19 Survival Uses for Water besides Drinking

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the estimated amount of water used by an American family is over 300 gallons per day. When you consider all the uses for water in daily life, it’s clear that water is truly one of our most crucial resources.  Without water, many functions that we’ve come to rely on daily would be so much more difficult.

  1. Watering the Garden is one of the more obvious survival uses for water besides drinking it. Following a SHTF situation, stores will likely be shut down or too dangerous to approach. You’ll need to rely on a garden to get a lot of your food in order to survive long-term.
  2. Aquaponics is another method that can be used for gardening in order to survive long-term after a SHTF event. Aquaponics uses recycled water to raise fish and use the fish waste to fertilize a garden. This method is great for areas or situations where access to water is restricted or limited.
  3. Producing Power with water is one of the most basic survival uses for water. Think back to our ancestors use of the huge water wheels for things such as lumber production and milling.
  4. Cleaning Wounds is another of the survival uses for water besides drinking it. Obviously you want to use water that is as clean as possible for cleaning wounds so as not to introduce additional bacteria to your wounds.
  5. Washing Utensils and Dishes will be a necessary evil following any SHTF event. Water for washing dishes and other utensils may come from a variety of water sources depending on your situation.
  6. Brushing Your Teeth after some kind of disaster or SHTF incident might be something you don’t think about right away. But having water available to brush your teeth if not a couple times daily then at least several times per week will be critical to preventing oral health problems. When things go haywire after a SHTF event or in a survival situation, the last thing you want to worry about is a toothache or other oral health issues. Dentists just aren’t going to be very available.
  7. Putting Out Fires is another one of the survival uses for water besides drinking it. In a survival situation or following a SHTF event, you’ll need to create a fire daily to stay warm, to cook, and to accomplish other tasks. Having water available is the quickest way to put out a fire. If you are in a situation where you need to conserve water, you can use loose dirt to smother a fire instead of using water.
  8. Bathing and Showering is going to be another one of those critical uses for water besides drinking, especially in an extended survival situation. You may think you can survive skipping the bathing or showering for a couple days or even a week and you just might. But in a survival situation, you are at increased risk of minor injuries such as scratches, small cuts, blisters, bug bites, etc. All of these minor issues can become more serious if your skin is loaded with bacteria from not bathing or showering, and an infection occurs as a result.
  9. Washing Hair again may seem like one of the luxury tasks in a short-term situation but in a long term survival situation, good hygiene is going to be important to preventing infection and disease. Having freshly washed hair is also great for morale which a key factor in surviving an extended survival situation.
  10. Washing Clothes may seem like a luxury and it may not be necessary during a short-term SHTF situation but at some point during an extended survival situation, you will need clean clothes. Even if you are attempting to hide the fact that you have access to water and other supplies, you’ll want to have freshly washed undergarments at least for hygiene purposes.
  11. Rinsing Vegetables is one of those survival uses for water that will become very important in a post-SHTF situation. Professional medical attention in a survival situation may not be accessible so you want to keep as much dirt and bacteria out of your body as possible. Rinsing vegetables or other edibles you’ve foraged during a survival situation will help prevent other issues that could even be fatal. Be sure to use clean water that has been purified in some way. If you cannot use purified water, use something to simply brush the dirt and debris from your veggies as best you can.
  12. Fishing of course uses water because that’s where the fish live. But you’ll also need water for cleaning the fish before you cook them.
  13. Shaving isn’t going to be as critical as some of the other survival uses for water but for some people it will be a necessity. Shaving for both men and women can be something that improves personal hygiene. Poor personal hygiene has been proven to negatively impact your ability to withstand a survival situation. So, when you pack your BOB or GHB, make sure you plan for how you will shave.
  14. Washing Hands/Face again will be something that is critical for good personal hygiene. It’s also huge for boosting morale and keeping you going in a survival situation. You’d be amazed at how just being able to use water to wash your face and hands can give your morale a boost, lift your spirits, and keep you going for another day.
  15. Watering Animals is one of the critical survival uses for water following a natural disaster or SHTF event. Whether your animals are pets or are livestock raised as a food source, keeping them hydrated will be very important to your morale and to your survival.
  16. Keeping Animals Clean, especially animals that you will be using for food in a survival situation or post SHTF event, is a very important task. There are many diseases and infections that can be passed from livestock to humans if food is not properly clean and prepared prior to cooking it.
  17. Watering fruit trees may not be something you need to use water for in a short-term survival situation but it’s definitely important for anyone who is preparing for a long-term survival situation. Fruit trees are an investment in your survival, and sometimes can take several years before they begin to bear fruit. You’ll need to make sure that you can water them sufficiently in a survival or SHTF situation so you don’t waste that investment time.
  18. Recreational Activities such as swimming, canoeing, kayaking, etc may not be one of the most important survival uses for water. But these activities and the ability to do them once in a while during a long term survival situation can significantly boost your morale, relieve tension, and help to keep you going.
  19. Start a Fire using water in several different ways. There are at least over a dozen ways to start a fire with water.  Many of the methods involve using common household or office items such as: a cleaned out light bulb and a balloon, a juice bottle filled with water, plastic wrap filled with water, a picture frame covered in plastic wrap, or a toilet paper roll and toilet paper.

Survival Uses Water pinterest

About Megan Stewart

Megan Stewart
Born and raised in NE Ohio, with early memories that include grandpa teaching her to bait a hook and watching her mom, aunts, and grandmothers garden, sew, and can food, Megan is a true farm girl at heart. For Megan, the 2003 blackout, the events of 911, and the increasing frequency of natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, spurred a desire to be more prepared for whatever may come along. Soon to be living off-grid, this mother of four and grandmother of nine grandsons and one granddaughter, is learning everything she can about preparedness, basic survival, and self-sufficient homesteading. She is passionate about sharing that knowledge so that others can be increasingly prepared to protect their families.


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    Flushing the toilet. When the supply is off, a litre or two of old waste (“grey”) water can be poured from about head height into the bowl.

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    Good thinking, I am 81 and i remember my Mom doing all those. I just follow her example.

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    For drinking, wound-cleaning, tooth-brushing, and cooking you want clean water. Not a lot of low-tech ways of getting that, but here is one dating back to about a hundred years ago.


    Look up solar distillation books and articles on the internet and at the library. Putting away some heavy duty glass sturdy enough to handle a hail storm (patio doors? sliding glass shower stall doors?) wouldn’t hurt. Taking crappy water from the creek or a hastily constructed cistern and turning it into pure stuff would be great, but then you need some quality storage for the clean water. Perhaps an unlikely-to-be-refilled yard propane tank or something similar. At the present time the 5-gallon plastic jugs at the Big Box store are inexpensive.

    Years ago during a slack time I played around with homemade shower heads. A 1/4 gallon/minute fitting allowed me to shower almost normally except that the low water volume wouldn’t permit a hair shampoo. Clean that later in a bucket? In storage somewhere I have a new and unused plastic garden sprayer. So long as it lasted I could use it for spraying disinfectants and washing out wounds with minimal water use. A slightly sturdier device is an antique stainless steel fire extinguisher needing only pressurized air to operate. It was from an estate sale and I got it for a song.

    For sanitation some kind of outhouse would need to be immediately constructed, for even a 2-gallon flush is intolerable except for the luckiest folks. None of my old Southern relatives had a clue about making a good one. There are many good books and articles out there if you look. The archives of The Mother Earth News would be a good starting point.

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