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#258309 - 03/29/13 08:57 PM Drinking alcohol in a survival situation
Roarmeister Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 09/12/01
Posts: 893
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
I know we have all heard this conversation before, "don't drink alcohol because it is a diuretic and excessive urination will cause dehydration". That is what we have all heard and we swear by it. But is it true?

Granted, drinking 70-proof alcohol will do that. Whiskey and survival don't go hand in hand if it causes you to dehydrate. But what if you could evaporate the alcohol content and keep the remaining water? Alcohol should evaporate at a temperature below water boiling since its boiling point is 173*F so if you heated it you could reasonably reduce the alcoholic content.

Now lets say you have 5-6% beer. Is the alcoholic content already low enough to have a minimal diuretic effect? Or is it the salts in the beer that cause an imbalance and thereby cause you to urinate? We all know the effect of pounding down several and needing to find the washroom shortly after but part of that is because we have consumed so much fluid! smile

But if you came across a single beer in the wilderness, would you drink it or throw it out? I just watched an episode of Dual Survival where at the start of the show they reach into the pack to check out their supplies. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEalKkJnrfM They immediately dump the beer because of its diuretic properties. Is this a mistake? Wouldn't consuming 1 beer, even relatively slowly have little diuretic effect? The beer is still 94% water and water is necessary for the body thus you wouldn't the hydrating effect of the water content would be greater than the diuretic effect of slowly consuming 1 beer.

I know they were trying to make a point to the viewers but in this case is it a valid point? (I don't want to read rehashed quotations from some old survival guide that we have accepted as gospel. I want honest opinions based on facts, chemistry and real world studies because sometimes its better to take a step back and think and challenge conventions.)

Can beer prevent dehydration? Definition of Diuretic

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#258313 - 03/29/13 09:06 PM Re: Drinking alcohol in a survival situation [Re: Roarmeister]
spuds Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 06/24/12
Posts: 822
Loc: SoCal Mtns
3.2% beer here,heck yeah I'd drink it.

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#258316 - 03/29/13 09:11 PM Re: Drinking alcohol in a survival situation [Re: Roarmeister]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6583
Loc: southern Cal
I don't know about dehydration specifically, but I have seen enough of the effects of alcohol in the outdoors to really get my blood boiling.

I became sick and tired of hauling victim after victim, often dead, out of the woods and finding that their blood alcohol level was comfortably above the legal limit for intoxication. Alcohol impairs your judgement - not only that, it makes you do stupid things.

I doubt whether the dehydrating effects of a single serving of beer would appreciably affect someone in an outdoors setting or cause any problems that could not be countered by a glass or two of H2O. And I suppose the immutable laws of physics would allow you to boil off the alcohol if beer was all you had. I would avoid all alcohol in any significant undertaking. I dimly recall some research involving marathon runners in which impairment could be demonstrated for hours after the consumption of a moderate amount of booze.

By the way, the opinion I have just stated is quite different from the actions I took in my youth. I was lucky.....
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Geezer in Chief

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#258319 - 03/29/13 09:16 PM Re: Drinking alcohol in a survival situation [Re: Roarmeister]
MoBOB Offline
Veteran

Registered: 09/17/07
Posts: 1219
Loc: here
If you want chemistry brought into this, then Blast Ph.D. is the guy.

Essentially, I think I agree with what has already been stated. A single beer or stiff drink shouldn't compromise things. It is probably best to use it as purifying agent if there is enough alcohol to make a difference. I am not sure how much "sissy" or regular beer is need to treat a liter of water. Any help from a qualified source(not a Holiday Inn Express frequenter) would help.
_________________________
"Its not a matter of being ready as it is being prepared" -- B. E. J. Taylor

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#258323 - 03/29/13 09:45 PM Re: Drinking alcohol in a survival situation [Re: Roarmeister]
Pete Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 1347
A single beer, normal alcohol content, isn't going to do too much to an adult. I definitely would NOT pitch it - if I thought there was a serious risk of dehydration. I also wouldn't drink it if I knew I was in a siutation requiring critical judgment. Drink it when you're relaxed. It's still liquids. So the bottom line ... is that it depends upon your specific situation. But it's a "resource" just like anything else.

Pete2


Edited by Pete (03/29/13 09:46 PM)

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#258324 - 03/29/13 10:01 PM Re: Drinking alcohol in a survival situation [Re: Roarmeister]
Am_Fear_Liath_Mor Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/03/07
Posts: 3077
Quote:
I just watched an episode of Dual Survival where at the start of the show they reach into the pack to check out their supplies. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEalKkJnrfM They immediately dump the beer because of its diuretic properties. Is this a mistake?


I think that this was a mistake in this case to ditch the beer straight away. If your going to find a backpack just lying their in the middle of Zambia with cans of beer, then there is always chance of finding the other backpack companion holding the lemonade. There is nothing like a Shandy to quench the thirst later on when you eventually find a water source to cool off the beer.

2 cans of beer would also be equivalent to 300-400 Kcal of energy being thrown away, if water to quench dehydration wasn't a problem.

But then again the empty beer can makes for a fine container for Joe Teti's urine, which in other episodes he doesn't have much of a problem drinking. Must be a Special Forces thing. wink





Edited by Am_Fear_Liath_Mor (03/29/13 10:13 PM)

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#258329 - 03/30/13 01:02 AM Re: Drinking alcohol in a survival situation [Re: Roarmeister]
Jeanette_Isabelle Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 11/13/06
Posts: 1865
Loc: Emerald City, OZ
Would alcohol be a good thing to have when coming across a clear but questionable source of water? By that, would the alcohol kill any parasite in the water?

Jeanette Isabelle
_________________________
"When you're up to your [neck] in alligators, it's hard to remember that your initial objective was to drain the swamp." -- Floridian proverb

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#258331 - 03/30/13 01:09 AM Re: Drinking alcohol in a survival situation [Re: Roarmeister]
Byrd_Huntr Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 01/28/10
Posts: 1160
Loc: MN, Land O' Lakes & Rivers ...
My dad always warned that a seemingly endless array of actions by me and my brother would cause us to "dry up and blow away". Maybe this is what he was speaking about?

Seriously though, if I found a can of beer in the wilderness I would, without delay, start a concentric search for pizza and jerky.
_________________________
The man got the powr but the byrd got the wyng

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#258332 - 03/30/13 01:12 AM Re: Drinking alcohol in a survival situation [Re: Am_Fear_Liath_Mor]
bws48 Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/18/07
Posts: 830
Loc: Anne Arundel County, Maryland
Originally Posted By: Am_Fear_Liath_Mor
Quote:
I just watched an episode of Dual Survival where at the start of the show they reach into the pack to check out their supplies. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEalKkJnrfM They immediately dump the beer because of its diuretic properties. Is this a mistake?


I think that this was a mistake in this case to ditch the beer straight away. If your going to find a backpack just lying their in the middle of Zambia with cans of beer, then there is always chance of finding the other backpack companion holding the lemonade. There is nothing like a Shandy to quench the thirst later on when you eventually find a water source to cool off the beer.

2 cans of beer would also be equivalent to 300-400 Kcal of energy being thrown away, if water to quench dehydration wasn't a problem.

But then again the empty beer can makes for a fine container for Joe Teti's urine, which in other episodes he doesn't have much of a problem drinking. Must be a Special Forces thing. wink





I also think that beer would be worthwhile--I'm part of the beer=liquid bread crowd. Also, for what its worth, Great Grandpa sailed (not motored, sailed) out of St Johns, Newfoundland as a ships carpenter on Cod fishing boats, and in the Great British sailing tradition (apparently no longer honored frown ), was issued 8 OZ of Rum (he said 151 proof) per day to "keep warm". Since he lived into his late 80's, apparently it did not hurt him (at least not too much).

Seriously, I think a bit of alcohol can help warm a person up, and help---too much certainly bad, but a bit, yes. Beer has a lot of carbohydrates, and they always help.



Edited by bws48 (03/30/13 01:15 AM)
Edit Reason: typos
_________________________
"Better is the enemy of good enough."

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#258334 - 03/30/13 01:23 AM Re: Drinking alcohol in a survival situation [Re: Jeanette_Isabelle]
Byrd_Huntr Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 01/28/10
Posts: 1160
Loc: MN, Land O' Lakes & Rivers ...
Originally Posted By: Jeanette_Isabelle
........would the alcohol kill any parasite in the water?

Jeanette Isabelle
It seems to work on tequila worms, but it's possible they just drowned.
_________________________
The man got the powr but the byrd got the wyng

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