Posts Tagged ‘canvas water bags’

I could file this under: Can I Kill My Husband Now? Apparently he became an expert on canvas water bags when my back was turned. When we started collecting them he was as baffled by their use as I was but he apparently doesn’t remember that.


Or maybe I remember events differently than he does. That’s very likely. I get a thought in my head and that colors all my memories. So maybe I am not mad at my husband.

When I originally posted about our little collection of canvas water bags, I asked how to use them because they drip (and I had it in my head that they were not supposed to drip).

Eight months after my original post, Al said:


Ten months after the original post, Ken said:

To use them properly they have to be soaked for a couple of days in water. This swells the fibres and seals the bag.
The water does seep out but a full bag should last a week if not drunk. The water should be changed regularily anyway.
I have one on my Ute and the water quite easily lasts a few day. The bag should not drip but have a damp surface to work correctly.
They are some good examples.

And nearly two years later, Max commented:

I have used desert water bags for years. So has the U.S. military (and no doubt militaries in other countries). You can soak it before use, in hot or cold water (hot might cause the cotton to shrink though), but you don’t have to. You can fill a dry bag with water. It will leak a bit at first, but as the fibers swell, the leaking will diminish. After a while (one to several hours), the leaking will stop but the bag will remain damp — and COOL, which is the intended behavior. As long as there is water inside, and as long as the relative humidity outside is low, the evaporation will remove heat from the water inside which will keep it cool. The hotter, drier, and windier it is on the outside, the faster the rate of evaporation and the colder the water will get. But when the evaporation rate is faster, the bag needs to be refilled more often.

I have lived for a month or more out in the desert, far from electricity, and enjoyed cool water by maintaining two bags: one for receiving incoming, non-cool water, which is then used to keep the second bag full at all times. The second bag will eventually concentrate any minerals in the water, due to evaporation, leaving mineral solids behind. So the second bag gets dumped and rinsed every so often. And now you know how these bags can be used for a practical purpose.

And nearly two years later, I decided to test out the different instructions.

I picked one bag and filled it with water on the hottest day of the year (the hottest day in nearly 365 days, mind you). It dripped and dripped and slowly, slowly, slowed on the drip-drip-drip. I think it held water for about 6 hours.

On day 2, the fibers were still wet and swollen so I refilled it. It did drip a little bit. A very little bit. And it held water for 8 hours plus (I quit checking after 8 hours).

Then I did the unthinkable. I decided to TASTE it. Yup: taste the water from an old canvas water bag.

It didn’t taste too bad. Not too musty. Maybe a little like burlap. But, really, not too bad. If you were in the desert and hot and thirsty, I think it would taste outright wonderful.

Thanks to Jodi & Mike who commented within hours of my first post:

Oh my gosh those are so awesome! That’s the kind of art I have in my house. I actually remember drinking out of one of those once that my dad had – the water tasted awful. Kind of moldy and well, like burlap. But I guess if you were thirsty enough, it might taste good. (Jodi)

I love water from these bags. It tastes delightfully moldy with a hint of canvas. (Mike)

Anyway, I now have a new skill: I know how to use a canvas water bag. if  we’re ever stuck in the desert together, I will bring the water in canvas water bags.

It tastes “delightfully moldy with a hint of canvas.”

Read Full Post »

Canvas Water Bags

I thought I was too brain dead to think of anything to photograph tonight, much less something to write about. But there I was, standing in the laundry room (folding towels), when my eye was caught by what hangs on the wall in there.

more 365 056

We have five of these. All are well-used. We’ve never quite figured out how you’re supposed to use them. There’s a trick to getting them to hold water. I did a quick search on the Internet and came up with all kinds of hits on where to buy a canvas water bag, but only a couple quick hits on how to get them to hold water.

It is definitely a skill I would like to learn.

So what’s with having five canvas water bags if you don’t know how to use them?

One word: art. Collectible art, artifacts, antiques. We just plain like the art.

more 365 057

Now that’s a Safari Water Bag. of course, it has a lion on it. It’s very well-worn. You can almost picture this on the front of a Land Rover. Allan Quatermain probably used just such a bag.  (I picture Richard Chamberlain as Allan Quatermain.)

more 365 058

This one is very faded, but it has sentimental value. My father was a Ranger for the US Forest Service and all things Smokey the Bear permeated my childhood.  (The original Smokey the Bear died in 1976. I cut his obituary out of the newspaper, even. Is that corny?)

I can’t imagine Smokey driving a Land Rover with that canvas bag hanging in front of the radiator.

more 365 059

We have two of these. I didn’t photograph the other because it is very faded and worn, and this one is in very good condition. The Hirsch-Weis bags are common (at least around here, in the Portland, OR area).

So how do you use them?

One authority I read said that you are suppsoed to soak them in very hot water, then fill them. Apparently the hot water causes the canvas to expand.Then you fill them and hang them. You don’t want the canvas to lean against anything because the touch will compromise the fabric and it will leak where it is touching. That actually makes sense to me.

I think I will have to do some more sleuthing. But even if I never do figure out how to use one, I still like them.

Read Full Post »