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The camp wash station

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Our Girl Scouts used the 3-tub method.


Scrape off food into trash which then gets taken directly to camp trash cans.


Wash in hot soapy (biodegradable) water.


Rinse in warm water.


Put in mesh dunk bag.


Dunk in cool water w/a couple of capfuls of bleach, or sanitizing tablets.


Hand bags on clothes line to drip dry.


No drying cloths. They can easily spread stuff that is not tummy-friendly. Air drying is best and any sanitizing agent evaporates.


We have used this method with our Cub Pack also, but we find that with car camping, and the larger numbers involved, it is sometimes easier to go with disposables.


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moxieman - Now I know why I get push back when I teach this at our outdoor trainings! People have obviously used different sources for the information. So, does the order really make a difference? Like ScoutNut, I learned to use dunk bags and line drying in Girl Scouts, but see very few Boy Scout units using that method.


Does the bleach/sanitizer really evaporate? Or is the rinse after sanitizing necessary to remove any residue?

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Horizon, I wish Philmont would be more open to other methods.


My backpacking method is to do Freezer Bag cooking. No pots to clean, just a spoon. Lick the spoon clean and dip it in the boiling water before the next meal. Not allowed in Philmont, you need to carry the large pots and wash dishes.

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My background is in food microbiology/food safety. In most cases when you want to disinfect a already "cleaned" food prep surface, 1% bleach (i.e. about 1 part bleach + 99 parts water) is appropriate. There needs to be some sort of contact time, however, for the bleach to do it's job. Hence, the bleach step should be after the wash and rinse steps. The time it takes for the 1% bleach solution to air dry should be sufficient. And don't measure exactly 1 part in 99 parts -- guesstimating is good enough. A cap of bleach in about a gallon is close enough.


Please note that higher levels of bleach (~10%) and longer contact time (~20 minutes) are highly recommended if there are still significant amounts of organic materials (soil, food, etc.) present. I'd also increase the bleach concentration if you're dealing with dishes that have been used to prep stuff like raw chicken or raw hamburger (fairly high likelihood of nasty pathogens present).


Also note that bleach can cause pitting on the surface of stainless steel over time. So, if you have some good stainless camping pots or dishes that you want to last for the next thirty years, add a final water rinse to those dishes after the bleach sanitizer step.


Having said all that, do I use a sanitizer step when car camping with my family? No. Did I carry bleach with me on our last backpacking trip? No.(This message has been edited by AnniePoo)

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When I was at Philmont this summer, the sanitize step is postponed....


Boil water for food.

Dip all utinsils and plates into boiling water for 5 sec.

set aside to dry.

use water for cooking.

If you measured right, leftover water is used for human sump and washing.

Dry and then wait until next meal to sanitize.



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"Does the bleach/sanitizer really evaporate?"


Yes, bleach (sodium hypochlorite, or "hypo") will degrade, with time, heat exposure, and UV exposure.


Also, bleach will be 'consumed' by the organics in the sanitizing pot as it is being used.... as it oxidizes, it sort of weakens and dies....


Not really scientific, but my approach would be to add bleach if the solution no longer smells like bleach.... although if you've been standing over it working for some time your sense for it may be gone....


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