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Can You Drink Your Own Pee – Recycling Urine

You only have three days without water before your body shuts down. This, of course, is how we wind up faced with the question of whether or not it is safe to drink your own pee for survival. If you cannot find a water source, or if you do not know how then you need some kind of solution.

Hiker in desert
Lost hiker in desert

Most people worry about what they are going to eat in a survival situation. The reality of a survival situation is that you will likely be taken out by the heat/cold or dehydration long before you die of starvation. The average American is overweight and it will take you a week, at least, to starve to death.

Can You Drink Your Own Pee

Real Life Stories

  • In 2017 a man’s car stalled in the Arizona desert and he was stranded. He was completely out of supplies and started filming his situation using his cellphone. He also drank his pee to avoid rapid dehydration in the sweltering heat. He survived and was safely rescued.
  • Mexican fisherman Jose Salvador Alvarenga was adrift on the ocean for 14 months. He said that drinking his urine in dry times without rain was big part of his survival. Jose’s harrowing tale is the longest known ocean survival scenario that has been documented to date.

Clearly, you can drink your own pee to survive. Urine is around 95% water. So, that is why the people in our survival stories decided to drink their own pee and why it helped sustain them. The trouble is the other components of urine.

Urine consumption puts a concentration of chemicals your kidney already filtered back into your system. There is not a single health benefit of drinking your own pee, other than the water.

The Army field manual is pretty clear on its stance when it comes to urine drinking. It advises soldiers not to drink things like blood, seawater, and urine. If you were to drink urine consistently it would undoubtedly make you sick.

In the above survival scenarios, we see that these people resorted to drinking urine because they exhausted all other options.

How to Avoid Drinking Your Own Pee

There are many ways to avoid drinking your own pee. You can even use your own urine to avoid drinking your own urine! We are going to look at a number of ways to avoid drinking your own pee.

Solar Urine Still

Knowing how to make a solar still is an important wilderness survival skill. This is the process of digging a hole and filling it with green plant matter. By covering the hole with a tarp, trash bag, or clear plastic you will catch water as the plants perspire and that water evaporates.

You can collect the water on the tarp or you can place a container in the center of the still and a pebble at the center of your tarp. The pebbled should be right above your container.

This will create a depression in the tarp and all the condensation will rush to that part of the tarp and drip into your container. This method doesn’t produce a ton of water but it will get you something!

If you were to pee into the still then the water from your urine would also evaporate and drip back into your container. It would leave the harmful parts of the urine behind.

Finding Water

A man drinking rainwater from a leaf in a rainforest jungle.
A man drinking rainwater from a leaf in a rainforest jungle

Sometimes avoiding dehydration is just about knowing where to look for water. The simple answer is to head to lower elevations or to valleys. This is where creeks and streams are flowing. You can also look for the white birch which stands out in the landscape and only lives near water or very moist soils.

When soils are moist you can often dig just below the surface and water won’t be far below the surface. Dig a hole about 6 inches deep and wait a few minutes to see if it fills with water.

  • Crooks of trees
  • Holes or cracks in large rocks
  • Swarms of fly insects like gnats and mosquitoes
  • Follow animal tracks (they go to water)
  • Large leaves can hold water

Collecting Water

Eventually, it will rain. You need to be prepared to capitalize on that rainfall. Get your containers, and anything else that can hold water, like tarps, bivvy, or trash bags, out and ready to catch water should rain come.

If you have plenty of containers a short rain will give you all kinds of water to keep you hydrated.

Another method is to collect the morning dew. By tying socks and other clothes around your ankles and legs you can walk around fields and pastures in the morning to collect a significant amount of water. Ring the clothes out into a container, filter, or even right into your mouth!

This method is easy and can be replicated each morning to assure you at least get some water when it is not raining or you cannot find water anywhere else.

When to Drink Dirty Water

Moving, clear water from a flowing stream might be a better choice than to drink your own pee
Moving, clear water from a flowing stream might be a better choice before you drink your own pee

Drinking your own pee is certainly an act of desperation because there are harmful substances in your urine. In a survival situation, you might also consider drinking water that is not purified before drinking your own urine.

By drinking water that is not sanitized, you can get sick from dangerous pathogens like giardia. However, drinking clear moving water has a lower chance of containing harmful levels of these kinds of pathogens. Even when you drink water that has not been sanitized you will have 3-5 days before you start dealing with symptoms.

If you think you will be rescued or can self-rescue in a day or two then drinking water direct from the source is worth the risk. There is also a chance you don’t get sick at all if the water is clear and running.

Pee Drinking Prevention

If you have no other options then you can drink your own pee to survive. Do not make it a daily practice or there will be consequences.

Instead of depending on your urine to hydrate you in a survival situation, you should practice your survival skills. Work on finding water in the wild, learn how to follow animal tracks, or dig a solar still to practice collecting water when there is not a body of water around.

Fresh deer tracks
Learn to track animals that can lead to water

The key to avoiding dehydration in the wild is to utilize many methods of sourcing, collecting, and storing water. This will also keep you from having to drink your own pee!