View Full Version : How to "keep" stored water

King Hugh
03-14-2010, 09:26 PM
The very first prep item we started with is storing jugs of water. We have a well, and our water is not "treated" in any way. To start with we have just started rinsing out our empty milk jugs really well, and then fill them with water, and put them in a storage room in our basement. I'm not too crazy about the milk jugs because I'm not sure how durable they will be, but for now they are what we have, and they are free. I'm having my daughter and her husband save us their empty 2 - 3 liter soda bottles too, we may transition to them, but I have some other plans for them too.

My questions are:

Are small containers like this worthwile? What do you all do. How about 5 gal blue water cans?

Should I add a little chlorine to the stored water to help preserve it?

How often should I empty rinse and refill?

Any other considerations I've overlooked?

03-14-2010, 09:47 PM
If you have the funds you can pick up a couple of food grade barrels for water storage, save space and the water will stay potable longer. Someone here built a nice rack system for theirs, but I can't remember the link or who it was at the moment.


03-14-2010, 10:59 PM
I would use 55 gallon drums for storage, of course use food grade and a non transparent color to prevent growth of any kind. I would fill the barrel every week, month what ever on a scheldule. Use the water for gardening or some other use to keep the water fresh and good to go. I think water like any resource should be rotated.

Thats my 2 cents on it. I also need to get an emergency water barrel.

03-15-2010, 09:31 AM
King, before getting into your storage questions, have you investigated what you can do to still use the water from your well, if your commercial power source fails? Depending on the type well and depth, you may have several options. Use a small generator and run the pump a few minutes at a time to replenish your stored water in the house. Solar power for the pump. Well bucket. There's even a bucket made for use with drilled wells. Believe Lehman's sells it.

Call getting water from the well, if the power is out, plan "A".

Is collecting rain water a viable option where you live? This can be as simple as setting 5 gallon buckets under the drip edge of a building on your property. Depending on your budget and location, a water collection system tied into your gutters may supply all the water you need for a long term SHTF situation. Call this plan "B".

For plan "C", what is your nearest natural water source that has the potential to supply water for long term? Spring, small creek, pond? Large rivers in some areas are too heavily polluted, IMHO, with chemicals to make them viable options, without some heavy duty treatment processes. If your source is close enough to haul 10 gallons of water with a kid's wagon, you have plan "C".

Use those plans, or similar ones based on your circumstances, to determine how much water that you actually need to store in your basement. Definitely enough drinking/cooking water to tide you over until you can put an applicable "plan" in place. Rain water or creek water may be readily available for flushing and other non-potable water purposes.

Please don't use milk jugs for drinking water. The fats in the milk are very difficult to remove from the plastic. And, those jugs are biodegradable (breakdown easily in a landfill) so they don't last very long. (Speaking from experience!) Same thing for those large drinking water containers from the grocery store. I've had them leak within 6 months of purchase. Stopped buying for that reason.

Did you know that unscented chlorine bleach bottles are good for storing drinking water? They are heavy duty, due to the nature of the contents. And, there's no need to rinse. When the bottle is emply, simply refill it. The residual chlorine will treat the water. Since liquid chlorine bleach has a very short shelf life, the residual bleach will breakdown into harmless components while you have the water in storage.

We don't buy 2 liter soda's, so I can't accumulate them, based on our purchases, either. So, when we take off the trash, we go "dumpster diving" at the convenience center. Use one of those reach entenders to pull out a few each time we're there. Other options are juice containers. Washing well and sanitizing with a bleach solution takes care of the worries about using bottles pulled from the trash.

Check out the Reliance Aqua-Tainers at WalMart. They hold 7 gallons of water. I bought one last week for $10.88. These may be your best option for storing water in your basement. Pick up 1 or 2 at a time, until you have as many as you need. There's a lot of convenience in terms of handling your water supply, with these.

As to rotating water, I'd do it every 6 months. Mainly because of the leaching of plastics into the water. If water is canned (like canning chicken broth), in glass jars, the water is safe to drink for as long as the seal remains intact. No worries about needing to rotate the water stored in glass.

This post is getting long, so I'd better close. Here's two links with information should be helpful for storing water and utilizing water from other sources.


Hope some of this helps.

03-15-2010, 10:48 AM
I might catch some flack for even mentioning re-using canning lids, BUT.... most of us have extra canning jars we dont use, but keep on hand for if we do need them. I save the used lids from jars I open that don't get bent when opening.... and use them for canning water. Those jars are sitting there taking up room somewhere, they might as well have water in them, but the lid cost was prohibitive. When you reuse lids, some probably wont seal, toss those lids, and dump the water, keepin only the one's that seal. I don't reccommend re-using lids for food, but water is free, so it doesn't hurt to dump a jar or two or a whole batch for faulty seals. Just sayin.

03-15-2010, 01:20 PM
Don't know why you'd get any flack. That's an excellent use for used lids that are still in good condition. The only reason for not using them with food is that they do have a higher potential for seal failure. IMHO, not enough cost savings to justify losing seals on today's high priced foods, not to mention the time and energy needed to re-process the jars that don't seal.

As you said, it's not an issue if a jar or 2 of water doesn't seal.

Instead of flack, :) thanks for posting a good tip!


03-15-2010, 07:53 PM
Kinghugh: If your well is 2-inches or larger you can use a device that fits the ID of the well and is attached to a rope. The bottom of the pipe or pail has a ball in it or leather flapper to act as a one way valve. You simply lower it into the well and pull it back up. The other thing is a simple pitcher pump. If the water is not to far down you can pump it to the surface. Another approach to potable water is the ceramic filter they sell at Cheaper Than Dirt. It uses 2 five gallon pails with the filter to make potable water out of rain water, or shallow well water, stream water, etc..

It is just my opinion but, I would not store any more water than what would be necessary to get another plan implemented. That is if one will need a susstainable source of potable water.

I liked NClee's approach as well. Have several plans of action should one of them fails or if you are not able to implement it. You know your needs best. Be realistic and design around your basic requirements.


03-15-2010, 08:36 PM
I might catch some flack for even mentioning re-using canning lids, BUT.... most of us have extra canning jars we dont use, but keep on hand for if we do need them. I save the used lids from jars I open that don't get bent when opening.... and use them for canning water. Those jars are sitting there taking up room somewhere, they might as well have water in them, but the lid cost was prohibitive. When you reuse lids, some probably wont seal, toss those lids, and dump the water, keepin only the one's that seal. I don't reccommend re-using lids for food, but water is free, so it doesn't hurt to dump a jar or two or a whole batch for faulty seals. Just sayin.

I like this idea. I have been throwing my washed, used, unbent lids into a box and just setting them aside.................just in case. You have got me thinking, great use for those 2 quart jars that are sitting empty in between seasons.

03-15-2010, 11:15 PM
We have a well and water front (we own down to the river, but there are, currently ALOT of restrictions on what we can do within 100 feet, I think it is, of the water - for instance, we cannot cut down trees, even if they are dead and a danger to our house!) but we save water in old milk jugs, too. We don't have a generator, but are planning on getting one. We are also planning on putting a hand pump or some such on the well.
For right now, though, after our frozen pipe fiasco this winter, we save water in old milk jugs in case we need to flush toilets, etc. I heard about not drinking water from milk jugs, so we also have some bottled water set by. We are on such a tight budget, I am mostly working on food until one or the other of us finds a job.

03-16-2010, 12:48 PM
I got a big blue barrel, a food grade hose, and a siphon from Emergency Essentials, and made a little platform for it with concrete blocks.

I added bleach per the LDS church directives.

I have about a month supply. I'm going to invest in a water crock and a glass carboy in one of my monthly year supply additions. That way when I need water, all I need to do is fill up the 5 gallon carboy and stick it in the water crock.

03-16-2010, 01:29 PM
Take a look at Northern Brewers, they have a good selection of Carboys and gear that makes full ones easier to carry.

03-16-2010, 01:47 PM
Yeah! That would work. Thanks for the suggestion.

Pokeberry Mary
03-16-2010, 08:47 PM
If you only want to have a few days worth of water on hand for short emergencies--storing is useful for that. If you want to cover yourself for a real long term water emergency-- you need a fresh source.

Also-- if you have a swimming pool--that water is useful for cleaning and flushing toilets. Which--requires a lot more water than you'd think.

I'm hoping we'll be able to find a way to access our well water in the near future--after we take care of some 'must dos' on our home and land--then we want to look at wood heat and a way to access our well water without electricity. In the meantime I do keep some bottled water just in case a storm should put out the electric short term. I would not bother trying to store bottled water more than a season or so.

03-16-2010, 09:14 PM
We have about 50 one-liter soda bottles full of water saved and another dozen two-liters. I also have a couple of (new) garbage cans full of water saved. That isn't consumable, but if the well gets low, it is useful for washing dishes, baths, etc. I also have a few gallon juice type bottles full of water, but not a lot. We've had a few well issues over the years, so keeping a bit of water on hand (rotated regularly) has been useful. The large gallon water bought from the store tends to leak after a couple of months, so it's easier to just keep some old soda bottles and fill them. I'm not really worried about the well getting low this time of year, but in some summers, it has been known to be an issue.

03-17-2010, 02:15 AM
I agree with the others about NOT storing water in milk jugs; they are biodigradable and will begin to leak in a few months.

Someone on another forum stored water in milk jugs, in an extra closet and didn't check them for some time. Unfortunately, he discovered water all over the bottom of the closet. And he was in an upstairs apartment..:(

We have some 5-gallon water bottles, the kind that businesses and folks use. We picked up seven of them at a nursery auction. No one was interested in them, but I was, because I was into prepping and knew they'd be perfect. I got them very cheap and am still using them at this time.

I also have unused liter bottles stored, in case I have to share water with others; and have several of the bright blue 5-gal. water containers from WalMart, sitting ready as well.

I also have available containers to fill if there should be a serious emergency; such as nuclear fallout and I don't want contaminated water. Water is critical and everyone should have a 'plan' in place for any kind of emergency when there is no water available.

03-18-2010, 12:01 AM
I have to agree, don't use milk jugs, the heavier juice jugs are pretty good. I was able to pick up a couple of those blue tinted 5gal water cooler bottles that work well. I see you can buy water at Lowes in these and get refills. I haven't looked yet but i want to see how much the bottles are and how they seal them.

I'm also going to pick up a couple of those collapsable 5 gal containers to have on hand for ease of carry. I want to put one in each vehicle since they take so little room up.

I hope I don't get in trouble for this but I had found this company thru the BHM classifieds some time back and have them in the back of my mind for once we get our place. Assuming my well isn't too deep that is. They do have a deep well but deep is only to 200' but that's the max distance from ground level to top of the water. To me this looks like a good idea on how to cleanly pump water up. http://www.bisonpumps.com/hand-pumps.htm

Someone mentioned a swimming pool and that made me think. I've always kind of been against the wifes desire to get a pool but this might be an excellent way to add to my water prep capability and to hide it out in open sit without anyone thinking a thing.

03-18-2010, 09:35 AM
CountryGuy, couple of things if you don't mind.

I haven't had good luck with those collapsable containers. The ones I've used are those sold in the camping dept at WalMart. (Can't remember the brand.) The problem, both times I tried them, is that the plastic cracks along the fold lines after a few uses. The first we bought for our camper, because it would be easy to store between trips. Didn't learn, the first time and bought another one for emergency preps ahead of storms for the same reason, ease of storage. The only way I'd buy another one is that with the understanding it would be useful for a short period of time.

Re: Piston pumps - Yikes! Looks like that's expensive. $1,547 for 64' depth. Would take another $833+ dollars for a 200' well. $2,380 + S&H.

Growing up, from age 13 to 21, lived on a farm with a piston pump for our water supply. If pumping could be measured in miles, I probably drove that pump several thousand miles. :) Especially when Mom needed water for the washing machine & rinse tubs. That pump was castiron and almost trouble free for all those years. If memory serves, Dad had to pull the pump only 1 time for some type of repair.

That pump was installed on a concrete platform about a foot high. The platform was large enough to stand on the pump handle side and to set a #10 washtub on the other side. Mentioned this, as you may want to consider something similar to keep from having a muddy mess around the pump. Not only from pumping water, but from the weather, as well. The platform had a slight crown to shed surface water away from the well.

One question comes to mind. May not apply in your situation. If you have a pump house, will you be able to use this pump inside the house? That's the problem we have. Ours is made from concrete blocks with a heavy, removable roof. In order to replace the electric pump with a pitcher pump (30' well) we'll have to, in essence, destroy part of the existing pump house. We'll have to bust through one of the side walls for easy access. (Have a pitcher pump in storage, btw.)

While I like the concept of having a piston pump and know how well they work, I'm wondering if you've checked out other options? One that comes to mind is solar energy to run your existing pump. Would the cost be comparable? While I know how well those pumps work, I also remember how hard it was to tote water!

One of my not-so-fond childhood memories was - Mom cooking supper when it was raining (especially in the winter). "I need a bucket of water."

Just some thoughts that I hope you find useful, this morning.


PS... If you put in a pool to serve as a backup water supply, do some research on which pool treatment chemicals should be used. From what I understand, some aren't particularly safe for consumption without using a heavy duty filter system.

03-18-2010, 07:45 PM
I have a gravity flow spring which works well for us as long as the water stays clean

King Hugh
03-18-2010, 11:55 PM
Wow, thanks for all the advice everybody.

I'll transition out of the milk jugs ASAP. I promise!!:D

I'm thinking of just getting a few of the blue 5 gallon jugs. Normal, run of the mill, non-SHTF situations around here only last a day or 2 without power. I do have a generator, but haven't been able to get my pump to work with it. Doesn't seem to have enough ooomph to get it going. It's an old jet pump...I have a shallow well, but I don't know how shallow. I'm going to try getting the genny wired into the house panel this year and see if it makes a difference. That's for when TSHTF so I can still use my well water. A dip bucket is a good idea to have on hand though...I'll look into that.

I do have a pool, and it's funny I never really thought of using it for washing and flushing, or anything else until the other day...I was drinking my coffee and looking out the window at it...and it occurred to me..."damn, that's a lot of flushes right there!" Plus I've got a nice stream that "looks" clean about a mile and a 1/2 from my house.

All in all, I think if I can store 20 Gallons of water I'll feel pretty comfortable.

I'll tell ya, we lost power last week in a snowstorm for about 16 hours, it was nice to carry on like normal. Genny running, plenty of food, plenty of water, way to cook, flushing without concern....I actually felt a little twinge of disappointemnt when the lights came back on so soon...things were going so well. It was almost like camping.

03-19-2010, 07:56 AM
Check for the amps of the circuit breaker for your well pump, if you haven't aready done so. That may be a clue as to how much "ooomph" your jenny needs to have.

Others with more knowledge about these things, including deep well pumps, may have better advice. With my limited knowledge, I suspect that it won't make any difference how the jenny is wired. (Direct connect or through the panel.) If the jenny doesn't have the starting amps needed for the pump, it may not work.

On another note, pick up one of those contractor style 5 gallon insulated water coolers to use for your initial drinking water supply. Set beside the sink, so the spout is over the edge of the sink. Fill with water as a part of your storm preps. If in the summer, add some ice. It's a way to have cool drinking water, while keeping the refrigerator/freezer door closed.

Filling that cooler is one of our first storm warning preps, winter or summer. (Ice storms and hurricane preps.) We had a high pressure leak under the house last summer. Filled that cooler before turning off the pump. Naturally this happened on a Friday night. It was Monday before we could get it repaired. Anyway, that cooler of cool water sure was nice.

So, FWIW, I recommend that everyone have at least one of these coolers in addition to any other type of water storage container. If memory serves, we bought ours at Lowes. Since then, I've seen them at WalMart and several other places.

I've read somewhere, that if swimming pool water is to be used for a backup water supply, some types of pool maintenace chemicals shouldn't be used. Since we don't have a pool, I didn't bookmark in order to retain the details. You may want to research in order to get the maximum benefit from having a pool.

Just some thoughts that may be useful.


03-19-2010, 02:03 PM
I have to agree, don't use milk jugs, the heavier juice jugs are pretty good.

Those thick one-gallon lipton tea jugs work great. I keep the Lemon Tea jugs to refill with water. The look like this, but I buy the unsweetened ones.