Stockpiling Water

by Merissa on October 10, 2011

in Practical Food Storage

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Something that should be high on your priority list when creating a food storage and products storage stockpile is a water stockpile. Every person needs water to survive so it should be one of the first things that you stockpile.

It is recommended that you store enough water for each person in your family for 2 weeks. Each persona should have 1 gallon of water each day in the stockpile so if you have 2 people in your family, you should have 28 gallons of water. If this is too much for you (if space is an issue) you should at least have 3 days of water stored for each person at the bare minimum.

What stockpile water? In case something contaminates your water source, in case you may be out of electricity and your well can't function, in case bad weather comes and freezes your pipes. There are many different reasons to stockpile water, each one of them as important as the last.

If it works well for you, I've seen large food grade 55 gallon drums that you can store water in. If you are short on space but still want a decent water stockpile, this may be a good option for you. You shouldn't use milk jugs to store water long term because they aren't meant to hold liquid long term and the plastic will eventually break down. A good way to store water is in old pop liter containers or gallon size vinegar type plastic jugs. The plastic is thicker on both (and if you order them new you can get BPA free I believe) so they will last longer without breaking down. You can also get nice water storage containers online that hold more than 1 gallon and some are even stackable!

Store the water in a cool, dark area (like a pantry or a basement) to avoid wearing down the containers prematurely.

Learn more about Practical Food Storage and Preparing for Price Increases. And make sure you check out how to save and live better in all areas of your life on the Making the Most page!

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lana October 10, 2011 at 3:17 pm

We store water for flushing toilets in 5 gallon gas cans. We have had them for at least 15 years and they have never leaked. This time of year you can sometimes buy apple cider in gallon glass jugs. I have 10 of them that I keep drinking water in. That 55 gallon drum looks great but the price is what put me off of that :)

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2 Lana October 10, 2011 at 3:17 pm

We store water for flushing toilets in 5 gallon gas cans. We have had them for at least 15 years and they have never leaked. This time of year you can sometimes buy apple cider in gallon glass jugs. I have 10 of them that I keep drinking water in. That 55 gallon drum looks great but the price is what put me off of that :)

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3 Debbie October 10, 2011 at 4:17 pm

How long can you safely store well water in a 5 gallon water jug? (The kind that go on the coolers at the office) Is the storage time different if you use RO purified water?

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4 Merissa October 10, 2011 at 5:43 pm

I would change it out every 6 months or so just so it stays fresh. And I’m not sure on the purified water, hopefully someone else knows!

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5 Debbie October 10, 2011 at 4:17 pm

How long can you safely store well water in a 5 gallon water jug? (The kind that go on the coolers at the office) Is the storage time different if you use RO purified water?

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6 Merissa October 10, 2011 at 5:43 pm

I would change it out every 6 months or so just so it stays fresh. And I’m not sure on the purified water, hopefully someone else knows!

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7 Lana October 11, 2011 at 7:22 am

Debbie-we have well water too and I find it gets moldy after a few months. You can put bleach in stored water to keep it longer but I don’t remember the amount per gallon. Those 5 gallon jugs of purified water is a good idea but I wonder about chemicals leeching out of the plastic–anyone know that?

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8 Lana October 11, 2011 at 7:22 am

Debbie-we have well water too and I find it gets moldy after a few months. You can put bleach in stored water to keep it longer but I don’t remember the amount per gallon. Those 5 gallon jugs of purified water is a good idea but I wonder about chemicals leeching out of the plastic–anyone know that?

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9 Leisa October 11, 2011 at 12:40 pm

What about water jugs that you get from the store that had water in them to begin with?

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10 Merissa October 12, 2011 at 8:54 pm

Those are ok for a very short term storage but the chemicals from the plastic starts to leach after a few months so they aren’t recommended to refill.

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11 Betty November 8, 2013 at 10:11 pm

THOSE WATER JUGS ALSO LEAK AFTER A WHILE , MINE DID.

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12 Leisa October 11, 2011 at 12:40 pm

What about water jugs that you get from the store that had water in them to begin with?

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13 Merissa October 12, 2011 at 8:54 pm

Those are ok for a very short term storage but the chemicals from the plastic starts to leach after a few months so they aren’t recommended to refill.

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14 Christine October 12, 2011 at 2:24 pm

I’m going to be installing a rain barrel next to the house gutters. It is a great way to water the plants but in dire circumstances, the water could be boiled and used for othe purposes.

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15 Christine October 12, 2011 at 2:24 pm

I’m going to be installing a rain barrel next to the house gutters. It is a great way to water the plants but in dire circumstances, the water could be boiled and used for othe purposes.

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16 Paula J Elliott September 8, 2013 at 11:38 am

I beleive the amount of bleach per gallon of water is one bleach lid full. Can anyone out there verify this?

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17 Kara May 20, 2014 at 8:22 am

I store flushing water in empty bleach bottles. Clearly marked “For flushing. NOT drinking”.

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18 Melissa May 23, 2014 at 1:38 pm

If you are going to store water in the basement or garage do not store the container directly on the concrete. You can google the reason but basically the chemicals from the concrete migrate toward water and will contaminate your water. If you are going to store water in a basement or on a garage floor you must put a barrier between the concrete and the water bottle. Most people lay down 2 x 4′s and stack the water bottles on top of the 2 x 4′s. You could also store it on a shelf above the floor.

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19 Nate August 9, 2014 at 10:52 am

The best way to ensure proper bleach to water ratio is to use a pool tester it should be 1 to 3 ppm of bleach. The exact amount per gallon is hard to determine since there is a clear difference from tap water to well water and one water plant to another. Measure it out as you test it on several gallons then you should know for future reference. Also if you are using a different water source (say you move to a different place) you will have to start from scratch since different locales use different amounts of bleach in tap water. There are also products out there that help prolong water storage up to five years a simple internet search will bring up multiple results.

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20 Nate August 9, 2014 at 11:03 am

I use the five gallon food grade buckets you can get at lowes for five dollars. They are strong and sturdy enough to stack and will never leak. Much cheaper way of storing water to make life easier I have a extra lid with a hand pump secured in to it to get the water out and when one is out I just switch the lid.

Please make sure to rotate your water. Easy way of doing that is every time you change your clocks for day light savings time change your water. My family and I use the stored water first before refilling them.

This came in handy last week when Toledo Ohio had our water contaminated with HAB everyone was running around trying to find water driving hours just to find out that the stores were sold out. The national gaurd was called up to help supply water to the unprepared. Please don’t be one of those.

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