Emergency Water Storage

Emergency water storage is extremely important for everyone, especially preppers. Water is life, literally. We use water for almost everything. In my opinion, it is the single most important prep out there. There are many forms in which you can purchase water and store it. Some are better than others. I’d like to discuss the options here, and you can make your choices to suit your personal needs from there. In this article, I will discuss bottled water, canned water, and rainwater collection. Three very different methods of water storage.

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Bottled water. It is a great short term solution to having water on hand. It’s also pretty inexpensive. So a great beginner prep. We all have to start somewhere, and something is far better than nothing, in my opinion. Bottled water has a shelf life of about 6-12 months before the plastic bottles begin to break down and leach chemicals into the contents of the bottles, which you then consume.

The bottles breaking down also has the potential for leakage. Which is just a mess, and who wants that? I find I keep a couple cases on hand in the winter, when/if we are expecting a snowstorm or bad weather where I may not be able to make it to the store for a few days. It is perfect for situations like that. Or, if I have family coming to stay, I’ll pick up some just in case. It is definitely not a good solution for long term though. But, it is certainly a good starting point for any beginning prepper. We all have to start somewhere!

The key here is if you’re keeping bottled water is use it. Cycle through it just like you would food in your pantry. That way there is no chance for the bottles to break down. I find that I use these in the summer a lot because it is hot, and we throw a bunch in the refrigerator to always have cold water available. I also monitor and document my water consumption, and these make that easy as well. Which translates to, it is pretty easy for me to cycle through them.

Canned water. This is not a great short term solution, because canned water is far more expensive than bottled water. I would not necessarily recommend it for a beginner or someone just looking to wait out a winter storm.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I keep an emergency supply of water, toilet paper, and certain foods in the house that we don’t touch unless it is an emergency. Then I have the normal stuff we use daily. If you’re like me and have a separate stash of supplies just for emergencies, the canned water is an excellent way to go for long term storage, because it has a shelf like of 50 years. 50 years!

I recommend Blue Can Water because of their commitment to quality and shelf life. I personally love the cans. They come in 12 ounce cans, just like soda. They are easily stackable and can withstand high temperatures without damaging the product. I appreciate the fact they are easy to store and don’t take up a ton of room and are stable to stack up high. Packages of bottled water makes me nervous to stack, because it always seems to wobble. That is not the case with the cans. It is the perfect long term storage solution for water in my household.

Rainwater collection. If you own your home or even have a small piece of property where you can store the rainwater barrels, this is an excellent and less expensive alternative to bottled or canned water, collecting it yourself. If you do this, you’ll want to check out state laws about it though. The laws can vary by state, and some even limit the amount of water you can collect and store. So please remember to be informed and stay within the law. Collecting rainwater in barrels can take up space, and the barrels do get heavy. This would be why space and storage are important in this case.

For me personally, I don’t have the space to store them, and I certainly couldn’t move the barrels by myself. That would be my husband’s job, for sure. I live in a very rainy climate, so if I had the space, this would be a perfect option. This is also an excellent way to keep water for the summer when it doesn’t rain, and use it to water a garden or grass. I’ve seen many preppers do this and use the water for their gardens.

Another thing to keep in mind with rainwater collection is that it requires maintenance and upkeep. It will require filters, a way to keep rain gutters clean and clear, and more. It is definitely not a fix it and forget it method to water storage. If you are wanting a method where you can just buy everything and stack it somewhere, this is not the option for you.

Notes:
Now that I have chatted about the methods of water storage, I’d like to talk about safety. Food and water safety is seriously important. Who wants to go through all the effort of storing something, only to have it make you sick? I personally don’t. In the event of an emergency, I’d really rather not be sick, let alone make myself sick by making bad choices. Which brings me to my next point.

Many people like to recycle. I’m one of them. If I can turn something old into something useful, why not?! I mean, it’s a huge money saver and it can be fun too. However, some people elect to recycle old milk jugs and use them for water storage. This just scares me, and I strongly discourage anyone from doing so. Yes, it’s recycling and we all love that, and it is cheaper too. Use an old milk jug and just fill it with tap water out of the faucet, and keep it on hand. However, milk jugs cannot be fully and completely cleaned. Nor do they dry out completely.

So there is leftover remnants of old milk in there, they smell, and taste terrible. If you try to clean the jugs out, you then have leftover soap to go along with the rotten milk. I really don’t feel the need to consume rotten milk and dish soap during an emergency, do you? The other issue with this is the jugs are biodegradable. Amazing for the environment, but really bad for long term storage, and just seriously unsafe. I don’t want to have a bunch of these in a closet and as they break down, start leaking water, rotten milk, and dish soap all over my closet or house.

I know storing water in jugs you already have is cheaper, which can easily make it a far more appealing method. But cheaper isn’t always better, or safe for that matter. Please do not do this, as it can harm you. Plus cause you a huge mess as the jugs break down too. I’ve worked hard to remodel my house, and destroying it with leaking water everywhere isn’t really part of my plan. So please, do yourself a favor and do not recycle old milk jugs for water storage.

Another thing I’ve been asked before is, can you store water in other containers, such as a bleach jug or something similar? You can, and they are more sturdy than an old milk jug. However, they are not food grade storage containers. If you are wanting to do something like this, it can absolutely be done. However, I would not consume the water in it. Because the chemicals in bleach will have leached into the plastic jug, and that is unsafe to be consumed. We’re going back to food and water safety again. What can be done though, and is a great option is using that for other water needs. For example, flushing the toilet. It is absolutely perfect for that. Pour some into the tank portion of a toilet, and flush away! These can be kept under the sink for easy access as well.

Now that we have talked about the methods of water storage and situations where each is the most useful, I hope this has helped you plan out your own water storage and how to go about it in the best way that will give you and your family a good supply of water, as well as a safe storage method and you’ll be ready in the event of an emergency. Happy prepping!

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47 thoughts on “Emergency Water Storage”

  1. This is so helpful! I’d never thought about canned water. We just have a couple of old, glass, gallon maple syrup jugs for water (we eat a lot of waffles). The plastic bottles aren’t really our style. We’d never use them. Thanks!

    1. The Prepping Wife

      Glass jugs are an excellent way to store water, Melissa! They don’t leach chemicals into the contents, so that is such a perfect option in terms of recycling.

  2. Great tips especially for storage and bathroom. Hadn’t thought about flushing the toilets. I’ve started organizing a 72hr emergency kit but need to add water.

    1. The Prepping Wife

      I will be writing a post soon about creating an emergency toilet as another option as well. Look for that one coming soon. We have had the water shut down around here a few times over the years and that was a big thing. How do we flush without water. Which is where I learned that little trick.

  3. Great information! Water Is definitely an essential to survival. Thank you for sharing these ways to store and ways that’s arent best too!

    1. Wow, this was so interesting to read. It makes me appreciate the water I have etc, I’m in an environment where I don’t have to save water for such situations. I really learnt a lot from this, so thank you for sharing 🥰

  4. I have a couple of large, blue, food grade water barrels. I would like to start sorting water in them, but I feel like I should rinse them out with a tsp of bleach and water – something.
    What do you suggest?

    Thanks,

    Natalie
    ThisHomemadeHome.com

    1. The Prepping Wife

      If you do use bleach, make absolutely certain that you’ve rinsed the barrels out completely and allowed them to dry completely as well. If not and there is leftover residue, it’s now mixing in with your water and you don’t want that. I’m presuming these are 5 gallon barrels? If so, fill it 1/4 of the way full of water, with 1 cup of bleach. Roll it around in the yard or rotate/slosh the mix around it to get the entire barrel clean, and then rinse thoroughly until the bleach smell is gone. Then allow to dry completely and start storing water.

      My personal recommendation would be vinegar and baking soda. Half a gallon of vinegar and a box of baking soda, mixed into the barrel. It will foam up when mixed. If you’ve ever used this to clean a sink or drain, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Roll it around to get it sloshing around in there and cleaning it thoroughly. Rinse and dry completely before filling with water to be stored.

      With either of these methods, if the barrels are really gross, leave the solution in overnight and scrub if necessary. Otherwise just get them moving around to slosh and cover the entire insides. Rinse thoroughly and dry completely. Those are the big things. Rinsing and drying thoroughly.

  5. I’ve actually never heard about prepping before — except maybe from people semi-joking about a zombie-apocalypse! Storing water is such a great idea though. Can you ferret away normal tap water in reused glass bottles (or something similar) to store for a rainy day?

    1. The Prepping Wife

      I am so glad that you learned about prepping from this article. I have several more articles for the absolute beginner in my blog, if you’re interested in reading them. Because prepping can easily get overwhelming. But it is not a race. It’s just something that takes time.

      If you’re wanting to store water, glass bottles are an excellent way to do it. Glass does not hold chemicals in it the way plastic does, so it is absolutely the safest way to go. Nor does glass break down like plastic. I have read about people canning water, the same way we would preserve vegetables or jams, or any other food. I have not tried this, and I honestly don’t know enough about that method to recommend it or not. However, you can certainly look for more information. The good thing I’ve seen about this is that once canned, the jars are sealed and that keeps the contents free of contaminants. This is something on my list of options to try out, but I haven’t yet.

  6. Girl, I love your water prepping tips. Before hurricane Harvey we bought a WaterBOB but we haven’t had to use it yet! I hear it’s great for short term water storage. I love using rain barrels though. Here in south Texas we don’t get a ton of rain so every ounce of rainwater is precious! I highly recommend those as well!

    1. The Prepping Wife

      Rainwater is definitely precious in Texas! I am a big fan of rain barrels as well. I always tell people to check state laws around that though. Because they definitely differ by state. I would love to have the space to store rain barrels. It rains in my neck of the woods constantly. We joke that in this part of Oregon, there is the rainy season and August. Lol. Which is why that storage method would be perfect. I just need more space for that.

    1. The Prepping Wife

      I am so glad you enjoy reading my posts, Jessica! I honestly had no idea either, until I was researching water storage. My husband had complained about a package of bottled water we had. It tasted funky. It basically tasted like plastic. Which reminded me that bottled water is not good for long term storage, and I looked into what was. Which is the canned water. The brand I profile in this article goes really far above and beyond quality standards to make sure the cans are safe and the contents inside aren’t being damaged with long term storage. I really wish all aluminum cans for both food and drinks were treated the same way the water is. Unfortunately, it increases the cost of production pretty dramatically.

  7. I don’t think we realise just how much we use water. I would have only thought about it in terms of drinking, showering or making tea, but always forget about the water we use to wash up and use the toilet! We have it so readily at our disposal that we forget the basics.

    Also, I am beginning to think you would be excellent in the apocalypse!

    Just saying 😉

    – Nyxie

    1. The Prepping Wife

      I found it when my husband complained that the bottled water we had tasted funny, and I researched why that was. Plus found better long term solutions for water storage. I love the brand of canned water I linked to, because of their commitment to quality. Blue Can Water goes above and beyond to keep their products safe to consume for that long. I really wish that all canned products were treated with the level of care that Blue Can uses. It would make anything in aluminium cans much safer to consume and less worry about expiration dates. But then there is the cost of doing that, unfortunately.

  8. After reading this, I’m definitely going to start using up the bottled water that I’ve been keeping for an emergency. Thanks for the important information!

  9. I found this post to be very thought-provoking as I really hadn’t considered the longterm storage of water. However, it obviously makes perfect sense in an emergency and reading through all the information you provided, I think the best/most practical option would be to go for canned water. OK, it might be more expensive, but in an emergency, you want to be able to rely on something that is safe, able to be kept for the long term and easy to store.

  10. What great tips on ways to properly prepare and have good water storage. The advice on types of water containers and their benefits for long term storage is really helpful information, too.

  11. With winter coming to New England, I do need to get some water to store. This article clarified two points I wasn’t aware of 1) Water bottled in plastic containers only has a shelf life of 6-12 months. 2) That canned water even exists. In general, I try to stay away from bottled water (to reduce plastic consumption) so I will look into the canned water to keep on hand for true emergencies.

  12. Literally, running out of water is my biggest fear!!! This is a great and informative post. And I didn’t realise that there were specific laws and regulations on water storage, that is crazy! For now, a stash of bottled water works great for me but I will keep these ideas in consideration!

  13. I learn so much from every article of yours! I’ve never made an emergency stockpile but in my imagination, it contained a few plastic bottles of water which I now realize wouldn’t fly. Canned water has a life of 50 years, wow! That was eye-opening. No wonder all post-apocalyptic movies show tons of canned stuff!

  14. Water storage is so important. Here in Australia we’re going through one of the worst droughts in history so every drop counts. Your tips for storing water are much appreciated.

  15. This is some good information. My church is all about safety and preparedness. I definitely need to get some water for emergencies, as well as other things.

  16. I’m going to have to look into canned water for my food storage, sounds smart!!! I’m wondering, what do you think of using distilled water for short term storage? I’ve heard it can last longer and it’s obviously cheaper.

  17. I am glad you are ok. Living in a big city with nearly zero possibility of natural disasters I have never thought of emergency whatsoever. I am moving in the end of fall and I know I will need to have emergency storage. Your post is almost in time!

  18. Those are some great tips especially if you are in a place prone to natural disasters. I think it’s really important to stock up of various things including water in case of emergency.

  19. This is really helpful. In fact, one of the areas I need to work on for our emergency supplies is water. We have an okay system now, but it certainly has room for improvement. I’ll be able to have a better water supply on hand once I apply these tips.

  20. Wow, I never knew canned water had such a long shelf-life! It’s definitely a good idea to have an emergency water supply, it’s one of those necessities that you certainly don’t want to be without! I don’t have the possibility to collect rainwater, so I usually keep an extra case of water on hand…but also where I live there are natural spring water fountains that have water that is safe to drink.

  21. I did not know that you could buy canned water, and I’ll definitely be checking into that. We have a hand-dug well (not connected to the well we use) with a hand pump outside which does need some work. Since our house is all electric, we don’t have water when there is no power. This is a really useful post, Erica. Thanks!

  22. Melanie williams

    This is such a great post for sure, as I would have never have thought about water as we literally just take it for granted x

  23. Rainwater collection definitely sounds like a good and sustainable idea. I also didn’t know that canned water lasts that long, that would be an excellent long term solution if you’re worried that tap water won’t be available in your area for a while. I think it is unlikely to happen in my area and we don’t get natural disasters as you do in the US, but a few cans of water just in case probably wouldn’t hurt! I like that they don’t have to be replaced.

  24. Great post – we honestly never know when we’re going to need to have water on hand. A few years ago a pipe burst underground at the farm where we lived. In order to fix it, the water had to be turned off in our house. However, abandoning the farm to go stay with friends wouldn’t work. There were animals to care for! It’s the first time I really found a clear need for the water that we had been storing and I was SO happy that we had started to put some aside.

  25. WOW! This is so much great information! I love the idea of cans as long as aluminum isn’t a health factor. Storage is an issue for us right now as we are renting a highrise condo in transition between houses, but we could utilize our storage unit to stash some away as it’s just a mile from the condo!

    1. The Prepping Wife

      I would definitely recommend stashing some in your storage unit, Deb! That is perfect, especially since it is so close to your condo. You could walk there if absolutely necessary.

  26. Great information! We really need to start working on emergency prepping in general. I’m so happy to see that you mentioned what can happen when you keep bottled water for too long. I don’t think many people are aware of the chemicals it can leach. My husband, and I were just talking about rain water collection. Thank you for this detailed list.

  27. I had never thought about canned water, to be honest. I have learned about rainwater collection when I’ve visited other countries, but where I live now, there is cloud seeding, so rain doesn’t even happen often enough for this natural alternative to be an option. Thanks for opening my mind though!

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