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Old 02-01-2023, 11:57 AM   #1
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Gray Water and Campfires

Two questions - I'll admit to having used a few gallons of gray water from time time to put out a campfire. It usually served two purposes. We were not on a sewer site and had an over abundance of gray water and an over abundance of burning wood. As someone who never just dumps gray water around the campsite or into the woods behind a campsite I always feel like I'm doing something wrong.

But, as I was looking at a replacement cap for my gray tank I saw this https://www.amazon.com/Valterra-T102...66853521&psc=1

Hmm, I could just run a hose from the cap to the fire and douse the flames.

Thoughts?
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Old 02-01-2023, 12:38 PM   #2
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I have one of those. The water does not come out all that fast. Depending on the size of the fire you may have to be creative about how you hold the hose.
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Old 02-01-2023, 01:55 PM   #3
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I don't see a problem with using Gray water to put out a fire. I have one of those caps but have never tried draining water out of it I've only sprayed water into it.
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Old 02-01-2023, 03:20 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by TaftCoach View Post
But, as I was looking at a replacement cap for my gray tank I saw this https://www.amazon.com/Valterra-T102...66853521&psc=1

Hmm, I could just run a hose from the cap to the fire and douse the flames.

Thoughts?
I have one of those caps and it's clear so before I hook up the sewer hose I can see if anything's waiting for me, lol. If you get one, get a clear one. You can screw a hose on there but don't expect the kind of pressure that you have with the sewer hose.
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Old 02-01-2023, 03:59 PM   #5
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I don't see a problem with using Gray water to put out a fire. I have one of those caps but have never tried draining water out of it I've only sprayed water into it.

dumping gray water is a common topic here but most times it has had to do with a tank or more of water. I doubt that you will get caught with a small amount like that but keep in mind most national forests, and state parks prohibit dumping of gray or black under any circumstances. Getting caught by a less that easy going park ranger can lead to a rather big fine.
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Old 02-01-2023, 04:16 PM   #6
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I can't think of a benefit to dump that small amount of grey water.

I can imagine it stinking up the campsite for the next happy camper.
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Old 02-01-2023, 05:01 PM   #7
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I can't think of a benefit to dump that small amount of grey water.

I can imagine it stinking up the campsite for the next happy camper.
The benefit is putting out a campfire cold without using up freshwater. I don't like to leave even embers glowing in a fire pit. I'll dump a couple gallons of water, stir and mix with a shovel, then add a couple gallons more.

I've done it on private property and can't recall a smell. We generally never have any food particles in the gray. I think the hot coals char any microscopic bits that may still be in the water. When we are boondocking we have to leave when we run out of freshwater or fill our gray water tank. (black is never a problem) Using 3 to 5 gallons of gray instead of fresh can mean another day in a spot, sometimes two days.
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Old 02-01-2023, 05:06 PM   #8
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But, as I was looking at a replacement cap for my gray tank I saw this https://www.amazon.com/Valterra-T102...66853521&psc=1

Hmm, I could just run a hose from the cap to the fire and douse the flames.
Should work fine. I've emptied an entire gray tank using that specific cap and a 50' hose.

I do wonder if putting gray water on a fire stinks at all when you've done it? (I'm not attacking, read between the lines above and you'll see I have no issue dumping gray water out nor will I argue for/against it.)
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Old 02-01-2023, 05:37 PM   #9
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Should work fine. I've emptied an entire gray tank using that specific cap and a 50' hose.

I do wonder if putting gray water on a fire stinks at all when you've done it? (I'm not attacking, read between the lines above and you'll see I have no issue dumping gray water out nor will I argue for/against it.)
I've never noticed a smell. More importantly my DW has never detected a smell or I would have been in the dog house. But, we tend to scrap every plate, bowl, etc. until it is very clean before washing. A carry over from our backpacking days. I'm certain I filtered worse water from creeks.

How was the water pressure?

And I'm not looking to do this at developed campgrounds, there are usually dump stations and plenty of fresh water available.
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Old 02-02-2023, 05:04 PM   #10
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I've never noticed a smell. More importantly my DW has never detected a smell or I would have been in the dog house. But, we tend to scrap every plate, bowl, etc. until it is very clean before washing. A carry over from our backpacking days. I'm certain I filtered worse water from creeks.

How was the water pressure?

And I'm not looking to do this at developed campgrounds, there are usually dump stations and plenty of fresh water available.
Nice to hear there's no odor. We certainly don't scrape dishes with kids in the house who clear the table each meal. But I also try to avoid dumping kitchen sink water anywhere, I stick to shower water for that.

The water pressure was gravity fed. You have to keep the hose pretty low to the ground (I've never actually tried holding it up as I usually just run the hose to bushes or something of the like). But I think it would work perfectly for what you're considering.
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Old 02-02-2023, 06:01 PM   #11
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I wouldn't do it. I think the reason they don't want gray water dumped is that there are food particles in the gray water and even small particles will attract animals to the campsite. Bears and other wild life have a much more sensitive nose than any human. Spread the fire out as much as possible and use water from the lake, stream, faucet at the bath house into a gallon jug or your on board tank.
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Old 02-02-2023, 06:39 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by TaftCoach View Post
Two questions - I'll admit to having used a few gallons of gray water from time time to put out a campfire. It usually served two purposes. We were not on a sewer site and had an over abundance of gray water and an over abundance of burning wood. As someone who never just dumps gray water around the campsite or into the woods behind a campsite I always feel like I'm doing something wrong.

But, as I was looking at a replacement cap for my gray tank I saw this https://www.amazon.com/Valterra-T102...66853521&psc=1

Hmm, I could just run a hose from the cap to the fire and douse the flames.

Thoughts?
We have done the same... except for the long hose part. We just dumped out a few gallons into an old collapsible water container and dumped that on the fire.
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I have one of those. The water does not come out all that fast. Depending on the size of the fire you may have to be creative about how you hold the hose.
and it is slower with a long hose... we keep a 3-ft hose for these jobs.

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I don't see a problem with using Gray water to put out a fire.
The fire never seems to care where the water came from. Fire Departments pull reclaimed water from the sewer treatment plants for helicopter fire drops... so if they do it,...

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I have one of those caps and it's clear so before I hook up the sewer hose I can see if anything's waiting for me, lol. If you get one, get a clear one. You can screw a hose on there but don't expect the kind of pressure that you have with the sewer hose.
and don't overtighten the hose fitting on the clear ones... they break a lot easier than the black ones.

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dumping gray water is a common topic here but most times it has had to do with a tank or more of water. I doubt that you will get caught with a small amount like that but keep in mind most national forests, and state parks prohibit dumping of gray or black under any circumstances. Getting caught by a less that easy going park ranger can lead to a rather big fine.
Grey water has different regulations than black water... and there are different definitions of grey water - Some states have rules that it can not be in contact with food preparation.

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Originally Posted by TaftCoach View Post
The benefit is putting out a campfire cold without using up freshwater. I don't like to leave even embers glowing in a fire pit. I'll dump a couple gallons of water, stir and mix with a shovel, then add a couple gallons more.

I've done it on private property and can't recall a smell. We generally never have any food particles in the gray. I think the hot coals char any microscopic bits that may still be in the water.
We don't have the smell either, and a good long campfire can take about 5 gallons to do it right as the boy scout was taught.

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Originally Posted by ependydad View Post
Should work fine. I've emptied an entire gray tank using that specific cap and a 50' hose.

I do wonder if putting gray water on a fire stinks at all when you've done it? (I'm not attacking, read between the lines above and you'll see I have no issue dumping gray water out nor will I argue for/against it.)
There are places where it is OK and places where it is not ok... and if you have a stinky tank of grey water, it should not be dumped on the ground.

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Originally Posted by TaftCoach View Post
I've never noticed a smell. More importantly my DW has never detected a smell or I would have been in the dog house. But, we tend to scrap every plate, bowl, etc. until it is very clean before washing. A carry over from our backpacking days. I'm certain I filtered worse water from creeks.

How was the water pressure?

And I'm not looking to do this at developed campgrounds, there are usually dump stations and plenty of fresh water available.
Exactly!

We will pour a quarter cup of bleach into our grey water if we are leaving it full of grey water for any length of time. We dump our grey before we arrive at a boondocking location, and have had permission/requests from property owners/camp-hosts to dump our grey water on trees / brush / foilage that needed a drink. Never in a developed campground, never near a stream/river/lake and never if there was regulations that prohibited it.

As far as the smell... My farts have been known to stink (smell like roses) but not our grey water when we keep our tanks clean, our grey water never has smelled when the grey tank valve is left open and the shower water is left to drain out at a tree....
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Old 02-02-2023, 06:45 PM   #13
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Grey water has different regulations than black water... and there are different definitions of grey water - Some states have rules that it can not be in contact with food preparation.
We are not talking black water here. NFS takes a dim view on dumping grey water on forest service land. That is NATIONAL not state but in Arizona dumping gray water in state camp grounds will get a fine and jail time


I think the issue here is you may think you are doing the best for the land but in-fact dumping anything other than fresh water is a problem and chlorine is just a basic no-no.
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Old 02-02-2023, 07:11 PM   #14
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I think the reason they don't want gray water dumped is that there are food particles in the gray water and even small particles will attract animals to the campsite. Bears and other wild life have a much more sensitive nose than any human.
Never understood this argument. I cook outside. I eat outside. I've even washed my hands outside and drip dried them. I leave my grill outside, which usually has marinade and fat drippings on it. Heck, my kids have even (gasp) dropped ACTUAL FOOD on the ground.

To argue that gray water may contain food particles, therefore cannot be used outdoors because of wildlife is absurd.

I think a gallon of gray water to put out a campfire is a non-issue.
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Old 02-02-2023, 07:50 PM   #15
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We are not talking black water here. NFS takes a dim view on dumping grey water on forest service land. That is NATIONAL not state but in Arizona dumping gray water in state camp grounds will get a fine and jail time


I think the issue here is you may think you are doing the best for the land but in-fact dumping anything other than fresh water is a problem and chlorine is just a basic no-no.
https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE...rdb5196126.pdf
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Old 02-02-2023, 10:00 PM   #16
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Never understood this argument. I cook outside. I eat outside. I've even washed my hands outside and drip dried them. I leave my grill outside, which usually has marinade and fat drippings on it. Heck, my kids have even (gasp) dropped ACTUAL FOOD on the ground.

To argue that gray water may contain food particles, therefore cannot be used outdoors because of wildlife is absurd.

I think a gallon of gray water to put out a campfire is a non-issue.

Absurd or not it is the law in many forests. Kinda like running stop lights or speeding in the city. Law is law and you can dump it where you want but if and when you get caught well, there you go.



And your excuses are a little on the absurd side.



No one was saying that using a few gallons of gray water on a fire was going to pollute the forest. You may have over stated the issue.
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Old 02-02-2023, 10:05 PM   #17
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I carry a five gallon bucket in the bed of my truck just for this purpose and do it all the time. There are no smells involved, and I'd much rather have a well doused fire than go to bed with hot embers glowing in the pit.

The next evening we build another fire and do it over again.
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Old 02-02-2023, 10:08 PM   #18
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Individual forests have different regulations. What you posted is generic. Coconino, Apache, Prescott in Arizona have different regulations even to dispersed camping and road use. For instance one forests off road game recovery is totally different than another. Gila in NM is also different as are forests in Utah, Colorado etc. Know the regulations for the NF you are in or pay the price.



The question was a few gallons of gray water on a camp fire. Fact is it is probably poor practice and bad camping but I am not there and won't be writing you the citation. Some one else might be so go for it and see what it get you
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Old 02-05-2023, 07:52 PM   #19
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I've never dumped the grey water from the tank into the fire ring. However, I have dumped other liquids there. As example, If I'm washing an item with soap water, I will dump that water in the fire ring as opposed to down the RV drain. Also, cold coffee.
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Old 02-05-2023, 08:57 PM   #20
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I've never dumped the grey water from the tank into the fire ring. However, I have dumped other liquids there. As example, If I'm washing an item with soap water, I will dump that water in the fire ring as opposed to down the RV drain. Also, cold coffee.
Just what do you think grey water is? You are already putting it in the fire ring, just not routing it through the grey water tank.
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