Picture of Field Sink
Bring running water to remote locations with this foot pump operated wash station. Perfect for camp or the patio. Ideal for campfire or BBQ grill-side food prep clean-up.

Ready for a duch oven or BBQ outdoor cook competition yet miles from running water? Our scout troop uses this Hand Washing Station to clean up before, and during meal food prep.

Even if you are just grilling on the back deck, use this set-up grill-side to keep from from running into the house for a quick rinse every time sauce is slopped.  And if its a party...just watch guests try to open a screen door with sticky BBQ covered hands. This pump is made to be operated with a foot...can't say the same for a sliding screen door!

This is ideal for an outdoor group washing-up before meals. Especially when cooking at camp, it would be nice for the cooks to easily clean-up while preparing food with a more traditional sink with running water to promote:

Safe Food Handling Practices

- No Faucet Handle to turn  ON and OFF with Dirty Hands.

- Its easy (and fun) to it gets used!  (apparently its cool to squirt water with a foot pump)

- There's room for a soap dispenser right there on the table (up off the ground).

It also helps with:

Water Conservation

- The on-demand pump system uses a lot less water (compared to letting gravity spill it from a water jug spigot.

How it works:
A foot pump transfers clean water from the lower bucket up and out the spout for hand washing. The wash water is collected a basin and drained and stored in a gray water bucket receptacle. 

When all the fresh water has been transfered to the in the gray water bucket, the gray water is emptied into the fire ring to douse the campfire

The video shows the set-up, convenient "all-in-the-bucket" storage, and the Hand Washing Station in action.

A patch to the first to call out the troop identifier in a comment
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tortugo1 year ago
You just gotta love this! Can a hot air gun make it easier to form the basin?

Pretty ingenious design man.

DadOfTwo1 year ago
Oops, thought I deleted that second pix. Sorry. Also wanted to add that I didn't modify the buckets. I was fortunate in that I had all but the pump laying around the garage / office.
DadOfTwo1 year ago
Thanks for the instructable. I made a simplified version using two rectangular buckets. By turning one bucket 90* to the other, they stack. They also 'nest' for storage and transport. I ran the pump output to the top bucket and just clipped it to the side of the bucket with a binder clip (by running the tubing trough one handle on the binder clip). So far I've used it on a Girl Scout camping weekend and a High School Day of Service. Works great.
Field Sink.JPGField Sink.JPG
dchall84 years ago
Very nice.  You have worked out a lot of problems with this design.  Making the bowl is very clever. 

If you put some full strength, chlorine bleach into the fresh water, you could have a sanitary set-up.  I believe it is 5 tablespoons (2.5 fluid ounces) for 5 gallons of water to sanitize it for washing . 

Is there a reason to use galvanized pipe instead of PVC? 

I'm glad I stuck with reading this, but I can't recommend it to others with that distracting discussion in Step 1.  I thought you were off on another project. 
Anyone who has ever worked with groups of youngsters will identify with the discussion in Step 1 and it also shows that this is a solution to a real problem, not a solution in search of a problem. The contaminated faucet handle is an issue even in home kitchens.
On the subject of contaminated kitchen faucets if you get a lever based kitchen faucet instead of nobs it's easy to turn on with an elbow or something and avoid the contamination.
Hi dchall8,

You can get two twelve inch lengths of 3/4" threaded PVC pluming risers (found in the irrigation isle of your favorite big box home improvement store), a threaded coupler, and a threaded "Tee" fitting ... cut the base of the "tee" so it can be screwed flat to the table with the threaded portion facing up. Then, just assemble and you can run your hose through the assembly. Costs about $4 total and is much lighter.
dzent1 dchall84 years ago
You can't recommend this incredibly well presented project to others because he had the audacity to write about it the way he wanted to?

I'll be recommending the h*ll out of it. GREAT IDEA, hpstoutharrow! Thank you for posting this and solving a genuine problem with style and flair. And with minimal cost as well.
Kdemon2 years ago
I love this idea, I would add a solar still to cook the gray water and distill it back into the reservoir!
Schmidty162 years ago
and have maby an extra gallon of water to put in it
Schmidty162 years ago
cool but i would use a whale pump and a small 12volt battery and throw in a mall solar panel to charge up the battery and i would u it so much
n0ukf2 years ago
Watching the video, why do you stack all the buckets BEFORE filling the fresh water bucket?
Dr. Who3 years ago
you could put a cork in the hole to wash dishes and fill up the basin with some soap.
Tried that ... can be done, however there isn't much room in the basin to be really effective.

I found the plastic bread bins, which can be picked up at a restaurant supply store, to be more effective. I put two 2x4s parallel to each other, and screwed some plywood on top at each end for side counters, leaving space for three bread bins to sit within the rails and between the two end counters, then added saw horse legs. Total length, about 10 feet. Works great, but next step is to add bulkheads and drain tubes to the bread bins to make it easier to drain the water.

With this, the hand wash stations and the water heater that HPStoutharrow shows, the kitchen gets a lot of comments each time I take it all out to my Scoutmaster training classes.

If I end up taking the trailer to the IOLS training class next weekend, I'll take pics to post up.
andygreene3 years ago

All Around Awesome. Are you in Troop 49? Guessing that is the logo on the table. I have been wanting to build some sort of faucet for a camp sink for a while. This takes the cake.

I might be inspired to maybe use a 5 gallon drink cooler as the fresh water tank on the bottom to hold heated water for washing. It would already have a through hull hole you could use for plumbing.

You could even go crazy and set up a fire pit hot water heater to heat the water. .

Brilliant! I'm going to make one of these for the garage since we don't have a roomy laundry sink and my 6' son objects to trying to wash up in our tiny bathroom sink. It can do double-duty on cook-outs.
tommyhays4 years ago
If the o-rings did not work and it leaks from the hole i drilled, what do you suggest i do to keep it from leaking??? Other than that i have completed the project and have already used it when i went camping and it was awesome! i used pvc pipe as my spout though and it still did the trick!
I'd try aquarium sealant. Once cured, it is safe for potable water.
Hiblagrande3 years ago
Thanks for the instructable. I built one of your sinks last weekend for our camping trips.At home, it is nice to have out by the BBQ grill too. very cool.
alpe_973 years ago
Wow. Brilliant
wendilane4 years ago

OK ... I'm in the process of building this now.  The Homer Buckets have gone through a slight design change compared to the ones you have in the photos.  What I had to do in order for the basin to nest into the grey water tank was to push the trimmed lid up about an inch to relieve the pressure for the basin to nest properly.  Yes, the basin is a little more shallow, but not really that much to notice.  In fact, I kind of like it a little more as the rivets are now up a little higher and not in the path of the two buckets.

I'm building three complete units, but want to have one completed before Roundtable this Thursday to show other Scouters.  Thanks for putting up the ible!

Giving a little back ...

Ok ... made some new foot pumps. This time, I took a lot of pics. If you don't want this, feel free to delete the post.


Hey! What size is the primer bulb you used? and if you ordered it online, where from?

Thanks for the great pics!!
Here you go ... and it's on sale at the moment!

Also, if you look in today's (Sunday) paper (if you are in the States), and have a local HF store where you live (like we do here in Phoenix), look for a 20% off coupon. Print out the online listing (the stores match the online price) and take that and the coupon into the store and you'll get this for 4.79+tax.

This pump has the check valve build in, so it self primes, which is what you need.
bxfl wendilane4 years ago
Do you think this pump would work?
I can't find if it is self-priming.

Thank you for your help!
wendilane bxfl4 years ago
Self priming pumps usually have an arrow indicating the direction of flow somewhere on the pump bulb. By looking at the picture of the Hopkins FloTool brand siphon pump and by searching listings from other suppliers, it doesn't appear to to have the check valve.

You can also check with a Marine Supply store, if you have one in your area.
Wow! thank you very much, just ordered mine, also did you glue the blue ball onto the wood?

Thank you for your time.
Yes. I used a 5 minute epoxy to secure the ball to the underside of the foot pedal.

All I have to say is - What a great project!  We did a "sink wettening" (a.k.a. boat christening but for sinks) of the first station last night without a single leak, and were very impressed with the output flow.  Completed the second station this afternoon, so all is ready to demonstrate at Roundtable.  (Hopefully, soon, you'll get some more hits from AZ.)

As soon as I take the pics, I'll post them up.

We've already begun looking at ways to help reduce the cost per unit, i.e. utilizing used 5 gallon buckets, using other materials other than galvanized pipe and fittings (largest cost items).  At what I used, the cost per station is $49 (minus tax), which is definitely less than what is out there commercially.

hpstoutharrow (author)  wendilane4 years ago
 Look forward to seeing your pics.  Glad to see that others found it useful. And certainly, there is always room for improvement.  
Regarding the choice of materials, there is a lot of latitude.  As a matter of personal preference only;  I chose steel pipes; gives it a robust sructural element  reminsent of the cast iron hand pumps found at camp.  Could have used PVC or something else to support the spout but, I fancied the archetectural asthetics of  the tappering 1" to 1/2" to 3/8" sky scraper inspired tower.  
(That and... I had the pipe left over from another project.)
By the way, if interested...there are a few other scout friendly projects published earlier and a few more yet to come.
TIP: Save the grey water

Since building the "twins", we have never used "clean water" to put out our campfires.

Another Tip: Get the foaming pump soap, instead of using regular soft-soap. Your boys will end up using even less water. One squirt to wet the hands, "foam up", then rinse.
Ok ... took me a while to get the pics pulled from my phone from the weekend after Roundtable (still haven't fired up camera that has the Roundtable pics).

Since my previous report, the was stations were used at a Father's and Son's campout the following weekend, during a week long 50 miler in June, and at a Scoutmaster Outdoor Leader Skills Training at the end of August.

Since then, I have received numerous requests for the link to your "ible". Every compliment I get means Kudos out to you, and I make sure people know this was your idea and not mine! ;)

hpstoutharrow (author)  wendilane4 years ago
NICE WORK! Thanks for the photos. The set up is great. Love the "His and Hers" double sink concept...just like a true wash room.

This is another that project might be of interest to add Hot running water to camp:
I'll tell you what ... having two sinks going keeps the lines down quite well. We had 58 leaders at the Outdoor Skills Training last month and didn't have any issue handling the volume.

I definitely took advantage of the Hot Water idea, given that we had one of those pots as well ... turned our great!

Thanks again!
bxfl4 years ago
What are the dimensions of the table top?

KittyF4 years ago
I was thinking that a flat drain cover would also help conserve water.

When we're camping we use the old fashioned method of one basin for washing, and one for rinsing, but then there's only five of us usually, not 50. LOL The nice thing about your set up for camping would be one fill for the whole day. or even the whole trip maybe.
CrackdownMN4 years ago
Genius!! I think I'll build it for my next holidays!
Dutch564 years ago
I do a lot of outdoor catering and have always used the gravity type hand washing station with a 5 gal. bucket to catch the grey water. I've often thought "What a waste of water; there has to be a better way to do this (hand wash). I really like the way that this was presented. I know it will make the folks at the Health Department happy!
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