Introduction: 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

Step 1: Conserve Water Vs. the Traditional Camp Hand Washing Technique

Before this Instructable camp wash station, this was the well documented typical food preparation procedure at camp in 10 easy steps. (remember these are young teen scouts learning cooking and cleaning responsibility.)

1. Raw chicken is removed from its package and karate chop hacked into cubes (ok...chunks) with several finger-slicing near-misses with the knife.

2. The hacked raw chicken pieces are grabbed, and with the precisionons of an NBA three point shot, are individually tossed into the dutch oven....swoosh...nothing but cast iron...(most of the time).  

3. With a sense of winning the game at the buzzer, hands are about to be ceremoniously wiped on the pants.
 Wait...there's a whistle on the play...Leadership refereering intervenes... a technical foul is called.  The penalized  scout is directed to go properly wash his hands.

Properly washing entailed a trip to the 5 gallon spigotted blue jug propped on the end of the picnic table.

4. These same chickened hands open the spogot to start the WATER FLOWING....
One-thousand 1
One-thousand 2
One-thousand 3
5. The hands are wetted
One thousand 4
One thousand 5
One thousand 6
6. Soap is applied
One thousand 7
One thousand 8
7. Wash
One thousand 9
"ewugh"...pause to examine and scrape a rogue piece of chicken stuck to a finger
One thousand 10
One thousand 11
Wash some more...wants to be thorough...because that's just how scouts are...
One thousand 12
One thousand 13
8. Rinse
one thousand 14
One thousand 15
and Rinse
one thousand 16
and some more (because it takes a while to rinse away the suds of six pumps of soap)
One thousand 17
One thousand 18
9. Shake hands to fling water drops and for a quick air dry
One thousand 19
One thousand 20
10. Turn CHICKEN COVERED spigot OFF...with a once clean hand.

Lets critique the process:
Hands cleaned ...Check
Hands re-contaminated from the spigot...Check
Boots submerged (in a newly created mud puddle under the water jug)...Check
Pant legs soaked (from spigot water splashing into same puddle)....Check
Water jug successfully relieved of a gallon or more of water....Check
(Which means after the next 4 washes, the "discussion" about whose turn it is to fetch more water will start.  Which will be followed by a unanimus scout group decision  that their hands are not really that dirty after all)
...and then...hand washing in over...Check


While this new wash station can't make campers wash their hands, it can make it easier, and prevent a soaking; all while conserving water.
Pumping water, even with a foot pump, requires effort so you know water use will be kept to a bare minimum...letting gravity spill it on the ground is easy... and fast!

The same 5 gallons now lasts all day even with everyone washing their hands for meals.

Step 2: Materials

 The central components of this project are 5 gallon buckets with lids and a marine (outboard motor) fuel primer squeeze bulb and hose assy.

The Squeeze Bulb is the pump 
that moves the water from the Fresh Water Bucket 
up to the Spout and out,
collected and funneled by the Basin
into the Gray Water Bucket
 the rest is just plumbing and support

Major Components
(3) 5 gallon utility buckets
(2) 5 gallon bucket lids
Marine fuel primer bulb and hose assy
3/8" brass fittings
Rubber O-ring
3/8" tubing
various 1" and 1/2" plumbing pipe sections and fittings
Automotive steel fuel/brake line
Door hinge
Scrap wood

Step 3: Fresh Water Bucket

Drill a 3/8" diameter hole about 1" from the bottom of what will be the Fresh Water Bucket.

1. From the inside of the bucket, feed the male end of a 3/8" 90 degree brass fitting though the hole in the bucket.  

(Place an O-ring on the inside of the bucket at the base of the 90 degree fitting before pushing it though the bucket wall (Photo 2).  When the fittings are tightened the O-ring will seal the hole in the bucket.)

2. From the outside of the bucket, thread on a female 3/8" barbed hose fitting.

3. Thread a second male barbed hose fitting into the 90 degree fitting inside the bucket. (Photo 3)

4. Angle the open end of the barbed fitting downward until it touches the bottom of the bucket. (photo 3) This will help to pull water from the very bottom of the bucket allowing it to almost completely empty the bucket before it needs refilling.

Alternate Construction Note:  If you don't want to add a hole to a perfectly good bucket to dedicate it to this project, you may be able to cut a hole in the fresh water bucket lid at the very outer edge and snake the hose down into the bucket (make sure the buckets will still stack).  This should also work, and eliminate the need for the brass hose fittings (less $'s) but, the hose may curl and not stay submerged especially because the hose will be coming out of the top of the bucket and will have to travel down to the pump on the ground.

Step 4: Basin

 The Basin is a nice finishing touch.  It is not entirely necessary but it serves a few purposes.  

Number is a lid for the Grey Water Bucket.  It keeps you from staring at bucket of dirty, soapy water from the last guy, while you wash your hands.  It also keeps that same dirty, used water from splashing back up on your clean hands while your are washing.  

The Basin also allows hands to be washed inside the basin's high side walls - keeping the falling spout water from splashing off your hands onto your pants.

Because the Basin sits almost entirely above the grey water bucket it does not compromise the storage capacity of the gray water bucket. This means that the gray water bucket does not need to be emptied until the fresh water bucket is exhausted and ready to be refilled.

Hand washing could be done directly over an open Gray Water Bucket without the Basin but, as it fills; imagine trying to wash-up with water splashing into a nearly full bucket of used water.

A similar commercial product (Wishy Washy) selling for $90 (buckets not included, shipping extra) is set up with an open gray water bucket.  
The addition of the basin shown here and the provisions for stacking the two buckets to bring hand washing to counter height, improves on the comercial product and go a long way to make the system more practical than splashing water from a waist high spout into a open bucket of gray water on the ground.

By the way, the material to make the system shown here did not cost anywhere near $90..nor even Half that!   And both systems use similar Marine Outboard fuel primer squeeze bulb and hose assemblies that cost around $15-20. (or buy cheaper hardware hose (Chemical resistant hose is not necessary with water) and the squeeze bulb with check valve is around $12 by itself).  Another $15 for plumbing, tubing & fittings; throw in some scrap wood and it will land far less than $90!

Step 5: Basin Construction - the Bottom

 The Basin is constructed from the the upper portion of a third bucket and a bucket lid.

Removing the Outer Rim of a lid creates the Trimmed Lid which will be the bottom of the Basin.

1. Remove the rubber seal from the underside of a bucket lid.

2. Cut along the bottom of the trench that the seal was in. (dotted path in Photo 2)
    Cut all the way around the lid to remove the Outer Rim. (Photo 2 & 3 shows where to cut)

3. After cutting off the Outer Rim, clean-up the outer diameter of the lid by trimming any excess material so that the outer diameter of the lid is flush with the Upstanding Rib Wall.

When complete the overall lid diameter should not extend beyond the Upstanding Rib Wall.

Note: In the completed basin photos in step 5, notice that the bottom of the basin is concave.  To achieve this "bowl shape",  the lid was heated in the oven at about 275 degrees F for about 15 minutes to soften the plastic.  While hot, it was worked over the bottom of a large glass mixing bowl to impart the concave shape.  The removal of the Outer Rim was done after this forming.

"Stretching" the lid to form this shape is not necessary, and was in fact, the most difficult part of the process.  (handling hot plastic while stretching and keeping it from buckeling and over-thinning is not so easy).  Well worth the effort thought...It gives it a true sink look and better funnels the water to the center drain...much better than a flat lid basin bottom.

Step 6: Basin Construction (cont.) - Join the Side Wall & Bottom

The Basin is just a shorter bucket with a center drain hole, that sits inside the top of the Gray Water Bucket.  
The Trimmed Lid from the previous step, added as a bottom to the cut off top portion of another bucket, creates a shortened bucket Basin.

 1. Cut-off the top rim portion of a third bucket.  The cut should be about 3/4 of an inch below the last flange on the bucket.  When cut, the removed upper portion of a bucket forms the Basin Side Wall.

2. Fit the the Trimmed Lid from step 4 into the Basin Side Wall.

3. From the underside of the Basin Side Wall, make sure the Upstanding Rib Wall on the Trimmed Lid is flush with the bottom of the Basin Side Wall. (photo 2)

4. Drill (4) 1/8 inch diameter holes through the Upstanding Rib Wall on the Trimmed Lid and the Basin Side Wall. Drill the holes at North, South, East, West)

5. Use Aluminum pop-rivets (with washer) to secure these two components through the four drilled holes.

Note the interface between the Trimmed Lid and the Basin Side Wall does not have to be a full waterproof seal.  Because the finished Basin will fit inside the Gray Water Bucket,  any water that seeps through at this joint will drip into the Gray Water Bucket.

Step 7: Foot Pump

 The pump is made from a marine (outboard motor) fuel line primer squeeze bulb.  The hose and bulb (with integral check valve) was purchased as an assembly from a sporting good / hardware store that sells marine supplies for outboard motors.

The pedal assembly was made from scrap wood, a door hinge, wood dowels, and a foam rubber toy ball.

The dowels (glued into holes in the wood base) allow the bulb to move up and down freely when pumped. The open top of the dowels make for easy installation and removal of the bulb for storage.

The foam rubber ball prevents damage to the rubber squeeze bulb.  
The ball was cut in half and epoxied into a recess on the underside of the pedal.  The recess was cut with a hole saw drill bit and then the material inside the hole saw cut was chiseled out.

Step 8: Support Table

 The Support Table serves a few purposes.  The wider stance of the table provides stability for the two buckets.  A nearly filled Gray Water Bucket stacked on top of a nearly empty Clean Water Bucket can be a bit of a top heavy tip hazard on uneven ground.

The table also holds the Clean Water Bucket a few inches off the ground.  This reduces the impact to ground cover when compared to a a bucket sitting directly on the ground for an extended period of camping.

The table is also a place for a bottle of pump soap and a wrist watch removed for hand washing.

Step 9: Spout Riser

 The main purpose of the Support Table is to attach the Spout Riser.  The Spout Riser is a combination of 1" dia. and 1/2" dia. galvanized pipe sections threaded together and attached to the Support Table.

The galvanized pipes that make up the Spout Riser threads into a plumbing mounting flange attached to the table.

Step 10: Spout

 The Spout is formed from an automotive steel fuel/brake line.  (purchased as a generic 4' section at the local auto supply store)

1. Bend it into a 180 degree cane shape.  
The diameter of the bend should be 1/2 diameter of the bucket.  This will position the Spout nozzle over the hole in the bottom of the Basin.

Note: The flared end of the brake line adds a finished look to the open "Nozzle" end of the Spout.

2. Slide a 2" section of clear hardware tubing onto the other end of the Spout.

Slide a 1/2" to 3/8" galvanized reducer fitting on the Spout.  

4. Then slide about a 24" length of tubing onto the Spout.  
The reducer fitting will be trapped in location on the Spout by the two sections of tubing; yet free to spin and thread onto the Spout Riser.

Note: The contact area of several inches of tubing "sleeved" over the bottom edn of the Spout, and the low pressures involved, means a clamp is not required to retain the tubing or to prevent leaks at this joint.

Feed the Spout, and Tubing Assembly down through the Spout Riser pipes and thread the reducer fitting onto the top of the 1/2" Spout Riser Pipe.

Ignore the wine cork shown in the photos it is remenents of an earlier spout locating scheme.

Step 11: Connect the Pump

 After feeding the Spout and Tubing  through the Spout Riser pipes connect the clear tubing to the tubing attached to the squeeze bulb pump. (or it could connect directly to the squeeze bulb but because I bought the bulb and hose as an assembly I wanted to leave the factory clamps in place)

The reason there are two sections of tubing is so that the unit can be disassembled for storage.  The upper clear tubing remains attached to the Spout as a friction fit.  There is no room for a clamp inside the smaller diameter upper Spout Riser pipe so the servicable connection is made under the Support Table.

Step 12: Ready for Clean-up

Now that this handy wash station is assembled its time to clean-up.  

Fill the lower Fresh Water Bucket with... you guessed it...fresh water.  Put a lid on the Fresh Water Bucket place the Gray Water Bucket on top and cover it up with the Basin.  Start pumping.

Health Note:  One of the scouts suggested this would be a good "bug juice" (Lemonade) dispenser.  Sounds cool except, the Marine grade chemical resistant primer bulb specifically indicates it is not food grade safe. Water for hand washing should be fine...prolonged contact with ingestible liquids - not good.

Step 13: Storage

 Note: Each of the components - Pump, Pedal, two sections of Spout Riser pipes and the Spout and Tubing Assembly are sized to fit within the height of the bucket for storage.

- Everything is stored inside the Gray Water Bucket.
- This bucket fits inside the Fresh Water Bucket
(The brass fittings in the Fresh Water Bucket are mounted low enough that they do not prevent the buckets from nesting fully together.)
- The Basin fits inside the top of the Gray Water Bucket
(the 1/2" pipe portion of the Spout Riser fits through the drain hole in the Basin)
The Fresh Water Lid fits on top of the Basin to close everything up.
Humana Health by Design Contest

Runner Up in the
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