DAY OFF GRID PART 3
Once I’ve arrived home and got my hot water from the solar heater, it is time to bathe. Each shower I take uses a whole one half of one gallon of water or less. If I skip bathing one day ( on a day I’m shaving ), it takes one quarter of a gallon of water. You can either use a bleach bottle shower ( an empty bleach bottle with two or three holes in the cap- elevate overhead and if need be shake up and down ) or just a bin with water in it that you keep dunking a washcloth in. With a bottle I wet my head, soap and rinse then do the same for the torso and then the legs. Each time a little bit of water draining down helps the next section. With the washcloth method I bend over the tub and wash my head, then I’ll stand in the tub and wash the rest of my body neck down. By the time you get to your feet the water is a bit on the dirty and soapy side but not to the point it is useless. You might finish up with a bit of soap scum on your skin but it never bothers me as my skin is a bit on the oily side so my skin isn’t dried out. You can skip more than one day not using soap, just water and a cloth to scrub the skin, but you do need soap every time on the face/head, crotch, butt and feet. The torso and limbs can get by with just a water scrub. On shave days I do wash my entire head, but a crewcut helps conserve water quite a bit. All told, I use three gallons of water a week to bathe. The wife, being a lot less greasy than me, can get by with bathing three times a week. Our total is five gallons a week.
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As I was bathing the wife was cooking dinner. We have a cast iron skillet and a mid sized stainless steel pot. Every meal gets cooked out of those. Cooking is done on propane cook stove. This is a $25 camping stove. Two burners on a sheet metal base. They are designed to use the disposable gas one pound tanks, but the camping section will also offer up an adaptor that allows a hose to be hooked up to the stove and run to a larger refillable five gallon tank. Needless to say, don’t put the refillable inside and have a proper air intake when cooking. I’ve been using the same Wal-Mart generic cook stove for four years now. If it was winter, about this time ( after dark ) I’d be running the propane heater. I started out with a “Mr. Buddy” brand. These are indoor heaters ( you will need a two inch air intake ) and cost about $100. I got about 100 hours out of it running on low ( which is only about 4k BTU’s-it will keep you alive more than keep you comfortable ) from a five gallon tank of propane. After two heaters and nothing but problems mechanically, I am now using a Chinese knock off version which was $80 at Home Depot ( and surprisingly, knock on wood, is working better ).
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I had better interject quickly here on laundry. Once a week I take a large gym bag, put it in one of my bike baskets, and haul laundry into town to use the Laundromat after work. I wear a pair of pants three days, a shirt one day and socks and underwear one day. And the same outfit on the weekend. If working in the yard I have a dedicated set of clothes just for that I can use multiple times. Everything goes into one washer set on cold and liquid soap is added ( powder seems to clump/stain even if dissolved ). I only need to clean one load a week for both of us. We don’t wear fancy office work type clothes. Another way to cut down on the water you need at the homestead. Okay, after dinner ( mostly one dish meals of a starch and meat to cut down on dishes used ) is dishes. Take a cup or two of hot water, add to a clean dish with soap. This is your wash water. You dip your veggie scrubber brush in, then scrub the dirty dish, repeating as needed. As we finished eating we pre-clean by squirting off the plate with a two liter soda bottle with two holes in the cap. That same bottle also washes off the soapy water. If the pan had beans or sticky crap in it, it is pre-soaked about one third full of water. After a few minutes, you dip the brush into the water and clean up the sides to the top. When done soaking, I throw the food filled water outside ( you don’t want to pour down the drain and then have it freeze into a pipe obstruction ). All told, almost no water is used for dishes. Mainly, it is all about washing as soon as you are done eating.
Right after dinner, it is time for my once daily cigarette and my daily Constitutional. If I’m feeling a bit constipated, the cigarette helps trigger the urge ( here is where a routine really comes in handy ). I won’t bore you all again with my experiments in human waste disposal in varied unconventional ways. I’ll just direct you to
and I won’t say anything else. On Monday with Part 4 I will talk about lighting for after dark and your other electrical needs. I won’t just talk about 12v and trailers, either. You can live without all that if needed. With today’s LED lights your electric needs could be fulfilled as cheap as $50 or so. Solar panels are only needed if you want TV and other electrical entertainment. See you after the weekend.
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