How To Make Your Fresh Water Tank Last Longer When Boondocking
Boondocking (camping for free out in nature) is one of my favorite ways to camp. There is so much beautiful free land that you can stay on, often two weeks at a time. When boondocking, we live off of the water in the fresh water tank, energy from our solar panels, and the food in our fridge.
Staying out in the same spot and boondock for two weeks takes some planning. We need to plan our activities like we can’t go on hour long hikes every day that will require a shower afterward. We also need to plan our cooking, so we don’t have a ton of dishes to do every day. It can even be smart to plan your bathroom time as possible, and pee outside when you can, to use less water in the fresh water tank.
Today I would like to share ten ways to make your fresh water tank last longer. Some of them might sound a bit crazy, but we’re doing them for one single reason: to be able to stay out camping and not having to go dump and fill. Doing one little water-saving thing might let us stay out for another day, which makes it worth it.
Now, let’s get to the list.
If you do meal prep and plan your meals, you can save water. It can be as easy as boiling a lot of pasta and keep it in the fridge. A great tool that we use in the kitchen to cook less is by using an electric pressure cooker. We can prepare a whole chicken in it, shred it, split it in small freezer bags, and bring it out for lunches and sandwiches throughout the week. Check out our post on the best electric pressure cookers for RV life where we also go through how much energy they draw.
Cooking less means fewer dishes, which means less water used. And when you do dishes, don’t let the water go to waste, which we’ll talk more about below.
Don’t waste water
All ways to conserve water might sound like obvious ones, but there are several ways to use less fresh water while doing daily chores that you might not have thought about.
Save the cold water from the shower – You know how when you get into the shower and turn on the water, it takes a couple of seconds for the hot water to go through the pipes and reach the shower head? It can be a good idea to save that water to wash your hands with or flush the toilet with. It’s water that will go to waste, and if you take a shower every other day, it adds up. Keep a bucket or a small container next to your shower and fill it up with the cold water before you step in.
Do dishes in a bucket and use it when flushing the toilet – Another way to not let water to go waste is by saving your dishwater and use that to flush your toilet.
You should shower less to save water, genius! Well, I get that it’s harder than that. There are ways to shower less and still go to bed clean though. Baby wipes, shower wipes, dry shampoo, or just a wet towel can be used to get you somewhat cleaned up.
An easy way to use less water when you do take a shower is by taking a navy shower. A navy shower means that you turn off the water while lathering and shampooing. This way you can take a shower using only a couple of gallons of water in total.
Use a shower head with high pressure
When taking a shower, a great way to use less water is by investing in a shower head with high pressure. There are shower heads that can create excellent water pressure with almost no water flow.
Fill the water heater when you fill the fresh water tank
When you fill the fresh water tank in your RV, you don’t fill the water heater. So if you have a 50-gallon freshwater tank, and a 6-gallon water heater, you’re missing out on 6 gallons of water when you head out to boondock.
To fill the water heater when you fill the fresh water tank, turn on the water pump but not the water heater. Turn on a faucet in the trailer and set it to hot/warm. After a couple of seconds, the water heater will start filling up with water. You can hear the water heater getting filled depending on where it’s located. When it’s full, you can turn off your water pump, turn on the water heater if you would like, and fill the fresh water tank to full.
Buy a composting toilet
Composting toilets don’t use any water to flush, which can save you a lot of water. The most popular composting toilet for RVers is the Nature’s Head Composting Toilet. It’s an odor-free way to go if you don’t want to deal with the black tank anymore.
Install aerators on your faucets
Aerators add oxygen to the water coming out of your taps, and it’s the same idea we have seen earlier in shower heads for RVs. So why would you add oxygen to the water and what does it do? It improves the water pressure, creating a more evenly pressured stream of water and all while using less water, helping you conserve the water in your fresh water tank.
So how do you install them? Just screw them onto the heads of the faucets.
Get a solar shower
A solar shower is a bag that you fill up and place in the sun. The sun then heats the water, and in good sun it only takes a couple of hours to reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit which will give you a pretty comfortable shower.
Solar showers have a small plastic pipe coming out of the bottom leading to a shower head, so all you need to do is hang it up or have somebody stand on a chair and hold it above you. Solar showers use gravity to send the water to the shower head, and they don’t have any electric pumps.
I have used my solar shower when I have been boondocking, and it has worked out surprisingly good each time. The hardest thing about it is if you’re taking a shower outside and it’s windy. The wind makes your wet body feel cold real quick. A great way to stop that is to get a pop-up shower tent and stake it down. Of course, you could also use the solar shower inside your regular RV shower.
The solar shower I recommend is the Advanced Elements solar shower. You will find cheaper options, but they’re less expensive for a reason. My first solar shower was bought from Walmart, and it quickly broke because the handle couldn’t handle the weight of five gallons of water. It’s heavier than you might think, which is why I recommend one with a sturdy handle.
Take advantage of free bathrooms
Free bathrooms are available everywhere, you just have to look for them. If you’re driving out to your boondocking spot, and see a free bathroom five minutes from your camp, why not use the free bathroom so you can save water, black tank space, and stay out longer? Sure, if you wake up in the middle of the night, you shouldn’t get into the car and drive five minutes so you can pee, but when possible, take a short hike to the free bathroom that won’t use any of your precious water. Bring some toilet paper, and baby wipes to clean your hands with when you’re done.
Stack up with water jugs
This is not a way to conserve water, but a way to make your water last longer. Even if you only have three full 7 gallon water containers, you’ll have 21 additional gallons of water to use while boondocking. My fresh water tank is 48 gallons, so with four of these containers I could fill half of the tank and be able to stay out another week depending on usage.
A popular product I have seen used is the Aquatank that folds when not in use and can be stored easily. Pair it with a portable water pump and you can fill up the fresh water tank without having to move your camper.