Where to Store All That Water?

I realize I’m not apt to win any popularity contests when I suggest that a person really needs to store enough water to provide each member of the family with one gallon per day for an entire year. Yes, I realize that’s a lot when it’s just one person let alone 5, 10, 20 plus unexpected. But keep in mind that that’s what preparedness is about. I don’t really believe there is a “finish line” so to speak, when it comes to living a more self-reliant life. No one family, person, etc. can do it all; but if they are teachable and earnest in their endeavors to be independent in order to assure comfort and safety for their loved ones, they will gradually discover more vulnerabilities based upon sound information and will strive to make appropriate “course corrections” along the way.  We need to remember that the magnitude of work that may be involved in a task does not mitigate the reality of the need for that task. I mean if you really think about it, compared to reclaiming our  freedoms in our nation as beautifully intended by the founding fathers (and God Himself, I believe) getting sufficient water supplies for the realistic “what if” scenarios in life is not such a big task.

Water Storage Strategies

It really is all relative to the place of understanding and commitment at which we are standing at the moment that such self-reliance improvement efforts are suggested.  You’ll either reject it or you’ll find a way to embrace it. Everything we learn in life is about timing if you really think about it. Personally I believe that we are always given the opportunity to learn something in a more smooth, comfortable manner, or we can learn when a crisis befalls us. So, for those who would like to at least have the opportunity to take steps in the right direction to have sufficient water, I’m going to address some actual water storage strategies in this article and then in the next one I’ll actually address the treatment/filtration of our stored water.  I believe that both topics really need to be addressed, because your filtration plans and abilities demand how you are able to store your water.

So first of all, understand that all of your water needs do not require uniform storage nor a central point of storage AND your needs do not need to be entirely met with stationary water you have on hand inside your home or other fixed shelters. In fact, it’s actually wise to have various places of stashing throughout the home whenever possible; and it’s wise to prepare for multiple ways of obtaining water outside of your pre-crisis methods.

Water Barrels

Now, lets address the actual storage of the water. Keep in mind that every bit counts. So if you come across a coupon and a sale that enables you to get an entire case of bottled water for only $1.50, jump on it to the best of your financial ability. Small containers are easier for travel, sharing, crisis triage/medical care, and make it easier for the drinking water to be handy, and thus more likely to be consumed.  If you had to go downstairs to the basement every time you were thirsty, you’d be much less likely to require yourself to drink water when the can of soda pop was more convenient. So, your water storage may begin with individual sizes and then expand from there. If you’ve got a food-grade, BPA free container of juice, or other beverage that you’re ready to throw out—don’t. Instead, fill it up with your tap water (or filtered water if it’s available), and find a place to put it. Be sure that the lid still seals properly as well.  Now, when we’re trying to find room for 2 liter or one gallon bottles of water, it’s a lot easier than a 55 gallon drum.

I once moved from Florida to Idaho in a little Volkswagen Rabbit Diesel. I was not about to leave my treasured books behind, but the boxes wouldn’t fit. So, I simply began stashing the contents of my 4 boxes of books one by one in every little crack and crevice of my car. Granted, this wasn’t a wise idea once I had a flat tire, but you get my point. You’d be surprised how successful my clients have been at finding places when they start thinking in terms of “behind the…” Sofa, books on a deep book shelf, the shoes in the closet, or under the bed or just plain filling in the available cracks of other storage spaces. I’ve also been known to collect quality empty juice, water, and some soda pop containers from my neighbors. If they aren’t going to store water, then I sure as heck am.

Then of course you have some of the more popular larger options starting with the 3-5 gallon barrels. I can’t even begin to tell you enough how important it is that you have this size of water as well. Water is not only heavy, but it’s constantly changing weight, making it that much more strenuous to carry. You don’t want all of your water storage in gigantic containers. Remember, while you’re healthy and strong now and it may seem easy in your head to walk 2.5 miles to the nearest water source in dire circumstances, you may not always be around to help the weaker members of your family/group. So make sure you’ve considered those barriers as well.

In addition, I’d like to point you towards some other great products that I would recommend to have on hand. There are some great 2 gallon “water bags” that you can purchase that have handles and even a pouring spout formed into them. Easy to store, inexpensive, and these are great for hauling water from a larger source back to your shelter. Also, there is a product known as “water bricks.” Unfortunately, my first interaction with their company wasn't exactly positive. I had to e-mail them twice over a three week period to hear back from them so that I could get quality information for this product. They set an appointment to get back with me, but missed that one. So, rocky first impression. However, their product is strong enough in so many ways that I'm still including them here in spite of not yet able to overcome my initial cautious state as a result of the first impression. So, having said that, you may want to deal primarily with one of their distributors in the U.S. that you already have a relationship with*.  Now, back to the product. They have Water Brick sizes from just over a gallon to 3.5 gallons and they are interlocking bricks that you can fill with water and stack on top of each other.  I even found a picture of a home that a guy had made out of water bricks—though the silly man filled the water bricks with SAND instead of water—duh! They have easy grip handles on them that lay flush with the rest of the brick when you don’t need access to it. They not only have the potential to eliminate wasted space, but they can also serve as a strong ally to shore up weaker areas in your storage rooms. Ok, and yes, I’m going to say it. They can easily be hidden under a beautiful table cloth or country quilt and serve as an end table, nightstand, or coffee table, etc. (Dang—I sure wish those guys had gotten back to me like they said they would. Imagine what I would have to say about them if I was able to proceed without any cautions! *grin*--see footnote*)  The down side, though with these is that you are paying for the advanced technology, research and development. These aren’t cheap by any stretch of the imagination. But if your obstacle is “space” as opposed to money, then they are still cheaper than real estate. (I've been finding these easily at specialty retailers easy enough via Google)

Bigger water barrels

Ok, now let’s move to a little bit bigger container—the 30-55 gallon barrels.  If you will discipline yourself to NEVER use recycled polyethylene barrels, then you can actually fill these barrels up with water, leaving about 4 -6 inches of head space, and store these outside throughout the winter and the summer. There are actually very few areas of this nation which would not permit outside storage due to extreme temperatures. But that still leaves over half of you folks that CAN. You need the head room in order for the expansion of the container that occurs with extreme temperatures. Now, the interesting thing ,though, is that simply moving the barrels into a garage will mitigate much of the extreme temperature issues in another 20% of the U.S.—again leaving a head room.  How many of us have our garages cluttered with things that should have gone to the Goodwill ages ago when we could be storing valuable water there instead?  Again, self-reliance is all about the priorities. Yes, you will need a wrench, pump, etc. with these bigger containers. I’ve got to tell you, my husband and I do not live in a large home by any stretch of the imagination, but we have three times as much water as we need and I’m still not tripping over water containers every time I do a spring cleaning. I had about 6 months worth when I was living on my own in an 800 square foot apartment. But knowing what I know now, I could have easily had a year’s supply of water stored throughout that apartment.

Ok, next is the bigger water containers. Of course you don't want to bother with anything other than gravity fed function when you're dealing with bigger containers. I’m just going to cut to the chase and tell you that after reviewing the content and actually conducting interviews of all of the big polyethylene water tanks, I’m confident in steering you in only one direction—the “Super Tanker.”  It’s actually the original manufacturer in this field which doesn’t qualify it as being the best on that merit alone, but it does give it a 15 year edge over the so-called competitors and wanna be copycats. Out of all of the sellers of large water tanks, this is the only one that’s actually engineered for water storage, specifically to allow flow of the water and to allow proper distribution of the weight of the water and to solidly protect the bulk heads. There’s an intentional amount of “give” in their material so that it can bear the weight of the water. Their design is also seamless, thus no compromises to the integrity with all of that weight. All of the other ones I found were made of recycled polyethylene and had absolutely no engineering at all. Granted, they brag about having brass spigots, but the fact of the matter is, you don’t WANT brass spigots because you don’t want to have the cross threads too tight. So don’t be misled by the “bright shiny objects.” Brass may be an issue if you were using that thing everyday for 5-10 years, but not when you’re using it for “just in case… scenarios.

Also, I was dismayed to hear each of the competitors actually misinform me about the originally engineered product. (I have no tolerance for that. You either KNOW your competition and can illustrate the points of difference, or you keep your mouth closed—pure and simple.) The Super Tanker holds 250 gallons of water, fits through any standard doorway, takes up the footprint of only 28”x36”x81” (less than 2 55-gallon barrels), is BPA free, uses NON recycled plyethylene, has a UV rating of over 23 years in a hot Florida sunshine, very thick, solid walls, solidly holds up the weight of all that water ( 2500-3,000 pounds) and the PVC fittings are “schedule 80 PVC” which is actually twice as strong as the others. And lastly, it’s FDA and the Canadian equivalent of FDA (Health Protection Board) approved as food-grade polyethylene.

The founders of “In Case Of…” which manufactures these things are more than just making a buck. These two have literally grandfathered the entire preparedness movement for the entire nation of Canada. They are clearly committed to quality and professionalism (even calling me back at 8 o’clock at night to answer my questions) and they even go to the hassle of ordering their spring loaded vented cap from Italy so that they had the perfect balance of tension and air flow without allowing dust and bugs into your unit. Yup, these puppies aren’t light to ship, and the other guys are quick to tell you that the shipping of their product is much cheaper, but I wasn’t born yesterday. If you’re using recycled materials, you’re costs are substantially lower than the real thing, thus you don’t really have some fantastic deal on shipping, rather you’re building the shipping into the cost of your unit.  Oh, and here’s another cool thing I’ll share with you. After reading my water filtration/treatment article, you’ll realize that you absolutely do NOT have to rotate your stored water. So having this big boy filled up and taking up that small amount of floor space in a closet or in the basement will not be so daunting. The price with shipping in the U.S. is in the $500-$600 range for one of these. Again—cheaper than real estate and a lot less hassle. Five Star Preparedness will fill your special order on these Super Tanker items (send them an email requesting information), and if you mention Preparedness Pro when you send them the e-mail, they will actually give you 10% off any water filtration product you purchase from them at the time of your purchase as well.

Lastly, you’ll want to make sure that you have the appropriate open barrel type of containers on hand, as well as the PVC or aluminum piping so that you can collect water from off of your roof when rain comes. And don’t worry about the bird droppings or the nuclear matter. After the water treatment article, that won’t be a problem either. The point about being able to capture water is that you want to be able to do it as close to your shelter as possible. Going to the lake or the city pool is one of the worst ideas due to exhausting vital physical energy, and oh yeah, putting yourself in harm's way because you’ve got the same idea as thousands of others who didn’t properly prepare.

This by no means is an exhaustive exploration on the topic, but I hope that it gives you a few ideas that will make water storage easier on you. Till next time when I uncover the bold-face lies the water filtration industry makes frequently to us unsuspecting folks.

For more specific information on the myths and facts of water storage, click here.

*Update, Water Bricks did finally get back to me shortly after this article was posted--in fact the co-founder and COO  answered all of my questions during a lengthy conversation and even provided me with his cell phone number for future questions. I learned SO much more that I'm going to have to write an entire article just on their product to do it justice.


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What do you think aboutthe larger water bladders like the Aqua Tank II that can hold 300 gallons?

Its all about a safe supply. I've stored about 50 + gallons just for myself. I've used 2-3 liter soda bottles, 5 gallon camp jugs and I know how to shut of water and preserve my Water heater water for use. I also have 2 rain barrels for the garden, yard and the toilets if sewage systems still work. I have bleach, iodine and ceramic filter systems. I have several tarps, bungie cords and bucket systems as well to catch water. I don't know what will work in the end but right now I have over 200 gallons I can use for a garden to drinking and I think I'll be sustainable for at least 6 months.
I build in layers forom easy to hard. For example water 1. bottle you own tap water in free soda bottles. 2. rain barrels can be had for about $35.00 at the local farm store. 3. Use energy to purify water from a free solar oven to boiling it over a stove. 4. chemical sanitation bleach or iodine will work on fairly clear water. 5. tarps and buckets to catch rain water.
Shucks that 5 different systems that never cause you to go to the local pond, river or stream that most anyone can do with a minimal commitment in cash, energy or chemicals. I don't think having safe water is something to take lightly. But it does have to be hard either if you plan ahead. Save the safe water you stored and harvest what water you can with the tools you have been given. You can survive 3 weeks without food it's only 3 days without water.

Jamie, there are actually a few myths in your comment that you'll want to take a second look at. For example, the "survive 3 days without water" is not accurate. 3 days without water will result in irrevocable damage in the organs of the body. A man was pulled out of wreckage in Haiti after 11 days. He had no water. But I guarantee you he did have permanent kidney, liver, and brain damage as a result. Secondly, I've discovered the hard way that adding things TO the water is not the best, most reliable, or cost efficient way to filter. I'll be addressing that in the filtration/treatment article. I know you're always trying to increase your knowledge level, so I thought you'd want to know about some of those clarifications.

That was a very good article. Thanks

I have been considering a well.

Do you have any info (or maybe super tanker does) about putting that much weight in one spot in a house?
I'm guessing these should only be used on a concrete or ground level type situation. Not for use on a floor over a crawlspace or 2nd level home. Just a thought. I could see someone ordering 5 of these and sticking ina spare bedroom on the second floor! Eek!

I interviewed the manufacturer and asked him that question specifically. He was of the opinion to be super cautious in that regard. These really should be on bottom floors/concrete. The floor joists just won't hold up to that. I wouldn't even risk putting the 125 gallon one on top of a floor joist. The smallest trembler would wreak havoc. It's too risky in my opinion.

Didn't know about the water bricks. Thanks for the info.

I love your last picture of the 55 gallon blue container on concrete blocks with a valve on the bottom with a hose. How do you inset the valve and make it so it does not leak, and not use toxic glue or whatever??
Thanks!! Love your site!

Ah yes..... "The founders of IN CASE OF"....... so true. All of it. They are the best!! I have dealt personally with them myself. They are awesome people. Truly preparedness people. Thanks Kellene for another great article! I had more water than I realized.

You can siphon out of 55 gallon drum, down to a level which you can dump it out, so you really don't NEED a pump (a pump is easier, but not a need).

Same with a bung wrench. Easier, but not needed. Two fair sized, regular screw drivers will do the trick, very well, for as often as one would need to open these barrels.

It is nice to say a "years worth of water", just like it is nice to say a "years worth of food", but both numbers are very arbitrary. The real amount of water/food you need is enough to allow you to get through the initial crisis, and then establish a supply line. The 1500 gallons, for a family of 4, for a year, is more than most folks can imagine, but a 90 day supply, or 6 month supply, is more manageable, from there, extra can be stashed to edge closer to a year+.

If you don't have a source of water (or food) which you can use, post-calamity, then having a "year's worth" is not going to change the ultimate outcome. If you live in a condition or location (and I can not imagine many of these) where you can not renew your water source, then serious consideration needs to be made about moving.

I look forward to your post about filter/treatment of water, as this will be the most critical of this subject. Rendering available water, safe and usable is the one skill that all preppers need to have, to ensure survival. I hope you also address your concerns over using used, food grade barrels in that article, as you have no issues with used food grade containers in this one.

You know, I really take issue with you attempting to brush a year's supply of food, water, and everything else with such a patronizing tone. It isn't just "nice." It's 100% absolutely necessary! To think otherwise is to be extremely naive about just how easily we can be turned into a 2nd or even 3rd world nation with a mild earthquake right in the middle of Memphis, or a financial collapse, or a 30-45 day quarantine. I'm not one who likes to talk all gloom and doom as any normal reader of this blog knows, but that doesn't mean that I deny the existence of serious scenarios for which we can choose to be prepared or to be vulnerable. I'm not afraid of the Zombies, I'm afraid of the commitment to ignorance that so many have, digging their heels in and saying "well surely no one expects me to be THIS self-reliance." Geesh. It's not like you have to read history from 300 years ago to find the premise for such wisdom. Try a mere 30 years ago...

There is little doubt that we can find ourselves in a 3rd world condition, quite quickly and easily. This is reason even more, to understand the importance of having a supply solution for food and water. Storing enough food and water to sustain a family, for the duration of time that it will require our new 3rd world country to claw back to our current level of supply and bounty, is unrealistic. My point in calling a "years worth" arbitrary is to also point out that 365 days is not a magic number. Many folks think this is a goal, which will allow them to coast from there. If storage is one's only approach to preparing, then they are merely moving the ultimate result of a calamity, down the road....in your example, one year. The goal needs to be to have sustainable, renewable, achievable, usable supply sources/solutions for water and food. Without these, death is still the ultimate end. With these sources/solutions in place, then a "year's worth" may not be required, 6 months may be enough to engage and utilize these sources/solutions to replace that 6 month's supply, and provide more. If using one's resources for another 6 months of storage interferes with the establishment of the sustainable sources/solutions for food and water, then this would likely be a misallocation of efforts and resources.

There is too much of a consumerism mentality when folks embark on prepping, they feel they have to "buy" everything that experts say they need. This leads too many to paralysis, or to misallocation of scarce resources. If you don't NEED something, then its purchase can be put aside until the NEEDs are taken care of, and resources for lower priority items can be purchased. "Do I spend $16 on a bung wrench, or 50 lbs of rice?" One is needed, the other is not. Once enough rice is secured, then a bung wrench may be nice to have. (just an example, not patronizing)

Gotcha. Thanks for the clarification. I believe that if you look at the 10 Principles of Preparedness which we base ALL of our education on, you'll find support for your position, in fact, perhaps even more so. For example, water, in order of prioritization is actually principle number 7 out of 10 (though a bung wrench would fall into that principle). Food is principle #8 out of 10 and isn't just about "storing it", rather it's about growing it, cooking it, selecting quality nutrition, etc. We teach in this manner specifically so that self-reliance is simpler to address and the efforts and resources are allocated appropriately.

My question Kellene is if I need to still store that much water in my house since I have two ponds near my house and have just installed a well next to my house. I have been thinking that I had the water issue covered with these three options...(Tap, pond, well) And yes, my well has a manual pump! I have some water stored...only not more than a couple hundred gallons.

I think you'll feel better once we address the filtration, though I'm certain that if you are honest and firm with yourself you will agree that you could do better...just in case. :-)

Would just want to remind the folks who live in earthquake prone areas to keep in mind that whatever system you choose keep secure storage as a priority in your storage areas, you don't want anything falling or leaking in a earthquake.

question. about putting the blue barrels outside!- would I want to still put it on something?!! like on pallet? and in the summer would I want to cover it with a tarp?! will you expound on outside storage?! THANKS!

also--I am soo confused!!! I was told NO you can't store water in old pop bottles, etc. is it because of the plastic leaching?!! it your idea that the leaching would be okay in an emergency?!! can old juice bottles store the water for a long time or only a short amount of time (ie after 5 years storage do I need to throw them away?!)

Unfortunately, uneducated myths abound in the "food storage" world. It's not being outside that's bad for your barrels, it's being outside on cement that is heated that gives you the problem. For specifics on the whole "plastic will leach chemicals" issue, See: http://www.preparednesspro.com/blog/myths-and-facts-of-water-storage/ They are perfectly fine if you are aware a couple of minor issues.

Great article Kellene! I really like the Water Bricks idea. But they're almost $5/gallon. I found the 5 gallon water storage boxes at the (edited for content) to be the most cost effective. 100 gallons (in 20 separate boxes) for $125. Most of your readers are probably familiar with them. By the way, this is just my own recommendation, I'm in no way affiliated with them. I just like their products and find them to be a reliable source of inexpensive preparedness items.

Hey Gary, the water boxes you mention aren't made from the same material nor do they lock in space, nor are they created to serve a dual purpose as construction needs. Sorry, I had to edit your comment because that particular business is one that I loathe. Their prices are too high for what people get, they mislead people on their foods (such as claiming something is freeze-dried when it's dehydrated) and they don't have knowledgable persons to answer their customer's questions. As I shared in the article, yes, the Water Bricks aren't cheap, but they are actually cheaper than the regular priced bins in the stores that we just store "junk" in, and yet they are significantly more useful. Remember, what you get needs to be up to the task long term. Unfortunately, there isn't any engineering data to accompany the water boxes you're referring to.

Thank you very much for another helpful informative article.

Thank you for this article! This was timely for me. My husband and I were just recently talking about our need to store more water.

I've never seen the open rain barrel type of water barrel. Where would I find one of those?

It's just a modified regular barrel. Supposedly they are illegal to use in Colorado and Utah though, because the legislators believe that the rain fall is the property of the state and not God. Isn't that lovely?

Yes, I couldn't believe, a year or so ago, when on the news some man here in my city of Orem was either fined or arrested for collecting and using the rain water.....so stupid. And I really want a rain barrel (or three)!

Just an FYI...it's actually illegal to collect rainwater here in Colorado. Don't know how it is in other non-riparian states, but may be worth checking into as part of your overall water-storage plan. Thanks so much for posting about SuperTanker. I had heard of them some years ago and my mom brain couldn't remember who they were or what their name was. Now I'm off to do some research! thanks!

An unconstitutional law is never valid. Which is why when addressing the last comment about the rain barrel I used the word "supposedly". :-) Nuff said.

Just a personal observation. The wife and I live off-grid, so we have to be very frugal when it comes to water, and electricy, usage.

We have a front loading clothes washer, 1.5 GPF toilets, and low-flow shower heads. We flush only 2-3 times each per day, and we don't leave the water running as we brush our teeth, wash our hands, or shave. We don't rinse dishes under running water, but use a rinse pan instead.

Averaged out over the course of a month, and NOT including water for the garden, we use roughly 35 gallons total per day. If necessary, cutting that use in half wouldn't be too difficult. In an emergency, 10 gallons per day average could probably be maintained long-term, with extreme lifestyle changes (including re-opening our outhouse - you have an outhouse, right?).

This is the number I use for planning purposes: 5 gallons minimum, per day, per person.

When we first moved off-grid, just getting used to the 35 gallons per day lifestyle (for two adults) was tough. For the typical American that is used to using 80-100 gallons each per day (per the USGS), cutting that to 1 gallon a day overnight would invoke extreme phychological stress by itself, and on top of the other stresses created by the emergency. That stress is going to cause many problems, both inside your family and outside in your dealings with others in the same situation. Guess that's a different topic though.

Great Article! We have been scrounging for containers to catch rainwater over the summer months. With a few phone calls I found a local bakery, industrial type that uses 50 gal, 250 gal totes and lots of 5 gal buckets. All food grade. Free! They formerly contained sugars and other sweeteners. With a little hot water they rinse pretty clean. With the rainwater catch system ready to go, I can't wait for the next article about your recommendation on the best way to filter the water. Thanks!

Just so I cover my bases with my readers, I do not recommend relying on all of your water being stored in used food containers--especially those that have had sugars in them. Spread the risk, folks.

Sorry to hear about your problem with the water bricks. I orded a few of the 3.5 gallon size in May 2011 and had no issues. I will tell you that they fit under the bed, under the back seat of my wife's SUV, and in the tool box in the back of my truck very nicely. The handles are very convenient and I could see using these to haul water from a close by lake if I had to.

Just to be clear, I experienced no problem with the water bricks whatsoever. Just getting to interview one of their informed persons was a challenge. That's all.

Living through the drought down here in Texas this year and its still not over yet..has made me seriously rethink our water needs.As of now our well is still good,I have worried about it drying up but we are on a deep well 300ft so no problems YET. Peoples ponds down here have dried up, others have turned over,thats where the water from the bottom is on top and kills all the fish.
Since we have been so dry,DOT on the highway signs that light up they are telling you "EXtreme Drought and Fire danger..Consreve water."Our house foundation along with many others in this area have cracked due to the drought,so water is very important to everyone and everything.The picture of all the water barrels at the start of your article? Are they at youe house Kellene? LOL..I wish I had them all at my house.LOL You need a lot more water than you think you need..and then a lot more...if you have animals(livestock) even more and more.Also they have now shut off the water to the rice farmers down here..I'm sorry to sound so gloommy, but think about storing more water..a pond is not always the answeror a creek..you must store your own.

Ha. ha! no, those aren't my water barrels. That's an eye sore! :-)
So why did they shut off the water to the rice farmers? I can't find anything on that other than what you posted on Facebook a while back.

Kellene, I was having a discussion with someone about storing water in 55-gallon food-grade barrels, and they implied that unless I used bleach or some other kind of disinfecting agent that I would be at risk of bacterial growth in the water even if it just came from the tap. I told them I didn't see how that would be possible if the barrel itself was disinfected beforehand and no contaminated instruments were introduced into the water, but they said that stagnant water would be risky. I've never heard of stagnant water being a problem with water storage. Any idea what this person may have been talking about? Is "stagnant" water a concern if it's otherwise purified?

Some people just like to make things difficult, I think. It looks like the person you've talked to has not only confused a couple of issues together, but more specifically has confused a couple of myths together at that. If it's tap water, it's ALREADY treated--in fact, statistically, it's usually OVER treated. Additionally, if you use an AquaPail for your water treatment and filtration once it comes out of the barrel you'll have no worries. If you put bleach in the water prior to storing it, you run the risk of having it too strong chemically and could, over time, compromise the wall of the barrel or other plastic containers.
Stagnate water that's exposed to oxygen is a breeding ground for mosquitoes which can carry West Nile Virus. So, your friend was correct about stagnate water, but certainly not stagnate water that's stored.


First, thank you for sharing the wealth of information you have. I would like your opinion on the 275 gallon water totes that are being sold on the net. They are the ones with the steel cage around them. I understand some are used for storing food liquids as well as chemicals. What do you think about using the food grade ones for water storage? Thank you.

Very good article. I've only recently started getting serious about prepping, so these articles are very helpful. I really like what I'm seeing on this site.

I have a question about the 1 gallon/per person/per day. I know that's minimal, but if it really came down to that just how exactly would you use that amount? How would you divide that up for drinking, cooking, cleaning and hygiene? What's the best setup for washing/rinsing dishes and pots?

Heh, just remembered... Albert Einstein allegedly washed his socks in the same water he boiled eggs to save time.

Anyhow, as I have been thinking about this, I'm starting to become very conscious of just how much water I use every day. Such as filling a pot with water and letting it sit after using it so stuff wouldn't stick, only to dump out that water and use more water later on to actually 'wash' it.

How would you other readers here make one gallon of water last for a full day?

I use the rule of 3's as an extreme guideline. I sure don't want to try going 3 weeks without meal.Even after a couple of hours being dehydrated results in headaches in 8 hours it can get really ugly.
But I'm trying to up my stored water and some ways of harvesting water somewhat cheaply. I keep the bleach and Iodine only as a backup system in case I can't filter and boil if I run out of stored water.
I'm always a bit concerned when folks go all freeze dried food for storage that don't consider having extra water on hand to rehydrate those foods. I think it could lead to a false sense of food security.

After the 2010 extreme drought here in Virginia, we upped our rain catchement system. We installed an 1,100 gallon tank so we now have 1,450 gallons in that system and it's usually full. We generally use this water for gardening but with our filters, it could serve as potable stored water in an emergency.

Indoors, we have several drums, 2 5-gallon plastic fountain jugs, and cases of bottled water.

We are on a well and have experienced grid-down scenarios before. Our well is not solar-driven and is 120-feet 220volts making it extremely difficult to retrofit for solar. We do have a big generator that will serve the purpose in a pinch but could never be a permanent fix. We have a stream on our property but we're 5 or so miles to the Shenandoah River, making a water hauling trip rather difficult on foot. lol

Read more here:

Two is one, one is none. Water is critical! Very good, comprehensive article, Kellene.

Hello, we have checked most of the websites that sell plastic water tanks and have noticed that most of them are priced at about $1.00 per gallon plus shipping . My wife and I wanted a large supply for us and our garden that would last a least a year!
Well we found on Amazon a above ground pool with soft sides(air filled) that holds 3750 gallons ,that gives us 5 gallons a day for the two us(1880gal.) and balance for gardening. It is round , 15ft diameter and 48″ deep, comes with pump/filter,ladder, cover for $228.00 shipped! We will filter it for drinking.
Check it out at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0017A8AR2/ref=asc_df_B0017A8AR21928978?smid=A2...

Good alternative so long as your crisis doesn't involve nuclear or biological issues. Be sure to keep it covered, regardless. If it's nuclear or biological crisis, the material won't do much to protect your water. But it certainly is a heck of a lot better than nothing!

Okay, I have another question about the 55 gallon water barrels. We have obtained some barrels from the Watkins Co in town that had held liquid creme de menthe and such things that they use. Upon looking at the bottom of these barrels, they are marked HDPE. Are these suitable for storing water or not? I have also noticed that bottom of the food pails that I have gotten from a local bakery have the same thing on them. Are they suitable for food storage as they held frosting in them? I guess I am just a little confused. Please help before we start filling them. Thank you!

Water Bricks are also made of HDPE, but they are seriously thick. So the answer to your question is that it depends on how much material is used to make the container.
I do not suggest relying on the used buckets for drinking and cooking water. No matter what you do, the flavors WILL leach into the water/contents. Those that had frosting in them will also have oils leached into the walls. Again, they are fine for non-perishables, non-consumables, but nothing else.

I’m thinking about getting four 55 gallon water barrels for long term storage. The issue is, I can store two of them in my garage and the other two in a shed. I live in OH and we have winters where it routinely gets to <32 deg. F.

I've read that if you leave enough head room for the water to freeze and leave the bung hole slightly loose for air to escape, it will be okay and not burst the barrel.

My question is, if the bung hole is allowing air to exchange, can stuff get inside and "grow?"

The bung hole isn't allowing for exchange. Regardless, I plan on filtering my water after it's removed from my storage containers before consuming it.

I meant if the bung hole isn't tightened all the way so that the barrel doesn't burst.

Ultimately I a trying to get comfortable with storing water in a barrel that may freeze. I can't risk these barrels getting water everywhere if one was to burst.

How long does water stay good? If storing water, should it be "rotated"?

I have heard that you should rotate your stored water every 2 months, but want to know the facts.


I encourage you to click on the yellow icon (up top in the rotating icon box) which has the water drop on it and that will bring up all of the key articles about water, water storage, water conservation, etc. The good news is no, you do NOT need to rotate your water every 2 months. I guarantee you that the bottled water has "sell by dates" much further out than that.

I remember the days of old when people traveling across the country or just to go out camping,,, always had a big canvas bag filled with water and would hand it on the bumper or grill on the front of the car..... now that was preparedness way back when !!!!!!!!


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