If you're wanting to store up large amounts of water, it can get very expensive going the traditional, commercial route. By taking a few safety precautions into account and being sure that no step in the process is contaminated, you can start storing your own water for a cheaper, self-sustained alternative.
Bottling and Storing Your Own Water
According to the CDC any water that is not commercially bottled should be discarded after six months (CDC, 2014).
Obviously, commercially bottled water, if you believe in the process, makes the most sense when it comes to long-term storage of water. The problem is that bottled water is expensive in comparison to what you pay for tap water, and while the water itself may have an indefinite shelf life the packaging material may not.
What sets commercially bottled water apart from the water you could bottle at home is the process by which the bottles are filled.
You can store your own water if you use the proper containers and follow proper sanitation methods. What is the shelf life of water you store yourself? In theory indefinitely, but this assumes you do not contaminate the water at some point or it is not contaminated before you fill up a container with it.
Six months is a good guideline, but this can be costly if you have to empty hundreds of gallons of water every six months to refill with fresh.
You can however, incorporate the stored water into daily use before it expires, or when you think it has expired, and then refill so you always have fresh water on hand. Use the water for crop irrigation, or use to flush toilets to help offset the cost of refilling the containers.
- Only use food grade plastic containers for water storage, Typically water barrels are blue to signify water
Wash the inside of the container with warm soapy water and then rinse well before using for the first time or after emptying and before refilling again.
- Add one teaspoon of bleach to a quart of water. Use unscented common household bleach that contains sodium hypochlorite at between 5.25 and 6 percent active, add the solution to the water container after washing and drying and swish around ensuring the solution touches all of the surface inside the container, wait at least 30 seconds then empty, you can let air dry or rinse with clean water
- Only fill water containers with hoses rated for potable water, typically the hoses are white or occasionally blue/grey, keep in mind the larger water storage containers may have to be filled in place with a hose connected to a faucet inside the home because of the weight, so be prepared for this
Have you tried DIY water storage? What are some of the pros and cons, in your opinion?
If you do store water – either your own or commercially bottled – there are a few very important rules to keep in mind to keep your water safe to use and drink whenever you need it.
How Light and Other Factors Affect Your Stored Water
Bottled water and tap water if exposed to prolonged periods of direct sunlight and/or heat sources may develop algae, or mold (IBWA, 2015).
BPA and Sunlight/Heat
Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a chemical building block that is used primarily to make polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins.
FDA’s current assessment is that BPA is safe at the very low levels that occur in some foods. Studies suggest however, that heat and light have an effect on how quickly and how much BPA will leach from the plastics in water bottles and other food packaging.
Cool and dark are the recommended environments for storing bottled water. While the FDA has stated that commercially bottled water has an indefinite shelf-life the packaging does not, and how your water is stored will have an effect on how long the packaging remains intact.
If you were to fill plastic water bottles that had been previously used, and you did not properly sanitize the container, and then you left the clear plastic bottles where direct or even indirect sunlight will reach them, you may very well see mold and algae developing inside the sealed containers.
Temperature swings will also have an impact. Bottled water stored in a hot car over the summer months will not last nearly as long as bottled water stored in a cool environment away from light and high heat and/or temperature swings.
If you're concerned about chemicals getting in to your water over time when using plastic containers, you can also explore other materials like glass or steel. There are pros and cons to each type of container to take into account, like the tendency of glass to shatter when jarred, making any transportation of containers tricky, especially once filled because of the weight.
Stainless Steel is an option as well, but again it is heavy, but it is not transparent so sunlight/artificial light has little effect, but water provided by a municipality would contain sodium hypochlorite (bleach), which will corrode stainless steel over time.
If you were to store water in Stainless Steel drums that were properly sterilized and the water was treated correctly you could safely store the water for years if sealed tightly. Once you open a container then you should use the entire contents.
What are your opinions about stored water? Do you plan to store water long term, or do you try to rotate it often?