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How To Store Water Long-Term And What To Avoid

How To Store Water Long-Term And What To Avoid

Food, shelter, and water are the three main items that every survivor needs.

Between the three, shelter is typically the first that is necessary to find due to how fast adverse weather conditions can kill you.

However, water is a close second.

The human body can go weeks without food, but it can can only go days without water.

In really bad conditions, you might not even make it that long without water.

Storing water can be easily done in plastic containers like Waterbricks. Be sure to use food grade plastics and to keep them out of the sun. keep in mind that a basic 30-day water supply for a family of 4 requires a minimum of 60 gallons of water. Lastly, rotate your water supply each year as the containers we use to store water slowly contaminate the water. Read on for more practical tips and essential questions to ask yourself before you start to store water.

How Not To Store Water

Water doesn’t actually expire. It does slowly absorb substances found in its packaging, though.

Commercially bottled water is typically safe to drink after long-term storage.

It might pick up a funky smell or taste, but it’s unlikely to become contaminated to the point that it’s lethal to drink. However, most preppers probably aren’t running their own commercial bottling plants, and I think it’s safe to say that a lot are probably using unsafe storage methods.

That’s why I wrote this section. I’m going to go over the absolute worst ways that you can store your water.

If you know what causes water to expire, then you can prevent it from happening. 

Don’t Use Random Containers

If you’re storing water that you plan to drink, you have to use a food-grade container.

If a manufacturer doesn’t expect you to store a bunch of water or food in their product, they probably aren’t going to take the extra precautions necessary to make it safe for food and water storage. 

Don’t Re-Use Containers

It may be tempting to take your favorite tea jug, and re-purpose it for long-term water storage.

I highly suggest that you refrain from doing that, though.

Even if you’ve scrubbed the heck out of a used container, there is still a chance that microscopic organisms and other contaminates are inside of it.

If you’re going to store water, use a brand new container. 

Never Use Cardboard

Cardboard is made from paper, clay, and a whole host of other materials.

Cardboard containers are fine for packing up your stuff, but they’re not good for long-term water storage.

They don’t seal out contaminates or vermin and insects, and they deteriorate very easily. 

Don’t Use Random Metal Containers

Food-grade containers made from stainless steel are fine, but you do not want to use anything else to store your water for long periods of time.

If the metal isn’t stainless, it’ll corrode.

Copper and other soft metals will leech contaminates into the water, and regular steel will rust very quickly.

Rust-filled water can cause some extremely dangerous illnesses.

That’s if they don’t develop a massive hole, and spill your entire stockpile before you ever get to drink it. 

Don’t Store It In The Heat Or Sunlight

Sunlight can be utilized to purify water in a survival situation, but it can ruin water over time.

If water is kept in plastic bottles, the sunlight degrades those bottles, and releases chemicals into the water that they hold.

If you’re going to store water, it’s much better to keep it in a cool and dark place. 

Don’t Store It In A Waste Heap

You don’t have to store your water in an airtight vault, but you do have to keep it away from possible contaminates.

In general, it’s perfectly fine to store your water in your basement or spare room.

However, you never want to store your water stockpile in an area that is exposed to contaminates.

Keep your water away from vermin, insects, chemicals, and bio-hazards because most safe containers can allow small particulates to enter them over time. 

How To Store Water The Right Way

Storing water the right way requires you to think about a couple of things first.

You can’t just start hoarding water in bulk a expect to be good for a coming disaster.

In the next section I’ll show you a couple of important questions that need answering before you start storing water, as well as what containers to use to store water the right way.

Questions to ask when your starting to store water

There are a number of questions that I suggest you ask yourself before you start storing water.

Water may be a natural resource, and it may be easily accessible to most people, but it does require a hefty investment to store large amounts long-term. 

Answer the next couple of questions and you’re ready to start storing water.

How Many People Do You Have To Take Care Of?

Before you start storing water, you need to know how many people will be drinking from your stockpile in an emergency. 

The average person needs around half of a gallon of water everyday.

That’s just for drinking, and it doesn’t include the water necessary for bathing and cooking. You need to take that into account when you start setting up your stockpile.

If you have four people in your family, you’ll need to have two gallons of water every single day.

A basic 30-day supply will require a minimum of 60 gallons of water.

That requires a lot of storage space, and the price of storing all of that water is a lot higher.

I suggest that you prepare accordingly. 

What Is Your Local Water Supply Like?

You may be able to stockpile less water if you have easy access to water in your local area.

For instance, if you live next to a relatively clean river, you won’t need to store such large amounts of water.

You can just store enough to last while you purify water from a local source.

If you live in the desert, you’ll have a harder time doing that, and you’ll need to store a lot more water than other people. 

How Much Space Do You Have?

A lot of prepping sites claim that everyone should store enough water to last a pre-determined amount of time.

That sounds nice, but it’s not practical for a lot of people.

If you live in an apartment, a month’s supply of water might require half of your living space.

Keep in mind how much room you have, and only store what you can reasonably make room for. 

What’s Your Budget Like?

It may seem like a great idea to buy a bunch of stainless steel drums, and store as much water as possible. 

That’s extremely expensive to do, though.

You shouldn’t sacrifice your financial stability to store water just encase something bad happens.

That’s a good way to force yourself into a survival situation because you’re broke and behind on paying your bills. If you can only afford to store a couple dozen gallons of water in plastic containers, then that’s all you should do.

If you do have the resources and ability to store large amounts of water in bulletproof containers, it won’t hurt you to do so.

It’ll put you at an advantage in a survival situation.

Just don’t push yourself to reach that level of preparedness when you can’t afford to do so. 

What’s Your Local Rainfall Like?

You have to take rainfall into consideration for two reasons.

It can save you time and money if you live in a very rainy area.

A lot of rainfall means that you can easily store less water, and you can rely on rain water to supplement your stockpile. However, a lack of rainfall in your area can make it impossible to store large amounts of water.

Not because you won’t be able to set up rain traps, but because local laws can legally prevent you from doing so.

That’s not a problem for most people, but you definitely want to check your local laws. That’s especially true if you live in a dry area. 

Do You Have Pets?

A lot of preppers forget their pets while they’re prepping, and I couldn’t be more against that.

Your pets are a part of your family, and you have to consider their needs when you’re prepping for a disaster.

That means you must consider their water needs, too. Normal house pets require little more than each human does.

If you have horses or other large animals, you must plan accordingly.

They’re still your responsibility in an emergency. 

Does Anyone Have A Medical Condition That Requires More Water?

Some people require more water due to medical conditions.

It’s not their choice, and they can’t help it.

If that’s the case for someone in your family, you’ll want to adjust your water storage to accommodate their needs. 

How Active Are You Going To Be?

Bugging-in is a lot easier than bugging-out in terms of physical stress.

If your plan is to sit around your house until the worst of a situation is over, you won’t need to consume a lot of water.

If you plan on taking a 4-day trek into the wilderness, you have to consider the fact that you’ll get dehydrated a lot faster.

That goes for everyone coming with you, too. Even if you’re bugging-in, you may have a plan that requires a lot of physical activity.

This is especially true for rural preppers because they’ll have to maintain their land regardless of what’s going on. That extra activity requires extra water. 

What’s Your Climate?

If you live in the snowy areas of Alaska, you won’t naturally burn through as much water as someone living in Arizona.

You just won’t sweat as much of it out while resting.

If you live in a hot environment, you’ll want to store a lot more water because it’s going to be your primary method for cooling off in the heat.

Remember that air conditioning might not be an option in a survival situation. 

Plastic Containers

Plastic containers are the undisputed champion of water storage.

They’re cheap, reliable, and lightweight.

You may be afraid that they’ll release chemicals into the water over time, but that’s why you rotate your water, and it’s nowhere near as bad as what the news makes it out to be.

There are several other options if you absolutely refuse to trust plastic bottles. 

Collapsible Containers

Collapsible containers are most often made of plastic.

So, they have the same pros and cons, but they’re a lot easier to store while empty. 

You can get them from any camping store or you can find them here.

AMACASE 5L Collapsible Water Container Bag [3 Packs]
  • 3 Packs meet your various of needs,BPA Free,it can store water,juice,milk,beer and so on.
  • 5 Litre water carrier,large capacity leak free,good for camping,hiking,BBQ etc out door activities.
  • 32 degrees Fahrenheit to 176 degrees Fahrenheit makes you enjoy ice water when your are in outdoor activities.
  • 13 x 13.4 inches,2.15 ounces makes your easy to carry or store.
  • 90-Day Money Back Guarantee & 1-Year Warranty.


Waterbrick is the brand name of a relatively new storage solution. 

You can find generic models, but I can’t vouch for the quality of any generic options out there.

A Waterbrick is a specially designed storage container that is made from a very thick polymer. 

Every Waterbrick is stackable, and they make it easy to store large amounts of water in smaller spaces. 

They’re also more durable than standard jugs. 

You’ll find them here.

30-Gallon Barrel

30-gallon barrels are easy to store, and they provide enough water for two people to survive 2 weeks.

That’s including enough water for very minor hygiene applications.

These are typically more expensive than plastic jugs, but they aren’t too bad, and they’re fairly easy for anyone to store effectively.

You can also properly clean them for future uses. 

500-Gallon Barrel

500-gallon water tanks are a lot harder for the average person to store properly, but they provide enough water for a small family to survive most realistic survival situations.

Most models are built to be kept outside.

So, they’re typically protected from UV rays, and they usually employ some sort of algae deterrent. 

Glass Containers

Glass containers can be great for water storage, but you want to make sure that they’re able to be sealed, and that they haven’t been used with non-food substances. If a glass container doesn’t seal when closed, it allows contaminates to enter the water.

If it has ever housed non-food substances, those substances might still linger in the container. Glass obviously doesn’t release chemicals into your water, but it’s a lot easier to break.

So, you have to decide what’s more important to you and your prepping plans.

Metal Containers

Using any type of metal besides stainless steel is going to leave you with a bunch of tainted water.

Even stainless steel isn’t safe if it’s not food-grade.

It’s also important to make sure that any metal containers you use can be properly sealed. 

Water Bladders

Water bladders benefit from their ability to compress, but they aren’t nearly as durable as rigid containers.

The portability of bladders makes them great for grabbing as you bug-out, but one mistake can easily end up destroying them.

Large Water Tanks

Large water tanks obviously allow you to store ridiculous amounts of water in a single container, and they take up less room fifty smaller jugs.

However, you’re not going to take that water with you if you have to leave.

You also have to consider the fact that a single contamination can destroy your entire water supply when you only use a large tank. 

Water Wells

A good well is one of the best ways to store safe drinking water.

It can be expensive to set one up, but you won’t have rotate your water and clean tons of containers on a regular basis.

If you’re savvy, you can dig your own well with ease

Other Things To Consider

As I said earlier, each person needs a minimum of half a gallon of water per day.

However, that’s only if no one cleans themselves, cooks, washes their hands, or brushes their teeth.

That’s right, you also have to consider how much water each person needs for hygiene purposes and cooking.

While it’s possible to only store half a gallon of water per person, you’ll actually want to store an entire gallon per person for everyday that you’re preparing for. I personally recommend buying a 30-gallon barrel, and then supplementing the barrel with cheaper containers.

It’s preferable to prepare for an entire month without normal water access, but it’s okay to store less if it’s all you can handle.

Some water is better than no water. 

Rotating Your Water Supply

You should rotate your water supply once per year.

Water doesn’t naturally expire, but the containers we use do allow contaminates to enter in small amounts.

Over time, those contaminates add up, and the water becomes unsuitable for consumption.

You can still use it to bathe or clean stuff with, but don’t drink it. To rotate your water supply, remove all of the water from your storage containers, and thoroughly clean your containers with bleach water.

Ensure that they are completely free of old water and bleach before re-filling them. 

Purifying Your Water

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More Information

There are many different methods for purifying your water.

If you buy your water supply commercially, it’s not typically necessary.

If you’re acquiring your water from a natural resource, you will have to employ some sort of purification method to make it safe for consumption. 

Pump Filter

A pump filter cleans water as it is pumped into a storage container.

It’s extremely similar what is used for fish tanks and swimming pools, but go a step further and make the water suitable for drinking. This is a great way to purify water for large containers, but it’s not something that you want to use if you’re storing all of your water in 1-gallon containers.

Gravity Filter

Gravity filters are fairly simple.

Water enters from the top of the filter, and gravity pulls the water through many layers of filtration materials.

When the water exits through the bottom, it’s completely safe to drink.

This is another option that is best used for larger storage containers. 

Iodine Tablets

Iodine tablets are one of the easiest ways to purify small amounts of water. 

All you have to do is read the instructions, put the recommended amount of Iodine tablets into your water, and wait a while. 

If you’re storing water in individual containers, this is one of the best ways to purify it.

Keep in mind that it doesn’t remove particulates, though.

You’ll still have to filter the water if you got it from a natural source. 

Warning: Iodine tablets have lost favor with prepper because of their danger to people with thyroid conditions.

Use them with care.

Boiling Water

Boiling water is pretty much free to do, but it’s time consuming.

I recommend boiling your water during a survival situation, but you have way better options at your disposal during times of peace.

There’s not much to explain about boiling water.

You put it in a steel container, put it over a fire, and wait til it bubbles for a while. 

Purification Packets

Purification packets are like iodine tablets on steroids. 

They’re designed specifically for purifying water, and they do their job well.

The purification process is usually the same as the iodine method, too.

The only difference is that purification packets are a little more expensive. 

Final Words

Did you like the tutorial and survival tips?

If so, I hope that you learned something from it, and I hope that you fix any issues with your water storage after reading this. Storing water is crucial to prepping properly, but there is a right way to do it, and there is a wrong way to do it.

If you do it the wrong way, you can easily end up with a serious illness, and that can kill you very quickly in a survival situation. As always, I would love to hear what you have to say in the comments, and I hope that you’ll consider sharing this with your friends and family.


10 thoughts on “How To Store Water Long-Term And What To Avoid”

  1. I think in a crisis situation the last thing people think about is where to keep water.

    It’s such a vital resource but I bet a lot of people would go thirsty because they didn’t keep it in the right place. Cool article man.

  2. This is why in times of crises, people go to the dark side. Millions are not prepared to handle even a short crisis, it’s hard to watch your family cry and suffer because they are so thirsty and have nothing to eat. Everyone thinks it’s some kind of joke, until something happens, then it’s ” I could have, should have” but by then, it’s too late!

    • I find it interesting the companies pushing their wares to people who have no clue what it will be like. So you buy from a company learn the recipes. Well chances are there will be no electricity, no stove or oven to cook as directed. Only good thing is no refrigerator needed. The other is we will not be having the meals we are accustomed to meat will become scarce.i would suggest learning pioneer cooking, foraging, medicinal plants, fishing,gardening learning to make something from nothing not from already made. There are a lot of diligent hard working prepers allowing themselves to be taken advantage of.

  3. Thank you so much for the information. I have recently begun prepping. Water is a huge concern, living in a very arid area (West Texas) in a town that regularly sends out “Do Not Drink the Water!” warnings. My goal is to minimize possessions, then fill freed space with water and food. Best wishes to all!

  4. You can use alum (a pickling spice found at Walmart or grocery store)to purify water along with a myriad of other things.


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