This article is extracted from the boring life of one of the Brushbeater students and a pound member of the Mossy Oak Militia.
Using an empty laundry soap container, you can make a portable handwashing station that can be used in a variety of circumstances. Having adequate handwashing stations will help with the overall sanitation and greatly reduce the spread of germs when you are in less-than-ideal conditions.
I made my simple handwashing station by repurposing an empty liquid laundry soap container. After it was empty all I did was wash it out, paint it black and fill it with water. Super easy!
I opted to paint my containers black to help with the appearance and to try and elevate the water temperature. Painting the containers helped some, but overall, the paint didn’t adhere very well and the water temperature only increased slightly.
To measure the actual temperature change, I did a non-scientific experiment and saw a marginal increase of the water temperature. Container A was painted black with two coats of flat black paint. Container B was left plain, just as it came from the store. The containers were not identical, but similar in size and filled with approximately the same amount of water. The atmospheric conditions were normal for a West Texas summer; barometric pressure indicated 29.93 inches, the clouds were nonexistent, and the relative humidity was at 41%. The ambient temperature was 98 deg Fahrenheit at 1500 when the test was over. The containers sat in the sun for approximately 7 hours and the results are as follows:
Container A (painted) had an exterior temperature of 149 deg F and the water inside the container was 110 deg F.
Container B (unpainted) had an exterior temperature of 106 deg F and the water inside was measured to be 100 deg F.
The results indicate that the unpainted container was only 2 degrees above ambient, while the black container was approximately 12 degrees hotter than ambient. The water was slightly warmer, but I was really hoping for a larger temperature change.
In my current set-up, I have two handwashing containers: one with soap and water for scrubbing and one with plain water for rinsing. Both are painted black.
I really like this system. It’s cheap, with the only out of pocket cost being the spray paint. I also like the simplicity and effectiveness of the container. They have easy to open spouts, are easy to transport, are self-contained and the default position of the water spigot is closed.
A few normal use-cases for this type of set-up could be:
- Hunting camp. Set the containers on the bed of your truck and have a fast way to wash the feathers, furs and fins from your hands.
- Car camping. Place the containers on the end of a picnic table and it’s an easy place for kids to wash their hands and get cleaned-up.
- Remote work site. When working remotely and access to conventional plumbing is limited, this set-up would be a great way to wash your hands when dealing with mud, grime, and whatnot.
In a grid-down or austere environment, this might be helpful at the following:
- Field clinic. When possible, you want to wash your hands before and after providing patient care. This set-up makes water readily available for handwashing in a remote care setting.
- Out-house. Everyone has to go at some point and having a sanitation station pre-planned and set-up will help prevent the spreading of germs.
- Camp Kitchen. For the cooks preparing group meals, washing hands before handling food is always a good idea.
If we enter a grid-down situation or have to work in an austere environment, having a simple handwashing station could help with general sanitation and improve morale. Instead of having to “make-do”, with a rickety handwashing set-up (or no handwashing at all) this set-up will provide a sense of normalcy and dignity.
Jessie Blaine is a former Marine living in refuge somewhere in the Lone Star State. He is in a perpetual state of learning, which is the second best state to be in, with the Lone Star state being the first.