Sweat, Blood and Tears: What Can You Drink to Survive?

Most people who are into sports, outdoors, or who are interested in survival skills in the wilderness are keenly aware of the crucial need for water. The need is intensified if you ever find yourself to be in a survival predicament, and you don’t have a water supply. Have you ever considered what your options or alternatives would be to get a sip of life-sustaining liquid?

Some of the questions that we get in this topic are whether sweat, blood, or tears would make for a suitable alternative in a desperate situation?

Sweat is safe to drink but impractical to collect and is, therefore, not a viable option! Tears would be safe to drink, but the inability to produce and collect sufficient quantities makes it a non-viable option. Drinking blood is not a viable source for hydration or energy for survival. In large quantities, it is toxic and should be avoided.

Taking a look at each of these alternatives, we will quickly learn what is potentially possible and want is not as well as the practicalities around each alternative. We will also mention some other potential places to find that ever-elusive mouthful of hydration!

Can You Drink Sweat To Survive?

Sweat is the body’s mechanism to cool your skin and thereby regulate your body temperature in hot environments. We all know that sweat is liquid, but what is it actually composed of, and would it be possible to drink it in dire circumstances?

Sweat is composed of mostly water; in fact, 99 percent of it is water. The other 1 percent consists of a combination of salt, protein, and urea.

The salt component is there due to the way your body produces sweat. Salt is a known desiccant, which means it absorbs water. In order to produce sweat, your body draws salt into the sweat glands from the blood. Water is attracted to the salt, and when sufficient water is present in the sweat gland, it is expelled to the surface of the skin via the pores in your skin.

The proteins are tiny trace amounts of a large number of different proteins that act to protect the skin from harmful bacteria.

Urea is a waste product of the process in our bodies and is excreted as waste in various ways, but mostly via urine and our sweat.

Considering that sweat is mostly water, it would make a suitable hydration liquid, but there are a couple of problems for this option, particularly if you are in a survival circumstance.

The Problem With Sweat

Using sweat as a survival drink comes with some hurdles that would make it impractical as a source of alternative hydration.

  • Collecting enough of it to be able to re-hydrate yourself would be almost impossible. You could try to suck the sweat out of your sweat-soaked shirt, but you would probably only soak up the saliva from your mouth with the shirt fabric!
  • In a survival situation, your skin is probably dirty and covered with bacteria, since it is highly likely you wouldn’t have washed in a while!
  • If you are already getting dehydrated, your body would have stopped producing sweat, so by the time you realize you need a drink of water and consider using your sweat, there will no longer be any available for you to attempt to use.

So, even though sweat would be ok to drink, it is an impractical solution that would probably not bear consideration as a survival option.

Can You Drink Tears To Survive?

So if sweat is not an option, is it possible that tears could be a possibility? After all, when you are desperate for some liquid, even a little drop would be welcome on the tongue!

Tears are produced in a gland in the corner of your eye against your nose. The tears are conducted to the surface of the eyeball via the tear duct. The substance is then spread out over the eye every time you blink, to lubricate and protect it.

Are Tears Healthy To Drink?

Tears are comprised of water, mucous, salt, and various other bodily products such as antibodies enzymes. The mucous that is produces is not very viscous and is actually a lubricant that helps to keep the eyes moist and flush out any contaminants in the eye.

Tears would be safe to drink, and unlike sweat, do not contain any waste products. There are two major problems with contemplating tears as a hydration option in an emergency.

  • As with sweat, when you become dehydrated, your body loses the ability to produce tears. It simply cannot afford the moisture loss via this process, so the body shuts it down.
  • Even if your body is still producing tears, the quantities are so small that the amount you would be able to drink would not be enough to stave off dehydration!

These factors make the option of tears, although technically possible, a practical impossibility as a survival measure!

Can You Drink Blood To Survive?

Blood, although liquid, is thick compared to water. Blood is packed full of vitamins, minerals, and proteins, so one would think it would be like an energy smoothie in a survival experience.

Everyone who has tasted blood knows that it has a distinctly iron and salty flavor, and it is these two components that eliminate blood as a viable survival drink.

  • Blood is salty, and as a result, it will not offer any value as a hydration fluid. In fact, drinking blood will only make you more thirsty!
  • Blood could be considered a food drink due to the vitamins and minerals in it, but even in this role, it can be dangerous. Blood contains high levels of iron, which is toxic to our bodies. If you drink frequent, large quantities of blood, for example, as a food source in a survival situation, it would be unhealthy. Our bodies are not capable of processing the large quantities of iron that are in blood. Therefore, if we drink blood on a regular basis, the iron would become toxic and can result in death. Basically, your body succumbs to an overdose of iron.
  • Tests have shown that a pint of blood contains less than 100 calories, which, first of all, is a lot of blood, so the iron content will make you ill, and secondly, it does not supply enough energy to sustain you for a day. We need about 1200 calories of energy a day normally, and much more in a survival situation where we would be exerting more energy than normal.

Blood is, therefore, not a viable option for hydration or for food in a survival situation. While drinking a cup of blood from an animal that you have managed to kill may seem like a good idea, it will not give you enough energy or hydration value to make it worthwhile.

What Else Can You Drink To Survive?

Knowledge and bushcraft skills are never more important than when you find yourself in the position of needing to survive in the wilderness, and you have no food or water.

Since the examples that we have mentioned are not viable survival options, what other options would be potential sources, particularly for hydration?

Water is your best option for survival, but the trick is to find it. When you find it, the other problem is that it may be contaminated. In this event, you would need to have gear with you to purify the water, or have the bushcraft knowledge to purify the water using different means to make it good to drink!

  • Water from dry river and stream beds. Skills on how to find water in dry river beds is a crucial survival technique to hone. Knowledge of how rivers and streams flow and the best places to dig for water in dry stream beds, or even find standing pools of water is a skill that is beyond value in this situation!
  • Water from plants that store water. Knowledge of local plants that store water in succulent leaves, stems, or underground tubers can be vital in order to find water and how to extract it safely for consumption in dry areas.
  • Reading the landscape. Being able to look at the topography of the land and identify places where water could collect and pool on the ground surface or rock formations is important knowledge for an outdoorsman to have.
  • Making water stills. If you can find some manmade materials such as plastic and have some bushcraft skills, you will be able to make several versions of water stills, depending on the environment, which will help you to collect water to help your hydration. These stills often only collect small amounts of water, s if you have the materials, build several of them to generate enough water for your needs.


Given that sweat and tears are not viable options for hydration and drinking blood is not a wise for health reasons, it does nothing for hydration and has minimal value as an energy source, your option water.

As a survivalist, you should educate yourself as much as possible in the techniques for finding water in the wilderness in various types of environments and learn methods of purifying the water with minimal gear.

In ideal conditions, we can survive on average for 3 days with no water, so in a survival predicament, finding a source for this vital survival ingredient should be the highest priority!

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