Last month I asked you all to tell me how you store your water and boy did I get a variety of answers! Which actually, is to be expected. There are a myriad of different containers available for storing water and each method has its pros and cons. Today we’re going to discuss some of the more popular containers and their strengths and weaknesses to give you an idea what is available and which containers might work best for you.
Gallon jugs of water from the store.
- Relatively inexpensive (usually less than $1.00/gallon)
- Easy to find at most grocery and big box stores
- Not too heavy
- If the jugs are the milk jug type, the plastic can break down and your water leaks out. The jugs are usually good for about a year.
- Don’t stack
- Easy to find
- Relatively inexpensive
- Portable, single serve, and reclosable if you don’t drink it all in one sitting
- Great for emergency kits, either your personal kit or your vehicle kit
- Can stack cases on each other, just not too deep
- Need a lot of them to get your 1 gallon per person per day quota, especially for a large family
- Make a lot of trash
Refilled PETE bottles like 2 liter soda bottles
- Practically free, especially if you offer to clean up after a party
- Small enough to fit in little unused spaces in your house
- Only about 4 1/2 lbs full, so easy to carry and move
- Difficult to stack
- A little extra effort required to clean them out before filling with water
5 gal hard plastic jugs
- A little more expensive
- Most are built very sturdy
- Can get spout attachments to pour water out easily
- Hold approximately one day’s worth of water for a family of 4-5
- At 40 lbs each full, they’re borderline on being able to haul them around. Tough guys, or wimpy people with wagons should still be able to move them around okay.
- Some are designed to stack, others aren’t, so they can use up a lot of floor space
30-55 gallon drum
- Hold a lot of water
- Relatively small footprint for the amount of water they hold
- Super heavy, so don’t plan on moving them once they’re full
- Need a pump or siphon system to get your water out
- Bulky–tough to find a place for one of these in a very small home. I did see one house that had laid boards on top of their barrels and made a laundry folding table–pretty creative.
And here are a few less common water storage choices:
- 3 1/2 gallon size is a manageable weight and they come with carrying handles
- Wide mouth opening makes for easy cleaning
- Stackable–in fact, the interlock kind of like legos to make a stack of waterbricks very stable
- Flat enough to fit under a bed
- Spout available separately makes dispensing your water easy
- Cost–about $17 each, plus extra for the spout. Not awful, but not cheap either.
- Hold a LOT of water. These bladders range in size from a bathtub liner to industrial bladders that start at 100 gallons and go up from there.
- The non-bathtub varieties lay fairly flat, so they could fit under a bed if your floor is strong enough to hold the 800 lbs!
- Not easy to clean
- Don’t mix well with pets, especially ones with sharp claws!
- Some, like the WaterBOB are designed for one-time-use
Emergency water boxes and pouches
- Small enough for emergency kits
- Up to 5 year shelf life, so rarely need rotated
- Once they’re open, you can’t close them back up, so they will need consumed in one sitting
- More expensive than water bottles
For me, I have a combination of the Waterbricks, a lot of refilled soda bottles, water bottles and a few jugs from the store, and a couple of the 5 gallon containers. We live in a super small house and those are the options that work best for us. So give some thought to the water storage solutions that will work for you in your own situation, and get some water stored.
Keep preparing! Angela
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We have a 525gal Sure water tank. Its good and takes up a lot less space than a bunch of 50 gallon drums. It takes up about as much space as a pallet but its 7 feet+ tall. It is not portable but we’ve got other more portable water. When a water main burst in our town it was nice not to worry about being without water.
Practical Parsimony says
Is this the post for Act 16, 2012? This a confusing format.
Yes, it is Oct 16th’s post. I’m still tweaking the format a bit after that crazy blog loading problem last week and just made a couple more changes–hopefully it’s better for you now.
Practical Parsimony says
Make that Oct 16…lol
There is a 15 gallon drum that I got recycled for $25.00. Very small footprint 14 inches wide and 25 inches tall. 120 pounds but you can move them around the house or store it in a closet space easily.
You either left out or overlooked one of the best storage containers around: Used bleach bottles! I used to take them as soon as my wife used the contents doing laundry. I would fill them without washing the bottle out, and just store them. I had some that were 20+ years old, the containers were still in good shape, and the contents good. I tasted water from a 15 year old unit, it was flat tasting, a good shaking cured that, no bleach odor and nothing growing in the water, no foul smell, and I didn’t get sick, so it was ok. Just a cheap alternative thought.
According to several places, if you use soap or bleach bottles to store water, that water is ONLY to be used for washing hands, flushing toilets and such.
It is NOT SAFE to consume.
Regarding the 2 litre bottles and hard to stack comment…..
I stacked mine in our storage room with ease by cutting a 3/4″ plyboard 19″ wide x 29″ long to fit and place over my group of bottles. First layer was 4 bottles wide by 6 bottles deep (24 total bottles). Then I placed the plywood “shelf” over the bottles and began my next layer.
This set-up was placed in a corner in the room, stabilizing at least 1 side and back. I currently have 5 full layers (that’s 120 – 2 litre bottles) stacked. It is stabilized also on the opposite side by my 5 gallon buckets of food stuffs. So it’s stacked snug. I estimate room for at least 3 more layers before weight becomes an issue for the bottom layer.
Awesome post, Angela, thank you! Would you recommend storing the big drums outside in a temperate climate? I’ve got one outside and plans for more and, to be honest, it never occurred to me to store them inside!
Costco and some other stores sell 5 gallon cubes of water, consisting of 2 2.5 gallon dispensers with a spout. The cubes can stack up to4 high before worrying about them crushing. $5 per cube, it is an easy way to stock up on water if you add a couple to every shopping trip. the cube is about 18″ on each side. The interior dispensers are convenient to place on a counter and pour water from.
What about the UV resistance of these various containers if stored outside?
Is there a way of covering them with a UV resistant tarp or similar?
It seems a lot of makers are using non-UV resistant plastic lately. I have some Rubbermaid storage bins (not used for for water) that have been outdoors for almost 20 years, yet some I bought a year ago are brittle and cracking already.
We are planning to fill our blue 55 gal. barrels on their sides – WHILE ON RACKS – with the bung holes vertically lined up so the bottom one has the spigot in place and the top hole is where it will be filled. Seems like it wont be filled up all the way because of the location of the upper bung hole. Has anyone figured out how to get around that problem?
alisa springett says
There is a formula for treating water for storage.i got mine from south carolina water treatment. say 4 drops unscented bleach per quart, shake or stir ,wait 1/2 hour cap and date. good for 6 months A gallon weighs 8 lbs.no milk cartons ever.I saw a prepper make a bed fom water storage barrels