– First Thing: Use a bacteria killer like calcium hypochlorite (pool shock)
– Second Thing: Use only food-grade, BPA-free, high-density PE containers and get a WaterBOB bathtub bladder
Nothing is more important than water storage. It is the primary necessity we can’t live without for three days (after oxygen of course) and it is generally the first thing to become contaminated or shut off in the event of a disaster or bombing. In this post, I look at how to store water the correct way, and what two things you need to be using when you are storing your water supplies.
In my childhood, I spent a part of my life in a conflict area, and when there were reports of bombings the first thing my parents would say is “quick, fill the bathtub”. For anyone normal, this would be a puzzle as to why you would want to fill a bathtub. To someone that has experienced bombings, floods or disasters, it is pretty easy to realise how quick water supplies get shut off and how quick your own resources can drain.
When it comes to how much water you need, the ‘fill the bathtub’ idea for a family is a pretty good start. But it’s only going to get you so far in terms of drinking and hygiene, eventually, it will either run out or become unusable. This is why preppers look for alternative ways to store water, that, and you are essentially becoming less reliant on the grid and more self-reliant with your own supply. So let’s look at what we need.
How much water you need to store
On average, humans use two gallons of water per day. That is both in hygiene and drinking.
For the drinking, we can get by on one gallon per day (8 glasses). That other gallon is rationed amongst hygienic purposes such as brushing teeth, washing dishes, cleaning hands and added into cooking or mixing with backup dehydrated foods.
In looking at this, you can already start to see that if you were prepping a supply of water, how much you would need just to have enough for a week. For a family of four, if we used the figures above then we would need 56 gallons to last us the week. The average bathtub holds 50-70 gallons, but you can’t keep them clean or sealed unless you have one of those WaterBOB bathtub bladders.
You can see with that figure above that if you were trying to prepare for a month’s supply, or longer as some of us preppers do, then you are going to need a very effective water storage system.
What containers to use
This is the second thing you need to be using, a safe and sturdy water container. When it comes to long-term storage of water you need food-grade, BPA-free, high-density polyethylene containers. These aren’t just your average disposable plastic bottles. These are made for what you are doing, which is long-term storage so that when the day comes, you can be sure you are drinking healthy water.
Storing more than 50 gallons
There are various types of containers you can get depending on how much you want to store. For anything over 50 gallons of water, I would use a blue water PE storage barrel. I use two of these and have found them easy to wash out when I cycle new water in the barrels and they come with a hand pump which is pretty handy for a hose connection into a smaller bottle or container for the kitchen.
If you have the space, then a 260-gallon tank might suit you better. I only just recently found out that something this size existed from a few friends who fill these with rainwater. They found the only difficult thing about it was actually fitting it into their house, but aside from that it is a great reserve to be using in the basement or outside of the house as a sanitary flush system or hygiene-use backup.
Storing less than 50 gallons
For smaller storage units, and something to use for camping or just as an extra in the kitchen, the 7-gallon Aqua Containers are a good rigid item and one I have been seeing a lot of preppers and survivalists use.
How to store water
There is a system to storing water, and it’s pretty easy. All you have to do is clean, pour and store. But all of these have to be done correctly. So let’s take a further look at how to store water correctly. I kept the preservatives for the next section, as they deserve their own section for the detail.
Clean water and clean container
For the first step you need to make sure you have a clean container and clean water. Cleaning the container is simple and you would know how to do that. Just don’t use any harsh chemicals to clean them.
For the second clean, make sure you are already using clean water. If you are using tap water it might pay to test your water or use a filter from the tap (one of those attachment filters) to keep your water clean and ensure you are only using clean water in the barrel. Check out our friends at dwellingadvisor.com to see their analysis on home water filters.
Pour and store
Pouring the water in is pretty easy. If you are using a container that holds a large amount of water for long-term storage place it in its location before filling it. The smaller ones you can easily fill and move.
When you are storing them make sure the area is at normal room temperature at all times of the day. If there are any windows in the room avoid the spots where sunlight may hit the container. I only recently came across this when working on a biogas digestor, sunlight makes things grow inside containers such as algae. It goes without saying that you want to avoid any growth in your water containers, so avoid all direct sunlight.
What to add to your water to store it
We need to add chemicals to water to stop disease-causing growths such as bacteria, fungus, and viruses. Here is what you can use:
Pool shock (Calcium Hypochlorite)
I use pool shock because of its intensity, cost, and it’s just plain easy to keep. It is also an EPA approved way of treating water.
This is one of the best disinfectants on the market and if you are treating water for long-term storage you are going to be needing a lot of treated water. In that respect, pool shock works quite well as it is a concentrate designed for pools, so on the scale that we measured a one pound bag can be used to treat up to 10,000 gallons.
For these measurements, I use the following EPA Guidelines (there are also instructions on the label as to how much you should be using):
- Take one heaped teaspoon of pool shock
- Add it to two gallons of water
- Stir until the particles disappear
- Use 16 ounces (one pint) of the mixture you just made in every 12.5 gallons of water.
Let it stand for at least three hours before using.
If you are using this powder more than once, store it in a hard plastic tub. If you keep it near any metal it is likely to cause some corrosion.
Iodine is an alternative to pool shock and bleach. Some people might want to use it if they have allergies to bleach. Using it is quite simple and as far as ingredients go, common household iodine is all you need. To use iodine you need to:
- Add five drops to each litre of water you are disinfecting
- If the water is cloudy or coloured, use 10 drops of iodine
Let it stand for at least 30 minutes before use.
For bleach, only use regular unscented chlorine bleach. This type of bleach will come in either 6 or 8.25 per cent sodium hypochlorite. If you are using 6% bleach, add two drops to one litre, or eight drops to one gallon. If you are using the 8.25% bleach, use two drops per litre, or six drops for one gallon.
Once you have added the drops, stir the water and let it stand for 30 minutes. If the water does not have a slight chlorine odour, repeat the dosage and let it stand for another 15 minutes. If the chlorine is too strong, you should pour it from one container into a new clean one and let it stand for another 15 minutes.
How to use stored water
It’s easy enough for smaller containers to just be poured into a bottle or cup, but for much larger ones you need to use a pump which can be a simple hand pump just to get the water out.
Portable water filters
As a backup, it is also a good idea to use a portable water filter. I did a review on the best water filters available online just recently which you should check out as to which one would be to suit your situation.
I will let you know here that I found the best water filter to be the Sawyer water filter system as it connects to any normal plastic bottle as well as a bladder bag for your backpack water carriers.
Final thoughts on how to store water and what to use
When it comes to prepping I am all about efficiency, so for my prepping standards I choose to use the pool shock powders as they are far more convenient to store and use.
As for emergency water, if you can get your hands on a WaterBOB bathtub bladder you are definitely a step ahead of the game. The bathtub can hold more than enough water to last you and your family for a week and it is a perfect and safe water keeping device.