No Plumbing? No Problem!
The other day, a friend of mine and I were discussing my emergency planning activities and supplies. When it came to plumbing, my friend said “I couldn’t live without running water”. To that I responded, “If you think you can’t, you haven’t tried or you haven’t looked at alternatives”. I then began to explain the methods I have used in place of conventional plumbing. It all boils down to this; if you seek alternatives, you will find them but you may need to give up some of the creature comforts like taking long showers and automatic dish washers.
The items below are but a few of the alternatives available. You are limited only by your imagination and research.
Produce Drinking Water from the Air, Ground and Undrinkable Water
Long-Term Water Storage: Containers - Treatments - Quantity Per Person
Hand-Made Water Well and Hand Pump
If you don't have a water storage plan and public water is not available or contaminated, there are several ways to "create" clean drinking water from nearly any kind of water or ground moisture. Distilling is the best method and can be done for free or very little cost. Click here for other options.
My cabin’s “rustic” version of a sink is a small stainless steel sink built into the kitchen counter with a 5-gallon water container on a shelf above the sink, to dispense into the sink, and a 5-gallon bucket under the sink, to catch the used water. But, again, there are many alternatives, including RV sink systems and those used by snowball stands and lunch wagons.
There are many portable showering solutions (usually for camping) that do not require conventional plumbing. Some produce heated water and others do not. For those that don’t produce their own heat, pre-heated water can be used. For years, I have enjoyed using coleman hot water on demand. It uses the 16.4-oz. propane cylinders or optional bulk propane tank adapter. With practice, I have been able to acquire a warm, cleaning shower with less than 3 gallons of water and even less when the water is cold. A clean, fresh-water stream or lake is also an alternative.
My most recent off-the-grid toilet is a compost toilet. It requires no electric or water. An electric, incinerating toilet does require a good amount of electric but requires no water or plumbing. The unit vents its "odor" outside and all that’s left are ashes. I have used both types for years and have found them to be extremely efficient and comforting that I can stay in a nice warm cabin instead of going to an outhouse. I found them to be the closest thing to a "regular" residential toilet, without the need for plumbing. There are many other, less expensive alternatives that can be utilized but are a bit less maintenance-free, uncomfortable and can be more expensive over time. I have also used a simple bucket with a heavy-duty trash bag liner, a toilet seat, made especially for 5-6 gallon buckets, with kitty litter and a product called "Poo Powder" to help control odor and solidify the waste. Your selection will depend on your circumstances, availability and budget.
Doing Laundry in an Emergency Situation or Living Off-The-Grid
With a 12-volt water pump (from a marine supply store) connected to my 12-volt batteries (to push the water to my Power Washer), and the pump placed between my water-collection barrel and my Power Washer (connected to my generator), I can power wash my ATV, cabin deck and anything else that needs an extra-powerful stream of water.
Replenishable Water and Food Sources
Toilet Paper Alternatives
Coleman Hot Water On Demand Repairs
Potassium Permanganate: Antiseptic, Water Purifier, Fire Starter and more . . .