Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Just melt snow
My home town had a major water break. The Water Department crew worked hard to repair the break during extremely trying winter conditions.
Now some folks would think that it'd be easy to just melt snow for water. Yes, melting snow for water is possible in an emergency. Unless you've had to do it you don't realize how tough that can be.
Melting snow takes a lot of energy so you'd better have plenty of fuel to spare. It takes a lot of snow to yield a small amount of water. Of course the water content of snow varies, but it's not uncommon to start with a big pot of snow and end up with just a couple inches of water.
You might think the snow you've started with was pretty clean. Once it's melted down you might be surprised by the sticks, tree needles, snow fleas, and dirt in the melt water. Never mind the things like bacteria and dog pee that you don't see. Best bring that water to a good boil before you drink it.
Even clean snow can produce some bad tasting water. For some reason regularly stirring the melting snow seems to improve the flavor. If just left to melt on its own the water acquires a burnt taste.
I have melted snow for water, but it's a last resort. Going through the trouble of cutting a hole in a frozen pond or stream is usually a better use of one's energy.
Even if you are buried in snow, it's still a good idea to have a backup source of liquid water.