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REALITY: You’ll sweat more than you get

Nester likes to demonstrate to his students at Ancient Pathways just how useless a solar still is in the desert. “We set these up in our classes in a wash or in a canyon where there’s been rain in recent weeks,” he says. They dig a hole that’s three feet deep, fill it with succulents and other non-toxic plants that will respirate and speed up condensation, and cover it. “After the whole process of digging it and setting it up—you have to wait 24 hours, by the way—you may have half a liter of water if you’re lucky. But if you think back to the day before, you burned three gallons of sweat building it. It’s called the desert for a reason.” (For good advice on finding water in the desert, click here.)

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