Letter Re: Realities to Off-Grid


Just wanted to share that the bucket toilet seats don’t last long, only about five months. You need to build a wooden box and put on a real toilet seat. You will get a build up in the bucket over time and bleach doesn’t clean it. Pour boiling water over the sides and bottom and it will come out clean and odor free.

Laundry done by hand will need a place to drain, since you can’t wring it out as well as a machine. You can use a wringer, but it doesn’t do well for jeans and sweat shirts, et cetera. A strong bar over the bathtub suspended on a frame of sorts will let it drip. A tray needs to be put under the folding drying racks, if you wring by hand.

Candles are not great. They take up space and you need so many to light up one room. A solar light is free light and does the job well.

For cooking in the summer, you can heat your things in the morning and use this pot.

You can also install an opening skylight over the wood stove to allow heat to escape in the summer and just cook in the mornings.

For a fridge, an option someone told me about is to build a shelf or two on an exterior wall on the north side of the house. Frame it in and put a screen around it. Then put a cloth around it on the outside to hang. Next fix a hose to the top to drip over the cloth. If the cloth has water and is dripping it will pull the warm air out and harden your butter and keep milk cool. I have been told this is what they do in the dessert. – Blessings from Canada

HJL’s Comment: The evaporative cooler concept does work, but you will only get about 20 to 30 degrees cooler than the ambient temperature with that method. (If it’s 110F, the best you can expect is about 80F.) The method works best with a relative humidity that is below 30% as well. If you live in a high humidity environment or need more than about 25 degrees differential, you need a different option. This is where natural springs can be a big help, as the even in the southwest U.S. the temperature of a normal spring will hover around 65F in the summer.