How to Stockpile Water, How to Purify Water:
By Jason Wagner
If you’re of the wealthier slice of humanity, mountains of bottled water is the best option. Unfortunately for most of us – bottled water is far too expensive to store in the quantities that we would need for a protracted disaster. Humans need at least 8 cups of water per day, but realistically we will need over a gallon for drinking, cooking and add another gallon or two for personal hygiene…water can really add up.
Why is bottled water so ideal? The long and short of it is that bottled water is delicious, completely safe, easy to move, convenient and it is almost impervious to expiration.
This wouldn’t be much of an article if I all I had to say was to stockpile bottled water, now would it?
Selecting a Container:
In order to store water, it takes more than just you filling up some old Pepsi bottles with water…no, no – that will not work.
The best choice is to buy brand new specially made water storage containers. Any water container worth its weight is opaque, food grade, simple to store, easy to move and clean. Speaking personally, I prefer the 1 – 10 gallon containers; they’re big, but not so big that they’re troublesome.
A gallon of water weighs 8 pounds…is that 250 gallon super tanker sounding unappealing yet?
If you want to be all frugal-like, you can use old soda bottles and milk jugs, but only after you’ve thoroughly cleaned them with 3/4th cups of bleach to a gallon of water followed by a rinsing with clean water. Again, when your water is on the line it really doesn’t pay to be cheap…but if it comes down to using recycled containers or no water at all, then do what you must.
Building your own store of water is fairly basic. Simply fill the container and add a water preservative in the required amounts. A low tech water preserver is sodium hypochlorite AKA common household bleach. Steer clear from scented or otherwise modified bleaches. Also, don’t forget that bleach that’s over six months old can no longer be reliably depended upon.
For clean tap water, which is what you will be filling your containers with, of course, add four drops of bleach per gallon of water. A drop of bleach is generally recognized as 0.05 milliliters; that’s 20 drops per milliliter. A drop of bleach could also be quantified as 1/100th of a teaspoon.
The water should last upwards of 5 years when treated with bleach; however I think that cycling it every two – three years is a good policy. Many commercial water preservers guarantee 5 years of safe water.
Storing Water Without Chemicals:
So long as you wash out the containers with 3/4th cup of bleach per gallon of water followed by a good rinsing, you can safely store plain tap water for six months; it has to be tap water, though; non-tap water doesn’t have the same storage properties. Make sure to dump it and re-clean the container every six months.
Whether you used chemicals or went the more liberal route, be sure to store the water in a cool, dark area; basements are usually a fine choice.
Water Purification – Four Easy Methods:
If the water was harvested from nature, you need to purify it. Even the cleanest looking stream water could be a catalyst for all kinds of nasty organisms.
Boil the water for ten minutes to purge it of all viruses, bacteria’s and parasites. Boiling does not eliminate contaminants (chemicals, dirt) at all. In practice, as soon as the water hits a boil it should be safe to drink, but keep it at a boil for at least two minutes…ten is best. Note that boiled water tends to taste flat. If the water is polluted with sand, twigs, debris – anything physical, a nice little trick is to run the water through a coffee filter before the boiling.
This is done via an electricity consuming machine. If the power is out, you will have to use precious fuel and trust me – distillation machines run for a very, very long time. To give you some perspective – in 24 hours you will be lucky if you have 5 gallons of water. On the bright side – distillation will render water that’s free of chemicals, particles, viral, bacterial and parasitical contaminations.
Adding chemicals to contaminated water doesn’t sound like much of a solution – it isn’t, but in the apocalypse or an extended disaster sometimes the best solution is whatever is available. Questionable water can usually be made safe by adding up to 1/4th teaspoon of bleach per gallon of water. Let it sit for 30 minutes then it should be relatively safe for drinking.
Iodine is a common alternative to bleach that produces similar results with 1/2th a teaspoon per gallon of water. Whether you use bleach, iodine or one of those fancy water purification bottles (usually just easier to use bleach or iodine) chemical purification will not guarantee that all the potentially harmful organisms are gone, nor will it address any of the other problems that may or may not be plaguing the water.
Unless the water is chemically contaminated – the filter will give you good, potable water. Good models are made using filters with pores no larger than 0.3 microns; at that level, no harmful organisms (viruses, bacteria’s, parasites) will be able to pass through into the filtered water. The main drawback with using a filter is there high initial cost and that they do not remove chemicals all that well.