Great survival uses of moss

Stef Zisovska

Have you ever thought about moss and what you know about it? It is sometimes the green thing that grows on trees, rocks, buildings, and the ground.

The truth is that few people ever think about it and how especially useful it can be. The moss grows everywhere in the world, so no matter where you need it, you’ll find it. You’ll be surprised by its uses in a survival situation.

Predicting the North – myth busted

Moss on a tree doesn’t always show the North
Moss on a tree doesn’t always show the North

Moss does not necessarily grow on the north side of the trees, though there is a belief this is true. Moss grows on wet surfaces with no sun.

The north side is the one that gets less sun during the day, so if you find a vertical object with moss only one side, that’s probably the north.

But, if you’re in a dark forest there is moss all around the trees, so this rule doesn’t count. Better find some other solution to find north.

Sphagnum moss is a drinking water source

Sphagnum moss is very spongy and for that matter hold a lot of water. You can just rip it off a tree and squeeze the water into your mouth.

This moss is acidic, so no bacteria grows on it, which means it’s safe to drink directly from it without boiling. If ever threatened by dehydration, the moss is the real thing.

Close-up view of red sphagnum near Carrbridge, Scotland
Close-up view of red sphagnum near Carrbridge, Scotland

Moss is perfect for dressing a wound

Almost all types of moss are good for dressing wounds. Clean the wound and apply a moss as a bandage. It contains iodine that will keep the wound sterile. Change the moss everytime you clean the wound.

Dried moss is a great fire starter

Drying moss
Drying moss

Dried moss is extremely flammable, so it’s always good to have it around. You can use it to make fire and add some to your fire-starting kit for the rest of the journey.

Moss is waterproof

Moss is full of moisture, but it likes to keep it for itself, that’s why you can use it to cover your shelter. The roots of the moss are a complex system which makes it easy to cut off big pieces and transport them to the roof of your shelter.

The moss roof will collect all the humidity, keeping you dry during the night.

Perfect moss for a shelter roof
Perfect moss for a shelter roof

Moss is an insulator

Thanks to its tight root system, moss can be used as an insulator to keep your shelter either warm or cold, depending on the weather conditions.

Some moss is edible

While lost in the forest for days, probably your food resources would be gone. But, if there’s moss around, you’re saved. There are several types of edible moss, including Reindeer moss that grows in most parts of the United States and from a distance look a bit like flowers.

Oak moss is found in the mountain regions of the United States and grows on oak trees, and Spanish moss is a draping moss that hangs from oak trees throughout the United States and especially in the southeastern states.

Lichen foliacé2. – Author: Liondelyon – CC BY-SA 3.0
Lichen foliacé2. – Author: Liondelyon – CC BY-SA 3.0

Now you’re aware of all the emergency uses of moss in case you ever need them. When finding yourself in a survival situation, remember that the answers to all questions are around you.

You just need to be close to nature and follow its signs. Surviving in the jungle or a forest may be hard, but not impossible. Good luck!

We live in a beautiful world, get out there and enjoy it. Outdoor Revival – Reconnecting us all with the outdoors.


stef-zisovska is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival