Today I have something incredibly important to share…
A Complete Guide On Building A Water Storage System For Emergencies
Because most people incorrectly assume emergency water storage is simple.
Sure, it’s NOT rocket science…
But if you overlook the BEST solutions (and mistakes to avoid), it can ruin your entire supply…
TOPICS IN THIS GUIDE… ↓(click to jump)
- How NOT To Store Water…
- How To Store Water Long Term
- 9 Best Water Storage Containers
- Best Water Storage Tips & Tricks
Water is one prep item that’s often overlooked.
How do I know this?
Because a poll of U.S. adults found that 53% don’t have at least three days’ worth of non-perishable food and water in their homes…
In a widespread panic, water and power will be the first two resources to shut down.
And while humans can survive quite long without electricity.
We cannot survive long without water.
That’s why it’s the most important survival resource.
But you can’t just put some tap water into old milk jugs.
It won’t be safe to drink exactly when you need it most.
It can (and will) become toxic.
So let’s get some misconceptions out of the way:
- First, just because water is clear doesn’t mean it’s safe. Contaminants are often colorless, and no one likes drinking poison (or parasites).
- Two, water DOES NOT have a expiration date. But that doesn’t mean you can rely on the water in the same container forever.
- And three, yes, you can die if you do this wrong. Storing water long term IS simple, but you can still do it wrong. And if you do, you’re putting your life on the line.
At the very least, you’ll get sick.
And getting sick or injured sucks (especially in a survival situation).
Before we get to how you should store water, I will explain how you should NOT:
→ DO NOT store water in anything besides food-grade water containers.
I will repeat that throughout this article often; it will hurt your head.
ONLY FOOD-GRADE WATER CONTAINERS!
- I know those Home Depot buckets are cheap.
- They are also damn near indestructible.
- You can buy lids for them
- And they’re an awesome bright orange color.
But you shouldn’t store water in them.
You should never store water in anything not made for holding food/water.
You can tell if a container is food-grade in several ways:
- Plastics #1, 2, 4, and 7 are used for food-grade containers. You can find this number in the little triangular recycle symbol on the bottom.
- Also, on the bottom, a symbol will indicate the container safe to freeze or store in a pantry.
- The container often says on the package when you buy it, “Freezer, Refrigerator, Pantry Safe.” Or something like that indicates that you can put food and water there.
→ DO NOT store water in food-grade containers that have previously stored other items.
I’m talking about milk jugs, soda bottles, beer kegs, or anything used to hold another food or drink (oils, chemicals, etc.).
Even if you’ve washed it out a thousand times!
It’s extremely difficult (maybe even impossible) to rinse all the sugars and bacteria left over.
And even trace amounts of sugar or bacteria will taint your water.
→ DO NOT store water in cardboard containers.
That sounds obvious – but I’ve seen boxed water before, and that cardboard crap won’t last.
Don’t rely on it for long-term H2O storage.
→ DO NOT store water in metallic containers that aren’t stainless steel.
If it’s not stainless steel, it will corrode, and your water will go bad.
Rusty water is gross and not what you want.
→ DO NOT try to store water in something that cannot be sealed.
With only a few rare exceptions, storing open water is bad because it’s susceptible to contamination.
Particles from the air, animals, and insects can fall into your water.
Bird poop in your water is no good.
→ DO NOT store it in anything that can become contaminated.
If you doubt the history container, don’t store water in it.
Find something else.
→ DO NOT store water in direct sunlight or heat.
You want a shaded, temperature-controlled room.
Basements, windowless pantries, temperature-controlled garages, or underground cellars are smart locations.
Sunlight, heat, and temperature changes are hard on everything.
These are the enemies of long term water storage and will contribute to spoilage.
UV rays and heat are hard on plastics.
Sometimes, even glass can leach chemicals.Click here to instantly download this Complete Checklist. No purchase necessary.
First, the container needs to be sterile and food safe.
But even within those parameters, there are lots choices.
So, let’s delve into what materials you CAN use for storing water long-term.
Commercially, there are many water container options on the market.
And they come in different shapes and sizes.
Which material you use and what size you get depends on the following:
- How much storage space do you have?
- What’s your budget?
- How many people do you plan to sustaining with your water supply?
- How long do you think you’ll need the water?
- Does your geography include any backup natural water sources
With THAT said, here’s a variety of the best water storage containers on the market today:
1. Food Grade Plastic Containers
The advantages of plastic are plentiful.
It’s lightweight, durable, cheap, easy to come by, and replaceable.
Plastic is the preferred storage method for many.
Unfortunately, plastic also has some serious disadvantages.
For one, food scientists have a growing fear that plastic can leach chemicals into water.
This is especially true in direct light or heat.
But, if stored properly, there’s less risk of these problems.
Just make sure you occasionally replace your water – we’ll hit details on this later.
By far my favorite plastic container (and favorite containers overall) is The 5 Gallon Legacy Premium Water Storage System.
Here are a few highlights of these 5-Gallon Water Containers:
- Holds 5 Gallons of Water, Dry Foods, or Ammo
- Stack-able to Maximize Storage Capacity
- Easy-Grip Design Makes it Easy to Carry
- Virtually Indestructible!
They are a solid investment and one of the best long-term survival storage solutions.
Plus, if you get the 30-gallon package (6 containers) you will also get the following bonus features:
- A handy cap wrench (to ensure you completely lock and seal these containers)
- 2 spigots (this allows you to tap into two of the jugs at the same time). This is a nice option if you'd prefer to keep sanitation jugs and consumption jugs separate.
- Water Purification Drop Treatment Solution (the perfect amount for 30 gallons).
NOTE: These are the containers I choose for my own emergency water stockpile – click here to read a detailed review and short “How To” for these containers.
2. Plastic Bladders For Your Bathtub
Some folks plan to fill bathtubs and sink basins with water as soon as SHTF.
This will create a solid amount of water in a pinch.
In theory, this is a very smart, functional idea.
But upon closer scrutiny, it falls apart.
Mainly because bathtubs and sinks aren’t sterile containers, nor can they be sealed off.
But a Bathtub Water bladder is a simple solution to this problem.
You can put a refillable bag in your tub a nd fill it with water without contamination.
The bags hold as much as 100 gallons and can be emptied and packed for transportation.
These are some of the best water containers on the market.
I highly recommend investing in a few.
Not only is it a great tool – but it’s cheap too!
The waterBOB is a water containment system that holds up to 100 gallons of fresh drinking water.
It's designed to fit in any standard bathtub.
This means you'll never have to wait in line to buy expensive bottled water or worry about keeping large barrels or tanks.
Instead, collect water in the large container that you already have—your bathtub!
Simply lay the liner in any standard bathtub, attach the fill sock to the faucet, and fill the bladder to capacity, which takes approximately 20 minutes.
3. 55 Gallon Plastic Drums
They take up a lot of space and are very heavy when full.
A single gallon of water weighs 8.35 lbs.!
But these plastic barrels are one of the most reliable ways to store water for a long time.
Traditionally plastic water barrels are blue for easy identification.
There's not much to say about these simple containers:
- They store up to 55 gallons
- They're BPA-free
- Made with food-grade polyethylene
- Measures 22.95" diam. x 35.13"h
- Weighs 18.2 lb.
4. Glass Containers
Some people think you can always trust glass.
The FDA classifies glass as “GRAS,” which stands for “Generally Regarded As Safe,”…
But take that with a grain of salt.
If it was used to store anything else in a previous life, find a different container.
The big disadvantages to glass are it’s heavy and breaks easily.
On the flip side, it can last forever, is dishwasher friendly, easy to come by, and easy to sterilize.
You can reduce the chance of breakage by wrapping it with newspaper and cardboard.
Comes with 6 Clean & Clear Glass bottles so you can safely store up to 18 oz. of water.
Each BPA-free, lead-free clear glass water bottle is made with premium soda-lime glass, high-quality 304 stainless steel, & food-grade silicone gasket
Includes a leak-resistant cap that prevents messy spills
Clear glass drinking bottles are dishwasher-safe!
5. Food Grade Stainless Steel Drums
This is possibly the safest bet when it comes to storing water long-term.
There are no chemicals that can leach into the water.
It protects contents from sunlight, and it’s durable.
Unfortunately, this is also the most expensive option.
Stainless steel containers tend to be heavy.
You also must be careful what you put inside them.
Storing tap water treated with chlorine will erode the protective surface of the stainless steel.
That’s called corrosion, and corrosion is always bad.
That’s how your water gets poisoned.
Make sure your heavy-duty stainless-steel container is FOOD GRADE or FOOD SAFE!
This stainless steel drum comes with a tight-head drum to be used to store and transport hazardous liquids.
It comes with 2" and 3/4" NPT bung openings and plugs on top can be used for filling and venting.
Stainless steel is more resistant to rust and corrosion than carbon steel
It has a synthetic rubber gasket that helps prevent leaks.
It weighs 48 lb empty and measures approximately 33" high and 22-1/2" in diameter.
6. Large Containers (i.e., Water Tanks)
They are big, they are expensive.
And they’re hard to move once in place!
But if you have a large water tank you will be set for a long time.
The larger water tanks can hold up to tens of thousands of gallons.
This is pretty much the ultimate long-term water storage tool.
7. Your Backyard Pool
Okay, let’s clear this up once and for all…
Yes, you can drink pool water if it’s treated properly.
As long as it’s under 4 ppm, it isn’t poisonous to ingest.
Kids inadvertently drink gulps of pool water all the time and don’
t die, right?
When all other clean water is gone in a serious emergency, start using what you’ve stockpiled.
Stick your head in the pool and start drinking the wet goodness.
But there are some things to keep in mind:
First, you can’t seal backyard pools.
Making them susceptible to contamination from bacteria and insects.
So make sure to purify and filter become consumption.
Also, your pool filtration system won’t work if the electricity is down.
So, the movement of water will subside, leaving it open to serious contamination.
If will turn into a swamp pretty quickly.
If you want to use your pool water for survival, you must do so long before it gets to that stage.
Always boil or chemically treat pool water before you using it, just in case.Click here to instantly download this Complete Checklist. No purchase necessary.
8. Water Wells
I suppose this is more of a water generation system than “storage,”.
But I’m adding this anyway because it’s relevant.
Wells store and produce water.
So, if you can build one, you’ll have a resilient source of drinking water for emergencies.
But this depends on how much of your well is mechanized.
If you have a well, purchase a hand well pump kit in case the power goes out!
Someone with a working water well will survive a disaster far easier than the rest.
9. Plastic Water Bottles
Well, can’t I just buy some twenty packs of bottled water?
Water has no expiration date.
But those cheap plastic bottles will, over time, leach BPA and other nasty chemicals.
Plastic water bottles are only suitable for storing water on a very short-term basis.
But this option is acceptable if you have a diligent water rotation plan.
Ok, don't overthink here, look for a bundle deal that gives you the most oz. for your money.
At the time of publishing, this was the best deal.
But it may no longer be true when you're reading this...
So do some comparison shopping.
How do you decide on how much water you’ll need in an emergency?
That’s a question with a lot of variables!
The rule is as follows:
Humans need about a gallon of water per person per day.
Half of it is for drinking, the other half for bathing and other purposes.
That is an easy enough calculation…
But you must also take into account the following:
- How much physical activity you’ll be doing?
- How many people you’re providing for?
- What’s the weather where you live?
- Do you have local access to water?
- How long you’ll need to have water for?
These are the questions every survivalist must answer for themselves.
FEMA recommends keeping about three days of water on hand in an emergency.
But as a survivalist, that number sounds drastically short sited.
I recommend keeping at least a week’s worth of water in storage, ready for use.
Preferably closer to two or three weeks, as I discuss at the 4:09 mark of this video on how to get prepared.
Ideally, if you’re serious about getting prepared, you should be thinking months (or even years).
I will say this:
In a long-term emergency, you can never have too much water on hand.
Rotating Your Water Supply
I’ve mentioned this a few times because it’s critical.
Water, left in perfect storage containers, even in ideal conditions, won’t last forever.
And thus, water must be replaced.
This is just a fact of emergency water.
I know it’s a pain in the ass – but it’s necessary.
As a rule, you should rotate your stockpile with fresh water at least once a year.
I’m not saying you’ll contract illness from ingesting water stored longer.
But it’s a matter of being safe and avoiding illness at all costs.
In an emergency, you want to be sure your supply of water is drinkable.
Not only to survive, but you can’t afford to get sick during an emergency.
That’s a recipe for disaster!
But don’t just throw out that water you rotate out…
That water doesn’t need to be wasted, you can (and should) repurpose it.
It can still be used for bathing, washing dishes or other things, watering plants, etc.
Just don’t drink it.
Keeping Water Filtration/Purification Methods on Hand
Even if your basement is stocked full of stored water, you need a method for purifying it.
Make sure you have something!
Collecting and filtering good, drinkable water, even in an emergency, is essential.
Every survivalist needs to have fuel and purification tools/chemicals.
Without them, you’re at a severe disadvantage.
Sawyer Mini Water Filter
I highly recommend you get a couple of Sawyer mini water filters.
Wait? Mini? A mini water filter?
Yes, it’s mini in size but not in volume.
It can filter 100,000 gallons of water!
This little water filter is ideal for travel AND building a large-volume gravity filter at home.
Perfect for your long-term H20 storage plan.
What makes the Sawyer Mini so powerful is its inline design capabilities.
Saving you hundreds of dollars vs. traditional gravity water filters!
Here’s my review video of the Sawyer Mini:
↓ Sawyer Mini Water Filter Review
Stored Water Tastes Funny
Stored water “goes flat” (loses the oxygen within it), and may taste strange.
Don’t worry too much about this.
This is typical.
It can be remedied by swishing the water in your cup or shaking it up in a bottle.
Of course, if there’s a putrid, acrid, swampy smell to your water, and it tastes terrible, DON’T SWALLOW IT.Click here to instantly download this Complete Checklist. No purchase necessary.
It’s easy to overlook the obvious and get your priorities mixed up.
- Do you really need another survival watch, tactical pen, or survival gas mask?
- Or is it time to invest in long-term freeze-dried survival food?
- Is an underground survival bunker your first step?
- Or should you start with something smaller? Like, a life-saving TACT bivvy…
But human beings can only survive without water for three days.
Then we shrivel up like raisins and die.
There aren’t any survival resources more important than water.
This is why any survivalist not storing water is making a huge mistake.
And in locations with hot climates, water is quickly becoming a scare resource.
But if you store water correctly, you’ll stay hydrated and ready for almost anything.
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