Usually speaking, when it comes to prepping and survival, pee is not the hottest topic debated in the community. However, in an outdoors survival situation, one should take advantage of any resource available, including one’s urine. The question is, can you leverage urine as an efficient survival tool?
This article is aimed at emphasizing the practical uses of urine from a very realistic perspective. Rest assured: after finishing reading this article, you won’t become a pee-drinker.
To tell you the truth, so we get over the pee-drinking issue from the beginning, urine per se can be used as a survival-beverage, but only in absolutely desperate situations, when the danger of dehydration is that bad it puts your life at imminent risk and there’s no other option (you don’t have any water nor any means to procure water in a timely fashion).
Even if there are religious sects in countries like India which advocate drinking one’s pee (once a day for religious/mystical reasons), you should not make urine drinking your creed, even if those pee-drinkers in India don’t seem to suffer from adverse effects.
India aside, there are many survival stories about folks drinking their own urine to survive in extreme situations. In the vast majority of those cases, folks were stranded with no water available or trapped under various materials/collapsed buildings, pinned under boulders etc.
However, if you ask me, it’s not clear if people who drank their own (raw) pee survived because they did that or in spite of it.
Joke aside, the real answer to the question of whether drinking urine is a good idea in a survival scenario is to treat urine (a waste product by definition, filled with toxins and stuff like that) like seawater or contaminated water.
The thing is, NASA itself is well known for taking astronauts’ pee (and sweat) and recycling it (as in distilling water from urine) into pure water to drink when in space. It’s funny to mention it, but even Bill Gates took a sip of pee taken from the sewer and purified into potable water.
The issue about drinking “raw urine” to survive, besides its grossness, is that it will actually accelerate dehydration, because of its toxic-waste content (pee is body’s way of flushing out excess salts, minerals and various toxins). The lesson to be taken home about drinking your own (raw) pee is that it will dehydrate you the same way drinking sea-water will. It’s a lose-lose scenario.
Another old belief which has some traction in survivalist circles is that you can rinse a wound with urine, due to the myth that a healthy person’s pee is sterile. Regardless of ancient folk tales, urine is not sterile, hence never pee on an open wound (I’ve heard a lot of so-called survivalists advocating that).
If you don’t have clean water, let the blood flow flush it.
Moving on with our story, since every one of us carries a free supply of pee at all times, learning its survival uses can be very useful, especially for outdoors enthusiasts. Here’s what can you actually do with your own pee to improve your chances of survival in a SHTF scenario:
You can distill water from urine.
Since pee is about 95% water, you can distill it into pure drinking water using an improvised distiller to separate the 5% bad stuff from good stuff. Even if pee is hardly my first choice as a water source, if you don’t have any other options, your urine may become a life saver.
Now, how can you distill water from urine? Well, think along the lines of solar water collection techniques, i.e. solar stills and the like. For example, if you have a plastic sheet available (and you should have one in your survival kit), all you have to do is to dig a hole in the ground, but be careful to pick a spot exposed to sunlight.
Then you put a clean container right in the middle of the hole, with the plastic sheet over it. The pee must be poured in the area around the container. Put a small rock in the center of the plastic sheet right above the container, thus making a small dip.
This dip will work as the condensation/distillation point. Remember to secure the plastic sheet with rocks on each corner so the sheet does not touch the sides of the hole, i.e. it stays suspended. During the day, the heat from the sun will make the water from the urine evaporate, while the plastic sheet will collect the clean-water vapors, and condensing water will drip inside the container. Here’s a video.
If you’re a big Bear Grylls fan, check out this video with him demonstrating how to procure clean water from urine.
Finally, here’s another one that will teach you how to build a simple solar water/pee distiller for survival by using 2 plastic/glass bottles and some duct tape (an essential item in your survival kit).
Besides drinking, one’s pee can be used to keep cool or warm, depending on the situation. If it’s too hot and you don’t have water to spare, you can wrap a wet towel (as in you pee on the towel) around the back of your neck to keep you cool.
The evaporating pee will draw heat away. In extreme cold, you can pee inside a plastic bottle and keep it under your jacket, thus improvising a personal warmer of sorts. This is a pretty smart way to save body heat.
If you know your chemistry and geology, you can use pee to make gunpowder. This is not a joke; here’s a dude, Cody Reeder respectively, who actually did it and immortalized his experience on YouTube. To make gunpowder, you require charcoal, potassium nitrate and sulfur.
Burning wood will provide you with all the charcoal you need. Certain rocks are rich in sulfur, also elemental sulfur is easy to find around hot springs and volcanoes. Urine is the secret for getting potassium nitrate.
Another interesting factoid about urine is that it can be used for softening leather, as the urea decays in ammonia over time. Finally, you can start a fire with urine, provided you have a plastic/glass bottle available and enough (fairly clear) urine. Just read my article about how to start a fire using your pee.
I hope the article helped. If you have other ideas, questions or whatever, feel free to express yourself in the comments section below.
This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.