How to Get Water From Cactus? {Find Water in Desert}

Imagine you are in the midst of a desert. You are thirsty and also ran out of your water reserves. What should be done in this scenario? Finding cactus for its water may be the solution? Let’s check out deeper insights of the same to check if something like this is possible or not. 

water in desert
Photo: Wikihow

Cacti are stem succulents that grow in a unique shape and size. They have their own set of unique features. They have their leaves adopted into spines which act in their defense. The stem of these plants actually does the work of a typical leaf—photosynthesis, and respiration. Their stem also stores water for its survival in harsh environments. This unique attribute makes cacti’s stem generally fleshy and juicy. This can make them a source of water in the desert.

How to Get Water From Cactus?

All the cacti have more or less the exact mechanism of sustaining and storing waters in their stem. Thus you can perceive that extracting water from cactus is almost the same irrespective of the species. The difference may come only from the size and shape of the cactus that you may consume upon. 

The process is simple. The juicy part is always present in the stem. We need to get rid of the spines and then get the inner mucilage to extract the water from them.

Once you get the inner mucilage of the cactus, you have to keep them inside a cloth, cover it and press it tightly so that the water oozes out. This way, you can consume the dripping drops of water. 

How To Get Water From Barrel Cactus

Barrel cacti are those species of cactus that generally don’t have branches. They are seldom barrel-shaped—as the name implies— or spherical. These cacti have a broad stem ensuring greater water content stored in them. Thus, barrel cacti are generally considered as a source of water in deserts during a crisis. However, not all barrel cactus have water suitable for humans. Fishhook Barrel Cactus is the best cactus to have water from. 

How To Get Water From A Fishhook Barrel Cactus

Let us look into the steps to get water from the fishhook barrel cactus in the following:

STEP 1. Look at the shape of the cacti to decide how to severe it. If it is long enough, then you should sever its tip. If it is round, you need to slash it with full pressure to fall into two pieces.

STEP 2. Once you get exposed to the interior flesh, you need to take the flesh out of it. To do that, you need to cut off the skin with spines ensuring you easily access the internal flesh.

STEP 3. Take off a reasonable amount of flesh by cutting them to pieces if needed. 

STEP 4. Put the flesh in a cloth pouch or on a cloth. Then wrap it well.

STEP 5. Apply pressure as required till water starts oozing out of the fabric. This water is ready to collect or drink. Make sure you need to drink it in small amounts to withstand.

Is The Cacti Water Suitable For Drinking?

If you try to drink the water from a cactus in the midst of a desert when you are hungry and thirsty, you may probably end up with diarrhea and vomiting. Why? Here is the reason. 

Cacti’s moisture is very acidic. This makes the water in it acidic. When one consumes such water—especially with an empty stomach— they will find it very hard to make out the alkalis to reduce the water’s acidic nature. This would thus instead have a negative effect on the body. That is, it might do more harm than good.  

Thus, it is essential to note that cactus water is not a replacement for potable water. The only cactus whose water is better than all other cacti is the Fishhook Barrel Cactus. 

In emergencies, one can find a Fishhook Barrel Cactus and sip its water in small amounts to be in a safer position. However, some people complain of pain in bones and vomiting after drinking Fishhook Barrel Cactus water too. 

How To Get Water From A Saguaro Cactus?

If you are looking at a cactus at the height of a tree, you are probably looking at a saguaro cactus. These cacti may need almost 200 years to turn into full-grown. These cacti are tall and have branches to them. The bigger size of saguaro cacti makes it easier to access water.

Here are steps to get water from a saguaro cactus:

STEP 1. Try finding a giant plant with branches to make the process easy. Please select a branch and cut the tip of it. You can sever to take away a branch for convenience.

STEP 2. Carefully remove the flesh on either side by taking a grip on the exposed part of the cactus flesh.

STEP 3. Collect the flesh in a cloth pouch or a cloth. Wrap the collected flesh.

STEP 4. Apply pressure and press as required till water starts oozing out of the fabric. 

How To Get Water From A Prickly Pear Cactus?

The prickly pear cactus has advantages over the others by having edible fruits. Thus one can use the fruit to obtain water from it. However, the pads or segments of this plant can also be used to get water. 

Here is the procedure to get water from prickly pear cactus:

STEP 1. Take a pear fruit or a pad by gently cutting off the plant. Take care of the spines

STEP 2. Take off the skin gently to access the flesh. 

STEP 3. Collect the flesh in a cloth pouch or a cloth. Wrap the collected flesh.

STEP 4. Apply pressure and press as required till water starts oozing out of the fabric. 

Uses of Cactus Water

Most edible cacti are rich in various nutrients like carotene and rich in fibers, and antioxidants. This is the reason why commercial cactus water is claimed to have rich properties even beneficial for athletes. Commercial cactus water is made from extracts of prickly pear fruits.

However, it is to be remembered that naturally occurring cactus water is not safe for humans. The commercial cactus water is processed from regular prickly pear water to make it suitable for human consumption. The commercial cactus water can be consumed due to its numerous health benefits, such as low calories, high electrolyte content, etc. 

Final Wrap up

Cactus can be a source of water. But naturally, no cactus is ready to offer freshwater. They are basically acidic and thus create a vomiting sensation. The procedure of the extraction of water is simple on paper. However, one has to take care while cutting off the skin of cacti with spines to avoid injury. 


Nikita is a Succulent lover. She really enjoys planting and nourishing them. She loves to share information about various Succulents on this blog to aware people more about these awesome plants.

Recent Posts