Food & Water : Water Storage

Water Storage is a broad term referring to storage of both potable water for consumption, and non potable water for general household functions e.g. washing clothes and sanitation purposes during an emergency crisis when the normal supply is limited or completely cut off.

Storing water for use in emergency situations invites a host of potential issues regardless of that water’s intended purpose. Such issues include contamination through organic and inorganic means.

Furthermore, most people incorrectly assume emergency water storage is a straightforward and simple task.
For sure, it’s not rocket science but if you don’t take the time to learn the best solutions for yourself and family and avoid costly mistakes, you could easily ruin your most critical emergency supply when you need it most.

Also, it’s easy to overlook the obvious and get your priorities mixed up. For example :

  • do you really need another survival watch, tactical pen, or survival gas mask ?
  • Or is now the time to invest in long-term freeze dried survival food ?
  • Is an underground survival bunker really your first step? Or
  • should you start with something smaller?

One prep item that’s way too often overlooked is long term water storage.

The inforgraph illustrated below will give you a very clear idea as to what is actually involved with respect to long term water storage.For the most part, this information is not at all difficult to understand. Like me, when presented with this information (for the first time) it comes as a bit of a surprise if not a shock, primarily because in developed/industrialized societies, we take our secure and clean water supply for granted and assume it will always be at our disposal.

Storage Location Advice

One of the most important issues we have to consider relative to water storage is How Much One Actually Needs. However, bear in mind you can never store too much water provided you have the adequate storage container/s and space.

Take note of the following diagrammatic illustration: (Magnify after opening in a new tab!)

Please include attribution to with this graphic.

Now we have to discuss the issue of the Most Important Water Storage Container Features :

  1. Durability & Manufacturing Material: knowledge about the construction of the container is essential since it’s important that the water is preserved as best as is possible.The material is just as important. Most reservoirs are made from food-grade plastic, which is durable, lightweight, cheap, and easy to move around. It’s important though for the container to be made from BPA-free plastic.
  2. Quality of the Closing System (i.e.Sealing): very important in order to more or less rule out contamination from air-borne particles and pathogens.

Other Issues to be considered with respect to future water storage set-up include …..

  • who is going to have access to the stored water? yourself, family, relations, neighbours ? Also remember that it is strongly advised that you replace your emergency water at least once a year.
  • Ease of transportation especially if you have to re-locate : maneuverability and transportability are paramount factors which have to considered and, ideally, practiced !
  • Motivation for storing water : Are you storing water away for long-term with the purpose of accessing it during a natural disaster or emergency?

Now let’s consider the steps required to prepare and store tap water in an emergency. In addition, a number of Water Containers that we recommend and which,of course, satisfy the pre-requisites just discussed above will also be brought to your attention

Step 1 – Choose A Container

There are many, many types of containers for storing water but make sure you Choose a food grade plastic container (HDPE 2).Remember, you never want to store 100% of your emergency water in a large container. If it gets damaged / starts to leak or contaminated, your water storage is compromised. Always diversify your water reserves.

In our online course, we cover 16 of the best water storage options for emergencies !

It’s not very practical to store enough small and/or large water bottles ( purchased from the supermarket) to provide you and your family with the water you need to survive a long-term disaster that could disrupt basic services and utilities. 

Bottled water can also cost a considerable amount of money if you try to store enough to last a year or more. Tap water isn’t free, but it’s arguably the cheapest water you can possibly find. Some will collect rainwater when it is going to be used for washing, washing clothes and dishes or the toilet.

This is why most preppers will store large amounts of water in large containers. Furthermore :

Long Term Storage for Families or Individuals For those considering long-term water storage for an entire family in case of a natural disaster or an emergency, a larger, 55 gallon barrel would be a good choice.

  • These can be filled, and stored away in a cool, clean are to be accessed at the time of need.
  • While most 55-gallon blue water barrel which are intended for water storage are already food-grade and safe, be sure to only purchase food-grade, BPA-free, polyethylene plastics as to ensure safe water drinking as we have mentioned in earlier discussions – it’s important to repeat and stress this requirement.
  • Larger families might want to consider larger barrels or even several 55-gallon barrels. Be sure to have a water pump to access the water from the barrel.

Transportable Water Storage for Emergencies For those in need of something smaller and transportable in case of a situation where you’d need to be mobile, like a wildfire for example, a 5-7 gallon portable water tank would be the way to go.

  • Select something that is large enough to store the amount of water you’d need yet small enough so that the added weight wouldn’t be to much of a factor.
  • As with all plastic containers, select BPA-free, food-grade, polyethylene plastics only. The safest plastics to store water in are polyethylene-based, food-grade plastics which are marked with #1, #2, or #4 on the bottom of the container. Those marked with a #3, #5, #6, or #7 are not food-grade :
PRODUCT NAME Shelf Reliance Deluxe BPA Free 55-gallon Barrel Water Storage System. Reliance Products Aqua-Tainer 7 Gallon Rigid Water Container. Coleman Jug With Water Carrier, 5 Gallons, Blue. WaterBOB Bathtub Emergency Water Storage Container. Sure Water 260 Gallon Emergency Water Storage Tank.
Material Composition BPA-freeFood Grade HDPEAquamira® BVR Filtration Technology. Rugged ; Thick Plastic. BPA-free, polyethylene barrel. LLDPE food-grade Made from food-grade material.
Dimensions (W x D x H) (inches) Approx 20" x 22" x 35" Approx 15" x 11" x 11" 10.5"x 10.5" x 16.2" 12.5" x 6.0" x 3.0″ 28.75" x 32.25" x 86.25"
Weight 225 lbs. 2 lbs. 2.5 lbs. 1.54 lbs. 75 lbs; 2,245 lbs (full).
Capacity (Gallons) 55 7 5 100 260
Features Includes water filter pump. Containers can be stacked when empty for convenient storage. Drip-resistant faucet,Leak resistant when placed on their side. It’s a refillable bag you can put in your tub, shower, or sink and fill with water without the fear of contamination. This tank's oblong footprint has a 29 inch narrow-side width that allows it fit through standard door frames.
Pros The Shelf Reliance Water Storage System includes extra tools to help you put your water supply to good use: Versatile. A good option for quick evacuations to a bug-out retreat. They are the right type of plastic for water storage. They carry easily. Easy to use option to deal with the problem of sinks & baths that are not sterile. Great capacity storage. Durability , Chemical treatment materials included.
Cons Takes up a significant amount of space and is very heavy when full. Leaking could be an issue, as noted by former customers ; Narrow opening makes cleaning inside challenging. Spigot is extremely subpar - Care, plastic spigot breaks easily !The plastic is too thin at that point and will not stand up to anything above delicate use. Time to fill up can vary according to the water supply rate of flow. Due to its size, finding a suitable spot for storing it might be a challenge.
Value for Money
Overall Rating
CLICK the Image to go to AMAZON.COM webpage.

Below is a reference table linking the aforementioned water containers to AMAZON country websites – for Canada, UK, and Italy :

Name of
Shelf Reliance Deluxe ….nanana
Sure Water 260 Gallon …n/an/an/a

An Alternative Source of Quality Water Storage Containers (esp. for N.American visitors) =>> WaterSupply Company. (Utah, USA).

There are a number of reasons why we have included this reputable company in our information & promotional activities but the principal factors were:

(i) the additional product options available and

(ii) the availability of the products promoted which has been a thorny problem concerning the majority of amazon country websites.

(iii) competitive prices & special offer promotions including free shipping on selected items !

Below are 2 separate product comparison tables to illustrate the 7 different water storage capacity tanks available from the WaterSupply Co.

Comparison Table # 1 :

NAME / MODEL Of STORAGE TANK 55 Gallon Water Storage Tank by WaterPrepared. 150 Gallon Water Tank By Rockwell Products. 160 Gallon Water Storage Tank by WaterPrepared. 250 Gallon Water Tank By Rockwell Products.
INTRODUCTION / DESCRIPTION. This high-capacity water barrel can safely store your water for long periods of time, especially if you upgrade it with an easy rotation system. - Unique UV-resistant plastic material - Protects against harmful bacteria build-up - Renders your water safe to drink for decades. The OASIS 150 Water Storage System : This high-quality 150-gallon water storage tank is a safe, secure, and clean way to store water. - water storage is safe and easily accessible in an emergency with our new innovative tanks ; - tanks come equipped with an Anti-Airlock Cap that has a spring-loaded valve that let's air in, as water goes out. ; - tanks feature high-quality brass valves one is positioned as a lower drain making it easy to rotate water, the other is positioned at a level to make it easy to fill containers. Be ready to face any water emergency or water shortage by safely and conveniently storing 160 gallons of water in your backyard, garden or garage. - Hygienic & Safe drinking water guaranteed ; - Strong & resilient construction ; - Hassle-Free Access ; - Stackable, space-saving design. This high-quality 250-gallon water storage tank is a safe, secure, and clean way to store water. - This tank features high-quality brass valves one is positioned as a lower drain making it easy to rotate water, the other is positioned at a level to make it easy to fill containers.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION (Specifications, Features, Prices & Shipping / Collection policies) > CLICK THE RELEVANT LINK described below:

55 Gallon Water Storage Tank.Click Here
150 Gallon Water Tank.Click Here
160 Gallon Water Storage Tank.Go Here
250 Gallon Water Tank.Click Here

Comparison Table # 2 :

NAME Of MODEL / STORAGE CAPACITY. 260 Gallon Water Storage Tank By SureWater. 500 Gallon Water Storage Tank By SureWater. 1500 Gallon Water Tank Water Storage Tank. For your Home, Cabin, Off-Grid, or Homestead. (Made to Order).
INTRODUCTION / DESCRIPTION Emergency Water Tank with Spigot for Emergency Disaster Preparedness. - Be ready to face any water emergency or water shortage by safely and conveniently storing 260 gallons of water in your backyard, home or garage. With a huge water capacity of 260 gallons, this tank can keep any person hydrated for 260 days. Be ready to face any water emergency or water shortage by safely and conveniently storing 500 gallons of water in your backyard, home or garage. With a huge water capacity of 500 gallons, this tank can keep any person hydrated for 500 days ; - Emergency Water Tank with Spigot for Emergency Disaster Preparedness. Be ready to face any water emergency or water shortage by safely and conveniently storing 1500 gallons of water in your backyard, home or garage. With a huge water capacity of 500 gallons, this tank can keep any person hydrated for 1500 days. Possesses ALL the important features/characteristics of WaterSupply storage tanks : - Hygienic & safe drinking water ; - Strong & resilient construction ; - Hassle-free access. NB: 1500 gallon water tanks are made to order. That means we do not produce them until your order has been place and it could take 1-2 weeks before it can be shipped out.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION (Specifications, Features, Prices & Shipping / Collection policies) > CLICK THE RELEVANT LINK described below:

260 Gallon Water Storage TankGO HERE !
500 Gallon Water Storage TankGO HERE !
1500 Gallon Water Tank Water Storage TankGO HERE !

Step 2 –  Fill your container with tap water

This is a fairly simple step, you just need to complete it,properly. Be sure to keep the inside of any container clean while filling. While there are numerous places which you can collect water from, be aware of the quality of the source. Some sources, such as city tap water, are already treated with chlorine and won’t require any further disinfection. Other sources, such as lakes and streams, would need to be treated before storing away.

Can I store long term water directly from the tap or does it have to be treated first?

This is one of the most common questions asked by people wishing to start long term water storage. Tap water varies from municipality to municipality, which means that in some areas it may be a good idea to store it directly from the tap and in other areas you may need to treat it first.

The chlorine content of the water determines whether storage can be done safely. All municipal water supply sources contain chlorine added to the water to improve taste and ensure the water does not contain harmful bacteria, algae and other pathogens. The level of chlorine in the water determines whether storage can be done without treatment.

Water that is left on the ground for a long time has a higher risk of the growth of harmful bacteria and algae. You want the water you store to be at the upper limit of the safe chlorine range. For example some countries have a maximum of 0.1 milligrams of trihalomethanes (THMs)* per litre of water.

[ THMs* are the result of a reaction between the chlorine used for disinfecting tap water and natural organic matter in the water. At elevated levels, THMs have been associated with negative health effects such as cancer and adverse reproductive outcomes ] .

How Do You Know If Your Water Source Needs Treatment OR Not ?

Step 3 – Test the water chlorine levels and adjust if necessary

  • Method 1 – Use Your Nose ! When the chlorine level is high enough that you can detect it by an odor (i.e. its chlorine odor is extremely faint), you are at the top of the range. ideal for storage. This method is not as reliable as others, however, as it relies on human sense of smell, which can vary from person to person. The best way is to check the chlorine levels with a test kit.
  • Method 2 – Use a Chlorine Test Kit  : A standard pool test kit can be used or you can get a  specially designed chlorine level test kit to test a water supply  relatively inexpensively. These test kits are easy to use and will measure the chlorine content of the water in ppm. With most of these kits, you take a water sample and soak the strip in the water for a few seconds. The test strip then turns a certain color. You then compare the color of the strip with a color chart provided, match the color and the graph will tell you the chlorine content of the water.
SenSafe 481026 Free Chlorine Water Check Strips
0, 0.05, 0.1, 0.2, 0.4, 0.6, 0.8, 1.2, 1.5, 2, 2.6, 4, 6 ppm (mg / L)
1st EPA Approved Test Strip
40 seconds test
Bottle of 50 test strips
Reactive only to free chlorine with no interference from typical monochloramine levels
Safe and easy alternative to wet chemical free chlorine tests.

Once you have determined the chlorine content in your water, you will need to make the necessary adjustments to achieve a recommended chlorine content. If your municipal water supply does not meet the ideal chlorine content range for long-term storage (many supplies are not), you will need to treat it before you store it.

Raise Chlorine Levels  : Raising chlorine levels is relatively easy and can be done with store-bought unscented concentrated liquid bleach. When purchasing bleach for this purpose, make sure that the active ingredient is sodium hypochlorite (NaOCI) at a concentration between 5.25% and 6%. 

It is also essential to make sure that it is a standard bleach without any additives (such as scented bleach). Some manufacturers also add sodium hydroxide as an active ingredient. This additional active ingredient is safe and will not pose any health risk during water purification.

55 Gallon Water Preserver Concentrate
- The first and only product accepted and proven safe for 5-year water storage!
- This kills and deters the re-growth of harmful bacteria. Over the course of time, the likelihood of potable water to become undrinkable is considerable. There are serious health issues that could emerge, including dysentery, typhoid, and the list could go on.
- Preserves the quality of your drinking water
- It causes a slight chlorine-like after taste.


1. Rinse the barrel

2. Add 5 Gallons of Water

3. Add all the Water Preserver Concentrate

4. Close the Cap Loosely

5. Slosh mixture to sanitize the barrel

6. Continue to fill the barrel within 2-3″ from the top. (TIP >>> if applicable to where you live /store your emergency water – be sure to allow for expansion of water during freezing conditions. If there is not enough room at the top of your barrel, it can cause your barrel to become disfigured or cracked. It is recommended to only fill the barrel 90% full.)

For filling, use a special Drinking Water Hose instead of regular old garden hose when filling up your water barrel/s. Garden hoses are not designed for drinking water. Also bear in mind that the water you get from a garden hose is not the kind of water from your kitchen sink’s tap. It is primarily because standard hoses for the garden are usually constructed out of vinyl and rubber. In most cases, toxic substances and heavy metals are used to line them.

To find the ideal hose for drinking water, go for one lined with polyurethane material. It is the safest material for the hose. Another option is the freeze-protected or the heated water hose, which you should choose, especially if you live in places where below freezing temperatures are not uncommon.

With such hose, you have an assurance that water will not freeze. The tangle-free RV water hose should be created out of reinforced rubber instead of vinyl. Note that hoses made of vinyl are prone to kinking so you need to choose one based on a reinforced rubber to ensure that it is kink-free.

What to Look for When Buying an RV Water Drinking Hose :

  • What to Look for When Buying an RV Water Hose
  • safety (very important since we are talking about setting up your emergency water source)
  • Ability to avoid knots, tangles, and kinks
  • Flexibility
  • Proper storage area

Read below about our favourite choice :

Camco 50ft Premium Drinking Water Hose
- Top brand company with over 50 years of experience.
- 50ft hose ; Weight 5.95 lbs.
- At 20% thicker than regular hoses so you won’t have to worry about pinholes or leaks. It’s made to prevent kinks from forming, and this design adds further durability.
- It’s also fortified to give it a longer lifespan.
- The Camco Premium Drinking Water Hose is lead, phthalate, and BPA free, so you’re assured safe drinking water for your family.
- At five-eighths inch in diameter, the hose made by Camco provides solid flow rates.
- UV-resistant, a vital feature for most hoses that makes them more durable.
- Important defect is it’s rather bulky and challenging to coil out due to the stiffness at the outset.


7. Tighten the caps using your bung wrench

8. Label / Mark clearly ” Drinking Water ” & the date when you filled it.

If you’re treating five gallons of tap water at a time, add about 16 drops (or 1/8 teaspoon) of bleach first, then recheck the chlorine levels. Repeat this until you have the desired amount of chlorine in the water. Remember the maximum number of milligrams of  THMs  per litre of water as stipulated by your country’s health institute.

When you reach your desired chlorine levels, write down the amount of bleach required in order to determine how much chlorine to add to your specific type of tap water.

Lowering Chlorine Levels  :

It is quite difficult to reduce the level of chlorine in your water supply. Most people need to increase the chlorine levels in their municipal water supplies before they store them. If you make a mistake by adding too much chlorine, it’s best to drain the water and start over. 

If you need to remove chlorine from a water supply, these are the most common ways to do it – Evaporation, Filtration or Dilution :

EvaporationChlorine evaporates and you can speed up this process by aerating the water. 
A popular method is to throw the water back and
forth between two containers which will introduce air bubbles into the water. 
You can also use an air pump from an aquarium to do this as well.
FiltrationRun the water through a carbon-based water filter. 
Carbon removes chlorine and other chemical particles from water very effectively.
DilutionAdd distilled water or any other type of water with a lower chlorine level. 
Adding water with a lower chlorine level will dilute the water and cause the chlorine levels to drop.

Step 4 – Find a place to store the water

It’s important that you store your water in a cool, dark place. A cool temperature i.e lower than room temperature limits microbial growth. It’s important to keep the containers away from heat and light, which could cause the containers to leak.

Don’t store water near substances like gasoline, kerosene or pesticides, as vapors from these materials could penetrate the plastic. If this happens, it is more or less 100% impossible to remove the contaminant/s.A garage is not the ideal option due to the presence of motor vehicle/s. Other good options are basements, crawl spaces or cellars.


The United States department of Homeland Security (FEMA) recommends that everyone have enough water for three days if your normal water source is disrupted. Three days of water should be enough to get you through the periods of water shutdown or pollution that can occur in natural disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes and ice storms.

Three days is a good starting point, but even during disasters, access to clean water can be much longer.

After hours of reading prepper blogs and forums, the general consensus seems to me that you should have at least 2 weeks of water on hand. So for a single person, that’s 14 litres of water. For a family of four, that would mean you need 56 gallons of water.

It is up to you to decide if you go above the 2 week minimum. For many people, finding space in their home or apartment to store enough water for two weeks is a stretch, so trying to find space for a month may not be a viable option at present. Even if space is not an issue, long-term water storage costs can be prohibitively expensive.

A popular recommendation would be to start with the 2 week supply and slowly build up to larger quantities as more space options become apparent and extra money becomes available. The funny / scary thing about prepping is that it can turn into an obsession. A friend of mine once I filled two 55-gallon barrels with water, he immediately wanted more. Today, he’s aiming to store a year’s supply!

On a final note, Drinking should always be the priority reason in terms of water storage. Other uses such as washing, bathing, and cooking must be limited so that there always remains enough for consumption. Furthermore, it’s important to bear in mind that drinking caffeinated , alcoholic or sugar-laden beverages in place of water will dehydrate the body, requiring you to drink more water in order to replenish what has been lost.




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