The other day I covered food storage container options. Today I’m going to cover options for water storage. But before I address container options, I have a couple things to reiterate from my past writings.
First, water storage is extremely important. You have to have water to survive. If you don’t feel confident in your knowledge base, here’s an article about water storage fundamentals. You need to take the time to create a coherent plan around water storage for your family.
Second, water storage takes up more space than you might think. Especially if you have a large family, the logistics of storing water can be pretty hairy. Again, think this through. As a perfect example, I don’t store as much water as I’d like because the amount of space water for a family of eight is ridiculous.
Third, water storage only lasts you so long. If you have a reasonably sized family, storing a years worth of water in your garage is pretty tough to do. So you need to make sure you have a way to purify water. I’ll be covering that in detail in a future post.
Anyhow, let’s talk about water storage containers!
One of the first options people consider, and arguably the cheapest option out there, are milk jugs. Obviously they’re designed to store potable liquids. They’re reasonably sturdy, but can be easily pierced. The one gallon size lends itself well to easy math. All good, right?
Well, the first problem can be washing them out. Milk goes bad. If you’re not careful when washing out the jug, you can contaminate your drinking water. Another problem is that milk contains lactic acid, which can weaken the walls of the jug.
That said, I honestly have no major issues with storing water in old milk jugs other than the logistics of storing as many jugs as you need. They don’t stack well and there’s a bunch of wasted space on your shelves.
You can buy water already in the jugs, or even in larger jugs that are pre-filled with water. Some of the larger jugs stack a bit better. All in all, these are a reasonable option but one that I don’t use.
Two Liter Soda Bottles
Another common solution that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg are empty soda bottles. Pretty much all of the stuff I said about milk jugs is applicable here other than the cleaning. It’s still important to clean, but you don’t usually have the rotten milk problems you can get with milk jugs.
The same caveats definitely apply with regards to storage logistics. Definitely a reasonable option, but I don’t use them.
Rudy’s Tip: If you use milk jugs or soda bottles for water storage, use them to fill up empty space in your chest or standup freezer. It’ll keep cold longer if there’s any issues with power, and the freezer will run more efficiently and save power. Even if you don’t use jugs or bottles it makes sense to consider having some just to keep in the freezer.
55 Gallon Water Barrels
This is a great solution for storing larger quantities of water. These are generally commercial grade and are extremely durable. They don’t stack at all, but they can stand up on end nicely. Some downsides are that getting water back out of the barrels can be difficult, and they are extremely heavy when full … about 460 pounds! So be extremely careful where you store these. The attic is probably not the right choice here.
You can get barrels that have removable lids, or fixed lids with screw in bung covers. I prefer the latter because they’re easier to come by, but the removable lid barrels are easier to clean. On the cleaning note, you need to be very careful if you get used barrels.
I recommend that you skip buying barrels that were used for soy sauce, and the like. That stuff never comes out. And it should go without saying that you shouldn’t get anything that was used for any sort of chemical. I buy barrels that were used for liquid sweeteners from bakeries and food service companies.
I’ll be posting about how I use these for a comprehensive water storage system at a future date, so keep an eye out! Don’t forget to sign up for email updates here if you haven’t already.
285+ Gallon IBC Tanks
This is another interesting solution, but a rather expensive one. It’s basically a hard plastic bladder inside of a rigid steel cage that protects the bladder from damage. The cage is structural and you can actually stack them on top of each other. This is a good solution for high density storage, but is cost prohibitive for many people.
I’d recommend avoiding these unless you can find a good cheap source of new tanks. Don’t use old tanks as they are often used for industrial purposes.
There’s a ton of other options out there. Everything from 5 gallon stackable tanks, refillable bladders, or Surewater Tanks. I’ve intentionally left these out as they are valuable options but not particularly common. But feel free to leave your suggestions for others in a comment!
One last warning. Don’t use your garden hose to fill your water storage tanks. There are trace amounts of lead in them, and while it’s generally not going to hurt you that much in small amounts, you don’t need to be putting that stuff in your drinking water. Use a garden hose that’s designed for potable water. They’re a bit more expensive, so only use it for your water storage system!