Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to take one small step toward being prepared for an emergency – having water on hand.
This tip is so quick, you won’t believe it’s even Kitchen Stewardship®. Although maybe I’ll think of some things to ramble on about that will make the post longer and longer…
Super Quick Way to Store Water for Emergencies
When you use something from a canning jar, fill the clean jar with water before storing for next harvest season.
If you get all the way to needing the jars before you need the water, you can pour the water out into your canner, where you’ll use it to process the jars. No waste, hardly any extra time needed.
(Keep reading for info on how to actually USE the water for drinking if necessary.)
Here’s why I like this baby step:
- The thought of “being prepared” for emergencies like lack of access to food, water, or transportation seems so daunting that I usually just ignore it all.
- I have quite a bit of shelf space in the basement full of empty glass canning jars at most points during the year.
- It takes only seconds for each one and isn’t an item on my “to do list,” just one quick habit to do before running a newly cleaned jar from the dishwasher to the basement (which can take me days to “get around to” anyway sometimes!).
- Rings/lids/jars would always be together, circumventing the problem of “uh oh where are enough rings” during the canning process.
- We’ve done the “simple baby step” of keeping a few gallon jugs of water on hand…did you know those jugs don’t last very long? Thank goodness it was on a hard floor and didn’t ruin anything when it leaked.
- Although I technically could rely on my neighbor’s pool water in the summer and snow in the winter and run it through my Berkey filter…It’s a little more comforting to have at least some water in the basement of my own home.
I’d been thinking about doing this for a while and finally realized I didn’t need a “system” and I didn’t need to start by running downstairs to fill all my empties. I started with two jars.
After a minute of work we had half a gallon of water on hand for an emergency, and we can put it through our Berkey to filter anything out if it starts to “go bad.” (Did you know water can actually go bad? One of the many facts I learned when posting on preparedness a few years ago…)
Would we need more than half a gallon if we lost access to clean water? Sure. Experts recommend one gallon of water, per person, per day, so that’s 6 gallons a day for our family…
…but by next week after a batch of chili with canned tomatoes, we’ll probably have a whole gallon. (I fill pint jars and empty spaghetti sauce jars too.)
Baby steps, folks…just START. It will build to something that matters.
How to Use Stored Water for Drinking
I would have thought that a canning jar fresh out of the dishwasher could be filled with water just about forever and be safe to drink…but, humbly, I would have been wrong!
If there’s any bit of bacteria or mildew or anything in your jar, since the water itself wasn’t sterilized and the jar not “canned” in a canner, it’s entirely possible for water to “go bad.” You’ll need to take some steps to ensure that your water is safe to drink if and when you need to access it.
Try not to store untreated water for more than 6 months. No matter what, if you need to drink your emergency water, get it ready for drinking by following this procedure:
- Bring water to a rolling boil for one full minute. (Three minutes if you’re a mile above sea level.)
- Let it cool at least 30 minutes.
- The EPA recommends: “To improve the flat taste of boiled water, aerate it by pouring it back and forth from one container to another and allow it to stand for a few hours, or add a pinch of salt for each quart or liter of water boiled.”
If you are not able to boil your water, add one of the following sanitizing agents:
- Liquid Bleach: 4 drops (about 1/16 tsp.) regular, unscented liquid chlorine bleach (Note: bleach expires after only 6 months, so unless you keep a rotating bottle on hand, this might not be the best option. If your bleach is between 1-2 years old, double the amount and you should be okay.)
- Let water stand 30 minutes, preferably covered.
- Smell the water. If it smells of chlorine, it’s safe to drink. If not, repeat steps 3 and 4 and smell again. If you can’t smell chlorine, toss the water and find another source.
- This procedure is from the Red Cross.
- Dry chlorine, called calcium hypochlorite (aka “pool shock”): Found in pool supply stores, it lasts for 10 years on the shelf. To use, make a solution of a heaping ½ tsp. in a gallon of water. (Do not drink this!) Add a scant 1 ½ tsp. of the solution to each quart of stored water. Let stand for at least 30 minutes before drinking. (See examples here on Amazon.)
- If using chlorine bleach or pool shock, you can allow the chlorine to evaporate after sanitizing by leaving the water in an open container for 24 hours. Also try pouring it back and forth between two clean containers to speed up the process.
- Iodine: 5 drops of Pharmacopeia tincture of iodine for each quart of water. Let stand for 30 minutes. Find on Amazon specifically for water purification here; in a dropper here and the old-fashioned kind here.
- Stabilized Oxygen: 10-20 drops Aerobic Stabilized Oxygen per quart of water; let stand 3 minutes before drinking. (You can also add just 3 drops per quart before you store it, and then you won’t have to boil or otherwise sanitize your water at the time of drinking.) Find it on Amazon here; some good reviews of this one and this one.
Why You Should Print It
I’m lucky that we invested in a Berkey filter for our day-to-day water filtration, and that will also translate into a preparedness effort since the Berkey takes no electricity and can filter out any contaminants that might grow in the less-than-a-year storage time. (It even filters out food coloring!)
Printable generously sponsored by LPC Survival…’cause if you had a Berkey, you wouldn’t need the paper.
Not sure why I might have canning jars on hand?
Canned vegetables do lose a lot of nutrients, but there are a few foods that traditional foodies still could/should can:
- tomatoes (how to can at the link)
- chicken stock (those are the how-to-make instructions, not how to can – I don’t have a pressure canner so I can’t can stock)
- home-cooked beans
- cooked meats
- and because I just like them and it’s expensive to buy non-food-coloring picking, I occasionally can my own pickles too
Need More Baby Steps?
Here at Kitchen Stewardship, we’ve always been all about the baby steps. But if you’re just starting your real food and natural living journey, sifting through all that we’ve shared here over the years can be totally overwhelming.
That’s why we took the best 10 rookie “Monday Missions” that used to post once a week and got them all spruced up to send to your inbox – once a week on Mondays, so you can learn to be a kitchen steward one baby step at a time, in a doable sequence.
Sign up to get weekly challenges and teaching on key topics like meal planning, homemade foods that save the budget (and don’t take too much time), what to cut out of your pantry, and more.