though you’re drinking a lot of water.

Still, your body often consumes salt, almost on a daily basis because of the food you eat. However, the liquid you drink throughout the day helps to break the salt down to a safe level for your body to handle. The salt in ocean water is at a much higher level. In fact, it is too high for your body to deal with and if you drink any of it without going through the desalination process it can destroy your cells.

However, if you should find yourself in a situation where you are without proper drinking water and close to the ocean, you can go ahead and desalinate the salty water to save your life. The condensation or steam that comes from the saltwater is turned into fresh water that your body can safely digest.

How to Purify Salt Water

Method # 1: Boil the ocean water on a stove top

If you find yourself without pure drinking water, you can remove some water from the ocean, take it home and boil it on the stove top to remove the excess salt.

Step 1

  • The first thing you must do to start the process of boiling your ocean water is to get a pot and a drinking glass. The pot should be large enough and be able to cover while the glass must be able to hold sufficient water. Choose a glass that is short enough and not one that is taller than the pot. It is better for you to use a metal or Pyrex cup so that the glass will not explode when the heat reaches it. In addition, do not use a plastic vessel because the heat will melt it. The pot and lid should be able to be used on the stove top.
  • Put the glass in the middle of the pot.

Step 2

  • Pour the ocean water into the pot slowly but do not pour too much that it fills the entire pot. See to it that the water does not reach the top of the pot so that when it is boiling it does not splash salt into glass nearby. If any salt is splashed into the glass, your drinking water will become contaminated.

Step 3

  • Put the cover on the pot in an upside down position so that the condensed water can slowly drip into the waiting glass in the middle. Turn the highest point of the pot lid facing directly downward towards the glass so that the condensed water can flow straight into it. To make it better for the pot to pour into the glass, use a pot that has a seal on the edges so that the steam coming out does not escape.

Step 4

  • Slow boil the water over a low enough heat so that the glass does not smash. High heat can also cause the glass to shift from the center of the pot and spoil the process of catching safe drinking water.

Step 5

  • Keep a keen eye on the boiling pot as the water begins to condense. As the water continues to boil, it becomes vapor and discards any dissolved particles in it. When the water becomes vapor, it turns to steam and produces water-droplets which drip slowly into the glass from the pot handle. The whole process might take about 20 minutes or more.

Step 6

  • Do not drink the water immediately after it is boiled because both the glass and water will be hot for a while. Instead, wait until both glass and water cool down. When removing the glass, some residue of saltwater might still be left in the pot. Therefore, make sure to carefully and slowly remove the glass so none of the salt water on the outside gets into the glass and spoils your freshly made water.

Method # 2: How to turn seawater into fresh water so you can survive on the coast

Step 1

  • Gather any debris you can find and use them and parts of your raft to make freshwater from ocean water. This method comes in handy if you are stranded on a beach and are unsure of when help will arrive.

Step 2

  • Put some seawater into the raft’s gas bottle (once you have cleaned it thoroughly with salt water and sand) but make sure not to fill it to the brim. Take the bottled water to an area where you can build a fire.

Step 3

  • Attach the life raft’s hose to the leak stoppers at one end of the raft so that fresh condensed water vapor, when heated, can go out of the bottle. To not lose any freshwater leaking out from the hose, see to it that the hose’s seal and leak stoppers are securely positioned.

Step 4

  • Use leak stoppers to plug the top of the gas bottle so that water vapor can travel from the heated bottle to the hose to make freshwater. If the seal is weak, you can use twine or tape to strengthen it.

Step 5

  • Build a sandbank that you can bury the hose so that it can stay steady while fresh water runs through it. Make sure to keep the hose’s end exposed so that water can easily trickle out through it. When doing this step, make sure that you do not make the mistake of burying the leak stoppers and gas bottle. In addition, put a pan underneath the hose’s exposed end so that freshwater can catch in it.

Step 6

  • Start a fire and put the gas bottle directly above the burning flames so that the salt water can begin to boil. While the ocean water is boiling, the steam coming from it will condense easily starting from the gas bottle top and ending up into the hose as freshwater. The water will then pass from the hose straight into the pan. The water that reaches the pan will be safe drinking water for you to enjoy. Drink only after water cools.

See video tutorial below:

Method # 3: Using solar desalination to turn ocean water into fresh drinking water

Step 1

  • Put some salt water in a container or bowl but do not fill it to the brim so that no saltwater will get into the freshwater container thus spoiling your drinking water. Use a watertight container to keep the salt inside the bowl so that it does not drain away and does not form steam to give you your drinking water. Since this method will take hours to complete, it is best you do it where you are getting an adequate supply of sunlight.

Step 2

  • Place a smaller container into the center of the larger bowl. This method must be carried out at a slow pace so that no water will splash into the center and get into the smaller container in the middle as this will greatly affect the process of making freshwater. The tip of the glass in the middle of the larger bowl should remain above water. If the glass in the middle begins to shift, you can go ahead and use a rock to keep it steady.

Step 3

  • Use a strong, tight sealing, plastic wrap to cover the bowl, but make sure to make the wrap not too loose or too tight. See to it that there are no leaks in the wrap so that freshwater vapor or steam does not escape.

Step 4

  • Put a rock or any kind of weight in the plastic wrap’s center. If the rock is too big it will tear the wrap and spoil the whole process of making freshwater to drink. You should place the rock or weight at the top of the middle container so that freshwater can freely drip into it.

Step 5

  • Make sure the saltwater container is placed in direct sunlight so that the water will become hot and condensation will begin to form on the wrap. When the process of condensation is going on, it will cause freshwater to begin to drip from the wrap and straight into the container. Although you will spend several hours completing this method, the process will allow you to slowly collect drinking water that is desalinated and safe for human consumption.

Have a look at a video tutorial below:

Benefits of Drinking Desalination Water from The Ocean

As said, drinking untreated ocean water can cause massive dehydration and even death. However, by taking controlled amounts of seawater for certain body ailments and for you to perform better, you can give your body a fighting chance.

Still, be moderate and do not overdo it or else your body will start caving in.

To not have any bacteria affecting you from the ocean water, it is best that you boil the water first before drinking it in an effort to create purified salt water.

Sea water bottle

Below are some ways by which salt or ocean water can help in the improvement of your body.

  1. Can help diabetes and hypertension patients. The American Journal of Hypertension reveals that taking about four teaspoons full of boiled seawater can help patients who suffer from this condition. The study went on to identify that this treatment can also help to cure high blood pressure patients as well.
  2. Helps adrenalin exhaustion. If you continually suffer from fatigue and adrenalin exhaustion and even sometimes feel easily dehydrated, controlled saltwater intake can be of some help to you. When stress occurs, your body tends to lose sodium. The salt in the water can put back into your body the sodium you lost.
  3. Promotes weight loss. If you are suffering from obesity, you can lose some weight by drinking a little-boiled seawater on an empty stomach. Once the saltwater enters your body, it begins to work to clean the colon and gets rid of stored up feces inside your body as well. The water is also good for a gastrointestinal disorder as well because it helps to absorb the nutrients inside of your body and thus trigger weight loss to take place.
  4. Fights infection. If you are troubled with a sore throat, cold or a cough, saltwater is a good remedy for those types of infections. By taking a few spoonfuls per day, in less than a week the infection will leave your body so that you can get on with your life in a peaceful manner. In addition, the water is good to treat sores as well.
  5. Cleanse and heals your body. Apart from small wound treatment, saltwater has other benefits that are advantageous to your body.  For one, it is a great help in dealing with respiratory conditions you might be suffering and also aids in the process of rectifying the mineral imbalance. As an intestinal detoxification tool, it works to give your skin a softer touch and improves your sleep patterns. In addition, it is a great treatment for urethral infections, period problems, headaches, conditions relating to age, worms that infect the intestines and is a great aid to digestive tract irritation.
  6. Brings out the sportsman in you. If you tend to do hard workout or you are a long distance runner, your body will lose sodium when it perspires and comes under pressure. Your body stands a good chance of having to deal with muscle cramps and various malfunctions. To put back the sodium in your body a few spoonfuls of saltwater can help you overcome the loss and get you back on the right track.
  7. Gives you better digestion. If you have a problem digesting your intake, then drinking some boiled ocean water is a good way to deal with your digestive problems. Once the salty water touches the inside of your mouth, it mixes with the salivary glands to release amylase. When the water passes down into your stomach, the salt in it will stimulate an enzyme that contributes to helping your body digest protein. In addition, the salt works to stimulate hydrochloric acid that is very beneficial to your body.
  8. Makes your bones healthy. For healthy bones so that your body can function at its best, drinking controlled amounts of desalinated seawater can cause improved bone health to take place in your body. This is because the water is filled with natural health minerals and if taken the right way will help to heal osteoporosis and add plenty of other benefits to your body.

For more tips on how to purify water, check out our must-read article on this.

Desalinated seawater

Pros of desalinated seawater

It has a proven and effective method. If properly done, desalination plants can create badly needed water for entire populations to drink and can result in many lives being saved from thirst. Apart from providing aid to thirsty people, the water can help in many different other ways that will deliver beneficial health benefits to a large population of people.

It has a highly understood method. Desalination is backed by highly scientific experts worldwide and this makes it easily accepted by the population at large. The technology scientists used is highly reliable and therefore will purify the water so that in case any water shortage should hit the world there will be a ready answer to deal with the problem.

It makes massive seawater available for use. As you know, the ocean is a wide body of water and with desalination put to good use; it is effective to aid in times of drought. In addition, this type of method gives farmers plenty incentives to grow their crops and provide water for their livestock to drink.

Cons of desalinating seawater

Desalination plants are expensive to build. Although desalination can provide fresh water for people to drink, the cost of building a plant is very costly and usually runs into millions of dollars. Still, countries are seeing the need to build these plants, regardless of the cost so that the world’s water supply will not get depleted.

It can produce gas emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions are a problem facing most countries worldwide today. Removing salt from seawater, therefore, can have a negative impact on the environment and even affect the air we breathe to the point of causing sickness as well as death in some cases to humans.

It requires plenty energy to process. It takes plenty of energy and electricity to produce desalinated water that is safe for drinking. Countries that use this method have seen an electrical boost take place. However, some countries are experimenting with the idea of using solar, wave and wind energy to power their facilities up to good working order.

In case you are stranded on an unpopulated island and need water to drink, there are various ways you can purify your water so that dehydration does not set in with your body. For more tips on how to choose the best gravity water filter, check out our article to find out more.

While self-desalination can sometimes be a challenging process, yet the effort is worth the try and in the end can save your life as well as benefit your body in a number of different ways.

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Bradley Page

With several decades of experience as a backpacker and outdoor adventurer, Bradley is an open encyclopedia when it comes to gear, clothes, and other items that matter on the trail. He tested hundreds of shoes, pants, jackets, and backpacks in his long career and is always up to date with the new appearances in the niche. His experience makes him one of the authority figures in backpacking and he can help anyone to get prepared for a great adventure!