How to Safely Store Water in Your Home

How to Safely Store Water in Your Home

Today we’ll discuss how to safely store water in your home…or at least some of the most common methods.  However, before we discuss water storage in the home we must first clarify what home water storage is and what it isn’t:

  • Water storage is:  A temporary measure designed to get you through local disasters or give you enough time to safely implement your water procurement plan.
  • Water storage isn’t:  The end of your water preparedness unless you choose not to prepare for longer term utility interruptions.  We’ll discuss long term water planning in future articles.

In a previous article we discussed why it is important to store water and how much water the ‘authorities’ recommend you store.  We also discussed some additional considerations to help you determine the proper amount of water storage for your needs.  If you missed that article you can read it HERE.

Now that you have an idea of how much stored water you want to keep on hand you need to decide which method or methods you prefer.  Listed below are the most common options along with the relative costs, benefits and drawbacks of each:

Water BottlesBuy Water:

Your first option is to buy bottled or jugged water (not distilled) from a convenience, grocery or big box store.  While this option  is definitely the safest and easiest way to store water it’s also the most expensive.  If you do decide that this is the best storage method for you, shop around to find the sturdiest containers you can.  Most bottled water comes in very thin bottles that won’t stand up to much abuse and break down rapidly if exposed to sunlight.  While you do have the benefit of buying the size of bottle or jug most convenient to your situation the durability will be an issue if you are forced to bug-out.  Additionally, don’t break the seal on a water bottle or jug until you are ready to use it and watch those ‘use by’ and expiration dates.  If you regularly drink bottled water, set up a rotation system to keep your storage water fresh.

2 Liter Bottles2 Liter Bottle Method:

This water storage method is the least expensive but the most work.  2 Liter bottles are also very difficult to stack unless you have access to the specially made cartons they are shipped in or you build a sturdy enclosure.  Essentially, you collect 2 liter soda bottles, wash them out and refill with tap water.  See important tips on how to safely do this at the end of this article.

55 Gallon Barrel with Shaker Siphon & Bung WrenchBuy Water Containers & Fill Yourself:

This is a variation of the 2 Liter Bottle Method, but instead of using 2 Liter Bottles you purchase food grade storage contain

ers (I use 55 gallon drums I purchase for $10-$20 each but you could use other size drums, 275 gallon totes or even expensive but purpose made tanks designed for water storage).  Warning:  only food grade containers that have never held anything but food (see additional considerations at the end of the article) should be used.  I purchase drums that were previously used to transport vinegar and spend an hour or so washing each one, inside and out.  While this method is a bit more expensive than the 2 liter bottle method it takes much less time and energy…you can even siphon the water out when it’s time to refresh your supply to save your back.  If you use this method make sure that you have a way to access your water.  I use a hand pump designed to fit the bung on the drum and have a shaker siphon for a backup.  Also, don’t forget that you’ll need a bung wrench to open and close your drum.  Additionally:

  • Put the drum where you want it before you fill it because there’s no moving it afterwards
  • Have some smaller containers of water available for added convenience (of use) and potential bug-out situations.

‘Homestead’ Type Storage Options:

There are also a number of traditional ‘homestead’ water storage options including cisterns, wells, and rainwater storage but these are really beyond the scope of this article and will be discussed in future Prepography articles.  However, if you’re considering these option you’ll need to give additional thought to access (pumps, buckets, etc.), protection from pollution, weather variables, and purification (especially if it’s a source you don’t use regularly).

Additional methods:

While the storage methods above are the most common, how you chose to store your water is only limited by your imagination.  If you’ve come up with a brilliant idea that works for you, consider sharing it with Prepography‘s readers through the use of our Comments tool.

260 Gallon Water Storage TankFinal Thoughts and Warnings:

  • Store water in a cool, dark place out of direct sunlight.  Sunlight can degrade your storage containers and encourage bacteriological growth in your water over the long term.
  • While properly stored water can remain potable for extended periods, rotate your water storage every 6 months (if self stored) or by the ‘use by’ or expiration date (if purchased).
  • When storing your water in your home remember that it is a very effective barrier to radiation.  Build yourself a wall of water between where you’d shelter from a nuclear emergency and the most likely direction of the radiation source.
  • Never store your water container directly on the ground.  I’ve read that some plastics will allow the leaching of some chemicals.  Better safe than sorry.  I store my 55 gallon drums sitting on top of pieces of scrap 2×4’s.

Additional Information from

  • Containers that have held milk or fruit juice should not be used because of the increased likelihood of bacterial growth.
  • Any water storage container you’re filling yourself should be thoroughly washed with dishwashing soap and rinsed until there is no residual soap.
  • “Sanitize the bottles by adding a solution of 1 teaspoon of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to a quart [or liter] of water. Mix the sanitizing solution in the bottle so that it touches all surfaces. After sanitizing the bottle, thoroughly rinse out the sanitizing solution with clean water.”  Don’t forget to sanitize the cap and threads.
  • Fill the bottle to the top with tap water.
  • If using tap water that hasn’t been treated with chlorine or using other ‘clean’ water then add one drop of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach per liter or four drops per gallon based on the size of the container.
  • Treated water should have a very slight chlorine smell after treatment.
  • Tightly replace the storage container’s cap
  • Write the date the water was stored on the outside and replace water every six months
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One Response to “How to Safely Store Water in Your Home”

  1. Robin Russell says:

    Travel 35 mi. To spring for drinking water, have 250 gal tote on trailer. This is for immediate use but lasts 3 to 4 weeks. Wrap tote in tarps against sunlite, is bleach the only way? What about food grade hyd peroxide?

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