Author Topic: Tarps, using them for gathering rainwater  (Read 836 times)

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Offline MnSportsman

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Tarps, using them for gathering rainwater
« on: October 22, 2014, 07:24:13 PM »
  I have a few thoughts on gathering rainwater to supplement your water resources, & "IF", in what some folks call a "survival situation", using your tarp ( or the like, tent, shelter,etc.) to do something like that.

   Recently I saw a video on how someone used their tarp to gather rainwater & demonstrated how they did it.

  That is all great, & fine, Just showing the technique that a person wants to share. But ...I think there ought to be a few things that are mentioned about using this process.

  Meaning... there are some things, that some folks may not realize, about doing this type of water gathering, & should be aware of the possible troubles that may come about with using this process.

  I am not a "guru" about this... I am just a guy who has spent some time in the woods over the years, & sometimes, has learned the "hard way" about some things. So do not misunderstand that I am trying to "instruct", or "teach" anyone. I would like to just make some folks aware of some possible hazards of depending on this "Using a tarp to gather rainwater", in some situations, might make some folks become "sick", 'ill", or "under the weather".

   Last "disclaimer", I think...This all depends on how you take care of your gear. No different than making sure you use proper cleaning methods to clean up after you prepare your food & cook, then are going to put away your mess gear.

Kinda simple things, but good to know..

    If you use your tarp(or tent, whatever shelter) to gather rainwater for the next time you need water. Please consider the condition of the surface of your tarp ( or whatever shelter) & what it has been exposed to before your trip (Previous trips, where ya used that shelter), during your trip,, & after your return.

Let me put it simply.

What did your tarp(shelter) "gather", before you decide to use it for your water gathering purpose?

   Was the last time you used it & it was drizzling a bit of rain, & then you put it away for the next time. Then you store it & then you go out on what is a sunny day, but a bit windy & use it again, but only for a short time, & then return it to its' place in your pack? Did it get any mold/mildew on it? Did it get some kind of pollen on it? Gravel dust, maybe? Pesticides/herbicides from local farmers spraying their crops? Or even just a bunch of dirt & dust, etc.?

   What might that shelter absorbed in its' storage time? What kind of things were deposited on it during the last use, when it was out while it was a bit damp from the drizzling time before, then stored a bit , but then used in the wind the the time it was out. 

   Then you feel the need to use it in some future trip to gather rain water for the next mornings coffee or tea, or whatever the NEXT time you are out using it.

   I will stop there & let your mind figure out things.

   Canvas, Nylon, SilNylon, whatever... Permiable, or non permiable? {<<SP?} What you are drinking from your tarp or shelter, may not "agree" with your system. Particularly if it is mold spores, gravel dust from some byway, Pesticides or herbicides if they were "in the wind", etc. You think on it...

I just think folks ought to consider how they use & store their shelter, before they gather rainwater...I just think it is worth mentioning...

So, anyone have anything worthwhile to say about using your "shelter" to gather rainwater, or, is it one of those... "Awww, you are worrying too much man! Just go with it, & gather the clean rainwater."

  I learned the hard way before...Just thought I would mention it since someone else was touting the goodness of it, without warning of the possible perils,regardless of the materials..

I will say that if it happens to ya...Once ya do , you won't forget. I assure ya!


« Last Edit: October 22, 2014, 08:40:13 PM by MnSportsman »
I love being out in the woods!   I like this quote from Mors Kochanski - "The more you know, the less you carry". I believe in the same creed, & think  "Knowledge & honed skills" are the best things to carry with ya when you're out in the wilds. They're the ultimate "ultralight" gear! ;)

Offline PetrifiedWood

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Re: Tarps, using them for gathering rainwater
« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2014, 08:24:14 PM »
Good points to consider. Also, bird poop and poison ivy could come into contact with your tarp as well. Not something you want in your drinking water.

You might be better served with some contractor bags for water collection. At least if they are new you have an idea where they've been.

I've also heard of dew collection from grasses and other pants mentioned as a source of water. But those plants and grasses come will all the same possible contaminants that a tarp would.

Offline hunter63

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Re: Tarps, using them for gathering rainwater
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2014, 08:36:57 PM »
All good points.
Boil your water if possible, or treat it to be safe...

But I would trust gathered rain/dew water a lot more than stream/lake water.
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Offline justbill

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Re: Tarps, using them for gathering rainwater
« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2017, 08:24:27 AM »
Even if you collect rain water from your rooftop for irrigation you have to consider contaminants.
That's why you allow the first part of the water to run off. It will rinse the surface of 'loose'
matter. Just setting up your tent/tarp starts the process of collecting dust/pollen/spores
and anything else in the air.

If you need to collect water this way, let the rain do the heavy lifting for you. It's actually a good
way that sailors get fresh water at sea. Let the rain rinse the salt from the sails and collect the
clean water afterwards.

I would personally treat it still, but that's just me.

Offline BigHat

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Re: Tarps, using them for gathering rainwater
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2017, 08:48:43 AM »
all good points so far, and i especially like the advise of using the first bit of rain to rinse the tarp off. that's a KISS solution that i'll try to file away.

a different pointer based on experience:

if you're using tarps above a campfire area to keep heavy rain off of your fire and hangout spot (pictured above), understand that if you collect water from those tarps it will taste smoky... which can make for some interesting oatmeal...
"you're doing it wrong!"  -everyone
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Offline xj35s

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Re: Tarps, using them for gathering rainwater
« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2017, 10:23:08 AM »
Pretty much covered here. I'm boiling water that is collected through my filter. I'm a germaphobe, better safe than sorry.
pessimist complain about the wind. optimist expect the wind to change. realist adjusts the sails.

Offline lgm

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Re: Tarps, using them for gathering rainwater
« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2017, 07:13:17 PM »
A lot of good points made. As I see it "If" I were in a true survival situation I would let the first bit of rain rinse my tarp then collect the water use it and be thankful. If I had the means to boil it I most likely would.
Then again if I had a good tarp, fire, container ,knife & so on I would not be surviving as much as camping.
What a great day to be outside.

Offline justbill

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Re: Tarps, using them for gathering rainwater
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2017, 09:17:50 PM »
Nice thing about rainwater


And what are from the rain aren't dangerous. :)