How to conserve water while dry camping?

Wayne

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The topic came up in another thread about conserving potable water while dry camping. I thought I'd start another thread dedicated to this topic. We have been camping for three years, but basically have no experience with dry camping or having to conserve water. The concept of setting up on BLM land for a few days to a couple weeks is intriguing.

@T & R Willson tell us your secrets!
 
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dnewton3

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I can tell you three things that will make a big difference ...

- How you manage showers. Obviously depending on how dirty one gets, can you manage to only do a "wash cloth" wipe down rather than take a shower? If you're only driving (not out hiking, etc) for the day, you really don't get that dirty. Even when you do take a shower, never let the water run. Rather, wet yourself down and then shut the water off. Soap and suds to clean yourself. Then turn the water back on only to do a quick rinse of the soap/shampoo. It takes some discipline but you'll save a huge amount of water. You'd be surprised how little you use if you just wet/wash/rinse rather than letting the water cascade over you constantly.

- Also, don't do dishes. Rather, buy paper plates/bowls and plastic cups and fork/spoon/knives and burn them (if you can) or throw them away. You save a massive amount of water no having to wash stuff. Yes - It's wasteful to throw away single use items. It's a trade off. Ecologically I don't know which is worse; wasting water, killing trees, or abusing the world with petrochemical release? But, the goal here is to conserve water, and if you don't have to wash any plates/cups/silverware/bowls/etc, you really conserve water. We used to wash all our stuff, and gave that up for the convenience of just burning/throwing stuff out. It's not really a vacation if my wife has to do 1/4 hour of dish washing by hand after every meal. The only stuff you have to really wash is the large pots/pans (if you use them at all). Our meals are simple and easily managed on paper/plastic. About the only thing we wash out is the reusable plastic wear (TupperWare, etc) because we intend to keep it.

- The other stuff like hand washing and brushing of teeth is easy to just not let the water run unless you are actively under the water. Many people have the habit of running the sink while in the act of brushing teeth or physically washing your hands, but the only time you NEED water is to rinse off the soaps. It's nearly identical conceptually to the shower concept. Don't run the water until you NEED it, not just because you're used to running it like being at home.

Those three things will conserve a huge amount of water no matter how large or small your tanks are.

Life's about choices!
 

Wayne

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Thanks Dave - all great points. We have spoiled ourselves with full hookups, but are going to start doing more dry camping, especially when we retire and have time to wander. We ordered our new trailer with a 100 gallon potable water tank vs. the standard 70 gallons. I would think if we are careful with water, we could get by on 10 gallons/day. Do you think 10 gallons/day is doable?
 

dnewton3

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given the items I enumerated, certainly. You can always carry extra potable water in a tote as well. The dogs will be the unknown; depends on how arid the environment and how much they drink.
 
Good points, we do not use paper or plastic, instead we cook over the campfire with one pan meals. To wash the dishes we use 2 dish pans one for washing one for rinsing. These and the rinse water from the shower are used to dowse the fire at night. Some even use a 5 gallon bucket outside to add gray water to and use for dowsing or anything else that would use up fresh water, even in the toilet. There are 'body wipes' that can also take the place of a shower if one is so inclined.
 

Wayne

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Some even use a 5 gallon bucket outside to add gray water
LOL - I read that part and my mind raced ahead thinking you used gray water to wash your dishes!

the rinse water from the shower
How do you capture the shower rinse water?

Some even use a 5 gallon bucket outside to add gray water to and use for dowsing or anything else that would use up fresh water, even in the toilet.
That is brilliant! Gray water is 99.999% water, it usually isn't even discolored.
 
I would draw the line at washing my dishes in the shower gray water! Bah ha ha ha ha
I have a plastic dish pan in the shower, when you start the shower the water is not very warm so the water needs to go somewhere so I run it into the dishpan, it is amazing how much that amounts to. This water could also be used to wash off dirty feet, outside. I also capture most of the rinse water as well. Soapy water goes on the fire, clean gray goes into the toilet when needed.
 

Wayne

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I have a plastic dish pan in the shower, when you start the shower the water is not very warm so the water needs to go somewhere so I run it into the dishpan, it is amazing how much that amounts to.
Yet another way to conserve water I wouldn't have thought of.

How many days can you dry camp before running out of fresh water? How many gallons do you use per day when you do your best to conserve?
 
How long always depends on where you are and if there is water available somewhere. The longest we dry camped was 6 weeks, this of course was with access to a dump site and fresh water. By conserving we can go 2 weeks.
 
I think so, can't remember the tank size. We have collapsible totes for carrying water as well and I carry drinking water in a seperate
container ( 5 gal. ). One of my favorite investments was my Berky travel size water filtering system. Now I don't have to buy water in those
awful plastic bottles!
 

Wayne

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One of my favorite investments was my Berky travel size water filtering system.
We use this Brita filter at home and in the RV. It removes the chlorine flavor and makes much better tea and coffee.

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Now I don't have to buy water in those
awful plastic bottles!
Couldn't agree more, we avoid drinking out of plastic and heating plastic in the microwave.
 
I was sold on the Berky after I studied several systems and for the way we camp a whole camper system was not needed and it was very
expensive. While camping at Pactola Lake in SD we visited with some folks from California who have had one and loved it. They can get
their water anywhere and it removes 99.999% of all the bad stuff you don't want. I even use it in the house, as you know our water here contains nothing but the best farm chemicals!!!
 
Yes, I also have the stand and the stainless steel spigot. The filters are included when you buy it, they are expensive yet they filter everything
you would want out of any water and they filter 6,000 gallons. I will get more filters this fall or winter when they go on sale.
 

Wayne

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From their website:

When drinking water that’s been filtered using a Black Berkey Filter, you can rest assured that your water is clean and safe for consumption. In fact, Black Berkey purification elements are far more powerful compared to competitors’ water filters. We tested the filters with more than 10,000 times the concentration of harmful pathogens per liter of water than is required by industry-standard test protocols. This concentration of pathogens is so high that the water exiting the filters should be expected to contain a concentration of 100,000 or more pathogens per liter (99.99% reduction — the requirement in order to be classified for pathogenic removal). Incredibly, Black Berkey water filter elements removed 100% of the pathogens. After using the Black Berkey Filters, absolutely no pathogens were found in the effluent or were able to be detected. This set a new standard, allowing us to classify all systems containing the Black Berkey Filters as purifiers.


This is very impressive. I didn't know a residential filter like this even exists. Considering purchasing.
 
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