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Tips & Tricks

Storing Water? Read This First!

Water is literally the stuff of life. Learn what to store it in, how to make sure it’s purified, where to store it, and what to do after that (don’t forget this step!)

Your body is like a big sponge that’s constantly drying out.

Without water you’re dead in 3 days, maybe 4, because that big ol’ sponge we call a body gets too dry.

That’s why water should be your first prep.

It just doesn’t matter how many widgets you stuff in a backpack if you die of dehydration before you get to use any of it.

We also have to respect water because everything on this planet likes to live in it, and some of those things want to kill you.

Water itself isn’t benign either, it’s always trying to dissolve everything around it.

That’s why, when storing water for the long term, we have to consider what kind of container it’s in.

Container Options

Clean all your containers before using them. Rinse them with clean water several times to remove any soap residue.

All containers are not created equal. The purest water in a bottle that held chemicals is still undrinkable. When you’re talking about long term storage, the materials that make up a container are as crucial as the water inside.

All materials “leak” things into the water, some worse than others.

Plastics leak the most chemicals into your water. Plastics safe for potable water storage have to be food grade. Look for the recycling symbol, it will have a number in the middle.

Food grades are #1 (PETE), #2 (HDPE), #4 (LDPE), and #5 (PP). High density Polyethylene (HDPE) with a #2 are the best.

If you’re using old containers avoid milk jugs or cardboard juice boxes. Dairy proteins and juice particulates aren’t fully removed by cleaning.

Glass is not an ideal storage vessel and should be avoided. Glass can shatter, crack, and microscopic scratches on the inside can hold contaminates.

Borosilicate glass (a.k.a. Pyrex) is the best type of glassware to keep water and food in. It is able to handle heat and resists breaking.

Mason jars also work.

Stainless Steel
Stainless is the ideal material for storing water and food goods. It’s very non-reactive and (almost) doesn’t leach.

The only problem is it’s expensive. Plastic is 10x cheaper and lasts longer.

Preserve Your Water

So now you know what to store your water in, but what about purifying it in the first place?

Water out of the tap is good to go. If your town adds chlorine (99% do), store your water as is.

Mechanical Filter
Filtering your water before it goes into long term storage isn’t necessary, unless you’re using a wild source. Instead, filter your water, if you want, right before using it.

If you’re on well water you are going to need to include some chlorine before storing your water.

5.35 % chlorine is ideal. Add 2 drops of pure, non-scented, additive-free chlorine bleach for every half gallon of water. Smell the water, it should have a light chlorine smell. When it’s time to drink, let it to stand for thirty minutes so the chlorine can evaporate.

Storing chlorine itself can be tricky as it degrades by about 20% every year. Sodium hypochlorite mixes should be rotated after three months.

Calcium Hypochlorite
a.k.a. pool shock, Calcium Hypochlorite is better than liquid bleach due to its super concentration and indefinite shelf life. It’s sold in 2 forms, hydrated and dry. The dry basically lasts forever on the shelf. Avoid the hydrated for your needs here and get the dry granular.

It looks like a yellowish white solid that has a very strong scent of chlorine. Read the package and see if they add any anti-scaling chemicals (water softeners). Look for 68% – 78 % calcium hypochlorite (minus any water softeners). A pound of will treat 10,000 gallons (!!!).

To use, make a treatment mix by adding approximately one teaspoon of Calcium Hypochlorite to 2 gallons of waters. This is your treatment mix, don’t drink this solution! You will die!

Mix at 1:100, one part of our solution to one hundred parts water.

!Caution!: consult your doctor before using iodine for purification. Many people are sensitive to iodine, and people with shellfish allergies are usually very sensitive to iodine. If you have thyroid problems, are on lithum, are older than 50, or are pregnant you should avoid iodine. Older women are especially sensitive to iodine.

Iodine is best used right before drinking. The water should be at least 68F. Store iodine in an opaque bottle in a cabinet away from sunlight or temperature fluctuations.

For a liquid 2 % tincture of iodine, use five drops per quart of clear water and ten drops in cloudy water.

You Need More Than You Think

Your average American uses about 80 – 100 gallons of water per day. That’s an insane amount and 90% of it is completely wasted.

Water is bulky and heavy, it kinda sucks to store. But that’s no excuse to skimp. You need at least 1 gallon per day, per person. That will keep you hydrated and a small bit to spare.

But you really need much more. You need water clean cookware, to bathe, brush your teeth, maybe wash clothes, and for personal sanitation. Five to ten gallons per person is much more ideal.

Storing Your Water

A dark closet inside the house is much better than a garage with fluctuation temps. There’s also less exposure to mold and bacteria.

Plastic degrades much faster in direct sunlight, so avoid it. Chlorine can also degrade in sunlight. And sunlight can cause mold and algae growth.

After You’ve Stored It

Rotate, Rotate, Rotate! Water goes stale, gets moldy, starts smelling, and absorbs chemicals from the containers. Rotate your water just like you do your food preps.

Don’t miss this step! Nothing will suck worse than cracking open that emergency water supply you carefully put up 10 years ago to find it’s nasty and full of mold.

Final Thoughts

There you have it. Storing water is dead easy, but if you get it wrong you’ll be the dead one. Don’t skimp on your water stockpile and prepare to use more than you think. Better too much than too little.

Keep your water out of sight in a cool, dark closet and rotate your stocks regularly.

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Sergeant Survival

I spread the news of disaster preparedness and homesteading skills to the masses. My mission is to teach the keyboard commandos out there some real life skills.


  1. This iodine and shellfish allergy is completely incorrect and has been proven to be false.

    There is no safety risk in someone with a shellfish allergy having iodinated contrast for CT or supplements.

    Additionally, there is no such thing as a true iodine allergy. Your body needs iodine and stores it in the thyroid.


  2. How can I keep my hot water heater clean inside (get rid of hard water scale)? If I disconnect the power and turn off the intake valve, I have a sealed 40 gallon hot water tank sitting on my basement floor and a drain spout at the bottom that I can put a small pot under the spout and remove approx. two cups a minute.

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