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Old 07-25-2020, 11:57 PM   #1
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Default Strategy for general purpose ("fresh" but not potable water)?

Thanks for all the great replies to my thread about potable water:

https://www.classbforum.com/forums/f...egy-10763.html

I'd like to now ask about "general purpose" water. This is "fresh" water for showering, washing hands, washing your face, etc. but NOT for drinking or cooking.

From the other thread, some people drink/cook with water from their freshwater tanks. Myself, I'm going to buy my potable water because I may have to fill my freshwater tanks from a source I don't trust. (e.g. a spigot at a gas station).

I'm considering adding a larger freshwater tank so that I can boondock for longer periods. I'm a noob at boondocking (which is why I'm here on this forum) and so I don't know what I don't know.

For example, I could add tankage that could take me up to as high as 45 to 50 US Gal of freshwater. I estimate this will last me 15 days of showering and washing.

Questions:

1) what is your strategy for freshwater? i.e. for how many days do you carry water? How many gallons is that? Please slant your answer for boondocking situations (as opposed to campground situations where you have access to fresh water)

2) where do you get your water from when on the road? (assume that I'm not frequenting campgrounds and not in urban areas; e.g. I'm out and about in forests and other public land)

3) is there a point where it's not advisable to use water that's been stored too long? And how long would that be? e.g. the water somehow got "infected" (not sure what the right term is; I've heard of pathogens and slime forming in the tanks).

I plan to have food and potable water for 15 days. So I'm thinking I'll need general-purpose water for this long.

But if that's too long for water to sit in a non-temperature-controlled environment, let me know. On the other hand, If there are things that can help keep the water "fresh", also let me know (I've heard about adding a small amount of bleach).

Presumably, long-term storage of water isn't an issue. Don't people sail around the world with water in tanks for months? What about the military deployed in the desert? etc.

[Just a note, I'm aware I sound like a worry-wart, but I'm a noob and I travel by myself and so getting sick means it won't be fun and there'll be no one to provide a helping hand.]

There's might be other factors that you can comment on. e.g. weight. 45 gallons would be 375 lbs I'm carting around (at the start).
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Old 07-26-2020, 12:42 AM   #2
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I may have to fill my freshwater tanks from a source I don't trust. (e.g. a spigot at a gas station).
Why, exactly, wouldn't you trust a spigot at a gas station? Isn't it coming from the same water system as the rest of the community? Are you afraid to drink the gas station's coffee?
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Old 07-26-2020, 01:13 AM   #3
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Why, exactly, wouldn't you trust a spigot at a gas station? Isn't it coming from the same water system as the rest of the community? Are you afraid to drink the gas station's coffee?
At home, I probably would. I was in SoCal at a Chevron and there was a sign saying that their water was NOT potable. Fine for filling a radiator but not for drinking. I forgot the exact reason but I'm under the impression it wasn't treated.
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Old 07-26-2020, 01:21 AM   #4
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At home, I probably would. I was in SoCal at a Chevron and there was a sign saying that their water was NOT potable. Fine for filling a radiator but not for drinking. I forgot the exact reason but I'm under the impression it wasn't treated.
Ah, well in that case, I agree with you. However, I would never put water labeled "non-potable" in my fresh tank, whether I intended to drink it (which I do) or not.
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Old 07-26-2020, 01:30 AM   #5
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Ah, well in that case, I agree with you. However, I would never put water labeled "non-potable" in my fresh tank, whether I intended to drink it (which I do) or not.
I think a gas station spigot was a poor choice on my part to use an example. Perhaps better would be water from a lake or a stream that I'm unfamiliar with.
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Old 07-26-2020, 01:38 AM   #6
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I think a gas station spigot was a poor choice on my part to use an example. Perhaps better would be water from a lake or a stream that I'm unfamiliar with.
I see where you are coming from now.

I have a suggestion, though:
If I were going to store and use non-potable water, my inclination would be to store it in properly-labeled jerry cans, and save my fresh tank for actual, potable water. That way, you could add some chemicals, depending on the use.

Just a thought.
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Old 07-26-2020, 03:10 AM   #7
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1) what is your strategy for freshwater? i.e. for how many days do you carry water? How many gallons is that? Please slant your answer for boondocking situations (as opposed to campground situations where you have access to fresh water)


I carry 35 gallons of fresh water. I use this for all domestic uses including drinking. When solo this lasts me for 2 weeks, Navy shower every other day.

When showering I only heat the hot water tank to the temperature that I need for my shower. I use a remote meat thermometer probe stuck into the insulation of the water heater at an angle into the foam. This eliminates having to run the shower to blend for the correct temperature, saving water. Also, when starting up the shower the purge water that first comes out cold goes into a sauce pan. This water is later used for coffee or tea.

2) where do you get your water from when on the road? (assume that I'm not frequenting campgrounds and not in urban areas; e.g. I'm out and about in forests and other public land.

I use Free Campsites dot net for locating tank dump and fills. A few gas stations have dump and fills, mostly in the west. Also some tourist info or visitor centers have facilities. And town parks sometimes have a dump and fill. After 5 summers of boondocking I really haven't had much of an issue with it, with a bit of planning.
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Old 07-26-2020, 03:19 AM   #8
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In most parts of the country public parks have water and even many rest stops have spigots. Finding water in the western desert can be a challenge even in public campgrounds. BLM and Forest Service offices will usually have a spigot. The water you find elsewhere can sometimes be questionable, intended more for livestock than humans.

You can always add some chlorine bleach to water to disinfect it, especially if you aren't going to drink it. You can also use iodine or commercial disinfectants made for back packers. But if you want to take water out of a lake and put it in your holding tank you probably need to filter it to keep out any solid particles that can settle in the bottom of the tank and stay there.

Frankly, it sounds like more trouble than its worth. Remember you need your black water and gray water tanks to hold any water you use. In my experience, those are more the limitation than having enough fresh water.
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Old 08-02-2020, 09:59 PM   #9
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Am I missing something, why not just put a good filter on the hose you use to add to your fresh, drinking, showering, cooking water tank? The Clear20 cleans up to 1 micron. Here's one place you can get it: https://www.walmart.com/ip/CLEAR2O-R...tion/269825607
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Old 08-02-2020, 10:20 PM   #10
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I agree on the need for good source water, but stuff can grow once the water is sitting in the tank.
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Old 08-02-2020, 11:17 PM   #11
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I agree on the need for good source water, but stuff can grow once the water is sitting in the tank.
Even More So if you remove the chlorine with a 'filter'. My house/home water has chlorine and I use it in the B.

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Old 08-02-2020, 11:43 PM   #12
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We have one of these (on a 5 gallon tank similar to the one pictured):

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0054TWAL4

If we're going to be more than 5 days boondocking, we bring it along, filled with tap water from home. Very useful as a substitute for showering...

Put a swimsuit on (or not depending on just how far from civilization you are), stick your head under the spigot and pump some water out, run some shampoo through your hair, rinse, repeat, etc...

Having a tupperware bowl handy to fill with water to dump over yourself is also very helpful. Works great!
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Old 08-03-2020, 11:33 AM   #13
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Why, exactly, wouldn't you trust a spigot at a gas station? Isn't it coming from the same water system as the rest of the community? ...
Not always - it depends on the circumstances. Larger stations sometimes don't pay to run potable lines all the way to the other side of the yard. They may install an untreated satellite water system at their far end because they are anticipating that people are using it for nonpotable purposes such as washing.

There's one station in Maine where this plagues my logistics. I can dump and I can rinse with the available water, but I can't take on potable there.
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Old 08-03-2020, 12:03 PM   #14
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.... I could add tankage that could take me up to as high as 45 to 50 US Gal of freshwater. I estimate this will last me 15 days of showering and washing.
...

1) what is your strategy for freshwater? ...

2) where do you get your water from when on the road?

...

3) is there a point where it's not advisable to use water that's been stored too long? ...

I plan to have food and potable water for 15 days. So I'm thinking I'll need general-purpose water for this long.
....
Forgive me if I'm repeating myself with some of this because there are multiple water threads on multiple forums and I'm not going to go back and read the original on this forum to sort out what got said where. I'll just (re)comment.

(1) 50 gallons of water is 417 pounds. You'd have to check your GVWR to verify that it's even do-able.

(2) Your tile says Washington... where are you planning to go such that you would not have a river, lake or stream in proximity?

(3) I'm about to try a 5-week continuous off-grid with 2 weeks of that in government-monitored quarantine. I cannot carry enough water for that, but my property is on a lake. A richly-organic northern lake. I have a 1-micron industrial filter, bleach (how it took me 4 months to find additive-free Clorox is a story in itself - thread picks up here), an 8-quart boiling pot, and a Big Berkey that I will use to prepare our own drinking water. The filter:



(4) +1 on the suggestion to bathe in situ. I use a loose shirt and shorts, both quick-drying synthetic, to jump in the lake with soap and shampoo in hand. Reach under clothing to wash. Not practical if it's a colder season, but there you could dig a shallow basin and line with tarp, heat some water and enjoy a bathtub of sorts. There are also hangable shower bags into which you can add heated water. On the last one, they irritate the hell out of me because the smallest amount of lake debris will plug the holes. I have one, have used one, but found it to be very high-maintenance.



If you want to go that route, there are shower surrounds that you can buy, and that can pack into a van nicely, such as this one:



(5) If you are keeping a strictly-potable fresh tank, which I do, one way to port water from a distant source to the van is to use MSR Dromedary bags.
So, for instance, if you are visiting someone, you can fill a couple of bags a few times in their bathtub (takes less time than a tap), and top off your tank that way.

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Old 08-03-2020, 12:59 PM   #15
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Chlorine is your friend when storing fresh water.
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Old 08-03-2020, 01:20 PM   #16
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I would never put anything but potable water in my fresh water tank. Maybe it is a subject if driving the length of the Americas to Patagonia but not in North America.
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Old 08-03-2020, 01:49 PM   #17
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Not always - it depends on the circumstances. Larger stations sometimes don't pay to run potable lines all the way to the other side of the yard. They may install an untreated satellite water system at their far end because they are anticipating that people are using it for nonpotable purposes such as washing.
I agree. But I guess I am generally willing to assume that any non-potable water outlet would be labelled as such.

Always the optimist...
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Old 08-03-2020, 08:59 PM   #18
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What is your plan for managing waste water? If you have to dump tanks, there will usually be potable water - campgrounds, state parks, truck stops etc. In rural areas, if not near a state park, I usually end up at a private campround periodically to dump, fill, and if stay overnight, do laundry, soak in hot tub etc. I'd rather stay out longer but I use my onboard tanks.
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Old 08-03-2020, 10:28 PM   #19
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What is your plan for managing waste water? If you have to dump tanks, ... I'd rather stay out longer but I use my onboard tanks.
Well, there are two scenarios:

(1) Normal times.

(2) The living hell that 2020 has become.

In my case, I'm looking at (2) and quarantine is imminent on my horizon, so I will describe that for you.

We plan to dump our black water at a truck stop in Maine and from that point until our destination in northeastern Nova Scotia, use urine diverters and wag bags until we reach our quarantine site, thus keeping the black tank clean. The reason being, we won't be allowed off site to dump for 2 weeks. And I don't want fresh waste sitting in that tank for 2 weeks.

In a pinch, if you were staying in a remote area where you could get away with it (where nobody would notice or care, and/or you had landowner's permission), you could responsibly compost your black tank contents. Dig a generous hole, dump gradually, layer in soil and real lime powder, not the crushed limestone crap that they sell here in the U.S. and fraudulently call it lime. Calcium hydroxide, aka slaked lime. It's almost impossible to buy right now - I had to purchase food grade lime to use for composting because nothing else is easily obtainable due to pandemic shortages (food grade is used in making tortillas).

Similarly, you could set up a temporary composting toilet at your site, thus removing the need to use your black tank. I mean real composting, not just dumping **** indiscriminantly into the ground. And again, it would need to be remote, where nobody would noticed or care, and/or you had the landowner's permission. I have the landowner's permission to do this, because I am the landowner.

I did the research earlier this season, and concluded that this is the only bush toilet worth investing in. It folds flat for easy van storage, and has a lid that closes tightly to exclude flies (VERY freakin' important).

It's apparently a re-plate of an Australian product. Gotta hand it to the Aussies - they know first hand what true backcountry hardship is (as opposed to, "we are in the woods now but there's a Burger King 30 minutes down the road"). Aussies come up with some good ideas and products.

Here's a mock-up pic of it, inside a nylon surround that also folds flat (mosquitoes and black flies are pure killers in Canada - any temporary commode needs protection, no matter how remote and unlikely it would be visible). This was taken semi-assembled in my back yard so that I could show the assemblage to my Dad. In real life, I will have it properly straightened and anchored.

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