Boondocking Basics

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How Can I Make Water Safer To Drink?

How Can I Make Water Safer To Drink?


You can make water safer to drink primarily by sanitizing your fresh water tank, adding an inline filter, and tossing in some water purifying tablets. “Safe” is a relative term, thus how sanitary you want your water is a personal choice.

make water safer to drink
Do you trust the water coming out of your water tank?

How to Make Water Safer to Drink

Always blow out faucets, filters, and hoses…

  • Before you connect anything to a faucet, run the water to blow everything out. Bugs, particularly earwigs, love to hide inside faucets.
  • Before connecting the hose to your RV, run fresh water through it and blow out all the bugs, dirt, and old water.
  • When you connect a filter to your hose, let fresh water pass through the filter to blow all of the old, standing water. Even though filters have charcoal to remove and kill pathogens, that stagnant water can turn brown and taste nasty.
  • Finally, connect everything together and start filling your RV.

Attach some kind of inline water filter device…

  • Camco TastePURE Inline Water Filter (40035) – (see it on Amazon) is the most widely used filter among RVers and is sold at just about every Walmart, RV supply store, and camping store. It doesn’t really make your water safer to drink, it just helps it taste better. This filter does claim to remove bacteria, however with only a 20 micron filter, the holes in this filter are still plenty large to let these microscopic pests pass through. It instead relies on carbon filtration to remove some bacteria.
  • Camco EVO Water Filter (40631) – (see it on Amazon) offers a much higher level of filtration, and you can find these at some Walmarts. However, it reduces the flow of water so that it takes longer to fill your tank. Still, many boondockers use these. Armed with a 5 micron filter, it will help make water safer to drink, but still allows bacteria to get through.
  • Clearsource RV Water Filter – (see it on Amazon) regarded by many as the top of the line water filter for RV use. It uses a 0.5 micron filter, and can filter out most bacteria.
  • Clearsource RV Water Filter with Virusguard – (see it on Amazon) is similar to the standard Clearsource RV Water Filter, but adds a third filter to remove viruses.
  • Reverse Osmosis Water Systems – these offer the highest level of filtration, and effectively gives you nearly perfectly pure water. They severely reduce the flow of water and hence takes several hours (about 8 hours per 100 gallons) to fill a tank. Generally, you have to pull into an RV park, stay overnight, and fill your tank.
  • Read more about RV water filters on our other article, “Does an RV Water Filter Make Water Safe to Drink?”

Add a filtration system at your kitchen faucet…

  • Brita Tap Water Filter System – (see it on Amazon) This attaches to your kitchen faucet and is a very popular choice among RVers. It only filters out additional metals and minerals.
  • Filtrete Under the Sink Water Filter – (see it on Amazon) is another popular option because some RVs are too small to have a filter attached to the faucet itself.

Use bleach or water purifying tablets…

  • Bleach – Use 1/4 teaspoon (8-12 drops) to one-gallon of water, then let sit for 30 minutes. This will kill off all pathogens and make water safer to drink. Bleach and water purifying tablets are themselves safe to consume, though only if following recommended usage. Bleach will add a light flavor, however.
  • Water purifying tablets made from Chlorine Dioxide are the most effective form of tablets on the market. Read our in-depth article, “Using Water Purifying Tablets for RV Use“.

Sanitize your water tank periodically…

  • About every 6 months, run bleach into your water tank to kill off pathogens.
  • Use about 1/4 cup of bleach for every 15 gallons of tank capacity.
  • Let sit for at least 8 hours.
  • After 8 hours, drain the water from your tank by turning on every faucet in the RV. This will help sanitize the water lines.
  • Freshen the gray tank by letting the bleached water remain for about 6-8 hours.
  • Drain the gray tank.

How do I get bleach into my water tank? – Your RV should have some kind of winterizing system that will draw solution from a pitcher into the water tank. If it does not, or you don’t know how to operate it, you can always pour the necessary amount of bleach into a water hose, hook one end of the hose to a faucet, and the other end to your RV’s intake, and turn on the water.

Read more about this, “How Much Bleach to Sanitize an RV Water Tank?

Use Your Water Tank Only For Washing

Many boondockers do this. They instead buy distilled water in gallon jugs at the market for cooking and drinking. Otherwise, they leave the water tank for washing dishes, showering, or flushing toilets. This ends up letting them boondock longer before the water tank runs out.

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