How stop water freezing during winter trips.

Discussion in 'Winter Camping' started by cjtf, Aug 26, 2011.

  1. cjtf

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    Anyone got any tips or suggestions on how to beat your water freezing up while out and about during the winter months ? Anyone have experience in using a thermos flasks for this, they are supposed to maintain the drinks temperature, would this work for freezing temps too ??
     
  2. Malamute

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    When nomading around years ago, I'd keep some of my water in 2 liter pop bottles. I'd keep one in my sleeping bag at night smetimes to keep it from freezing, but one good thing about them, you can bang them against your bumper or handy tree to break up the ice and get enough water to brush your teeth.

    Coolers work to keep things from freezing if you're heavy camping. Wrapping stuff in your spare clothes or bedding helps too, just don't want a leak in your bedding.
     
  3. jloden

    jloden Guide Bushclass I

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    Winter (car) camping I have used a thermos to keep water hot even overnight, and it should keep it from freezing up. Leave some room for expansion just in case and you might find it useful to heat the water also so it's not just air temp before putting in the thermos. The more heat is has to hold in the better it'll work.

    I've also used a cooler, and that's kept 3 gallons of water from freezing up in 15-20 degree weather for a couple of days. A couple hand warmer packets in there doesn't hurt. If you're backpacking, I'd use a neoprene cozy for the water bottle instead of a thermos, it'll be a lot lighter and it adds a good amount of insulation. Hydration packs also have insulation sleeves available for the same purpose.

    Lastly, when at camp for the night, store water bottles upside down and/or in snow so they're insulated and prevented from freezing at the top and preventing you from getting water out :)
     
  4. rg598

    rg598 Guest

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    I keep my canteen in the US GI cover, which provides a good amount of insulation. During the night I keep it in my sleeping bag. If you have snow, a good trick is the turn the bottle up side down and cover it with a foot or two of snow.
     
  5. SixPack

    SixPack Guest

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    Keep your water bottle in your sleeping bag at night

    Carry your water in a stainless container. Dig a fairly deep hole before bed, drop in a hot rock or two from the campfire, put in your bottle sideways but don't let the plastic cap touch the hot rocks. Then drop another rock on top if you want to but not really necessary, then cover with a small layer of dirt. You can add a layer of foil before the dirt and your bottle will stay cleaner. Add a mound of dirt (more insulation) if you're in really cold weather

    in the morning heat up your bottle and then wrap your bottle in a wool sock or some other insulation to carry it through the day, or put it in the middle of your sleeping bag, or carry it inside your jacket next to your body.

    For your question about a thermos the answer is yes, a thermos will keep cold away from the contents.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 26, 2011
  6. Maine2Colorado

    Maine2Colorado Scout

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    Also when useing a thermos to keep water/coffee/soup from freezeing/warm for a couple days it helps to prime the thermos....boil a pot of water and fill your thermos...screw the lid on and put it aside for half an hour or so....then dump that out and refill with a new pot of boiling water/coffee/soup....the first fill heats the liner of the thermos up and wont draw as much heat from the final fill, this will keep it warm MUCH longer this way, have kept coffee hot while goose hunting in freezeing cold weather on the colorado plains for a very long time this way...
     
  7. Bad Hand

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    I just melt snow when I need water.
     
  8. Gryphonblade

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    Yup, as stated above, anything that insulates to keep the cold in will also keep the cold out.

    Snow shelters work very well for humans to stay warm in with very minimal heat sources because snow is a good insulator. The same principle applies here: dig a smallish snow cave to stash your food/water in. Layer it with boughs or such, set your food on top and cover with some more. A candle in the back (where it won't catch the boughs on fire!) can help keep it warm enough so it doesn't freeze.

    Ditto keeping your primary water bottle in your sleeping bag, or at least as part of your pillow. If you have a decent ground cover, it should stay just fine.

    If your are insane or get caught out in severe cold (below zero to -40) keeping a fire going and keeping your water near the fire or in your coat may be advisable for sure. Frozen water (ice) can be chewed for hydration, but it's a great way to drop your core temp in a hurry.
     
  9. pik

    pik Scout

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  10. mooseyou

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    i like the arctic canteen
    doesn't hold alot of water but seems to work ok
     

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  11. EagleRiverDee

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    When winter camping, I boil snow for my water at night, fill all my water bottles. Two of them go in the sleeping bag with me, wrapped in socks (to keep them from burning me) and and they keep me warm all night. Extras get buried in snow upside down so that any layer of ice that does form forms on the bottom instead of in the cap.
     
  12. Seeker

    Seeker Woods Bum Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    thermos works fine, but weighs too much for me to use it.

    when i was stationed at fort drum (-40 winters), we were issued a gortex (worthless!) jacket with two nice chest pockets. they opened from the central zipper, with a velcro closure. a 2 qt canteen (those softish-sided ones) fit inside, but we generally only carried one at a time, about half full and with the air squeezed out of it. this never froze if you carried it in those front pockets, no matter how cold it was out. those pockets were the only useful feature of those jackets...
     
  13. rpilthea

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    I stick to wide-mouth bottles and insulated carriers filled with hot H2O.
    I also put them top down, since water tends to freeze from the top to the bottom, that way i have open water when turned upright.

    Learned that years ago in a Boy Scout winter survival course.
    It's never failed me yet!!
     
  14. beekeeper

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    ditto on thermos, socks sleeping bag, inside the coat. This year I'm going to try calcium chloride in a baggie and a few drops of water to create heat next to the water bag. Has any one else tried this???
     
  15. Pablo

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    In camp, if you have sufficient snow depth, pile up some snow, and dig a door into the pile. put your water, etc. inside, then seal up the door with snow blocks, finishing off with some loose snow to fill the gaps. Your water won't freeze overnight. No need for any heat source inside, just be sure your "defrigerator" has walls that are at least 10" thick or so.

    I've used this trick many times. If you're sleeping in a snow shelter, just bring your water in with you.
     
  16. lonelake

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    [​IMG]

    These work well, a wool sock seems to work ok. I would recommend not putting the bottle in your sleeping bag but rather wrapped in an item of clothing and placed on the side of you outside the bag. The last thing you want is that bottle opening up all over your bag. Especially when it's -20.

    LL
     
  17. John Galt

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    Depending on the temp you, why not put a solute in it? Salt, sugar, Gatorade, etc?
     
  18. Trekon86

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    I've always kept my water bottles and canteens and such either in coolers or in my sleeping bag...helps to heat it, bottle it, and slip a woolen sock over each bottle...keeps you warm, too! Bonus: you don't have to thaw water before breakfast!

    PMZ
     
  19. Joe Willson

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    It's a lot more efficient to melt ice.
     
  20. Joe Willson

    Joe Willson Guide

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    Keep your canteen inside your coat/outer layer. That will help keep it from freezing during the day.
     
  21. EagleRiverDee

    EagleRiverDee Guide

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    Not really. Ice takes a LONG time to melt. Snow doesn't. Start with a little bit of water in the pot, add snow, it melts very quickly. Yes, it has more air than ice, but the melt factor is so much faster that it's still more efficient. IMO.
     
  22. EagleRiverDee

    EagleRiverDee Guide

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    That concern is why I always kept the bottle lid side up when inside my bag. I would put one bottle in between my thighs to heat my femoral artery, and one up in one arm pit. Tucked in like that, they stay upright.
     
  23. Trekon86

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    Ah yeah, forgot about the snow trick. Did that with a thermos full of cocoa when I was a youngin;)

    PMZ
     
  24. riverjoe

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    Conducted a little test last winter .
    So at 8 in the morning I put the canteen and the water bottle side by side . By noon the water bottle was frozen solid . At 8 PM the canteen had no sign of ice .

    [​IMG]
     
  25. Joe Willson

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    Everything I've found and been taught says it takes more energy to melt snow compaired to an equal amount of ice for a liter of water. Snow can also scorch while melting and take on a bad taste. Never totally fill and pack your cup of snow as its insulative properties can cause you to melt a hole in the bottom of your cup or pan before melting the snow. Snow should be treated after melting. Ice gathered from icicles are generally considered safe without treating.

    I prefer ice.
     
  26. Idek912

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    You know how kool aid and iced team mix sometimes comes in those plastic containers with the screw on tops? Well once I put some ice cubes in there and threw raspberries, blueberries and strawberries in there and it had to be 90 degrees out. I wrapped the container with my swim trunks and put it in my bag. Wow. After 4 1/2 hours in 90 degree weather, the container was fine and maybe one ice cube melted.
     
  27. EagleRiverDee

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    I'm just stating what my own personal experience is. I know what the books say, but they also ignore that there are different types of snow. The area where I live has a heavy dense snow most of the time that has a high moisture content- think snowball snow. Chipping ice takes a ton of energy, scooping up a nice bowl of heavy wet snow does not. And I find it melts fast and efficiently for me.

    To each their own. :)
     
  28. 2500ak

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    Anything with electrolytes is going to have a much colder freezing point. Up at UAF I always used to keep bottles of Gatorade in the truck so that they wouldn't freeze down as fast, and would thaw faster.

    Also seemed to have less incidence of those swelling up and bursting as they froze.
     
  29. WindWalker

    WindWalker SourDough Lifetime Supporter

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    Our experience is similar to EagleRiverDee's.
    The powdery dry snow we have here in the Interior (during dead of winter) takes much longer to melt than ice.
    However, the wet snow of fall and spring takes little time to melt and is energy efficient, imho.
    Best Wishes
     
  30. samthedog

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    Camping in winter requires a little more planning. I have a small thermos with me and a platy bottle. After I have my dinner, I boil some water and make some tea in the thermos. This gets put in my sleeping bag. I then fill my platy bag with hot water and this gets put in my bag too. The platy bag heats my sleeping bag and will cool down over-night. This gets used for my breakfast. The thermos with tea is consumed obver the course of the night if I am cold or thirsty.

    I find the last thing I want to do in the morning is fetch snow and mess about getting water. I just pour the water from the platy bag into my pot and mix in some snow to make a slush. This melts much faster than and boils quicker than trying to melt snow.

    Paul.
     
  31. craigr

    craigr Scout

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    I have done many of the great tips already listed here. Putting bottles upside down in snow works for me, but I've never tried in very cold temps. I will respectfully disagree with others as I do not put water bottles of any kind in my sleeping bag or near it. If they leak then you have a potentially big problem with a wet bag in cold temps.

    I usually will use the bottle in snow trick or just melt snow or ice as needed. You can put the bottles in a lightweight cozy made from foam you make yourself or buy. I can keep water from freezing for a while with that. Don't use bladder water carrying systems in the cold. It is really hard to keep the drinking tube from freezing (ask me how I know!).

    I have recently read a book from a long distance hiker where she pours her water into her cook pan at night and just lets it freeze. In the morning she would get up and light the stove to thaw the water for drinking and cooking. I thought it made a lot of sense and will try it this winter.
     
  32. EdD270

    EdD270 Guide Bushclass I

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    If it stays cold enough long enough nothing will prevent freeze up of water except adding heat.
    the old trick of putting your water bottle in your sleeping bag helps, unless it stays below freezing during the day, too. I like to carry my water bottle upside down in subfreezing weather. That way, when it freezes it freezes on the top of the water at the air space. When I drink the mouth of the bottle, at the bottom, stays liquid. Not filling the water bottle all the way helps, too as the water sloshing around tends to delay freezing.
     
  33. EagleRiverDee

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    This is a little off topic, but sort or relevant- have any of you ever seen something freeze instantly? I left a full bottle of some sort of Sobe drink in my car in the winter one time. When I went out the next morning, I was shocked to see it was still liquid. I reached for it and as soon as I jostled it, it froze solid, right in front of my eyes. You could see the crystals forming across it. It was the oddest thing I've ever seen, and I had never seen anything like that before or after.
     
  34. Sandcut

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    I just recently read an account of how, during the French and Indian War, Roger's Rangers used to use a very dilute mixture of rum and water during their winter operations.

    This would fall into the solute method mentioned upthread.
     
  35. 2500ak

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    I would bet that would work. Don't know how good of an idea that would be though. Alcohol speeds up heat loss.
     
  36. Crustysnow

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    Saw that happen to water in a marsh when we stepped into it heading to a duck hunting spot - placid water, lightly disturbed formed a sheet of ice as we watched.

    I believe I just read in Snowwalkers companion by the Conovers, their thermos' have an added layer of foam around them. When I use a thermos, I always preheat it with hot water, but in teens and lower F it still does not seem to last very long and usually gets wrapped up in other material.

    About re-using plastic bottles that formerly contained soft drinks - I used to do the same - would even freeze mine to take to work in the heat of summer survey work, BUT - stopped doing so when it was determined that some of the chemical nasties would leach out from the freezing temps and into whatever you were drinking. They were not designed, or tested, for freezing - so I no longer use them. I often use a Bota bottle with modified - wider strap and wear it under my outerwear.
     
  37. AaronMB

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    Here's one thing that can help explain it. Youtube has all kinds of videos on it, especially with beer. It's an old trick that resurfaces once in a while. :44:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 31, 2011
  38. Bushcraft Bill

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    Im sure Bear does not have these problems he would just pee in a bottle for water...
     
  39. bearkat

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    As with many posts already, I like to keep my camel back under my clothes. I have one that I use strictly for winter. Its a military one that I lengthened the hose and replaced the overly engineered bite valve with a simple bite valve. I also purchased a heavy duty sleeve that has a pouch at the end so you can zip that along with a hand warmer around the bite valve.
     
  40. matthrhon

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    I usually keeps a small bottle of water inside my jacket hung around my neck for that short drinking break. I have an additional thermos in my backpack with warm water for the longer breaks, drinking cold water during winter is a real turn off for me.
     
  41. Fridge

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    Bury your water bottle in snow turning the lid down. Ice freezes from the top down. Sleeping bag or heat your water up and place in a Nalgene and inside your bag...you get it all..instant heater and water in the morning.
     
  42. EagleRiverDee

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    Bury them upside down (so any ice forms on bottom) in the snow. Snow is a natural insulator.

    I always boiled water just before bed, filled my bottles, dropped them in a sock and put them in my bag with me. It was a 2-for-1 thing: kept me warm all night, and the water stays warm and is ready for making tea/coffee/oatmeal in the morning.
     
  43. EagleRiverDee

    EagleRiverDee Guide

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    I swear I didn't read yours before I posted mine. Uncanny.
     
  44. riverjoe

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    Bury them upside down in the snow . That way they'll freeze from the bottom up .
    Snow will protect them from hard freeze .
     
  45. huckfinn

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    My two cents; put the bottles in wool work socks (and you have an extra change if you need them); sleep with them in your bag over night at your feet (along with your stove gas...if you use that..); never fill the bottles all the way, airspace makes them slosh and keep ice down when you're walking; and last, use wide mouth bottles, they won't build up ice as quickly...
     
  46. mlp2147

    mlp2147 The "retired" Gunny Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Back in '95 we did a 40 mile hump up in Big bear mountain in SoCal and I kept my canteen inside my bag. I used it as a head prop ( notice I didn't say pillow) and got up and was able to have water while all my buddies who kept them outside of their bags had "iceteens" to lug around for the morning.
     
  47. Bad Hand

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    On the dog sled I carry a thermos (stainless steel) in the sled bag with hot coffee and it will stay hot all day. As for over night I melt snow in the morning for the dogs and hot water to make more coffee. Never have worried about water in the winter as there is always snow where I am.
     
  48. TheRambler

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    +1 on the general idea to always keep your water bottles upside down as ice freezes from the top down. This includes when the bottles are in your pack while hiking along. When your in camp for the day bury it in the snow( if available) , this will be a natural insulator and prevent it from freezing (may be slushy in the morn).

    If its a really cold night to warrent burying in the snow, i also boil 1L of water before bed and put it in a nalgene and keep it in my sleeping bag. Adds extra heat and gives you water for the morning.

    I only sometimes use a small thermos for coffee, and this is mainly for day trips, or trips where I will be doing something cold like winter fly fishing.
     
  49. 1911srule

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    We bought USGI artic canteens and they work great!
     
  50. dbooneWI

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    i have had success by wrapping a nalgen in a piece of cheap sleeping mat
    worked pretty well actually
     

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