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Stef and I actually drink the water from our RV’s onboard tanks and plumbing. We’ve always done this, and it’s never been an issue for us. We like that we don’t have to dedicate the weight and the space to bringing along bottled water. We like that there’s no bottled water waste. And we especially like that we’re never “out” of water. As long as there’s water in our fresh water tank, we’re good. I mean, we’re not as good as we are at home, where we have a Reverse Osmosis system to filter our drinking water, but we’re good enough.
There are a few things we do to keep Lance’s fresh water system running safely and tasting good. This pretty much sums it up:
5 Steps to Safely Drink Our RV’s On-Board Water
- Regularly sanitize the RV’s fresh water holding tank and plumbing.
- Don’t hook up to campground water. Ever. Use the onboard tank to keep the water circulating and fresh.
- Only fill the tank when we can be sure of the source. (This has led us to fill the tank with jugs of purchased water more than once.)
- Filter the heck out of any water before it gets into the RV’s water system.
- Filter drinking water a second time with an under-the-sink filter.
It’s number four that I’m going to talk more about now.
Like pretty much every other RVer I’ve seen, we had been using “the blue filter” for years to pre-filter water going into the RV. Since we never hook up to campground water, we didn’t use it like we see other people do. But we used it whenever filling the fresh water tank. It worked well enough, I suppose. I mean, nobody died or anything. But I’m always on the lookout for something better, and I think I’ve found it.
We recently received a sample of the Clear2O inline water filter to test out, so we’ve been using that for our fresh-tank fill-ups. After doing some research and using it a few months now, I’m actually liking this better than “the blue filter” for a number of reasons.
1 Micron Filtration
If you read down in the specs on the blue filter, you’ll find that it claims to filter out particles down to 20 microns in size. That’s pretty small, but it’s still 20 times larger than the 1 micron filtration claimed by the Clear2O. Now, I haven’t independently verified these claims; I’m just taking them at their word. But in my book, 20x finer filtration is better.
Solid Block Carbon Filtration
The blue filters use granular activated carbon, which is cheaper to make. The Clear2O uses solid carbon block filtration. The difference in construction is pretty much what it sounds like, but there’s a benefit in performance. In a carbon block filter, the water can’t form channels and bypass the carbon – it’s in contact with more carbon for a longer time, and so more contaminants are removed. I like that.
It Can Start to Clog
Yes. Believe it or not, I’m calling that an advantage. Here’s the thing: Have you ever had a Brita filter and noticed that you could keep running water through it pretty much forever? It never stops! It’s the same with the blue filter. You’ll never know when those granular carbon filters have had enough, because the water can always find a way through. But a solid carbon block filter can clog – if not completely, then at least enough to slow the flow rate so that you notice. And when that happens, it’s a built-in indication that it’s time to change the filter. (Because let’s face it, even I don’t write the date on the filters when I start using them.)
A Couple Caveats
First, let’s talk about the flow rate. Being a solid carbon block filter, the Clear2O seems to have a bit less of a flow rate than the old blue filters. I don’t have a flow rate gauge, so this isn’t something I can quantify. But since we never hook up directly to campground water, it’s not that big of a deal for us. It’s not like I get bad water flow in my shower or anything. It just takes a few extra seconds when I fill up. If you use these filters connected to a campground water supply, you’ll want to pay attention to your filter and change it out when it starts to become noticeable.
Next, I want to talk about KDF. The Clear2O is not a KDF filter. The blue filters are. I’m greatly summarizing here, but KDF filter media is something that is used to prevent the growth of microorganisms in a water filter when it is in storage. Since we only ever use our water filter for a few minutes, and then put it into storage again, this is something I pay attention to. When I learned their filter was not a KDF filter, I asked the folks at Clear2O for storage recommendations. They recommended simply shaking out any excess water, replacing the dust covers, and storing the filter. That’s what we’ve been doing for a few months now. Our Clear2O filter doesn’t smell funky, nobody has gotten sick, and the water tastes good… so I guess that’s working.
A Taste Test?
I think the Clear2O water tastes better, but I could be kind of biased, right? So I wanted to conduct a blind taste test. I was going to gather a group of actual RVers and have them taste unlabeled samples of water to judge which tasted best. I headed to a meet up with new filters, sampling cups, and labels… and I even had volunteers ready to go! Then the whole world went on lockdown, and gathering people around to taste samples of water didn’t seem like such a smart idea anymore. I’ve still got it on my mind, though, and someday I just might conduct a taste test. When I get to do that, I’ll link it here. Until then – you’ll just have to take my word about it tasting better. Or, you could try it yourself and see.
So that’s what we do as far as using our on-board water system for drinking water. It’s worked for us for years. What do you think? Do you drink out of your RV’s fresh tank or are you happy with bottled water? Is there some step you do that we don’t which might make our drinking water taste even better? What’s your protocol? Sound off in the comments below!