by Hugues Goosse
We drink basically melted snow. At the Princess Elisabeth station, the snow is collected in a big container. It includes a thermal resistance powered by the solar panels and the windmills. The snow is melted and filtered before we can use it in the kitchen and the bathroom.
There is enough snow everywhere but the area where it is collected for drinking water is protected to avoid any contamination.
The principle is the same in the field but at a smaller scale. No machine is available as in the station to carry the snow. So, whenever the container is empty or if someone has time, we dig some snow towards the container.
The container including snow that has to be melted to produce drink water
The meltwater has a very low content in mineral. The taste is not great but it is fine. The closest one is some mineral waters that also have a very low mineral content. If you want to drink it directly, you may prefer to add a very small amount of salt or some syrup.
Filling in the snow melter in the field
Alcohol is never recommended for your health but you must be particularly careful here as it gives you a feeling of warmth while it contributes to lose faster your body heat and thus increases the risk of cold injuries. Additionally, being drunk is particularly dangerous is such harsh environment.
At the Princess Elisabeth station, there is thus a big stock of alcohol-free beers!
This did not forbid past explorers to order alcohol before they leave. For instance, Shackleton ordered 25 casks of MacKinlays rare old highland malt whisky for his expedition in 1907. The distillery reedited the blend a few years ago and you can probably find it. Very nice on an historical point of view!
Alcohol may also be served for special occasions nowadays but this is for another post.