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The Water Dilemma: How to Store Enough for a Disaster…Without Chemicals

When it comes to preparedness and having enough clean water in a crisis, I’ve never been more grateful for my Berkey filter. You don’t NEED a fancy filter to store water safely, but here’s our Berkey review if it helps. 

“Can water go bad?”

I always thought that was the sort of question destined for Jay Leno to be asking stupid not-so-on-the-ball people on the street.

It turns out I wouldn’t want that mic thrust in my face.

Newsflash for Katie: Water can go bad!

I still don’t really get it, since it doesn’t make quick sense to me that water could go rancid, moldy, sour, or any of the other lovely ends I expect food that gets too old to meet. However, I suppose I can buy into the fact that if there’s any bacteria whatsoever in stored water, it would get comfy there and multiply, and then your water would “go bad.” But it’s weird.

I’ve been poking into water storage since I posted last week’s Monday Mission and recommended filling a few jugs with water as the first preparedness baby step. I was quickly put in my place.

Storing water for drinking just isn’t as easy as “fill some jars and forget them for a year.” Sigh.

RELATED: Signs of Dehydration for Kids

How Much Water to Store

Although I think having any water on hand is better than none, and I’d be happy if I had a gallon (and the knowledge of how to keep it potable), the guidelines for preparing for a disaster from the CDC is that each person will need a minimum of one gallon of water per day, a half gallon for drinking and the other half for cooking needs. (Don’t forget pets, too.)

How to Make Water Safe to Drink in a Disaster

1. Chlorine Bleach

As it turns out, there are a number of options for making your stored water safe to drink. Of course, numero uno is chlorine bleach, which I’d prefer not to be using and particularly not ingesting.

Even if you just kept bleach on hand strictly for emergency water purification, you’re probably going to have a problem: bleach goes bad too. More specifically, it breaks down and loses its germ-killing potency bit by bit:

We recommend storing our bleach at room temperatures. It can be stored for about 6 months at temperatures between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. After this time, bleach will be begin to degrade at a rate of 20% each year until totally degraded to salt and water. Storing at temperatures much higher than 70 degrees Fahrenheit could cause the bleach to lose its effectiveness and degrade more rapidly. (from a Chlorox representative via Survival Topics)

Buying a new jug of bleach every 6 months definitely isn’t eco-friendly in any way. Nix that one.

(To avoid the problem, you can use calcium hypochlorite, which I believe is like powdered bleach. More here. However, I like a few of the options below better.)

2. Water Purification Drops

If you’re a real backwoods camper, you’ve probably heard of these. We lug our own water into the backwoods, so of course I hadn’t! Both of the solutions below are extremely effective at killing everything and making any contaminated water safe to drink. That’s a good thing. Winking smile

Stabilized Oxygen

I’m sure they don’t all work the same way, but I’m pretty happy with the imagedescription of these stabilized oxygen drops:

Stabilized Oxygen or Aerobic Oxygen is a safe, non-toxic stabilized liquid concentrate of electrolytes of oxygen.

It has been used for years by knowledgeable travelers to purify drinking water in foreign countries such as Mexico, India, Russia, etc. Adding Stabilized Oxygen to water kills hostile microbes, anaerobic bacteria and viruses. Many school districts in California use Stabilized Oxygen in 55 gallon drums of water for their natural disaster storage programs. One ounce of Stabilized Oxygen makes 55 gallons of water safe to drink for 5 years or longer.

Stabilized Oxygen is oxygen in molecular form. One of oxygen’s many properties is that it destroys harmful bacteria.

Researchers have not found any anaerobic infectious disease bacteria that Stabilized Oxygen does not kill. This includes Salmonella, Cholera, Streptococcus, E. coli, Pseudomonos, Staphylococcus and even the dreaded Guardia-Lamblia, just to name a few.

It is interesting to note that the friendly aerobic bacteria which we need in our digestive systems is not affected by Stabilized/Aerobic Oxygen. In fact, the good bacteria thrive in its presence.

Note 2015: One commenter says he has learned that stabilized oxygen does absolutely nothing. Worth looking into!

For more information, check Organic Survival Site, Food Reserves (can purchase at both)

Chlorine Dioxide

At first, I thought maybe chlorine dioxide drops or tablets might be the same as stabilized oxygen, but I’m not finding anyone to confirm that. I’m going to assume they’re different substances until I’m corrected!

Chlorine dioxide seems to be the more popular version, and also deemed safe. My gut is telling me stabilized oxygen is the wiser choice, but chlorine dioxide also releases oxygen into the water  to purify it, contains no chlorine, and is supposed to be very stable.

For more, check out Travel Health Help. To purchase tablets, try Emergency Essentials.

3. Hydrogen Peroxide

I’d been wondering whether hydrogen peroxide would work to purify water, and it does, but with some complications:

  1. Hydrogen peroxide breaks down pretty quickly too, so you really have to stay on top of your storage of it. I keep it on hand for cleaning, so it’s usually fresh.
  2. It’s more difficult to figure out ratios of hydrogen peroxide to water.

I’m indebted to this article (link no longer available) for just about all my information; please visit there for more details.

4. Boiling

The CDC’s recommendations for boiling say to boil rapidly for one minute to purify water. This will only kill things, not get out sediments or anything, so you may have to filter/strain it if cloudy.

5. Filtering


Since I want to filter our tap water anyway, it seems like the easiest option to just store water, then filter it after the fact. The Berkey filter kills pretty much everything and filters pretty much everything, too, to put it simply! You can read more (and win a big one!) this week right here.

If you’re filtering lake or river water or very questionable water, it’s simple to combine the chemical purification with the filter: add a few drops of bleach, or better yet, the purification drops (since they’re more stable over time for storage), then filter to get out anything questionable from the drops themselves. Ta da!

Remember not to rely on just any old filter; make sure it’s rated to actually purify and kill pathogens, and keep in mind you won’t have electricity in most disasters if you don’t have running water.

One last tip: make sure you have extra filters on hand. You’ll need them at some point anyway for daily life, and the filtering system won’t do you any good if the filter runs out!

Why I Want a Berkey

  • The Berkey system has been tested to remove 99.9999999% of pathogenic bacteria. Dang.
  • It also removes herbicides, pesticides, VOCs, organic solvents, radon 222 and trihalomethanes. If you don’t know what some of those are…I always figure if you can’t pronounce it, it’s probably bad for you.
  • It reduces carcinogens like nitrates and nitrites as well as lead and mercury, which no one wants to ingest.
  • Unlike reverse osmosis filters, the Berkey does NOT remove the minerals we need to keep our systems healthy. Having to add mineral drops back INTO my water is one reason I shy away from reverse osmosis.
  • Berkey systems do not need any electrical power to run, making it an eco-friendly option and an excellent choice if the electricity is out.
  • I’m getting interested in upping our family’s level of preparedness – which is practically none right now – and the Berkey will allow me even to filter nasty river water and drink it in the case of a problem when both electrical and water accessibility is cut off.
  • I’m deadly curious to find out if my facial breakouts might be caused by fluoride – I had perfect skin in high school on well water, and ever since then (on city water) I’ve gotten a teenager’s zits. An additional filter, not included in the prize package, is necessary to filter fluoride.
  • My kiddos will be able to serve themselves water without a stool or chair. Ah, one less “jump up and get it” thing at mealtimes!

You’re curious about this system now, aren’t you? Read about how the Berkey filtration system works if you’ve got a science geek curiosity like I do.

6. Filtered Water Bottles

Berkey also sells a water bottle that would be great for an emergency evacuation; the filtering system works the same as in the big ones, and I’ve been very happy with mine. (See the giveaway for a $5 off deal on those!)

Life Saver water bottles are the other one highly touted by the preparedness crowd. Find more info here.

RELATED: GRAYL Water Bottle Purifier Review

7. Iodine

Iodine drops are kind of the traditional Boy Scout method of purifying, and it’s supposed to be pretty safe and effective, but has some downsides:

  1. off color
  2. rusty taste
  3. side effects after an extended period of use

If this is your only option, follow package directions or use 12 drops per gallon water; allow to stand 30 minutes. (source (link no longer available))

8. Bio resonator cards and atmospheric water generators

Here are two more options detailed pretty well in this article, but honestly, since I feel like there are a few viable options above, I’m not going to look into them more deeply myself. For give me! But you can, if you like. Winking smile

UPDATE 2015: Here’s a handy printable of all this so you can have it when you actually need it – in an emergency!

Finding Emergency Water Sources

Let’s say you didn’t do a very good job storing water, or perhaps you are in a tough situation where you don’t have enough on hand. Here are some good ideas from the CDC on where to find more, especially for situations other than drinking:

Alternative sources of clean water can be found inside and outside the home. DO NOT DRINK water that has an unusual odor or color, or that you know or suspect might be contaminated with fuel or toxic chemicals; use a different source of water.

The following are possible sources of water:

Inside the Home

  • Water from your home’s water heater tank (part of your drinking water system, not your home heating system)
  • Melted ice cubes made with water that was not contaminated
  • Water from your home’s toilet tank (not from the bowl), if it is clear and has not been chemically treated with toilet cleaners such as those that change the color of the water
  • Liquid from canned fruit and vegetables
  • Water from swimming pools and spas can be used for personal hygiene, cleaning, and related uses, but not for drinking.

Listen to reports from local officials for advice on water precautions in your home. It may be necessary to shut off the main water valve to your home to prevent contaminants from entering your piping system.

Outside the Home

  • Rainwater
  • Streams, rivers, and other moving bodies of water
  • Ponds and lakes
  • Natural springs

Water from sources outside the home must be treated as described in Make Water Safe.

Unsafe Water Sources

Never use water from the following sources:

  • Radiators
  • Hot water boilers (part of your home heating system)
  • Water beds (fungicides added to the water and/or chemicals in the vinyl may make water unsafe for use)

RELATED: 10 Foods to Stock Up on for Preparedness

What Do I Put the Water In?

Number one: do not use plastic milk jugs, and if you choose to buy bottled water, you can only safely store the jugged kind for 6 months. It leaks!

Other options include:

  • plastic 2-liter soda bottles, well-cleaned
  • canning jars or other glass jars
  • 55-gallon drums made for water storage
  • other smaller jugs specifically made for long-term water storage

To prepare the bottles for safe storage, it’s recommended that you sterilize them…with bleach. Blech. If you must, here are the instructions, but I’d rather just use glass and boil the jars.

Glass, of course, is not recommended, and it kind of makes sense. If one of your possible disasters is an earthquake or tornado, for example, your glass jars of water could all break, rendering them useless. Since I don’t live in areas where this is a problem, I’m using glass. ???

Here’s an idea from a reader:

For water storage…. we buy the 5 gallon jugs that are designed for water coolers. I store them (8 total for my family of 4 +dog) in my basement. Every month or so, I bring one upstairs, pour it into the berkley and then bring it back to the store to receive the deposit back for the container, recycle the empty one and swap it our for a new one full of fresh water. I feel good about this system because the containers get re-used (not thrown into a landfill!) and we have fresh water at all times, with no wasted water.
This is what has worked the best for us!

And another helpful anecdote:

We live in a drought plagued area in New Mexico and have horses, donkeys, dogs and cats and of course ourselves. We were recently faced with a water shortage in our well (now fixed, thank goodness) and because of that we purchased a 1200 gallon water storage tank that we always keep filled.

We also have 3 – 7 gallon water containers. Our additional purchase was the Crown Berkey water filter system with 8 filters. We felt that we should be prepared if we need to purify water for ourselves as well as the animals. These purchases have been expensive, but well worth the peace of mind they bring to us. We are working on a bug out kit to aid in our evacuation plan in case of brush fires. it seems as though there is always more to do to be prepared. The most important thing is getting started.

How Long Until Water “Goes Bad?”

This is a key question for storage, right?

So far, all my information is word of mouth – everything from “a very short time” to “one year.” I know somebody knows this answer! Personally, it seems 1-6 months seems to make sense, but what do I know?

How much water do you have stored? What’s your plan for keeping it safe? (If “zero” is the answer, go fill a jar…)

Come on back next week for the close of the preparedness series, including how to store real food dairy and grains, the 72-hour survival kit idea, and my comprehensive list of prep resources.

Check out the GNOWFGLINS eCourse before the end of the month to snag May’s thank you video, “Nourishing Herbal Infusions.” Real medicine and know-how is another form of preparedness, for sure!

Check out Local Nourishment for a Preparedness Blog Carnival.

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

About The Author

47 thoughts on “The Water Dilemma: How to Store Enough for a Disaster…Without Chemicals”

  1. Hi! Thanks for the overview. Some disagreements:

    “Buying a new jug of bleach every 6 months definitely isn’t eco-friendly in any way. Nix that one.” — Since bleach breaks down into salt and water, why do you think it isn’t eco-friendly?

    “chlorine dioxide also releases oxygen into the water to purify it, contains no chlorine” — Chlorine dioxide is ClO2, so it’s one-third chlorine. Bleach would be safer in the long run, as it has the right ratio of sodium to chloride so that all the chlorine can combine with sodium to form salt. But probably the most-important question is which (NaClO or ClO2) is more-likely to produce chlorine gas while breaking down.

    “The Berkey system has been tested to remove 99.9999999% of pathogenic bacteria.” — A saturated E. coli cell culture–that means a solution you are deliberately growing E. coli bacteria in by feeding bacteria their favorite food and keeping them at ideal bacteria-growing conditions–contains about 100 E. coli cells per milliliter. Removing 99.9999999% of the E. coli means removing all but 1 per 1 billion cells. That means you can’t say you can remove 99.9999999% of the E. coli cells in a culture unless you start with about 1 billion cells in solution, filter the solution, and then have zero cells left. To get 1 billion E. coli cells, you’d need 10 million ml of cell culture, which is 10,000 liters. I don’t think anybody has the technology to prove that 10,000 liters of solution contains zero bacteria, so I don’t think it’s currently possible to know that anything removes 99.9999999% of pathogenic bacteria. It must be a made-up number.

    1. Oh, snap! I used the figure of “100 cells per ml” from a website that said it was “109 cells per ml”, even though that number sounded much too low to me. It is! The website had a typo; it was supposed to say 10^9 cells per ml. So just one ml of solution can contain a billion cells! So what I wrote about Berkey’s claim being impossible is wrong.

      1. Hi Phil – thanks for jumping in here. Glad your math was wrong because there was no way I could have refuted that! 😉

        I’ve always been curious to know more about water filtration, to be honest, and to figure out how to check all the claims.

        It’s probably true that a small amount of chlorine bleach is fine in water — it’s the persistent chlorine that we can taste and smell in city water that bothers me, and also fumes from using chlorine bleach in person.

        The eco-friendly comment is simply about the cost of shipping all that liquid and the plastic jug becoming waste, if one had to replace the bleach every 6 mos. purely for emergency preparedness.

        Hope that helps clear some things up, but I agree, there isn’t a perfect system necessarily.

        Thanks, Katie

  2. Ben Livingston

    So-called “stabilized oxygen” is either a scam or, if it works to kill pathogens, it is hydrogen peroxide or chlorine (bleach). I just spent a week researching EPA-certified disinfectants as my kid’s preschool hopes to eliminate bleach while appeasing our insurance provider.

    Basically, there are three levels of clean: sanitize, disinfect, and sterilize. We need to reach the disinfect level. Distilled down, there are six active ingredients in EPA-certified disinfectants: bleach, phenols, quats, hydrogen peroxide, botanicals (like thymol in Benefect), and citric acid+silver (PureGreen 24, etc).

    “Stabilized oxygen” is snake oil created by the quack supplement industry to sell as a mental sharpener, weight loss aid, general health supplement, etc. Again, unless it contains H2O2 hydrogen peroxide or chlorine bleach (or another one of those six disinfectant categories) I highly doubt it will disinfect your water.

    I am actually trying to learn how to disinfect our emergency water for storage. A few drops of chlorine (bleach) is the standard recommendation. In the world of countertop disinfecting, chlorine is what we typically use, but it turns out EPA-approved hydrogen peroxide cleaners are way better, having none of the myriad problems that highly-toxic bleach has. And the “dwell time” — how long it must sit on the counter to kill pathogens — is typically one minute versus two minutes for bleach.

    I though using hydrogen peroxide to purify water might be similarly amazing. But my Internet research so far indicates a little bleach in stored water is probably more effective and certain than h2o2. I wish it was otherwise, as I’m trying to avoid toxic bleach in my life.

    If you are serious about purifying water, avoid the “stabilized oxygen” quack medicine. It’s a complete scam, and it’s unfortunate I found it here on one of the first links Google sent me to.

    1. Hi Ben,
      I definitely honor what you’re doing with your child’s preschool! Hooray! Your research is very interesting. I never used stabilized oxygen myself because we have a Berkey filter. That does the trick without any chemicals. I updated the post with your note just in case.

      You might like this post too:

      Thanks so much for commenting! 🙂 Katie

    2. “Highly toxic bleach” is not toxic to human beings. If you accidentally drink a shot, you’ll cough for a while and it’ll turn into salt water in your body … which is what the poison control center will tell you. Bleach is deadly to all forms of microbial life including viruses and even pryons, because bleach is liquid fire … but it does its dirty work by giving up its extra chlorine atom to burn unwanted organics and what is left is table salt in water.

      You couldn’t suicide by drinking bleach if you wanted to, because it would be too unpleasant going down to drink a lot of it and it would TAKE a lot of it.

      For the time being I’m going to be using peroxide to protect my stored water and when the bottle is empty will remove the label, relable it bleach and store bleach in it… because it gives up liquids a drop at a time, more if you squeeze. Or you could just get an eyedropper. But peroxide doesn’t give a chlorine or salty taste to stored water. Probably easier on your container walls, too.

  3. Pingback: Healthy Food to Eat When Life Gives You Rotten Lemons | daily digest

  4. I have been Filling EVERY Gallon Jug and Soda Bottle that Comes in the House for the Past Two Years, EVEN The Milk Cartons, I Figure I can Use THEM on The Garden If Needed, Even If I have to Sterilize them First….I Also Have Several Different methods of Sterilization, I Keep 2-3 Gals. of Bleach, I Have Several Bottles of Water Purification Tabs in Our BOB’s and the Car Kit, as well as The Filter Straws and The Filter Bottles for the Bags and The Car! I Have Pool Shock On Hand AND, have started Buying 5 Gal. Containers of water at Win-Co, The Container is Only 5 Bucks, and Then Fill with Their Water for .25 a Gal. so, I felt Like I was Covered pretty Good, UNTIL, I had to Cut off My Water for 8 Hours….I went Through 4 Gals. of Water, Just Cooking, Drinking and Washing the Dishes!!! Terrible!!! I have REALLY been Trying harder since then to LEARN to RESERVE Better Myself, cause No Matter How MUCH I have Stored, If I am WASTEFUL with it, It Will Run Out!!! Glad to Know about the Bleach, Did NOT Know That at all!!! Thanks for all the Info!!

  5. Brandis via Facebook

    We have a water bob, which is like a bladder that fits in your bath tub. They’re a good short term solution if you don’t have to leave your home, but that’s it. But they’re really cheap, so it’s one good option.

  6. Julie via Facebook

    My husband and I were just chatting about this. He said the new thing in water purification these days is the SteriPen. Have you heard of it? It’s rechargeable and lasts over 8,000 uses.

  7. Check out the SteriPEN products. They use ultraviolet light and only cost around $100. Effective against 99.9% of organic contaminants (bacteria, virii, protozoa, etc), but if your concern is industrial chemicals, agricultural runoff, etc, you will still need a filtration system.

  8. Back in May I purchased a Berkey. THen in June found out the filters were defective and received new ones. A week ago, found out the replacement ones were defective. Didn’t know they were defective until after a couple months’ worth of use. Now I don’t know whether to trust the Berkey and their filters or not, much less to carry extra filters.

    1. Trisha,
      Yikes! You mean whole batches were defective from the plant? That’s awful…how did you find it out?
      Thank you – Katie

      1. Yes defective from the plant. They were working until the glue that holds the filter to the plastic thing at the bottom came undone. About a week before I really knew they were defective, I thought they were filtering a little faster and thought there was a taste/odor to the water that wasn’t there (once you get used to their filtered water you can just tell). But one day I poured more water in and it instantly poured into the lower tank (like a faucet, no little drips). I took a look at the filters and it came apart at the bottom from the plastic part. I called the place I ordered the system from and they told me they had a batch of defective ones and they replaced them. Couple months later same thing happened and I called Berkey and they promptly sent out new ones. Sure hope this batch is okay, but since I’m assuming they didn’t “recall” those filters(since I received more bad ones after they knew about it), I’m not confident to just order more filters to have on hand.

  9. I always thought Grapefruit Seed Extract would preserve water too, since it is targeted to kill bacteria. Not sure if it kills ALL or just the bad guys though. Anyone know is GSE is effective?

  10. Thanks for doing this……those things that could be so profound become simple when you know the ‘right thing to do.’

  11. i just found this blog while googling about water storage. i went to a talk on emergency preparedness once, and heard a speaker say that if you took a 2 liter soda bottle and cleaned it well and filled it to the very top with water and put the lid on– the VERY top, like so there are no air bubbles when you turn it upside down, that it is good for many years. she did this years and years ago and has been taking in a bottle a year to be tested in a lab (she is some kind of preparedness bigwig) and they have all been under the levels of scary bacteria, etc. but i can’t find anything saying this online– everything says you have to rotate your water. has anyone else heard this before?

    1. B,
      I would love it if that were true, but I can’t confirm it. Let us know if you find that gal again online somewhere! Thanks! 🙂 katie

  12. another option to facilitate or maybe replace a portion of your water storage needs is to get a backpacking water filter. Here’s an example and I’ve been using it for years on backpacking trips.
    Depending on how bad the water is (silty from glaciers, really nasty bugs–dead things in the water) you may want to ‘prefilter’ like with a bandana (for particulates) into a container then run it through this filter into a clean container. If needed, you can then add chlorine, O2, etc after that. Make sure to boil the first container since it had ‘contaminated’ water in it. Or, only use it for dirty water.
    The filter is small enough to carry in a backpack so easily usable in an evacuation situation. For long term, you’d want to have an extra filter medium in case the first clogs beyond repair.
    If you’re curious, I’ve used it from Alaska to NM, MI and FL. I know ppl who have used them in central and south america too. As of yet, I’ve only needed to do the prefilter with a bandana while using glacial melt. I’ve not had to add extra drops to the water i’ve drunk and haven’t gotten sick yet.
    A major issue when using a filter for water is picking the best water source you can. Almost anything moving is better than something stagnant. Clear is better than mucky.

  13. It might also not be a bad idea to store a few water filters as well, the kind you can take camping, or materials to make one. That way, you can purify natural water if need be.

  14. Stacey has a good idea. I do a lot of canning, esp pressure canning and have lately been wondering about canning water, esp in half gallon jars. If my pressure cooker can can meat to be shelf stable for over a year, it ought to be able to do the same for water. Assuming that seal holds, you shouldn’t need to purify it at all.

  15. I have decided not to store water and to trust God to take care of us somehow.

    Before Y2K, we bought 6 sealed gallon jugs of water. Of course, we did not need them. When the water main for our neighborhood broke 8 months later, we thought, “Good thing we have that bottled water!” It looked fine, but ohh did it smell bad–like wet compost that hasn’t been aerated for months! So I used it to water our potted plants…and killed some of them. Yikes!

  16. I have probably 15 gallons in plastic jugs and I know I need more. Whenever I do some canning I will put jars of water if there’s an extra space (sterile water). I have a Berkey light and a sport Berkey that I was able to get before they stopped selling them in CA. I’m hoping I win the one in your giveaway! I have some water purification tabs and some hydrogen peroxide. I know I need lots more because water is critical. It’s just challenging to store. Wish I could afford the big blue barrels.

  17. this is so informative! we are so new at this- we do get 5 gallons of kangen water from my grandma at a time, but some days it is down to the last gallon. so, we aren’t as prepared as i would like to be. but, i like the idea of a berkeley filter and even the stabilized oxygen on hand. i figure the 5 gallon bpa free container is a step up from the 1 gallon one we had on hand all the time… baby steps, baby steps!

    also, i didn’t know bleach went bad! crazy.

    my recent post: simple woman’s daybook 5.25.11

  18. We have a creek on our property, and while I wouldn’t drink straight from it, I know it’s there and can be boiled. Our most likely scenario for loss of power is monsoons in summer and an occasional frozen pipe in winter, and thus far neither lasts long enough to need stored water. When we get our “real house” we plan to put a windmill on the well, so we’d be able to pump water even w/o electricity.

  19. We finally bought a Berkley! It just arrived today. We got the Big Berkley and the travel Berkley. During warm weather, we’ve got two 50 gallon rain barrels outside, as well as several two gallon plastic containers inside.

  20. One thing to note. Iodine comes in different strengths so how many drops would depend on what strength iodine you were using.

  21. Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama

    We have 4 – 6 gallons in the basement in plastic water jugs most of the time, but we swap these and refill them about every two weeks, and also replace them with other water jugs from time to time.

    We have a Berkey, though, so I’m *mostly* counting on that, in case we need to purify water. 🙂 I like knowing that at least there is that, if things go crazy!

  22. We use these:

    I didn’t add bleach to the water because the tap water I filled them with already contains chlorine.

    They are BPA free plastic, are grooved to stack nicely and have a spigot built into the lid for easy use. They were also very inexpensive (around $8 each when I got them). I found them at a local Farm & Fleet and also at Walmart.

    I think that it is important to remember that if you should need the water you are storing it will be because it is an emergency. The concern over plastic and glass and bleach vs oxygen drops will be far less important than having drinking water if that time of need ever should arise.

    Just my 2 cents. Thanks for all the good info and links!


  23. It is my understanding that the chlorine dissipates if you leave it sit out uncovered (like, overnight). So you can purify it with bleach and then let it sit. I suppose you’d probably be stuck drinking the chlorinated stuff for the first 24 hours, but if you did twice as much, then after that you’d be set.

  24. Water that has gone bad can be used for flushing toilets. After Hurricane Isabel, I used some questionable stored water for that purpose.

  25. bleach is perfectly fine to use for this purpose and the fact is that if you have water from any municipal supply you are de facto drinking water purified using bleach.

    we live in tornado alley and there is another problem with using glass: it breaks, flies everywhere, can seriously injure people, puncture tires, cut electric wires, etc. broken glass in downtown nashville was the main hazard after the 1998 tornado–not downed trees.

    we store water in 2-liter bottles which we rotate in the spring and fall. we use the stored water in the spring to water gardens, give the pets baths, rinse the car, etc. in the fall we use it to fill our humidifiers, water indoor plants, mop floors, and so forth. i mark the bottles with the date they are refilled so i know which ones are fresh and which ones we still need to use.

    1. Rowena,
      I love the way you use up the stored water as you rotate! Awesome ideas.

      I know there’s bleach in my municipal water…but I’m anxious to filter it out.
      🙂 Katie

      1. oh getting the bleach out once you’ve cleaned the water is easy! just let it sit out in the open for 24 hours, the bleach dissipates completely. in fact that is how we make the water safe for our aquariums.

        1. Rowena,
          That’s true…I am just concerned about the fact that bleach breaks down (“expires”) and becomes ineffective after a period of, it sounds like, just 1-3 years perhaps. Since I don’t use bleach for anything other than this purpose, buying a jug every year and then dumping the old jug just doesn’t seem eco-friendly at all.

          Good call about leaving the chlorinated water out to evaporate the bleach- that’s what I do with my city water to prepare it for sourdough bread! 🙂 Katie

  26. I grew up on N MI well water. My Gma always warned me that water would go bad. Not to even leave it out on the counter overnight. I forget her reasoning.

    The pnw is known for extended power outages following storms, has earthquake potential & mt rainier while beautiful is an active volcano. I have 3 gals purchased at the dollar tree stored in my linen closet. Should be more. 2 adults, 2 large dogs. With 2 family members moving to the area, I should add more & check exp. Dates.

    1. Just switch them out – we had a gallon, unopened, for fish and frogs (pets) and didn’t use it for a while (pets died). It might have been less than 6 mos., but we had to replace ceiling tiles in the basement b/c half a gallon slowly leaked before I caught it. 🙁

  27. When I have extra room in my deep freeze I put jugs (I use recycled vinegar jugs or if I’ve gotten gallons of water for something, I use those jugs) of tap water in the freezer. Deep freezes freeze more efficiently if they’re full anyway. We have a Berkey filter (and the Berkey water bottles), and 3 ponds and a stream by our house, so that, plus the water in our water heater, is our main water system. I’m going to filter anything I drink anyway so I figure the pond is free water that won’t take up space in my house LOL. I’m comfortable with this for our low-natural disaster area. Our most likely need of emergency supplies is being snowed in, in which case we’d also have plenty of snow to melt for water LOL.

  28. I have a combination of purification methods set aside and ready. We rotate our water supplies every 2 months (all 200 gallons of it) every two months. There is also sunlight disinfection used in parts of Africa. Water is put in 16 ounce containers and left in the sunlight for 8 hours. Worth Googling! Oh, and Katie, I’m not convinced you are not in an earthquake zone, check the New Madrid fault.

    1. Cool info about the sunlight…but do you have to scare me with the earthquake thing? I’ll only use glass jars I already have, promise. And I’ll collect 2-liter bottles next time we’re at a party. 😉 Katie

      1. Local Nourishment

        Sorry, I understand. When we left CA, I thought we’d left earthquakes behind. Then I start hearing about the New Madrid fault and almost long for the regular, smaller quakes of CA!!

      2. Hi, Katie-I keep 1/2 gallon rectangular water bottles in my fridge and freezer, to fill empty
        spots and lower electric bills. Because I live in California, I think a fairly sturdy fridge would provide at least some chance of water storage surviving a mild quake. Iodine must be cautioned for people with shell fish allergies, and colloidal silver has been implicted in renal failure-after all silver is a heavy metal, just like lead and mercury. Thanks for your fine work. G Boulard, RN

  29. Colliodal Silver is also suppose to help it from going bad (still needs to be changed every 3-6 months) but it is suppose to help. Safer and better than clorine.

    And yes water can get moldy, especially in humid areas. The first time I saw mold in an unopened water bottle I was really confused.

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