Whether for drinking, bathing, making food or sanitation; water storage is a vital necessity for your family to have on hand. Having access to clean water is taken for granted sometimes. In fact, it's not till we encounter a situation where water access is limited do we then think about alternative planning. Whether storing your water for home use, camping, water reserve or emergency, storing your water in a clean and safe container is critical for water safety. With so many different types of water containers on the market, storing your water in certain type of containers can make huge difference. Some things to think about when storing water:
1. Is it fine to store water in plastic containers?
Fact: Not all plastics are safe for food and water storage. The safest containers to hold water are food grade high density polyethylene-based (HDPE) plastic, or plastics #1, #2, and #4. Most plastic containers designate the grade of plastic on the bottom of the container. When using a plastic water container, water should be stored in a UV-resistant, food-grade plastic container that is HDPE, BPA (Bisphenol A) free food grade plastic. Don’t use milk jugs for water storage. Since milk jugs are biodegradable, they will break down over time. Also, any live cultures in the milk that remain in your jug could make you ill if you store drinking/cooking water in milk jugs. Soda Bottles and Powerade/Gatorade bottles can be used for long-term water storage. However, it’s important to remember that plastics absorb flavors, so your drinking water may have a cola taste. If you store water in soda or Powerade bottles, don’t use the water for cooking or else your soup might taste like cola!
Traditionally, the color of most water storage barrels is blue. Color limits light exposure and biological growth (bacteria and algae) and also signifies what is stored in the container is safe for human consumption (for example, gasoline is stored in red containers).
2. If I store water in barrels, am I good for just about any emergency?
Fact: Water barrels and heavy once filled and cannot be easily moved. Siphoning from large water barrels is a limited option. Store water in various sized containers and plan for different situations (grab-and-go, shelter-in-place, bathing water, extra water for cooking, etc.). Plus, you can’t solely rely on the barrel for all the situations you may encounter. If you have to evacuate, you won’t be able to carry a water barrel with you. Also, if you only have one barrel or one water source you may run out of water given the number of people in your family and the number of days that you will be without water. Remember, if storing water for an emergency, that the average amount of water to store is one gallon per day per person for a 2 week period.
3. Does water expire?
Fact: Water does not expire, but it can become contaminated (chemically or biologically), but it doesn’t “go bad.” If a water storage source is in ideal conditions; it started out clean and was stored in a dark, cool area, not directly on concrete or near harsh fumes and chemicals, it technically can store indefinitely. Leaving water exposed to sunlight and extreme temperatures is the worst conditions for your water storage and will cause micro-organisms and contaminants to grow in it. Extreme heat could also cause plastic to leech plastic residue into the water along with unpleasant odors and aromas. Treating your questionable water with a water treatment of chlorine or hydrogen peroxide before use can eliminate micro-organisms in bulk, but it may still leave large debris and turbidity, i.e. dirt, silt & floaties in your water.
4. If I treat my water, do I still need a water filter?
Fact: Water treatment like Chlorine Dioxide can kill up to 99% of bacterial growth, and can be excellent for treating larger containers like barrels and tanks, however, it won't remove turbidity and solids from your water. Using a screen, cloth or strainer before transferring your water from a water barrel or tank to a smaller container will eliminate most of the solids from clogging your main filtration. We've even seen a t-shirt used to strain solids! With that said, the most ideal situation for water storage would be to store your water in smaller more manageable water containers like Waterbrick water storage containers and siphon (or spigot) directly into your Propur water filter system. This way you know your water is being stored in proper water conditions (and most likely will not need a shock treatment), and you can run your water easily through your drip gravity water system without any concern.
5. Can I stack water barrels to save space?
Fact: Most water barrels are not built to stack on each other. If you want to stack your water because you don’t have room, use water containers that are made for stacking like Waterbrick. Waterbricks were made to easily stack to save space and stack safely. Waterbricks can also be stacked with their food storage counter part Foodbrick. Another cool feature is that Waterbrick water storage containers can be mobile and easily carried or moved. However, do not store your water containers directly on cement or on the floor in your garage. Plastics absorb flavors and odors from gasoline, liquids spilled on the floor, and chemicals used to create the concrete. These chemicals and odors will make the taste of the water unbearable to drink. Instead, place your water containers on top of a wood board or cardboard so that odors and chemicals do not leach in.