where to get clean water while boondocking
Life On The Road

Where to Get Clean Water While Boondocking

One of the questions we had when we started this journey of living full time in our RV was where to get clean water while boondocking.

There’s nothing like experience, and it’s a fast teacher.

If nothing else, our first month on the road reinforced the importance of storing fresh, clean water on our rig.

In fact, your RV water supply is the single biggest need, particularly when you want to boon dock which we want to do as much as we possibly can.

Where can I find free water to fill my fresh water tank?

One of the perks of living full time in your RV, assuming you’ve eliminated your home mortgage and/or rent payments, is that you don’t have those monthly expenses anymore.

But when you’re hooked-up at an RV site or campground, you’re still paying rent, right?

You’re paying for the convenience of not having to think about your water supply.

It’s a luxury.

So what are your water options when dry camping?

As we mentioned earlier, some folks resort to non-potable water.

In Southern California, where we originated, free public sources are non-existent.

Instead, we’ve found free private sources from former neighbors, friends, and some local churches with whom we have had prior connections.

Alternatively, if you ask local RV campers, you may discover that some gas stations will offer you free water if you fill-up with gas.

Just make sure to keep a Water Bandit on hand in order to still be able to use your inline water filter at these locations.

Some hoses that are attached to the source may simply have an opening without your standard brass hose connection.

How Much Water Does Your RV Hold?

When we first bought our Class C coach, we had estimated that our fresh water tank, which sits directly under our couch, held about 40 gallons of water.

It actually holds 35 gallons according to our owner’s manual, but the hot water heater itself holds 6 gallons which brings our total fresh water capacity up to 41 gallons.

To supplement, we also carry two 1-gallon and two 2 1/2 gallon water containers for an extra seven gallons bringing us to 48 gallons when it’s time to dry camp.

We like the 2 1/2 gallon containers because they can easily be stored on board plus they’re not as heavy as a 5-gallon container.

If we are ever in a situation where we need to fill-up our fresh water tank using these, it will be much easier for any of us to lift the 2 1/2 gallon container.

To date, our family of five has been able to boon dock for about three days at a time.

We could probably stretch it to four days if we implemented stricter water conservation measures.

Someone traveling solo or with a partner will be able to stay out longer without needing to access a fresh water supply.

Our friend, Lisa, says she can stay in one place for eight days on a full tank along with her supplemental supply of water she carries on board.

So clearly the period of time in which you’ll be able to stay out will depend on both the size of your water tank (and any supplemental amounts) plus the number of folks on board your rig.

Is it ok to fill-up with non-potable water?

So far, we’ve spoken to a couple of full time RVers who will fill there fresh water tanks with non-potable water.

They stated that they have had no health issues.

They bathe with it, and they even cook with it after they have first boiled it to kill any bacteria.

To each his own, but we have no plans to follow that path.

The risk of introducing a potentially contaminated and harmful water supply into your fresh water tank means not only health hazards for persons on board, but the need to disinfect your fresh water tank at some point to kill any harmful bacteria.

As a result, we only fill-up our fresh water tank using the city’s municipal supply.

But instead of grabbing any available hose and sticking it into our fresh water tank filler spout, we use our own designated “fresh water only” hose and attach an inline, charcoal water filter to the end of that hose line to filter the incoming water.

Do you drink the water from your fresh water tank?

Yes, we do, but only after we filter the water a second time from our kitchen sink faucet.

We’ve been doing this for just over a month now, and we’ve had no issues whatsoever.

Plus, the water tastes fantastic!

Especially since we started to drink our water from these dual-purpose stainless steel wine cups which are both lightweight and practical for full time RV living.

We also use an alkaline water machine to filter as well, but only when we are hooked-up because the alkaline water filtration system does produce excess “waste” water.

As a result, you want to make sure you have a liberal water source when producing alkaline water on your rig.

What do you use to disinfect your fresh water tank?

If you know or think that your fresh water tank needs disinfecting, then you’ll want to do that first before using it for drinking.

The conventional advice is:

for every 15 gallons of water tank capacity, mix 1/4 cup of bleach with water, into a one-gallon container and pour it into the fresh water holding tank. Fill the fresh water tank almost completely full of potable water. Turn the water pump on, open all hot and cold faucets and run the water until you smell the bleach at each faucet. Close the faucets.

Unfortunately, this method further introduces toxic chemicals into nature as well as our public sewer and drainage systems.

If you’re like us, you’ll want a biodegradable, eco-friendly sanitizing solution that actually works, and more importantly, won’t harm the environment.

If you’d like more information on this environmentally friendly cleaning product and others we use, drop us a message.

We’d be happy to share!


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