As a Stake, we feel strongly that it is very important to have water stored for an emergency. You can live many days without food, but can't live for long without water.But storing a lot of water presents a major problem: Rotation. Water is very heavy! It weighs a little more than 8 lbs per gallon. To put that into perspective, your 55 gallon water barrel when completely full, weighs more than 450 lbs. Trying to move it, drain it, clean it and refill it is a job most of us try to avoid! So let's talk about some of the most common questions about how to care for your stored water:
Do you need to rotate your stored water?Water doesn't have an expiration date. The problem with stored water is contamination. If you properly store your water, it should be good for a long time (up to 5 years). However, it is important to check it every 6-12 months to ensure it hasn't been contaminated.
What can contaminate the water?The most common thing is bacteria and algae from the water itself or the air. To avoid this, treat the water when you store it with chlorine or a water preserver.
- Chlorine is used at 1/8 teaspoon of chlorine per gallon of water. So use about 7 teaspoons for a big blue 55 gallon drum of water.
- You can also use Water Preserver like this:Water Preserver
If you have stored commercial water (water bottles), the BPA in the plastic can contaminate the water. Check the expiration date, or even better, put the water through a filter before drinking.
How often should I check my water?
It is a good idea to CHECK your water every six months. Make sure nothing is growing in it and that it is still drinkable. What You’ll Need to Check For-
- Build Up Around the Edges
- Cloudy Water
- Foul Smell
Why does my stored water taste funny? Does that mean it's contaminated?Stored water will often taste flat and weird because there’s no oxygen in it. To get rid of that weird stored water taste, simply swish your water around your cup a few times before drinking. It’s also a good idea to store some sort of drink mix like tang, crystal lite, koolaid, etc. if you have picky “drinkers”.
- Store in opaque containers to keep out light (dark green and blue are best)
- Store in a place that is dark and cool consistently
- Sterilize any containers you are storing water in before filling
- Treat your water with a special water treatment like those listed above.
What if I didn't rotate my water and I need to use it??If you are worried about the safety of your water, you can always boil it to purify it. If you are conserving fuel or need to also filter out any particles, then have a good filter/purifier like a Berkey Water Filter on hand. The idea is to make sure you have a way to have clean and drinkable water in the case of an emergency.
Do I need to store my water off the cement?You may have heard it's best to store the big blue 55-gallon off the concrete. The basis for this is that some of the cehmicals may leach out of the concrete into your water. This isn't a big concern, but it is easy to put some boards or a wooden pallet beneath the barrel before filling it.
How to Clean Your Water Container or TankWhen you do rotate your water, you should take the opportunity to really clean out your water storage container. First, you need to wash out the tank with mild soap and water. When cleaning the inside of the barrel, use a scratch pad to get the hard to get areas. Rinse out and repeat the process if you suspect it has been in contact with bacteria or other harmful substances. It is important to make sure that there is no soap or chemicals inside the container once you rinse it out.
What to do With Rotated WaterIf you have hundreds of gallons of water stored, you want to make sure to be able to USE the old water so you aren’t wasting it. Some ideas for using your water are:
- Rotate in the spring and water your lawn and gardens with it
- Use it to flush your toilets
- Run several batches of laundry using stored water
- Wash your car with it
- Water house plants
- Purify it and use it for drinking/cooking
- Give your dog a bath!
Keep working at it and every month you will have more peace about your preparedness.