Papa Earth and Rangi Sky created the trees and the shrubs, the plants and the flowers, the birds and the butterflies and all other animals in the sky, on the earth and in the sea. It was very crowded and a tight place to be, and Papa’s en Rangi’s children were desperate to get more breathing space.
After many of them tried and failed, their child Tane, God of the forests, succeeded to part Heaven from Earth, and ever since Rangi and Papa grieve ceaselessly for each other. Papa’s sighs form the soft mists that rise from the earth, Rangi’s tears are the source of the morning dew.
- Maori Myth
In arid areas, where rain is rare and every drop of water is precious, many plants and animals have become highly specialized in capturing moisture from the sky.
The Welwitschia can survive rainless years using its long leaves to gather dew and fog and channel it to its root system. The Thorny Devil, who lives in the central Australian desert and thanks his name to his impressive thorn-covered skin, also found a way to quench his thirst. Dew condenses on the thorns and is drawn by capillary action along the thorn’s grooves to eventually end in this prickly creature’s mouth. But there’s not only passive ways of collecting and distributing water. The Australian mouse covers a large area around its burrow with pebbles, apparently for the sole purpose to harvest dew as water supply.
Humans also have a history collecting dew. The alchemists for example attributed high importance to dew and used it in many experiments in search of the philosopher’s stone. An example of its use can be found in the alchemical work Mutus Liber, where one of the illustrations shows some dew collectors (cloths stretched among four stakes) and a couple wringing the dew water out of a cloth.
There can be several reasons to start dew harvesting. Maybe you just like the idea and love to experiment, or you would like to use rain for irrigation, showering and doing laundry, and think it’s a nice idea to get your drinking water from dew. Maybe you live in an area where water is scarce and you want to use everything you can get. Or you think bigger and you are looking for ways to bring water to villages that are threatened by drought. There could even be some among you that think money can be made out of everything, and selling dew water might be big business (crazy enough, you won’t be the first!)
Whatever reasons you may have, there are many ways to harvest dew. Some collecting methods have questionable results, but you might find ways to improve them.
You can choose to use only natural or recycled materials or to get some stuff from your local store. Of course you can also choose to buy a ready made device like an atmospheric water generator that can run directly from a solar panel or from your home electricity.
what will be covered in this article:
What is dew? Some facts to help you understand the principles behind dew harvesting.
Ways of harvesting and creating dew collectors, advantages and disadvantages of different systems. The focus will be on clean drinking water. Dew harvesting for agricultural purposes will be covered in a future article.
Dew water quality.