Disinfecting Water and Food Supplies

Disinfecting Water and Food Supplies

Many households prepare for emergency cases such as disasters and earthquakes by organizing food and storage supplies that they will use for their survival. The power of the nature is impressive and we have passed through many hurricanes, snow storms and tornadoes to be aware of the fact that we need to take precautions if we want to protect our families and pets when use this food and water supplies.

After all we need to know how to clean and disinfect the items so that they could be preserved in the best way. The preventive measures are more than required in such emergencies and the first thing to pay attention to, is the condition of the food and water. You might think that the look of the food and water supplies is appropriate enough   to use it , however, you need to know ways in which to disinfect everything in case of emergencies.


How to Disinfect Water ?

There are certainly many ways in which to disinfect the the water supplies depending on the amount of the water as well as on other factors. One of them is to use calcium hypochlorite. A 1-pound pag of this substance is able to treat about 10,000 gallons of water and it tends to be one best chemical disinfectants for water.

It can destroy many disease causing organisms such as spores, bacteria as well as viruses. When disinfecting water with calcium hypochlorite you need to add one part of the substance to 100 parts of water that will be treated. The mixture stays for at least one-half an hour before it could be used for drinking.

In some emergency cases you may not be able to use stored water and you need to search for natural sources like creeks or streams. In this case you should filter the water before taking up with the disinfecting. You can use a portable filter like hiker but its should be smaller than 1 micron. If heat is available in your home, you can also disinfect the water by boiling it for about 10 to 15 minutes.

How to Take Care of the Food Supplies?

In case of emergencies you need to take care of the disinfecting of the food supplies and utensils if you want to reduce the risk of bacteria and viruses on their surface. For the dishes that will be used, you had better use the chlorine bleach solution method. The dishes need to be soaked into the solution of bleach and water for a couple of minutes.

Here the hot water method is also a possible solution. The food supplies may not be dehydrated but take into account that canned foods and dry mixes will keep their freshness for a longer time. If you have containers of ice, use them – that will help for keeping the food cold and suitable for eating . You can also wrap the food in boxes in a safe way so that you can protect them insects and from rodents.

If you want to make sure that you and your family have enough safe food and water supplies, we advise you to follow the instructions for the most appropriate preserving of the items. One never knows when disasters are approaching, however, every person needs to be prepared to endure the stress  and to make the situation less uncomfortable. Whether there are storms or tornadoes, every responsible person should think about the best precautions for the food and water supplies. We hope that we have been helpful and that you will apply some of the methods in case of emergencies.

Contributed by ShinyLondon W5


  1. I work in water treatment.

    Just a note on storage of calcium hypochlorite. It does off gas over time so make sure to store it in a sealed, air tight container. When you do open it, open it slowly and away from your face.

    If you spill any liquid on it with a pH less then 7, especially something with a very low pH like coke, it will violently off gas chlorine gas and you do not want that.

    It also ignites easily especially in the powdered form, so be careful with it around open flame.

    • Prepared Andy says:

      You are all absolutely right. Providing for a reliable source of good clean water is the first and most important aspect of prepping. Get your water in order first then build the rest of your prepping plan around the water source.

  2. Another factor to consider with water. Most water treatment systems are designed to filter/treat for biological problems. And admittedly this is what causes most people’s issues. But you should also be able to filter for particulates. Not only those you can see, but those you can’t. You have to use distillation for this.

    Think of how you are going to use you water if you are “down stream” from a nuclear plant when the power going out. Are you going to have that issue? There are other particles you will want to get out of your water too. Keep that in mind. Not necessarily as a primary, but something that will be helpful to you.

    There are also many needs for distilled water, although drinking it without adding something will be really boring. Batteries is the first thing that comes to my mind.

    • JP makes a great point here. What are you down stream from? In my area coal mines once dotted the landscape. The land is “rehabilitated” they say but sulfur water and other toxic chemicals still leach from the old strip mines into the streams. Looking at the streams they look so beautiful and clean. I think we will be very challenged in finding good water in the years to come. My 2 cents, our old methods of purification are quickly becoming obsolete. Too many hidden chemicals in the water.

    • JP,
      Although we use a very good well, we have a series of devices between the well and the drinking water. First is a 20 micron filter, primarily for particulates. The output of this filter heads to the outbuildings and the water softener, with the soft water being used for bathing, laundry, and flushing. The drinking water then hits a 1 micron filter, then a reverse osmosis membrane, and finally an activated carbon filter, before being placed into the small (7 gallon IIRC) holding tank. This water is used for all cooking & drinking. In our case there is no need to boil, since the series of steps takes care of contaminants.

      • Around here, for some reason most of the wells need some help. They either smell like sulfur or get chemicals from their neighbor’s lawn service.

        My comments were addressed more to people who are going to get their water in a different manner than they currently are.

      • Antizombie says:

        One thing that we do on the farm to prep is to put up an ample supply of extra salt for our softening system. It seems that although our well water smells and tastes good it has a hardness (from gyp) close to a diamond. The salt comes in 50# bags and without it appliances and pipes quickly “lime up” and eventually are rendered inoperative. Our system has a carbon fiber tank and as long as I can generate electricity I can keep soft water flowing. Yes, in a SHTF situation the hardness of the water may rank low on a scale of necessities, but the life of your pluming is a different story. I can actually tell when the salt in the system is low by the crust that forms on the shower head and the amount of bubbles the shampoo has. Keep your supply stocked up and you can use it for quick melt in an ice storm situation as well.

        If you have a well, remember to pour a gallon of non scented bleach down the well pipe each year and back flush the water back into the well for 20-30 minutes to keep the well sanitized. Most wells have a faucet close to the well head and you can take a small length of hose and feed it back down into the well so it circulates the water. Be sure to then let the hose run out into the yard for 10 or 15 minutes to flush the well pipe and your well water will taste much better.

  3. If all else fails you can use a tree for a water filter.

    Using a Spile to Produce Clean Potable Water from a Tree

  4. Encourager says:

    I wish this article had been fleshed out a bit more. I was thinking about a theoretical situation such as purchasing food items in cans at a grocery store as a nasty virus was raging through the community. Should I wipe down the cans with a strong bleach solution when I got home? Let them sit in a covered area outside for a few weeks to hopefully, let the virus that may be contaminating the outside die?

    Think about grocery shopping. An employee who is ill with the very contagious virus decides not to stay home because he has no sick time left and he needs the money. He works nights stocking so he is pretty much alone with few customers, or so his thinking goes. He sneezes and coughs – most times not being able to cover his mouth because his hands are full of stock being shelved. How long does this virus live? If you come in and do your shopping in the next 6/12/24 hours, will you be infected from handling the cans he stocked? Or even touching the shelving he coughed/sneezed on?

    In such a situation, I would most definitely NOT buy fresh produce of any kind. I would be leery of store packaged meats, too. Paper packaged items such as flour? Frozen food? Perhaps safe. Does anyone here know?? How do you disinfect a package of flour? Or loaves of bread from the bakery? Every last item should be disinfected, by one person, with the bags disposed of as medical waste. Then all your clothes should be immediately washed in hot soapy water…with bleach added if the clothes can stand it. Dry in a hot dryer. You go into the shower. Would those steps be enough???

    Would you go shopping with gloves and a mask? And perhaps a paper coveralls? Change out of all before you get in your car? What steps would you take to protect yourself and your family?? And are those steps enough?

    In a perfect world, you would have no need to go shopping as you are completely stocked up. You can put your family in quarantine and just stay home. But we all know not all of us are at that stage of prepping.

    Come on, Wolf Pack! Ideas and solutions!!!

    • Encourager, I already do most of the things you mention. Our food distribution centers are nothing but warehouses with dirty floors and my auto mechanic is a Mr. Clean as compared to some of the workers in these warehouses. I do recommend that the packaging be cleaned or the food transferred into plastic containers. I like to use Tupperware containers. Next time you are at the supermarket watch the stock people. They pick their noses, won’t tell you where that goes, pick their butts, sneeze, cough on the items and even sit the products on the floor.

    • cans plus bleach can equal rust.

      i’ve seen people use plastic store bags to put food in. i point out that the previous contents could be dirty and the food should be wrapped before reusing the bags.
      this always seems to come as a surprise.
      in the more southerly states rats are often a problem in warehouses, said to be so to a greater extent than in the north.

      i take things out of the original wrappers and put the contents in containers while being careful not to recontaminate, or put my fingers on the food. for example, cheese. who knows who touched it before you fought it?
      i have to watch my husband as he seems to have the medieval idea that if you cannot see it ,it does not exist, therefore there are no bacteria or viruses.
      on the other hand he seems to have a cast iron stomach so the germs haven’t killed him yet!

    • Make your own wipes using eucalyptus , tea tree & thyme oils . Using silver solution is benefical along with theives oil. I even spray my wallet & money at times , money can carry a lot of bacterial residue . Building your immune system daily is a line of defense. Research your water source , filters then research some more… many of the pack here are offering valuable info & if one hasn’t researched , you might like what happens when an event takes place. I agree , water will be a real problem ( already is in many areas ) in the near future…

    • Encourager
      Canned goods that I purchase now, and those I remove from storage receive a Lysol wipe down. Due to the lack of poor health practices by the staff putting it out the selves, and the mice/rodents that run ramp-it through out the store rooms before it is put out. We know they do not have bladders, so it goes where ever they walk/run.
      Just to cover my bases I wash the lids with soap & hot water before I open them up here in the house. The can opener (hand held style)gets a through cleaning with a tooth brush & bleach every few days.
      It may sound strange but I carry N-95 mask, gloves, and Lysol wipes in my purse and/or vehicles. I use my wipes to clean the cart before I shop, and after shopping I get a new towel out and clean my hands again before I enter our vehicle. Might sound like over kill, but since I started this practice I have not brought home viral bugs to infect dh.
      Flour you might be able to kill of the viruses if you put it in the oven at temp that would kill the bugs but not burn the flour. Veges you put them through a bleach wash, like you would with your dishes. These are just my hypothesis on what might work.

      • Encourager says:

        Becky, I need to clarify that I was talking about shopping when a serious, usually fatal virus was in the community. I was only talking about that regarding the sanitizing. I do wipe down the grocery carts before shopping and wash my hands well when I get home.

        But I agree that we are too concerned with regular germs in this country. We sanitize the heck out of ourselves and our environment to the extent our immune systems have no way to build up immunities. I had every childhood disease as a kid – measles, rubella, whooping cough, chicken pox, and even polio. With the exception of the polio (that caused damage as it was before the vaccine), I believe all the rest help me have a strong immune system.

        • Encourager
          Like you i had most of the diseases a kid could come down with. Older sister gave us Mono, I brought home Scarlet Fever, no polio, or whooping cough.
          I would not go out shopping unless there was no choice in the matter.

          • it does seem like overkill but i wash and dry can lids and wipe around the cans before opening , making sure my hands are then wiped. it only takes a couple of seconds.

            my husband caught some bug while visiting nursing homes. he was so sick.
            doc asked what he’d been doing and when the name of a certain nursing home was mentioned the doc said that place was a hotbed of germs.
            his advice to husband;
            use elbows to open doors that are push doors.
            go into bathroom near entrance to nursing home, wash hands, and keep paper towel [if available] for use on door handles while visiting.
            do not touch eyes, lips, et cetera until hands are sanitized.
            when leaving
            throw paper towel away, wash hands, use new paper towel, if necessary, to open door to outside.
            keep hand sanitizer in auto and use immediately .

            he called before going to nursing homes last week but they were discouraging visitors at all of them because of the flu.

            it sounds like overkill but it is not.

    • Encourager,
      Using some ingredients like flour would not be an issue for biological contamination; however, chemical contamination would be another issue. Contaminated flour used to make bread that is baked in an oven for 20 minutes @ 350 should be fine. All of the vegetables and meats we purchase are contaminated at some level, due to bacteria in the air. That’s why we eat them soon and refrigerate to keep the growth down while eating them fresh and why we go through a process of sterilization when we can foods. At some point, heat will kill nearly everything that’s biologically toxic.

    • Sisterjudi says:

      I went on a cruise last year and my nurse friend suggested I take a box of rubber gloves for the buffet lime.Such a simple suggestion but so right on.Yes I used them and washed hands often and stayed away from people,and it was my last cruise.
      I got the weirdest looks,Hahahha so what I didn’t catch anything not even a man,only kidding I am engaged to Chuck,lol

  5. Dennis Selby says:

    Perhaps I misunderstood the directions but I have some concerns about using calcium hypochlorite (Pool shock) to disinfect water as outlined in the article.
    It sounds as though you mix the calcium hypochlorite with water at a hundred parts of water to one part of hypochlorite to disinfect the 100 parts water.
    I always thought that one was suppose to make a chlorine solution and THEN treat water with the SOLUTION at a 100 to one ratio. At least that’s what the EPA recommends. Here is their take: ” Add and dissolve one heaping teaspoon of high-test granular calcium hypochlorite (approximately ¼ ounce) for each two gallons of water, or 5 milliliters (approximately 7 grams) per 7.5 liters of water. The mixture will produce a stock chlorine solution of approximately 500 milligrams per liter, since the calcium hypochlorite has available chlorine equal to 70 percent of its weight. To disinfect water, add the chlorine solution in the ratio of one part of chlorine solution to each 100 parts of water to be treated. This is roughly equal to adding 1 pint (16 ounces) of stock chlorine to each 12.5 gallons of water or (approximately ½ liter to 50 liters of water) to be disinfected. To remove any objectionable chlorine odor, aerate the disinfected water by pouring it back and forth from one clean container to another.” More important info: http://preparednessadvice.com/water_purification/using-calcium-hypochlorite-to-disinfect-water/#.VMBnNC4maSw

  6. Oh my God…… Just me, true, I can see being cautious in the event of say a flood. However, I truly believe we as a people have become way to sterile. All kinds of shots, anti bacterial soaps, and on and on, Well, I got news for you. I am pushing my 80’s and dragging my 70’s and never ever have I done what some are suggesting. And yes, I don’t see doctors every year for a “check up”. Don’t take any meds either. I have no idea of what my blood pressure is or what my cholestroi is, Nor do I give a damm. Fact is, I haven’t seen a doctor in over 20 some years. Think about it for a minute, the more “clean” or sterile our way of life becomes the more we no longer have or develope natural immunities. Now….did I ever see a doctor? Of couse. Some 20+ years ago, I had cancer….had part of a lung taken out. No problem. Bottom line, while yes it is a good idea to be “safe” I don’t worry about it. I’ve eaten some pretty disgusting things in my life and never had it bother me.

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