These are the consequences of drinking urine in emergencies
February 18, 2021 · 21:37 hs
Imagine that during an outdoor expedition, you lose track of your companions and get stranded without knowing where you are. You feel lonely, disoriented, you have little water on top and your head boils from the sun’s rays. What to do in these cases? According to the television survival shows, you have to drink your own urine to hydrate yourself.
Look at the consequences of taking your own urine « to hydrate yourself. »
Is it safe to drink urine?
Despite the fact that some people claim that in extreme cases drinking our own urine can hydrate us, the truth is that this statement is false. Drinking your urine is lousy: not only does it not help you hydrate, but it produces the opposite effect, dehydrating you faster.
Urine is the « vehicle » that allows the elimination of liquid and soluble waste from your body. Although it is mostly water (almost 95%), it contains dissolved salts, minerals and toxin residues from the liver. The more dehydrated you are, the higher the concentration of those contaminants in your urine.
In a survival situation, you are most likely very dehydrated with your urine very concentrated and very yellow in color. If you drink it, what you will do is put back into circulation in your body all those pollutants that your liver had so hard to eliminate and, eventually, could cause you to reach toxic levels for your body.
Nonetheless, it is possible to drink urine without suffering ill effects. For example, a healthy and very well hydrated person (clear, almost transparent urine) can drink a couple of cups of their own urine perfectly, since without being completely sterile from microorganisms, it does not contain harmful elements or microbes that can make you sick from immediate, such as those found in water contaminated with feces.
Can urine be made drinkable using a water filter?
The answer is no. Dissolved salts, ions and molecules present in urine are too small for filters and even purifiers, so they cannot be removed. Other forms of treatment, such as UV light or chemical treatments only kill microbes without being able to do anything to remove molecular-sized contaminants.
The filters are perfect for removing organic waste and microorganisms such as protozoan bacteria and, even some models, viruses. However, they cannot purify concentrated urine and make it drinkable.
The only way to safely drink urine in a survival and dehydration situation is to eliminating the contaminants dissolved in it, or at least take them to negligible levels. To do this, there are two ways to do it:
Reverse osmosis process – uses extremely high pressure to force water through a membrane that literally only allows water (not even salt) to pass through. Distillation-evaporation: consists of applying heat to the urine until the water vapor evaporates and condenses in a different container to be able to drink it.
Conclusion: we recommend that don’t drink your urine in emergencies as it can be harmful to your health.