Questions and Answers With The Wolf Pack : Storing Water?

k7453371Question from Mountain Fever

I have a question I’d like to post; I don’t know what day of the week you post questions from members… but my question is: I have (4) 7-gallon water storage containers in my garage; and I hope to change out the water only every 6 months.

Do I need to use any “water preserves” or something else to kill bacteria growth? I found this “Aerobic Stabilized Oxygen Water Preserver” but am not familiar with it; has anyone used it? I also heard of some people using a little bit of bleach or baking soda; but would like advice.

Much Thanks!


  1. grandma Rosie says:

    We have a closed system here on earth & the same water gets recycled over & over. There is NO need to change out your water, what we call fresh water is the same stuff that first fell on Noah’s ark!!! Don’t waste water by pouring it out & refilling with more water the same age!

  2. Thomas The Tinker says:

    We also store most of our water in aquatainers. If you are serviced by a ‘City’ system your water is pre-treated. At the worst we are simply going to ‘rinse’ it through our Berkey filters.

  3. I have used oxygen stabilizers and bleach, but really nothing is needed for storage just a clean container kept out of the light. We have used water that was stored for 16 months with no problems in old juice bottles. If you are worried that the containers may not be perfectly clean then that’s where the oxy or bleach can help. Storage is key use only cleaned food grade or new ones made for water. Even if when you open the bottles if you aren’t sure about it, smell or color, just boil, filter or treat the water before use.
    The very minimum to store is 1 gallon per person per day to survive, but 3 is more like what is needed for living, drinking, cooking, washing. Store as much as possible rotate if you want and have ways to treat it if necessary.

  4. rjarena says:

    good timing on this one, I was shopping for 55 gal. blue barrels lat night, found several very cheap on the local classifieds, I have to convince the wife that the 275 gal stackable caged pallet containers would look great in our garage!

    • Thomas The Tinker says:

      Jeeezo… I think two of those stacked in a corner would look very low-techy-industrial rjarena! Any idea what they weigh in at empty?

      • rjarena says:

        I am not sure, I would estimate over 100lb, I do have a truck, and a hoist in the garage, so not a big deal there. I live in Utah, and you can find them on, and very reasonable, since you can buy the 55 gal. in most local grocery stores, even in a few of the wally worlds, you also can go to the local emergency Essentials and buy them there.
        Water is my biggest concern, since this is high mountain desert, it gets very dry at 5000 ft, and the sun is very strong.

        • riverrider says:

          just be careful of what came in them. some are used for car wash soap/wax etc.

        • ..not a hundred pounds more like 40. I can pick an empty one by myself and carry it. Loaded now that is a whole different story and hospital stay:):)

      • Very light. One person can easily lift a single 175 gallon empty tank

      • RB in GA says:

        TTT & rjarena,
        I have both the 55-gallon blue barrels and the 265-gallon container, which is frequently called a “tote”. The barrels are only about 10-15 lbs, empty. And the tote was only about 80 lbs. Of course, none of them have been empty for over a year! I have 6 blue barrels filled with tap water in my basement, while my tote is outside as a rainwater receptacle.

      • TexasScout says:

        128 lbs container + 2021 lbs of water = 2150 lbs =/-

      • Bob Smith says:

        They are very light when empty. Thomas, I imagine you could easily lift one. When they are full, they are very heavy. I am able to move them around my garage with a heavy hand truck. Make sure the tires are full of air and you will need another person to help you get it tilted at first.

  5. I bought many of the large water fountain jugs of water for drinking at under $4 ea which is way cheaper than me buying special jugs plus the spring water. For everything else, we’ve bought large new camping jugs (blue type) from thrift stores and save all the water from the dehumidifier in them. They’ll be used for washing up, toilet if necessary, etc. On top, we have many 55 gal barrels outside with rain water. That cycles often so no need to do anything other than screen out debris and mozzies.

    As long as the jugged water is kept out of light and cool, there shouldn’t be an algae or bacteria problem. It might not be as ‘fresh’ tasting, but you can run it through a Berkey or similar system to ensure it’s fine. Or use it for other things and get more jugs for drinking water. You can never have enough water on hand.

  6. JP in MT says:

    We store most of our water in 5 and 6 gallon jugs. We do rotate it, as it tends to develop an aftertaste. We have neither the space or access to store larger containers, and we are dependent upon the city for most of our current water needs.

    We do have stabilizer and bleach available to treat our water. We use a counter top filter to fill our 5 gallon jugs that then go in a water heater/cooler for daily consumption. We also have a Royal Berkey and a Katadyn Vario portable filter. We take LifeStraws and LifeStraw water bottles out with us into the “hills”.

    I like the larger storage containers, but again space and access are issues for us. This means I am always looking for more ways to store, haul, and treat water.

  7. Granny W says:

    I have been concerned about rainwater collection. Went to a seminar put on by local food coop with a master gardener as the presenter and she said that rain water with the possibility of bird poop in it should not be used for anything but flowers/not on veggies in the garden!! She said the bacteria in the water would contaminate the veggies. What a turn off that was for collecting rainwater. Obviously not all of the wolf pack agrees with that or you would not be collecting rain! any thoughts?? thanks

    • Then what am I supposed to do with my vegetable plants in the garden that have bird poop on them!!!! Oh well I guess I will just eat the poop tomatoes !!

    • riverrider says:

      gw, a good rainwater system has something called a first flush device. mine is no more than an extra length of pvc pipe w/ a cleanout on the end. the first flush catches the dirty water coming off the roof in the first few minutes of rain. when it fills up, clean water spills over into the collection lines. i use it for everything but drinking unfiltered. haven’t had to drink it yet but have multiple filters for that.

      • RR,
        I like your first fluch device which is sheer simplicity. All of the designs I’ve looked at have springs and counterweights and other gadgets. This sounds simple, cheap, and fool proof. I like it.

    • Petticoat Prepper says:

      Bird poop? Well guess I shouldn’t use chicken manure in my garden. (tongue in cheek) Maybe using rainwater would be an issue if one was doing overhead sprinklers? I’d think after the first 10 minutes of rain runoff diverted from the holding tanks that it’d be ok. BUT what do I know? I’ve only just started looking into harvesting rain water. I’m hoping to get to my BOL and work on getting as far off grid as I can.

      In my area (according to the city) with a 2,000 sq. ft. ‘collection area’ (roof) with our average rain fall, I could be able to collect over 32,000 gallons of water each year. Way over what would be needed for me per year. So I am interested in the subject. I’d think if one had a big system it could be treated like local wells that have poop issues thus making it potable water.

    • Thomas The Tinker says:

      If you like this Master Gardener….. ok! This sounds like the same PC logic that has Citys draining lakes and resevours cause they were told some kid pee-ed in it. Filters and treatment are filters and treatment right!?

    • Wayne Clifford says:

      I had a Master Gardener tell me to grow lots of
      flowers around the garden area to attract bird since
      it was a great source of natural fertilizer for all the

  8. riverrider says:

    with a few drops of bleach you shouldn’t have to rotate for 12 months or more. aquatainer makes a filter element that screws in place of the cap and the spigot screws into that. ee carries them.

  9. I rotated the water in my aquatainers a couple months ago, after storing the water for a year. I used the water for making coffee, watering plants, etc., then rinsed them good with hot water and a splash of bleach before refilling. I don’t add any bleach when I store my water and have had no problems.

  10. MaryMouse says:

    I was in charge of a community water system years ago in a rural area. We stored 1200 gallons in a white tank outside. No good. Algae made a mess of the water. The sanitarian told us, once the water was stored inside in the dark, that 1/2 cup of chlorine bleach was enough to purify the whole 1200 gallon tank. So don’t overdo the bleach. Once sealed in a light-proof container, it will last a long time. To refresh the taste and aerate, just pour it back and forth after filtering through a Berkey or boiling, if you want to. The Master Gardener was nuts about bird poop rain water on your veggies. (!) Oh, and a gallon of water weighs over 8 pounds, so the 275 gallon cage apparatus weighs over a TON! Be careful about stacking those things.

  11. TexasScout says:

    I have used the AquaTainers for a couple of years. I have never rotated my water. I use my well water, and it does make red/black algae in my toilet tank, I think it’s the small bit of Hydrogen Sulfide gas. However, when I stored the water I put a teaspoon + 8 drops of plain bleach in each 7 gallon container. There has been no problems with any of them. I have used one or two when the power went out (no pump). Wal-Mart used to sell them for less than nine bux, but now they are just under $13.00 each.

    • Scout, our well guy has us dropping pool chlorine tablets down the well pipe to clear that algae from the pump about every 6 months or so. He also said that a couple of gallons of regular bleach will work the same. Said that was the main cause of pump failure around here. I try to do it about the same time I change out the a/c filters. It also has the benefit of killing off the algae inside of the pipes and the water troughs in the pastures. We just drop them in one evening, and just run the faucets to flush in the morning. Our drinking water runs thru a filter regardless and the chlorine dissipates and becomes inactive once it’s exposed to organic material and atmosphere.

      • TexasScout says:

        Outstanding! Just the info I was looking for!

        I had thought of rigging up a metering pump for bleach injection, but if this works…

        BTW, my well is 418′ to the sand screen.

    • Do you know if the Aquatainers are BPA-free?

  12. Soggy Prepper says:

    I have 6 55 gal drums. 3 blue and 3 white. The white ones contained the mix for Rockstar drink, we cleaned them out, bleached them and filled them. I just checked the ones in the garage and I filled them in March of 2011. They look fine and smell fine (hint of rockstar). Longer then I meant to let them go but I’ll be changing them out this summer and refilling. It’s not a small job, but 3 years? Yeah, it’s time.
    We also have a Berkey and small katydyne so if I had to use them I would run the water through the Berkey first. Even if it were only stored 6 months. I also store the little flavor packets that go in water bottles (like Hawaiian punch) and also orange drink from LDS to “flavor” up flat water if need be.

  13. nick flandrey says:

    During hurricane Ike, we were without city water for 3 days.

    I had filled the bathtub at the beginning of the storm for sanitation water.

    I had aquatainers that I put up with bleach in 2003.

    We used the water from the aquatainers, and just ran it thru a normal ‘pitcher’ type filter for taste (brita) for drinking and cooking. Note that it was fine after YEARS sealed in the dark.

    Our lesson learned was that I didn’t have enough water stored. I was able to get 5 gallon buckets filled at my 2ndary location to use for sanitation. We used the water in the tub too. I had planned to use the hot water heater tank, but it got contaminated when the city water failed. It would have been ok for sanitation. We were not able to collect rain water except for a few gallons as the storm was ending. (I used plastic bins lined with trash bags under the eves of the house.) I was a little panicked and we would have had issues if I couldn’t get water from the other side of town. (I never had to use any of my real water filters.)

    Flash forward to today. I’m hanging the gutter for my rainwater collection system today. I have a 225 gal tank to use for ‘gardening’ most of the time, and sanitation if needed. I have 80 gallons in stainless steel food grade storage containers, treated with bleach, in the garage. I have the aquatainers too (but the spouts need to be replaced, they broke.) I’m reusing the heavy 1 gallon Kirkland juice bottles too.

    Bottom line, you can’t have TOO much water. You also want it in different sized containers. If I had to BO, I’d grab the aquatainers and 1 gallon bottles. The aquatainers with spouts are very convenient when set up in your outdoor disaster kitchen (mine is a potting bench most of the time.) You need a large container, sealed, in case your rainwater is contaminated by chemicals or fallout. Knowing where your neighbor’s swimming pool is can be a great comfort (if you have access and it’s not contaminated.)

    Use bleach, keep it in the dark, make sure the container is clean. Store more than you think you will need.


    • Hi Nick, “Knowing where your neighbor’s swimming pool is can be a great comfort (if you have access and it’s not contaminated.)”

      That is exactly why we have filters for purifying around 6000 gallons of swimming pool water. We don’t have one, but neighbors do. After a hurricane they will likely be full of stuff, including dead animals and birds.

      While we store water, those pools can keep a lot of people from rioting for some time. Desperate people do desperate things. For the price of some filters we can help keep the neighbors calm and ourselves safe. Win/Win.

      • nick flandrey says:

        Surprisingly for me, I didn’t even think of asking the neighbors. I’d been focused on lone prepping and missed that REALLY obvious source of water. There are a lot of pools in the neighborhood, just none in my immediate circle of acquaintances. All the more reason to concentrate on people stuff, and networking, once the basics are in place.


        • Hi Nick, It is obvious, and it took me quite a while to think of it as well.

          Once I did, though, (I already knew through word of mouth about the one across the street) I checked Google Earth and found two more in easy walking distance. None are visible from the road.

          Then I printed out the map, highlighted the pools, and added it to our emergency supplies. I’m not going to weird out the people in good times about filtering water for them, but if times are tough we will be able to offer help: filtering services for water.

          There is also a big community pool which is in walking distance, but it would be a long walk uphill with several gallons of water. Still, it is there, and people with gas can access it…if our benevolent government allows us to. I can imagine them deciding that since they cannot guarantee the pool water is safe to drink, they will post armed guards to prevent we employers of the public servants from hauling it off.

  14. farmergranny says:

    Noticed that TexasScout stated his well is 418 feet deep. I’ve been trying to have the local well people install a hand pump for me (Bison or FLoJack) and no one there seems to understand what I am talking about. My well is around 275 ‘ deep. Living in SC Iowa, where rain falls at a whim when and where it chooses and power goes out, I’d really like to install this. I’m 67 and in need of advice. Any forthcoming?

    • farmergranny
      I know what you are talking about. You might have to search on line in your state for a company that does those types of installations.
      Here are the following questions you will need to know.
      1) At what depth is the constant water level in your well
      2) What is the rate of recovery on your well-the amount of water per minute you can pull out of the well before the pump shuts off(if it does).
      3)Your pump size down in the well. *Example—is it a 1/2hp that will do 10 gallons per minute/or a 3/4hp that will pull 20-25gallons per minute*.
      These will be some of the questions you could be ask if they able to set up a hand pump on your well.
      I believe I saw an ad for one that works like a compression pump, it would work on the same theory as if you had power(m/earth mag). You prime it and the pressure stays in the lines.
      Hope this assists you on your search.

  15. Hi Mountain Fever, I would stay way away from any product which does not provide the actual chemical formula.

    There are a number of water purifiers on the market which make all sorts of fancy claims about purifying water, and they seem mostly to be absolutely true. What is also true is that they seem to be nothing but chlorine bleach at around $15 for 4 ounces. Sodium hypocholorite at 5.25% concentration is the same thing as Clorox or any other brand of chlorine bleach.

    Here is a link to the American Red Cross “Food and Water in an Emergency” page. Just scroll down to the water section:

    Here is a link to the site, which says the same thing:

    Here is a link to the Family Survival Planning page, which also has important warnings about using iodine:

    Here is the link to Clorox’s disaster page for purifying water:

    So, the consensus of the professionals is that fresh bleach works just fine. Bleach breaks down, so fresh bleach is stronger than bleach which is a year old, and a lot stronger than two year old bleach. That doesn’t mean that year old bleach is worthless for purifying water: It just means you have to use more.

    If you buy commercially bottled water, you should not need to add anything to it: It is already sterilized and sealed. If it is sealed, bacteria can’t get in, so it will stay sterile. Just keep it in a dark spot to help prevent the plastic bottle from breaking down. We have kept commercially filled 5 gallon water fountain jugs for 5 years, opened them, and the water was just fine.

    We bought a blue plastic 55 gallon water barrel, rinsed and disinfected it with 1 quart of water & a capful of fresh Chlorox. Then we filled it from the outdoor spigot, using a white drinking water quality hose from Amazon (they are sold mostly to people with RVs), added three tablespoons of Chlorox to the water, and put the cap in.

    Since the barrel sits in the back of the carport where it gets some indirect light, we covered it with two heavy duty black plastic trash bags to keep it clean and the light out. We also marked the fill date and amount of bleach on the top with a felt tip marker.

    So, if you see water purifiers which say they are Sodium Hypocholorite at 5.25%, they will work…if they are fresh. But they are the same thing as bleach, so you might as well use bleach. It is a lot cheaper than $15 for 4 ounces.

  16. Chuck Findlay says:

    I agree pre-treated city water is OK.

    I store some city water, but I also have several water filters that I plan on using with any water including the city water I store before I drink or cook with it.

    I don’t have more then a few days water set aside as I live where water is not a problem to get, I think a top quality water filter is one of the most important things you can have.

    As far as bleach breaking down I solved this (or I think I have) by buying bleach tablets. A local home store (Menard’s) sells bleach tablets and I bought a lot of them as it seems a good way to get shelf-stable bleach. I don’t know that I will need them, but like most preps I buy. It’s better to have it and not need it, then to need it and not have it. So I buy lots of stuff I hope I never have to use.

  17. I put about a 1/2 cup of “colloidal silver in 40 gal. works great. Haven’t changed in in 5 years and it’s still good. In 5 gal. I put in a large cap full. this is a good way if you make your own C-silver. Chlorine bleach and Aerobic Oxygen work as well. G-man

  18. Tape water my be good enough in areas where that don’t treat your water with Floride that syff is deadly. it will tank a real good filter it out of your water. Distilled water is your best bet. This is the water i put away. I put the tap water by for other uses. You can buy a Distiller and do it yourself or you can buy it in gallon jugs it is dated and you can keep it rotated out.

  19. “Floride that syff is deadly” So is chlorine. In fact, too much water will kill you.

  20. I have a question for the pack about water filtering. in the event of Yellowstone going off, and all the ash spreading thru the US, will todays filters remove the ash, or will it clog up? my plan was to use a cheesecloth to remove most of the ash, then the filter. but I am not sure if the filters I have will work. I currently have a just water system from monolithic marketplace with a ceramic filter, and I am planning to purchase this week the safestraw family system 1.0. any thoughts? I am not sure if the ash will make to ohio, but why take a chance? I thank you all.

    • karpac,
      The ash is not anything special, and any small particulate matter can clog a ceramic filter. One of my filters is the same monolithic system you have that I got from Sportsmans Guide. If you’re not using a well and have to use surface water (creek, pond, lake, etc), then you should always use a particulate filter on the water first. Bath towels, cheese vloth, and coffee filters will all do the trick, and since particulate material comes in various sizes) perhaps all of them in sequence. The goal is to get the clearest water you can for the filter and allow it to remove the last of the particulate matter, bacteria, viruses, etc. You may also want to pre-treat the clear water with chlorine or iodine to make sure everything is really dead.

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