How Does Drinking Urine Stop Dehydration?

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Excuse me for my lack of knowledge but how does drinking stop you from dehydrating? Isn't urine the waste from other drinks, so won't your body just reject it and basically, since it's waste, just pee everything right back out since there's nothing it can take from it?

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I'm not a doctor, but I'm pretty sure drinking nothing but unprocessed urine is only going to stave off dehydration for a short period without serious side effects. Urea and some other wastes found in pee might pass through the digestive tract unabsorbed, but I'm pretty sure the gut absorbs salt indiscriminately and without a means of filtering salts from the urine or eating a salt free diet, I'd think you'd eventually reach the point of having more excess salt in your system than the kidneys can remove with the available volume of water.

 

If you found yourself stranded or trapped without a water source, drinking pee might extend your survival by a day or two, but I don't think it would be a viable long-term solution to staying hydrated.

 

Now, if you had the means to boil the urine and collect the vapor, thereby separating the water in pee from the bulk of the wastes dissolved in it, you would then have a means of recycling the water that might be viable long term. About the lowest tech way I can imagine someone doing this would involve tilting a fire resistent jug of pee over a campfire while holding a canteen mouth-to-mouth with the jug to catch the vapor. A somewhat more sophisticated method would involve two pots and a Bundt pan: Fill one pot with pee, nestle the Bundt pan in the top of the pee pot, and invert the second pot on top of the Bundt pan. Ideally, the three containers would have air/water tight seals between them, but the idea is that as the pee boils, the steam raises through the tube of the Bundt pan, the inverted pot prevents the steam from escaping and is hopefully cool enough to cause condensation, and as condensation builds up, the liquid drips down to be caught by the Bundt pan with most of the salt and other solutes being left in the bottom pot as the liquid boils off. I'm pretty sure similar methods could be utilized to improve the drinkability of sweat and seawater, and I know boiling to kill microbes is recommended even with fresh water sources in a survival situation. Sadly, while feeding dirty water through a sieve will remove gravel and other large debris, and filter paper can remove most sand and grit, filtering salt and other dissolved substances from water requires high tech filters, so attempting campfire distilling would probably be more viable.

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Quite a theory you have there Mewtamer.  I have heard this as well but fail to see how it would work.  I agree, the salt in urine alone is going to make you more thirsty or more dehydrated.  

 

I know for the most part this whole thing is based on drinking your own urine, something I can't bring myself to do.  But I do wonder if you did the whole system just with your partner.  You drinking their urine and they drinking yours and nothing else.  Would one expect similar results?  (I would assume so).  

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Posted (edited)

As others have said, the high saline content in urine would cause you to become dehydrated more quickly, even if you can stomach the taste. US Army handbooks warn against it as a method of survival.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urine#Survival_uses

Edited by OmoCommando
sauce
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