How to prepare your family to survive and thrive in todays uncertain world

Water Storage Container Options

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!

Milk Jugs

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.

Other Options

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!

In Closing

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!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

8 Responses to Water Storage Container Options

    • Another Idea is to keep old bleach bottles, once empty, don’t rinse them out just refill them with water and they will keep a while. since they are heavier than milk jugs, and soda bottles they last longer and the residual bleach in them helps keep the water clean long…

    • -place containers directly next to your outer wall with the most heat loss. This will work for milder weather and provide extra insulation for your structure.

      -paint them black for solar gain (works especially well with metal barrels.)

      -pack around them with straw, leaves, or other insulating material. I knew a woman who kept a garden rain barrel surrounded by a compost pile (plant matter only) which in turn kept it thawed most of an Ozark winter.

      -Make A-frame shelters over them with salvaged windows.

      There are also a range of electric and battery operated submersible water heaters used for cattle tanks and other agricultural stuff, but any decent quality is pricey.

  1. Very good tips on water storage containers. One additional thought is that FEMA states, “it is recommended you purchase food-grade water storage containers from surplus or camping supplies stores to use for water storage”. Our 3.5 gallon WaterBrick containers are food-grade and cross stack filled with water up to 7 feet high and interlock like lego’s. A grab and go portable but stackable container to take with you if escaping an emergency; barrel’s can’t do that and there are no safe stacking containers for efficient long term storage.

  2. What if you fed the kitchen sink through one of those IBC 285+ gallonn tanks? The water would always be fresh and you would have a lot of water stored if the water was cut off.
    Good idea? Bad idea? Any thoughts?

  3. Good ideas here (as usual). Had never heard of the 285+ Gallon IBC Tanks.

    If you want to put large quantities of water somewhere there isn’t currently a water source try fire departments for pennies on the dollar bulk water purchases. You haul. NEVER go with one of those bulk water haulers that fills swimming pools as their trucks are typically milk or other liquid haulers and your water will be contaminated.

    When my family lived on next to no income off grid in the woods we used four types of water storage containers.

    -used milk jugs- There were occasional problems with jugs “going bad” but typically they were ok if washed immediately upon emptying with a 10% bleach solution. Water was typically stored in these for no more than 60 days.

    -water specific jugs, purchased filled and then refilled at one of those in-store refill machines. No complaints except for slightly plastic taste.

    We were able to stack gallon jugs three high fairly well by grouping them upright in 6×6 groupings and placing layers of heavy cardboard between layers.

    -water specific 5-gal plastic jerry cans. These are IMOO the best idea for bug out water supplies. They are also how I prefer to store water if you live in an apartment or smaller home.

    -55gal metal drums with two screw in bung covers. They had previously been used for new cooking oil and we washed them out at a self serve car wash with grease cutting dish soap and a 10% bleach solution. We stacked them on their sides two barrels high on a framework made from old pallets. If our frame had been stronger we might have gone three high, but I wouldn’t stack the plastic ones. Accesss was via screw in spigots, or a manual handpump from Lehmans. They lasted many years.