If you ever find yourself in a survival situation, there are several basics that you will need in order to have a chance of making it out alive. Food and water are high on this list. We've put together 7 ways to use an everyday plastic water bottle that just might just save your life.
1. Fish Trap
If you have access to a 2 liter bottle, you’re ahead of the game. First thing you want to do is cut off the top, where the bottle begins to straighten out. This will make the funnel that will direct the fish into your container. Cut the threaded neck off as well so you have a larger opening if you’re trying to catch larger size fish.
Take your funnel and push it into the bottom part of the bottle with the neck facing downward until it has a snug fit. The fish will be directed in through the funnel and will have a difficult time escaping back through the opening once they're in the bottle section.
To secure the trap to a line, simply punch a hole in the sides or bottom and attach your cord or fishing line. You may also want to cut a 3 sided flap on one side of the bottle to allow for baiting and to remove fish you don’t want to keep. Secure the trap to the shore line or weight it with rocks to keep it in one location.
2. Water Filter
As with the fish trap, this works best with a 2 liter bottle, but a regular size drinking water bottle will work fine too. With the cap still on, turn the bottle upside down and cut the bottom off right above the seam. Since it’s unlikely that you’ll have access to a traditional water filter medium if you’re lost in the wilderness, you’ll have to improvise with what you can find around you. Charcoal, sand, gravel, rocks can all be layered to make a filtering medium for your water. Before you begin adding your layers, punch a hole in the cap, preferably from the inside. If you have a small piece of cloth available, place it against the inside of the cap/hole. Now you can begin adding your filter. Start with the finer material first. Sand is best, then finer gravel, rocks etc. Pour your water in the upside down bottle and let it filter through the medium and out the cap end into a separate container. If you set it up right, you should now have fairly clear, drinkable water. If the water still appears murky, repeat the filtering process several times.
3. Water Still
This method is going to use heat from the sun to evaporate contaminated water inside the plastic bottle where it will condense and be collected. Start by cutting off the lower part of the bottle right above the seam. Fold the bottom of the opening inward and up so you create a basin or trough around the inside bottom of the opening. Place the open part of the bottle on a towel or cloth that has been soaked in the contaminated water. (You can also place the bottle over a puddle). Be sure to leave the cap on the bottle, so the evaporated water doesn’t escape through the top. As the sun heats the cloth, water vapor will begin to evaporate up the inside of the bottle, where it will condense on the sides. This clean water will fall back into the collection trough you created at the bottom of the bottle. You now have drinkable water, as the distillation process will leave contaminates behind. After you have enough water collected, open the top and drink. It won’t taste as good as moonshine, but it will keep you alive in a pinch.
4. Distilling Salt Water
Repeat the container set up process as in #4. Place the open side of the bottle over a container of boiling salt water. You will have to suspend the bottle several inches above the water so the steam is collected in your bottle, where it can condense and be collected in the trough. You can use this method to purify any type of contaminated water, not just salt water. However you will need to have the resources of fire and a container to boil your water for this method to work.
Modern pasteurization is a fool proof way to destroy pathogens from liquids through the application of heat. However the method we’re going to describe should only be used as a last resort for purifying water, since there is no way of truly knowing if the process has worked when done in the field. If you can filter the water using the #2 method on our list, do this first. Then, using only a clear container, place your bottle of filtered water in direct sunlight for a minimum of 6 hours. If you have a piece of aluminum foil or a solar blanket, you can place the bottle on top of this to help speed up the process by intensifying the solar heat introduced to the water. After 6-8 hours, your water should be ready to drink. Remember to clean the cap threads on the neck of the bottle with alcohol if you used the bottle to collect your contaminated water. Do not attempt this method on water with chemical or toxin contaminates.
If you have access to several plastic water bottles and an available water supply, remove any labels on the outside of the bottles and fill them with water. Place them in various locations on the ground in open areas without trees or brush if possible. The water will help reflect sun off the plastic ribbing of the bottle and give aerial search teams a better chance of spotting the reflection and your location.
7. Miscellaneous Uses
In a survival situation, never pass up an empty water bottle. They can be used to store extra water you collect from streams, ponds, rain or though the purification methods we described earlier. You can also cut the bottom off of a bottle and use it for a drinking cup or a bowl. Cutting the top off will give you a perfect food scoop for pet food, dry goods, grains, sugar etc.