Water: Preparing/Treating Water For Storage

Properly storing your water is just as important as storing water in the first place. Case in point, before Hurricane Ike hit, hubby and I felt good and prepared with our water storage. Over the past several years, we had saved our sturdy juice jugs, etc and filled them up with tap water and stored them out in the garage. Hurricane Ike came and went and we were fortunate enough to be in an area that did not have polluted city water, so we were always able to maintain good, safe water. However, a few days after the storm, we decided to check on our water, just to see how it was. Hubby went and opened a jug and suddenly doubled over and nearly lost his lunch! The stench was overwhelming! Needless to say, we had apparently not stored our water properly and were incredibly lucky we didn’t have to rely on our water supply to get us by! We have since learned a thing or two about properly storing water. So here we go…

Water Storage Containers

First things first. You need a clean/sanitized container to store your water in. And not just any container… you need a food grade plastic or glass container with a tight fitting/screw-on cap. To know if your container is food grade, check the bottom for the letters ‘HDPE’ and the number ‘2’ in the recycle symbol. You can use bottles that have previously had drinks in them, however plastic milk or juice bottles should be avoided because it is difficult to adequately remove the protein, sugar, and fat residues, which may allow bacteria to grow during storage. (I believe this was our problem.) You can also buy new plastic containers for water storage in most housewares, outdoors, or sporting goods departments. (After our water fiasco, I’ve decided to just buy new instead of trying to clean out old containers. :)) If buying new, it’s also a good idea to look for containers that are BPA free. For me, personally, I purchase containers very similar to the one shown above. I like it because it’s big enough to store a good amount of water (mine are 7 gallons), small enough to be transportable (as opposed to 55-gallon barrels, which we also have two of), it wasn’t incredibly expensive (I believe it was a little under $7 {update: I believe these have gotten a whole lot more expensive since I originally posted this… but they’re still really convenient if you want to fork out the dough}), and it comes with a spigot on it so that you can easily access your water when needed (the spigot is stored on the inside of the cap so it doesn’t get dusty/dirty while in storage).
Stainless steel containers may be used to store water that has not been or will not be treated with chlorine (as chlorine is corrosive to most metals).
And I assume this would go without saying, but never use a container that has held toxic substances for storing your water. Tiny amounts of the toxins may remain in the container’s pores and can leach into your water. Other containers to avoid are chlorine bleach bottles (even though they may be food grade), as well as containers that will decompose or break, such as milk cartons or glass bottles.

Cleaning Your Containers
If you choose to use a container that has been previously used, be sure to thoroughly clean and sanitize it prior to storage. Clean your containers and lids with hot, soapy water. Rinse them with water and then sanitize the containers and lids by rinsing them with a solution of 1 Tbsp chlorine bleach* per gallon of water. Leave the containers wet for two minutes, then rinse them again with water.
Also remember to carefully clean any hard to reach areas to remove all residue from containers where bacteria may hide. This includes removing the plastic or paper lid liners in the lids to clean under those (a common mistake which would result in bacterial growth) along with the handle areas (if there’s a hollow handle) of containers like milk or juice jugs (if you insist on using them).
To sanitize stainless steel containers, place ย the container in boiling water (submerged) for 10 minutes.

Preparing/Treating Water To Store

The next step in storing water, is to get your water. ๐Ÿ™‚ Be sure your water is drinking-quality water to begin with. All public water supplies (at least in the U.S.) are already treated and should be free of harmful bacteria. However, for precaution, it is recommended to add chlorine bleach* to protect against any microorganisms that may still be lingering in your containers. Use the following chart as a guideline for how to treat your water (you can click on the image and right-click to save to your computer for easy referencing):

treating water for storage

*Only use the regular, unscented chlorine bleach for cleaning/sanitizing purposes with your water. Do not use bleach that has soaps or scents added.

Also note: If you are on a private water supply (i.e. individual wells and springs), it is recommended that you purchase bottled water for storing as these private water supplies are not tested and can have bacteria that would cause problems during a storage period.

Alright! Well, that about covers that. ๐Ÿ™‚ Next week we’ll talk about where to store your water and for how long. So stay tuned!