Recently I’ve had a number of specific reader questions about water storage. While many of them were answered directly, I thought I’d take some time and clean them up and post the answers for everyone else to take advantage of as well.
Where Can I Find 55 Gallon Drums?
Well, there’s quite a few ways you can go here. The first decision you need to make is new or used. If you want to go with new drums, you can get them from a bunch of places online. Just do a google search and you’ll find a few places. I don’t really have anyone specific to recommend in this case. For a new drum you’re looking at about $60 or so, plus shipping costs in most cases.
If you go used, you can save a ton of money, first off. I buy my used drums for $15 – $20 locally. What I recommend is that you take two approaches.
First, keep an eye on Craigslist. You can usually find drums there. Beware of the ones that have just been sitting around outside. Probably not what you’re looking for.
The second thing is to look around for local food service companies like bakeries and restaurants. Call them up, tell them what you’re looking for, and see if they have any that they’d be willing to sell. This is what I did, and I now have a regular source for once-used drums from a local bakery.
WARNING: If you buy a used drum, make sure you know what was in it. Don’t risk drums that were used for any sort of chemical, including soaps and detergents. I would also suggest avoiding anything that’s particularly strong tasting, such as soy sauce or even worse … pickles! In any case, you should sanitize your water barrels like I describe in this post.
Do I Need To Treat My Water Before I Store It?
The short version is … if you’re on a municipal supply that is generally safe to drink, no. If you’re on a well, then yes, you should.
Be sure that the water you are treating is drinking-quality water to begin with. To treat water for storage, use liquid household chlorine bleach (it should contain 5.25% sodium hypochlorite).
Do not use bleach with soaps or scents added!
Add the bleach according to these measurements, using a clean, uncontaminated medicine dropper.
1 Quart = 4 drops
2 Quarts / 0.5 Gallon = 8 drops = 1/8 teaspoon
1 Gallon = 16 drops = 1/4 teaspoon
2 Gallons = 32 drops = ½ teaspoon
4 Gallons = 64 drops = 1 teaspoon
12 Gallons = 192 drops = 1 Tablespoon
24 Gallons = 384 drops = 1/8 cup which is 2 Tablespoons
55 Gallons = 880 drops = 5 Tablespoons which is 1/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon (approximately!)
Stir the water and allow it to stand for 30 minutes. Chlorine should be detectable by odor after the 30 minute waiting period. If the water does not smell like chlorine at that point, repeat the dose and let it stand another 15 minutes and check the smell again.
How Much Does The Environment Matter When Storing Water?
Honestly, temperature doesn’t matter much, other than the fact that it’s hard to use water when it’s frozen. This does tend to be less of a problem when you’re storing larger containers. The thermal mass of 55 gallons of water is much higher than a gallon jug, so it’s much less likely to freeze.
I personally store all of our water in the garage. I have yet to have any major freezing issues. And the heat just doesn’t phase the water at all.
Now sunlight is another story. Sunlight will make your water grow algae and it’ll turn green. Not very appetizing! If this happens, you need to toss the water and re-sanitize the container. This is one reason why I like the garage and the dark blue plastic barrels. Sunlight isn’t much of an issue!
Where Do I get Water For Storage?
The tap. Really. For bulk storage, there’s not really much better. Even if you have to filter it, it’s still much cheaper than most of the alternatives. Now that said, I always store 500ml bottles of water for easy use. We go through them pretty quickly, so they rotate and are never stored all that long. It’s great for shorter term preps, that’s for sure.
Please don’t go buy expensive water for storage. You’re just wasting your money.
Be sure to check out my other water posts for more details! And if you have any questions about anything, please let me know!