Salt water/water systems for coastal island living? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Wondering if anyone has experience dealing with salt water... How much can be done with it before tapping fresh water sources (i.e. can you wash clothes, flush toilets in it?) Water tanks/cisterns for garden, animals and drinking/bathing not a problem, but am interested in finding out if anyone has tried a reverse osmosis system. Is the cost justified? Would like to hear from anyone 'homesteading' on a boat or dealing with island life. Thank you.

-- Lynne David (, April 30, 2000


Lynne, salt water is something I've never had to deal with. I think you're on the right track with asking about living on a boat. What I do know is that salt water is hard on water systems. Clothes can be washed in salt water, but as with body washing, soap doesn't work well. Possibly there are some detergents out that will work. You can also buy special soaps designed for salt water. So I'd search the 'net and check the library for things about life aboard a boat for more information.

RO, again, something I've never used. I won't use it because it takes such a tremendous amount of water to produce a gallon of good water. The optimistic estimate is 1/1, but I've seen as high as 5 gallons wasted for every gallon of good water produced. I suspect that salt water would be hard on the system and clog it up.

Boat life books and articles are probably going to be your best source of information. Gerbil

-- Gerbil (, May 03, 2000.

My wife and I once took a "Green Tortiose" trip down to Baja, California for a couple of weeks. We had communal cooking, eating and dishwashing. The nearest fresh water was a few hours away, and we needed a lot of water, since there were forty of us. We used water from the Sea of Cortez for dishes, and it worked fine. We didn't do a final rinse in fresh water, either. Probably we needed a little less salt on our next plate of food...

In the Coast Guard, we used fresh water for showering. A "sea shower" does not use sea water. It uses fresh.

One good use for salt water would be for killing poison oak; problem is, it's not all that common near the coast.


-- jumpoff joe (, May 05, 2000.

Membrane filtration is about the best you will get and you just have to deal with the waste. Salt water is very brackish with TDS (total dissolved solids) of over 34,000 mg/L (milligrams per liter).

The process is referred to as de-salination. You can Distill the water but much harder and slower than membrane tecnology. Both are expensive to operate and maintain.


-- Chris (, December 22, 2000.

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