Electrolytes (salt)

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In addition to water the survivor will need to replenish their electrolytes.

At a high level, Electrolytes help the body to retain fluid, regulating the hydration of the body as well as blood pH, and are critical for nerve and muscle function.

For example, muscle contraction is dependent upon the presence of calcium (Ca2+), sodium (Na+), and potassium (K+). Without sufficient levels of these key electrolytes, muscle weakness or severe muscle contractions may occur.

Serious electrolyte disturbances, such as dehydration and over hydration, may lead to cardiac and neurological complications

In a survival situation especially where heat and physical exertion are factors, the onset of dehydration can be hastened by not replenishing electrolyte, or at least salt, levels.

A simple electrolyte drink can be made by mixing the right quantities of salt, baking soda and salt a substitute for potassium in water then sweetening it with sugar. Unfortunately, in most survival situations, it is unlikely that you will have access to these ingredients.
For the survivor in the wild, your best bet for temporary replenishment of electrolytes is probably going to be ingesting around 10g (1/3oz) of salt daily. Salt alone will usually suffice if lost in the wilderness for a short time but the drink mentioned above would be a better option in an urban survival situation.

Chances are, that in a Survival situation, you will not have salt on hand so you will need to know how to find it. In some places, salt will be easier to find than others; near the coast, for instance, salt will be in good supply as the ocean is full of it; however, inland, your search may be more difficult.

Never drink seawater directly as your kidneys will not handle it. Either dilute it with fresh water at a rate of 1:6 seawater/freshwater. Salt is also the byproduct of evaporating or distilling sea water as described in the basics > water section.

Salt can also be extracted from seawater by soaking a piece of fabric, such as a shirt, in seawater and hanging it to dry. Once dry, salt residue will remain in the fabric which can then be fashioned into a ball and sucked on to ingest some of the salt.

Sea water holds approx 15g (1/2 oz) of salt per 470ml (1pint) therefore to meet the average daily intake of 10g (1/3oz), approx 320ml (1 1/3 cups) of seawater could be mixed with your daily freshwater. Young unripened coconuts hold about a liter of water and contain more electrolytes than most sports drinks.

Finding a supply of salt whilst inland will often be more difficult. Some wild plants have a salt content (see wilderness survival > wild food plants for more detail). Salt can be extracted from plants by boiling the plant until the container is dry leaving you with salt crystals on the bottom. These salt crystals are often black in colour.

Animal blood is also rich in vitamins, minerals and salt and is a valuable survival food which should not be wasted.

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