Can you drink urine? Is it safe? Can you drink it in an emergency?

In a healthy person, urine consists of 95 percent water. But can you drink it? And what about in a survival situation? Can you drink it in an emergency?

from Martin Gebhardt | Survival | reading time 3 Min
Updated on 30 May 2023 56.404 views 95% found this guide helpful
Can you drink urine? Is it safe? Can you drink it in an emergency?

Martin Gebhardt

From Martin Gebhardt. Check out my “About me” page.


👉 The key facts from this guide

  • Urine in a healthy person consists of 95% water and 5% waste products that the kidneys filter from the blood.
  • Urine contains many bacteria and over 3000 compounds, which depend on your food intake, medication, environmental pollution, and waste metabolites.
  • Drinking urine can put a great strain on your kidneys and lead to symptoms similar to kidney failure.
  • Due to the pollutants and sodium in urine, you will actually become dehydrated faster if you drink urine compared to not drinking at all.
  • There have been a few cases where people have drank their urine to survive, but these were extreme survival situations. In most cases, a water source is available.

Drinking urine to survive? A strange idea.

Surely, you've heard of it before. Bear Grylls brought the topic to television.

Of course, water is important and one of your essential needs.

But is urine like water? There are many myths surrounding "drinking urine". Allow me to explain:

What is urine?

Let's start with what urine is.

For a healthy person, urine consists of 95% water.

That's great, right? We require water to survive.

The remaining 5% of urine is problematic. The kidneys (also known as "human filters") filter impurities from the blood and excrete them through the urine.

Urine is the wastewater of the human body.

There are over 3000 elements in urine that vary depending on your food intake, medication intake, environmental pollution, and metabolites.

What is urine? Water and toxins from the body.
What is urine? Water and toxins from the body.

But isn't urine clean?

There is a myth that urine is clean, meaning that it does not contain many bacteria.

This is entirely wrong. Urine already contains a variety of different bacteria in the bladder.

And since the lower urethra is not germ-free, urine contains up to 10,000 bacteria per milliliter upon leaving the body.

In addition, there are more than 3000 compounds in urine.

The most important ingredients are:

  • Urea
  • Chloride
  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • Creatinine

The more dehydrated a person is, the less water is present in the urine.

Therefore, the concentration of waste products in the urine of dehydrated individuals is higher.

But what about Bear Grylls, who drank his urine?

But what about Bear Grylls who drank his urine?
But what about Bear Grylls who drank his urine?

I don't like these reality TV stars like Bear Grylls or Ed Stafford who give bad survival advice.

Furthermore, they mostly show extreme situations and take way too high risks.

Yes, there are some cases in which people drank their urine. And maybe that saved their lives.

But those were all extreme survival situations.

In most cases, a water resource is available to you (even if you don't see or recognize it).

For example, take a look at these ways to find, collect, and filter water. I've written a detailed article on this that will help you.

Now let's get to the most important point.

What happens when you drink urine?

Your kidneys filter waste products from your body.

So if you introduce "waste" to your body, it has to filter it again and again.

This is a big burden on your kidneys, and it can lead to symptoms similar to kidney failure.

Due to all the toxins and sodium in the urine, you will even dehydrate faster than if you don't drink urine.

What Happens When You Drink Your Own Urine?
What Happens When You Drink Your Own Urine?

How Long You Can Survive on Urine

The fact is, as you become more dehydrated, you'll begin to excrete more waste products in your urine.

When you first drink your urine, there will still be more water in it.

But each time, there is less water in your urine. Your urine becomes darker and darker as it contains more and more waste products.

Your situation is dire: You must choose between dehydration and kidney failure.

There are many conflicting pieces of advice on how long you can survive on urine.

In general:

  • If you drink urine, you will survive for one to two days longer
  • You can drink your urine one to three times before it contains too little water

Can you purify urine?

Yes, you can. Urine can be purified using two different methods.

First Method: You boil the urine and collect the steam, which turns into water. All pollutants are left behind in the vessel. The advantage of this method is that it kills many bacteria and viruses. The disadvantage is that you need several vessels and a tube for this method, which you probably won't have in a survival situation.

Second method: With a solar still. It must be very sunny and warm for a solar still to work. You will not gain much water from this method. But in a survival situation, every drop counts! Take a closer look at the Wikipedia article on solar stills.

Can you filter urine?

In the market, there are many water filters that filter out bacteria, parasites, and even some viruses.

However, urine has few bacteria and viruses in it.

The problem is the pollutants.

Most pollutants are too small for a water filter to catch.

Other water treatment methods, such as purification tablets and UV lamps, are also not effective in removing these tiny pollutants.

The best filter for urine is still activated carbon - although it's not perfect. This is because activated carbon doesn't remove inorganic chemicals like sodium. And having too much sodium in your body can put you in a survival situation.

If you have a filter, be sure to filter your urine. But remember, even after filtering, drinking urine is not entirely safe.

Summary

You should only drink urine if you are healthy and strong.

And only if your body's water balance is well-maintained.

If you drink urine when you are dehydrated, you are reintroducing harmful toxins back into your body.

By doing so, you will clog your kidneys, become even thirstier, and harm your body. This can even lead to death.


So, did I debunk the myth? Have you ever drank urine to survive? Or just to try it?

Share your story with us!

Take care, Martin
Martin Gebhardt

Author of the guide


Martin Gebhardt

Hey, I'm Martin. On my blog, you will learn the basics and numerous details about living in the wild. I think survival, bushcraft and the good life in nature are the keys to happiness. Find me here on Instagram or on YouTube. You can find more about my mission on the About Me page.

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