Practical Problems

Discussion in 'Water Filtering & Storage' started by TwoHoot, Feb 18, 2011.

  1. TwoHoot

    TwoHoot Member

    Having grown up on a remote ranch without running water, maybe I can offer some practical, experience based observations.

    You can haul/carry enough water to drink by hand or in your vehicle. That is the priority and you will find a way, move or die. So, lets skip drinking water for now.

    The overriding problem after drinking water is staying clean - body, clothes, dishes, everything. If you have soap, you can clean in water that you couldn't drink safely. But, without a nearby well or stream (we had neither), you are never going to have a luxurious hot bath or shower.

    The temptation is to let it slide. Don't. If you do, you will get rashes and sores in private sweaty places on your body and they won't heal. Soap that you don't have enough water to rinse off causes even worse problems than just being dirty.

    My parents were very strict about staying clean. With about a quart of water and two wash rags (one soapy and one to rinse) several people can get reasonably clean before bed every day. A bath standing in a tub might take two gallons if you scrub with a soapy rag and use the tub water to rinse.

    During the school year, we often got clean by going to school early and taking a shower in the gym before school started. (That was back in the days when the school was never locked) That won't work if power fails and the public water supply fails. We also sometimes spent the night with friends or relatives who had running water to enjoy a deep, hot bath. We could also wash clothes at a public coin-operated laundry or at friends houses in town.

    We had the advantage that being without safe, running water was specific to us instead of being a widespread problem. When the sh it hits the fan, that may not be the case.

    In preparing for emergency, drinking and cooking water must be the priority but personal hygiene is just as important to staying healthy over time.

  2. goshengirl

    goshengirl Supporting Member

    Thanks for the info. Makes a lot of sense, and gives me something to think about in our prepping.

  3. SaskDame

    SaskDame Well-Known Member

    I have been experimenting with reduced water and staying clean for a couple of years now. We currently have an an adequite and affordable water supply, so when we do not like the outcomes of the water experiment we can simply add water and start over.

    Laundry, gardening and sanitary waste are the primary consumers.

    We do our dishes by hand, have the sponge bath daily and an immersion bath weekly.

    We have converted to a lower water toilet and have access to a composting toilet as well as an outhouse (and port-a-potty). The composting toilet would need to be reinstalled to seriously reduce sanitary sewer water usage. It was disconnected when the number of people here doubled for the summer a couple of years ago and we have not put it back in.

    I have switched to a wringer washing machine, originally because some of the farm clothes were cloging up the automatic and the wringer washer is so much easier to clean and prevent greese transfer. Using the traditional one bucket of water with table linens first then bedding etc through to work clothes and throw rugs, I can wash and rinse approximately 6 small loads using approximatly 10 to 12 gallons of water. The up side is cleaner clothes and it actually takes less time.

    This exercise has had me rethinking our wardrobes and our bed linens etc.
    - Sleeveless undershirts,
    - removable collars and cuffs,
    - twill slacks rather than denim jeans,
    - no fitted sheets with rotated sheets using draw sheets.
    - warm layers between easy to launder layers to keep them clean, etc.

    I am finding that much of the cold weather clothing/bedding we have been using would do well to have a rethink given the water issues in a SHTF scenario. I have also dug out my sad irons just in case sanitation requires a hot iron heated on a wood stove.
  4. JayJay

    JayJay Well-Known Member

    SaskDame---I have bought 11 pair of jeans for GH in case the prices triple soon.
    I have rethought the issue---if I hand launder our clothes, I might like to get those blue industrial pants...lots easier to wash.

    They are usually found at yard sales for some reason.
  5. SaskDame

    SaskDame Well-Known Member

    And as for the vegetable garden.

    I tried the sqare foot garden in a small 4x4 foot plot a couple years ago and had trouble keeping it watered. Flat, dry land gardening is much less intense however uses almost no water.
  6. Emerald

    Emerald Well-Known Member

    Mulch is the key to lower watering needs in the garden- I have tons of leaves every fall and we just layer them into the garden beds but you can use really thick layers of wetted newspaper to lay between your plants in a square foot garden and it will make your beds more fertile and hold moisture better.. The earth worms will come up and start taking small pieces of the black and white newspaper into the soil to break down and they will also do that with the leaves. Last summer I only had to do about 3 supplemental watering due to no rain and super hot temps..
    But if you look up Halfway's thread on basement gardening you will find that hydroponics and aquaponics which grow in water actually use 90% less water. And for dry desert growing look up Waffle beds, they are "sunken" beds with little moats around each one so that they look like waffles. The sunken part keeps the water under the winds that would normally dry them out much faster.
    Can ya tell that I read too much!:eek::flower:
  7. rockpilefarmer

    rockpilefarmer Member

    Oh yea, old news papers. I do that too! The key is to soak the papers in a tub before you put them down, then cover with straw, leaves, or what ever. I used to bring home the old newspapers from the library where I worked. If my garden gets much better, I am going to have to change my name from rockpilefarmer to fertilesoilfarmer....:p
  8. tsrwivey

    tsrwivey Supporting Member

    Cetaphil lotion & vitamin E cream can be used as soaps in low/no water situations. No big deal if you're unable to rinse those off. Talc powder (cheap baby powder) can be used as a dry shampoo.
  9. tsrwivey

    tsrwivey Supporting Member

    I've tried this twice & the paper always ends up blowing away. I'm probably not putting enough mulch on top of it.
  10. SaskDame

    SaskDame Well-Known Member

    Around here everything blows away. This past summer including roofs. Mulch is not an option for this reason.

    One of my garden plots has hedgerows of caragana and lilac which when kept trimmed fairly short stop the wind and not the sun. They use some water but not a lot.

    The square foot raised beds are still hard to keep watered. I have been using raised bed frames as secondary windbreaks to keep the mulch in place and while awaiting germination have covered the rows with old cedar fence boards weighted down with rocks or bricks to hold the moisture and not get blown away.

    The amazing thing is that once everything gets started it generally does just fine as long as it has lots of space.