5 Myths about Water Storage

September 27, 2013 | 16 comment(s)

 Water-Storage-Myths

Since storing water is very different from storing food, there are a few things you should consider if you’re new to water storage. Water storage needs to be protected against viruses, contamination, and bacteria. So you must take different measures to protect your water from these threats than you would with food.

Here are 5 common myths and facts about water storage that you’ll want to consider as you start your water storage reserves.

Myth #1: Water can expire.

Fact: Water does not expire. It can become contaminated (chemically or biologically), but it doesn’t “go bad.” Water can have a stale taste, but that taste can be eliminated by rotating your water and purifying it. If a water storage source is in ideal conditions (it started out clean and was stored in a dark, cool area, not directly on concrete or near harsh fumes and chemicals), it technically can store indefinitely. Rotate water for peace of mind or if there is a risk of contamination.

Myth #2: It’s fine to store water in any type of plastic container I have at home.

Fact: Water should be stored in a UV-resistant, food-grade plastic container or in metallized bags. Traditionally, water storage barrels are blue. This color limits light exposure and biological growth (bacteria and algae) and also signifies that what is stored in the container is safe for human consumption (for example, gasoline is stored in red containers).

The safest containers to hold water in are polyethylene-based plastics, or plastics #1, #2, and #4. Our water barrels are made out of plastic #2 and, unlike some other companies, have never been used to store other items before they are sold to you. This type of plastic is good for long-term storage and is BPA-free.

You can figure out the number of plastic by looking for this symbol on the bottom of containers:

Recycle1

 

Other helpful tips for storing water in plastic containers:

  • Don’t use milk jugs for water storage. Since milk jugs are biodegradable, they will break down over time. Also, any live cultures in the milk that remain in your jug could make you ill if you store drinking/cooking water in milk jugs.
  • Disposable water bottles are not great for long-term storage. Water can be stored for long-term use in re-useable Nalgene bottles.
  • Soda Bottles and Powerade/Gatorade bottles can be used for long-term water storage. However, it’s important to remember that plastics absorb flavors, so your drinking water may have a cola taste. If you store water in soda or Powerade bottles, don’t use the water for cooking or else your soup might taste like cola!

Myth #3: If I have a water barrel, I’m set for every emergency I’ll encounter.

Fact: You can’t solely rely on the barrel for all the situations you may encounter. If you have to evacuate, you won’t be able to carry a water barrel with you. Also, if you only have one barrel or one water source you may run out of water given the number of people in your family and the number of days that you will be without water. Remember that the average amount of water to store is one gallon per day per person for a 2 week period.

Store water in various sized containers and plan for different situations (grab-and-go, shelter-in-place, extra water for cooking, etc.). You can siphon the water from your barrel into other containers and refill it before emergencies arise.

Myth #4: To save space, I can stack water barrels on top of each other.

Fact: Most water barrels are not built to stack on each other. If you want to stack your water because you don’t have room, use water containers with grooves on the bottom for stacking like our 160 Gallon Water Reserve, Aqua Pak or Aqua Tainer.

Water barrels are safest if they are stored standing. However, do not store your barrel directly on cement or on the floor in your garage. Plastics absorb flavors and odors from gasoline, liquids spilled on the floor, and chemicals used to create the concrete. These chemicals and odors will make the taste of the water unbearable to drink. Instead, place your water barrel on top of a wood board or cardboard so that odors and chemicals do not leach in.

Myth #5: If I have a water purifier, I don’t need a filter.

Fact: Water purifiers like Chlorine Dioxide will kill 99.9% of all microorganisms (like protozoa, bacteria, and viruses) in your water. Chlorine Dioxide is excellent for sheltering-in-place, and also great for treating water from your barrels or water you collect from streams or rivers while hiking.

However, purifiers alone won’t remove turbidity (dirt, silt, “floaties,” and chemicals) from your water, so we recommend using a purifier and filter together to make sure your water is clean (especially if you are collecting water for drinking and washing, but turbidity is ok if you use soap while washing.)

If you’re a first time barrel buyer remember that you’ll want to buy a water storage combo. Each combo includes a bung wrench, replacement bung (a bung is the white cap on top of your water barrel), siphon hose, and water purifiers for maintenance.

 

These are just 5 myths about water storage. But if you’re new to water storage and want to learn more, check out these articles for more tips:

"Not all Barrels are Built the Same

"Water Storage Overview

"Water Storage Options

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16 thoughts on “5 Myths about Water Storage”

  • Barbara Blackburn
    Barbara Blackburn January 14, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    It seems prices have gone up astronomically. If I had to pay the prices charged for barrels today, I would probably just have to die. With the economy the way it is one would think a hold would be on costs, but everything keeps going up. I wonder if people are really important or profit means more. What determines the price?

    Reply
    • beprepared

      Hi Barbara,

      Thanks for your question. Prices on water barrels can vary in time with the actual cost of shipping. The shipping charge we collect on is a flat rate to our customers and it does not reflect the actual cost of shipping these large barrels. We were founded to “Help people prepare... in exactly the same way we would want to be served” since 1987. We have not increased the price of our barrels at anytime for additional profit. We have had to modify the price slightly depending upon shipping cost. This is apparent when you see that the price decreases when you purchase more of our barrels. We receive a discount on shipping and we pass it along to our customers. We very much value each customer and want to help them prepare in anyway possible.

      Angela

      Reply
  • Jack B.

    A well presented an informative article which has changed the way I plan to store water.

    Reply
  • db

    GOOD STUFF, BUT THE FOLLOWING LINE HAS SOME SERIOUS IMPLICATIONS:
    "do not store your barrel directly on cement or on the floor in your garage. Plastics absorb flavors and odors from gasoline, liquids spilled on the floor, and chemicals used to create the concrete. These chemicals and odors will make the taste of the water unbearable to drink."
    MY POINT IS THAT "FLAVORS" AND "ODORS" ARE THE SUBSTANCE ITSELF, NOT SOME SHADOW OF THE SUBSTANCE, SO IF THIS CONTAINER WILL ALLOW THE WATER TO BE TAINTED LIKE THIS, THEN THE WATER IS NO LONGER SAFE TO DRINK, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER IT IS UNBEARABLE OR NOT. SO THESE BARRELS, FOR WHATEVER REASON, ARE SOMEHOW IN SOME WAY, PERMIABLE. TO SAY THAT THESE PLASTICS "ABSORB" FLAVORS IS DOWNPLAYING THE STIUATION IN MY OPINION. I IMAGINE STORING ON A RUG IN YOUR DEN COULD THEREFORE LEACH CHEMICALS AS WELL, BUT YOU JUST WONT MIND THE TASTE AS MUCH OR YOU WONT TASTE IT AT ALL. JUST SOMETHING TO BE AWARE OF. THEREFORE I FEEL THESE BARRELS ARE NOT THE END-ALL IN SAFE WATER STORAGE. WHAT IS, IS MY QUESTION???

    Reply
    • beprepared

      Hi DB,

      Thanks for your question. Our water barrels are high quality, food-grade containers that are thicker than others on the market. We are confident in their quality and ability to store water safely. We are not aware of any other water storage barrel or container that provides a perfect barrier. We are confident that if you store your water properly, it will be safe to use and a reliable option.

      -Angela

      Reply
  • Carolyn

    I have a small room in my garage that is used for storage. The water heater is in the same room. Can I safely place my water barrels in this room, I plan to put them on pallets.

    Reply
    • beprepared

      Carolyn,
      It's fine to store your water in this room as long as your barrels are up on pallets like you plan to have them. Just make sure not to store food in this room because of temperature changes.

      Reply
  • tammy

    I love your website and I really enjoy all the helpful hints. This is one of a very few company's that I feel is not out to get rich off of me. Keep up the good work.

    Reply
  • Katie

    Why are water bottles not recommended for long term storage? They are a plastic #1. What could be the potential dangers of drinking from them if you've stored them long-term?

    Reply
    • beprepared

      Hi Katie,
      Water bottles are not the best for long-term storage because they can give the water a plastic taste after a period of time. Also, they are not as durable as stronger plastics for long-term water storage. This is not to say that you cannot store water in plastic bottles. It's just that they won't be as strong or as reliable as a stronger plastic.

      Reply
  • Carol Maher

    I have six large water barrels. Can I safely store them in my garage without impacting my house foundation because of the weight of the barrels? If so, can they be stored together or should they be placed in various locations so all the weight is not in one area? Or, is outside with a cover built over them a better option? I live in north Texas. Thank you in advance for your assistance!
    Carol

    Reply
    • beprepared

      Carol,
      You barrels should be fine stored next to each other in a line without disrupting the foundation. Just make sure to put them on a wooden platform or 2x4 to make sure they aren't touching the garage floor. Storing them outside is a good option as well, as long as you have the cover. If you choose to store outside, please make sure to have them well covered.
      Angela

      Reply
  • frank

    I have the costco barrel and is stored in garage with gas,paint and many other chemicals used for working on my car. Will it absorb all thw other fumes created by open chemicals?

    Reply
    • beprepared

      Hi Frank,
      I saw that you made this same comment on the post "3 Things you Need to Know about Water Barrels," so in case you didn't see my response there, I've written it here as well:
      Thanks for your question. You are corrected about fumes being absorbed by plastics. So, if your garage has paint cans and other chemicals, it’s not preferable to store them there because the chemicals can leach in and make the water unbearable to drink. Try storing your water barrel in your basement (if you have one/have the space) or store it outside with a barrel bag http://beprepared.com/barrel-bag.html?&sc=BLOG&oc=BP0001B1360 to protect it from sunlight and other outdoor elements. You can also look for barrels that have a seal inside that protects against absorption (for example, our 160 Gallon reserve is made of an enhanced plastice that’s BPA free and non-permeable).
      Angela

      Reply
  • Deanne

    We just built a storage room/basement in southern Arizona, with a concrete floor. It has shelving composed of that ground-up wood that is pressed together (I cannot think what it is called right now). The shelves are painted, and after two years the paint still stinks. So my question is, will putting laminate (abt 1/4 inch thick) on the floor, or carpeting, be enough of a barrier between water barrels and food storage plastic buckets to stop them from leaching the chemicals? How about stopping the formaldehyde from the wood from getting into either the plastic buckets or plastic barrels?

    Reply
    • beprepared

      Hi, Deanne.
      Great questions. I reached out to two of our experts, Dawn and Tim, to get their suggestions. Here's what they had to say:

      Dawn:
      This is actually a common question in the stores. If possible, use fans to air out the storage room as much as possible first. All water barrels should be raised off the floor with a pallet or 2 X 4’s. Plastic buckets that are lined with metallized bags do not need to be raised up, but if they don’t have a metallized bag then the same rule applies to them. Cans aren’t an issue because they can’t be permeated by gases. Air flow around plastic is really important. It won’t prevent all gases from getting in but it will limit the process significantly. Change out the water yearly to make sure the water is as fresh as possible.


      Tim:
      Paint has chemicals, and I’m guessing the wood you are referring to is OSB or Particle board. OSB is very “fumey”.
      My suggestion would simple be 2 x 4 pine studs cut into 2-foot-lengths and 3-4 of them placed under the barrel (leave 1-2 inches of spacing between each piece for air movement). That will help, but the smell may be strong enough to not be blocked by anything – especially if the room is not well ventilated. The smell will have nowhere else to go.

      So, Deanne, it sounds like raising the barrels (and the buckets if they don't have metallized bags) onto a pallet or 2x4's with space between them and making sure the room is well-ventilated are the two key things to address.

      Thanks for your question! Let us know what else we can do to help.
      --Sarah

      Reply

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