Survival Basics: Water and Water Storage

SurvivalWoman SurvivalWoman  |  Updated: December 16, 2020
Survival Basics: Water and Water Storage

During a recent book giveaway, the question asked was “What piece of prepping gear is at the top of your bucket list?” Needless to say, I was more than a little bit surprised to find that the top response was water storage, water filters, and water purification equipment.

While having the gear is nice, anyone interested in preparedness also needs to have a basic understanding of the concepts behind water and water storage. Where to find, store, purify, and filter water are all questions that need to be asked, answered, and periodically reviewed.

Backdoor Survival: What You Need to Know About Water

And why do I know that? A couple of months ago I was personally without running water for 12 days. Being up to speed on the do’s and don’t of water were key to my getting by just fine during this period.

With that in mind, today I share an article on the water as a survival basic.

Back to the Basics: Water for Survival

When I first started Backdoor Survival, my focus was on gathering the basics: food, water, shelter, and fire. Of course, along the way, I have learned that there is so much more that is essential to long-term survival. Things that come to mind are clean air, clothing, first aid, self-defense, signaling and a community with others.

But today I want to keep things simple and, for the benefit of my newer readers, go back the basics and review the essentials of water for survival.

Water is the Most Important Survival Basic

Clean water is something that we all take for granted. We turn on the faucet and there it is. It is plentiful, it is clean and it is drinkable. Yes, it may have some undesirable chemical additions such fluorides, but for the most part, having clean, drinkable water is something we have come to rely upon.

The bottom line is that if a disaster occurred and the supply lines to fresh water were comprised, we would be in a pickle. There is a possibility that safe water would not be available for days and possibly not for weeks.

The rule of thumb propagated by FEMA and just about every other authority out there is that you store at least one gallon of water per person and pet, per day, for a minimum of three days. But if you think that a three-day water supply is adequate, think again.

A more reasonable recommendation is that you up the recommended amount of stored water to a two week supply. So for two people that would be 2 people x 1-gallon x 14 days = 28 gallons. This amount should cover your minimal needs for drinking, food preparation and nominal, and I mean nominal, hygiene.

DIY Water Storage

Storing water for an emergency can be as simple as filling thoroughly washed plastic or glass containers with tap water and sealing them tightly. This is something that anyone can do without incurring a cost so long as few simple rules are followed.

Here are steps to take to store water for emergency use:

1. Thoroughly clean your plastic bottle and jugs with dishwashing soap and water then rinse completely so there is no residual soap.

2. Sanitize your bottles by adding a solution of 1 teaspoon of un-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to a quart of water. Swish the sanitizing solution in the containers so that it touches all interior surfaces. Don’t forget to sanitize the lids and caps as well. After sanitizing the containers and caps, thoroughly rinse out the bleach solution with clean water.

Note: Bleach has an effective shelf-life of one year. Make sure that the bleach you are using is fresh.

3. Fill the sanitized containers to the top with regular tap water. Add two drops of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to the water, then tightly close the containers using the original caps. It is probably a good idea to use some latex or nitrile gloves at this point so that you maintain the sanitation and do not contaminate the caps by touching the inside of them with your fingers.

4. Date the outside with a permanent marker such as a Sharpie.

5. Store in a cool, dark place.

6. As a precaution, rotate in six months to a year. Dump the water, re-sanitize the jugs, and start all over. Or, if you have the space, mark the jugs as “non-potable” and save the water for non-drinking emergency purposes.

Personally, I think it would be a good idea to put up a few jugs at the first of each month. Do this for six months and you will build up a nice, rotating stock.

Plastic soda bottles or juice jugs work well for DIY water storage. On the other hand, milk jugs should not be used for water storage. Milk and protein sugars are difficult to remove and will compromise the stored water because they create an environment for bacteria growth. In addition, milk jugs are flimsy and will not hold up, even for a short period of time. Ditto cardboard. The cardboard will eventually leak and make a big mess. Glass is okay but be aware that glass is heavy and subject to breakage.

Water stored as described above will be good for at least six months to a year and possibly longer. Let me be clear: you rotate water not because it has an “expiration date” but that it may become chemically or biologically contaminated and foul. Why take a chance?

Technically, if the water is stored in a cool, dark area and away from chemical and toxic fumes, it should last forever.

If the cleanliness of the water is in question, it can be purified with purification tablets, fresh bleach, or a filtering system such as the Berkey or LifeStraw, among others.

If you need some help figuring out which water filter system is best for you, take the quiz below:

[v4_product_quiz_wp quiz-slug=’water-filter-quiz’]

Gaye and her water barrel

If you have space and the budget, you can also purchase food-grade plastic containers and drums designed for water storage. These containers typically hold up to 55 gallons of water and with the addition of proper purification chemicals, will keep the water safe for up to five years.

I personally have a 55-gallon water storage system. It was easy to set up and it came outfitted as a complete kit with all of the various tools and siphons I will need if/when that emergency situation occurs.

Another alternative, of course, is bottled water. The same rule applies: store in a cool, dark area and periodically rotate just to be on the safe side.

Hidden Sources of Water

In addition to tap water, there are other hidden sources of water that you can use when a disaster occurs. These sources include the water in your hot water heater, pipes, and even the ice cubes from the ice maker in your refrigerator or freezer. Before tapping into these sources, however, you will first need to shut off the main valve coming into your home so that you do not contaminate the ”good” water with the “bad”.

Here are some specific instructions for using the water in your hot water tank:

  • Turn off the electricity or gas.
  • Open the drain at the bottom of the tank.
  • Start the water flowing by turning off the water intake valve at the tank and turning on a hot-water faucet.
  • And don’t forget: be sure to refill the tank before turning the gas or electricity back on.

Outdoor Sources of Water

Barring the use of stored water or the hidden water sources in your home, there is always the outdoors. Water may be available from rainwater, streams, ponds, lakes and natural streams. Absolutely stay away from flood water since it is likely to contain sewage and other nasties that you do not even want to think about.

When using outdoor sources of water, you are going to have to undertake purification measures to make it safe. There are many ways to purify water, some better than others and some easier than others.

Water Purification

For ad hoc water purification, nothing beats plain old bleach as long as it is fresh (no more than a year old) and unscented.

According to the Clorox website: When boiling off water for 1 minute is not possible in an emergency situation, you can disinfect your drinking water with Clorox® Regular-Bleach as follows:

1. Remove suspended particles by filtering or letting particles settle to the bottom.

2. Pour off clear water into a clean container.

3. Add 8 drops of Clorox® Regular-Bleach (not scented or Clorox® Plus® bleaches) to one gallon of water (2 drops to 1 quart). For cloudy water, use 16 drops per gallon of water (4 drops to 1 quart).

Boiling water is considered the safest method of purifying water. What you do is bring water to a rolling boil for three to five minutes. The water may not taste that great but it will be safe to drink.

Factoid: To improve the taste of boiled or stored water, you can put some oxygen back in to the water by pouring it back and forth between two containers.

As an alternative to bleach or boiling water, the EPA has guidelines for using calcium hypochlorite, commonly sold as “pool shock” to disinfect water:

Add and dissolve one heaping teaspoon of high-test granular calcium hypochlorite (approximately ¼ ounce) for each two gallons of water, or 5 milliliters (approximately 7 grams) per 7.5 liters of water.

The mixture will produce a stock chlorine solution of approximately 500 milligrams per liter, since the calcium hypochlorite has available chlorine equal to 70 percent of its weight. To disinfect water, add the chlorine solution in the ratio of one part of chlorine solution to each 100 parts of water to be treated.

This is roughly equal to adding 1 pint (16 ounces) of stock chlorine to each 12.5 gallons of water or (approximately ½ liter to 50 liters of water) to be disinfected. To remove any objectionable chlorine odor, aerate the disinfected water by pouring it back and forth from one clean container to another.

Tip: For more precise (and in my opinion better) instructions, visit the article How to Use Pool Shock to Purify Water. In this article, I go into great detail describing plus showing you how to safely use Pool Shock for water purification purposes.

A good reference for this and other purification methods can be found in the downloadable and printable article Emergency Disinfection of Drinking Water.

What About Water Filters?


The use of water filters to make raw water drinkable is another solution to the water for survival dilemma. The nice thing about a filtration system is that it will not only supplement your stored water but will provide you with great tasting, chemical-free drinking water for day to day.

I personally have a Royal Berkey and to tell the truth, wonder what took me so long to discover this alternative to purchased water in bottles and a countertop Brita.

This is not to say that I don’t have bottled water because I do. After all, if I have to leave my home, it would be tough to drag along a 55-gallon water barrel or a Berkey. But for day to day drinking as well as long term survival needs, you simply can not beat a quality filtration system.

Portable Water Filters

I have had good luck with the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter. This lightweight and affordable filter is like an oversized straw. You can use it with a cup or dip it directly into a pond or stream. There are other portable water filtering systems as well and these are handy to keep in your emergency backpack, your car or your travel kit.

Alaska May 2013 410 LifeStraw

Additional Reading

I have written about various aspects of water for survival purposes. Here are some additional articles for you to peruse as time and interest dictates.

16 Tips for Coping Without Running Water
The Five Myths of Water Storage
How to Use Pool Shock to Purify Water
8 Reasons to Drink Water for Survival
15 Ways to Conserve Household Water Now

The Final Word

If you decide to check into this, be sure to confirm that the original contents were food products. Clean them well first with vinegar and baking soda to remove odors, and then with a strong bleach for sanitation.

Here in my area, there is a fellow that sells such barrels and will even add a hose bib at the bottom for a nominal cost. I am not 100% sure I would drink from such a barrel but the water inside should be great for bathing, laundry and housekeeping chores.

Another reader has suggested the use of colloidal silver get rid of bacteria in the water. I have not researched this personally, however.

Whatever your water storage method of choice, I highly recommend that you store at least two weeks of water for every member of your household, including pets. Please remember that depending on climate conditions, you can only survive for an average of three to five days without the intake of water.

Why take a chance when it is so easy to store water?

Should You Store Commercial Bottled Water?

There are pros and cons to using bottled water for your survival water. The obvious benefit of buying bulk containers of water that are usually packaged to be neatly stacked is hard to overlook, plus you are buying a relatively pure product that has been bottled under sanitary conditions – all important aspects to consider when assembling your survival water supply. But there are problems with bottled water that may leave you deciding against storing it, or to just store a minimal amount to see you over a hump.

  • Bottled water is not environmentally friendly. The bottles are a massive use of plastic, and will pile up fast if you rely on a bottled water supply during an emergency. Not only can disposal pose a problem, if you are a prepper concerned about the environment, then you know water bottles are terrible, no matter how you slice it.
  • Bottled water isn’t always ethically sourced. Some multinational corporations seem content to drain aquifers, or pump millions of gallons a year from rural areas, and ship it in overpriced bottles to satisfy the trendy thirst of folks in the big cities. The end result is big profit for some, and lost resources for others.
  • Commercial bottled water isn’t made for long term use. When stored in extreme conditions, plastic can degrade and leech chemicals. Unsurprisingly, extreme conditions are usually when preppers need their water the most. Do you really want plastic flavored water? I don’t.
  • As plastic degrades, bottles can start leaking. The exception to this is the large bottles made for office water dispensers. These are made to be refilled and do not break down like single serve water bottles and the gallons of water you can find at any grocery store during good times.
  • It is expensive. Gallon for gallon, bottled water is a drain on your wallet. Now it’s one thing to put a dozen or so gallons aside, it’s another to make your entire water storage strategy revolve around expensive bottled water. Consider the financial cost of more than a couple days worth of drinking water in commercial bottles.

Of course there are obvious benefits, like not having to think about doing any of the bottling yourself, being able to throw a couple bottles in an emergency kit, or a couple cases in your car, or stacking boxes of gallon jugs in your closet.

The clever prepper will balance the environmental, social and financial costs of commercial bottled water against its utility. Only you can judge what level of utility bottled water offers you and how to balance that in your preps. Some folks may rely more heavily on bottled water than others, but that has to be your choice. At the very least, a balanced supply in commercial bottles, 55 gallon drums, and home filled containers will give you more options than just relying on a single source of stored water.

Bottled water has a place, but it probably shouldn’t be your primary source of water. It can be expensive, and harmful to the environment, may be in easily degradable packaging, and is usually the least efficient storage method of water. However, it offers great convenience, is easily portable, and the containers can be reused several times over. By balancing the good and the bad of bottled water, you can be more secure in your preps.


Below you will find the items related to today’s article.

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter: The LifeStraw is considered the most advanced, compact, ultralight personal water filter available. It contains no chemicals or iodinated resin, no batteries and no moving parts to break or wear out. It weighs only 2oz. making it perfect for the prepper. For more information, see my LifeStraw review.

Potable Aqua Water Treatment Tablets: Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets make questionable water bacteriologically suitable to drink. Easy to use and the water is ready to drink in 30 minutes. One 50 tablet bottle treats 25 quarts of water.

WaterBrick Water Storage Containers: I have not tried these myself but I do know that many Backdoor Survival readers prefer these water bricks to 55-gallon water barrels.

No Rinse Cleansing & Deodorizing Bathing Wipes: One wipe is more than enough for a complete “bath”. These are a good backup when traditional showers are not available such as the week or weeks following a disaster. Also good for the sick room as well as camping, boating, hiking and such. Here is my review.

Ultimate 55 Gallon Water Barrel Combo: This was the best deal I could find today on 55-gallon water barrels. Everyone should have at least one. Remember, if storing in your garage, place the filled barrel on a wooden platform and not directly on the concrete.

DryTec Calcium Hypochlorite, 1-Pound: This is 68% Calcium Hypochlorite. I purchased Ultima Pool Shock which is 73% Calcium Hypochlorite. For more information, read How to Use Pool Shock to Purify Water.

Suncast RB50D 50-Gallon Rain Barrel: A rain barrel is a great way to collect water for, well, a rainy day. This is the rain barrel I own. The instructions indicate that it must be dumped regularly to prevent algae formation but since I will be using this “free” water in the garden, it will get replenished regularly by Mother Nature. That said, I am definitely going to keep an eye on things.

Sharpie Permanent Markers: The ubiquitous Sharpie pen is a great way to mark your water with the date so that you have a reference when it comes time to rotate and replace.


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236 Responses to “Survival Basics: Water and Water Storage”

  1. Great article. I’ve heard many folks talk about water purification by simply boiling it in a plastic bottle, but I always argue against it due to the amount of toxins that would seep from the plastic. Any thoughts?

  2. QUESTION — In the above article you gave instructions for getting the water out of your hot water heating. It says to open the valve at the bottom. Wouldn’t this cause all the water to run out on the floor? Thanks.

    • There should be a valve at the bottom of the hot water heater. You need to hook up a short hose and drain the contents into a bucket. I have made a note to elaborate on this in a future post.

    • Yes. I always have to remind or explain to people that man had knife BEFORE man had fire.

  3. I keep a hidden stash of smaller bills so that if I am out and about when something bad happens, I can stop by a store to pick up last minute items. (2 years ago during Hurricane Irene, a grocer opened with no power and could take only small-bill cash)

    (I want to win a straw for my college son’s dorm BOB! Pick us please!)

  4. I would probably say my most important Every Day Carry item is my Leatherman. It weighs down my pocketbook abit but I don’t go anywhere without it! It was one of my Christmas presents given to me by my spouse – he understands that I don’t want jewelry – prepping stuff I do need!!!

  5. I always have my buck pocket knife and my flint/fire starter kit. Two things that many things can be done with.

  6. My EDC item is my BRAIN… In my group of friends and co-works I am MacGyver. They come to me when things fall apart or go wrong or they just cannot figure it out. I can normally find some creative way to solve their dilemma. My brain is always with me, never needs batteries, ALWAYS functions, I cannot lose it, and it NEVER FAILS!!!

    I hope you agree.

  7. it is to hard to make a choice of just one item to have in case of shtf. i would guess that i would have a supply of different types of metals to barter with. at least having metals to barter with you could buy almost anything you needed.

  8. i would also like to make a comment on using collidal silver for purifing water. it is good to use but from what i understand is that it is not good to use or keep collidal silver in plactic contaniers. i think the silver may stick to the plastic or something like that. and i may be wrong about this but it,s what i,ve been told,,,, i use collidal silver alot and make it myself. it,s good to have around.

    • @Tee Ryan. Silver should always be stored in dark glass bottles. No plastic and no metal. Storage of silver should be treated just as hydrogen peroxide (H2-O2). Don’t allow light to get to it, and glass only.
      I have both silver and H2-O2 for water purifying.

  9. I have to say my multi-tool and knife. I keep them clipped together and am one of the few women I know who consistently carry both. I use at least one of them every day.

  10. I carry some energy bars – if tired they help me think clearly, stay awake. (I work night shift – RN)

  11. On the water article. If you are storing commercial bottled water, the bottles they use are really flimsy. Be careful to store them in a place with a stable temperature so they don’t flex in and out, then fracture.

  12. My Gerber multi-tool. On the topic of water barrels,if you have a food processor in town you can usually get them for free if you know someone who works there. At our local scrap yard they are $5. The ones for vinegar have the thickest walls.

  13. My #1 everyday carry item is a lighter. However, I always carry a knife, large paracord bracelet, flashlight and bottle/can opener too. Why a lighter? Honestly, today you can find all kinds of junk even in the woods. But a functioning lighter? almost never.

  14. I always have a flashlight with me in my purse. You just need to be able to see! Lately I have been taking mace with me as well. I carry it on my key chain, this past year I have run into some strange and dangerous people and decided I just need to have it “just in case.”

  15. My favorite always carry item is my multi-bladed Old Timer knife. I’m never without it so I don’t fly anywhere anymore,

  16. My most important EDC is actually 3 things stashed in the truck. A gas can, siphon hose and five $20 bills. I think the most likely thing to prevent me from getting homing a crisis would be fuel. Im rarely more than 100 miles from home. Power failure shuting down gas pumps and ATMs would be one of the symptoms of many natural and man made disasters. Im pretty sure it wouldn’t be hard to find some greedy fool to sell five gallons of gas out of his vehicle for $100 bucks. If I don’t need fuel $100 cash can fix a lot of short term problems if you don’t care what it costs.

  17. I keep my pistol (springfield xds) 2 extra mags, $100 cash, my benchmade automatic knife, and I always have my camping gear just because I love to camp and always ready to go to include water and a few MRE’s and fishing gear.

  18. Everyone is quoting the “one gallon per person per day” figure, but I have to disagree with it. If you live in a hot climate, such as Arizona or South Texas, drinking one gallon of water per day will kill you. In that type of climate, you need to drink two gallons per water per day, especially if you are out in the heat. Any water for cooking and minimal personal hygiene is over and above that.

    • I live in New Mexico, and your remark about daily water consumption is accurate.
      The New Mexico government recommends 1 gallon per day per person if you are inside and inactive as a minimum. If you are outside working in the dry heat, up to 3 gallons per person per day is recommended. Young children can get by on less.
      The air literally sucks the water out of your skin. One of the first signs that you need to drink more water is a headache.
      My family of 4 uses about 20 gallons of “purified water” a week, just for drinking.
      The water from the tap is too hard with calcium, magnesium, naturally occurring arsenic & fluoride, added chlorine and who knows what else to cook with. Boiling the tap water creates a scum on the top of the water in the pan, and the taste is horrible.
      Most people I know who can stomach the tap water and actually drink it tend to develop gall stones or kidney stones within a year or two.
      It even stunts the growth of garden plants. I did a test using collected rain water (which is rare these days) and tap water on the plants, and the rain barrel watered plants grew 3 times as large as the tap water plants, and put out more produce.
      I wish we could afford any of the Berkley gravity filter systems, or something similar; but the hard water quickly clogs up the filter systems I have tried so far (as in a week or two).

  19. I carry many things as does others posting here but I have found a lot of uses for my vintage, steel handled ice pick which I keep attached to an earth magnet for easy carrying. My greatest concern is getting together a bag my husband can keep in his vehicle to give him a greater chance of getting home in case of of a SHTF situation. The LifeStraw is an essential tool for his chance to succeed. If I don’t believe he is on his way home because he is not prepared to get here, I’m not sticking around for the ensuing chaos. I can’t do it without him and I don’t care to try. He could be hundreds of miles away when the inevitable takes place.

  20. So hard to decide on ONE item. I always have a multi-tool, first aid kit, flashlight, firestarter and bottled water with me. I’d add a water filter — but I don’t have a small portable one. Yet.

  21. It is awfully tough to pick one item. I liked what D.A. said about the lighter – you almost never find a working one – but in the end I would have to go with a good knife or multi-tool. I carry a Gerber multi-tool and it does come in handy. One minor thing that I think a lot of people overlook is entertainment. Even in an emergency, there will be enough time to get bored. Just ask a soldier. For me I keep a miniature deck of cards in my BOB. You can play spades for DAYS. Just ask a soldier.

  22. I have to have a knife. It is essential and can be used for multiple purposes. I usually have more than one, especially when hunting.

  23. I also like the LifeStraw, we should all keep several on hand. Water is the most essential item, and I enjoyed reading your article. Thanks!

  24. I try to carry an emergency 1st aid kit everywhere I go and in each vehicle. I have a few 1st aid kits at home with thousands of dollars in first aid supplies. Those 1st aid kits have helped many families, children and friends. I have used them on the scene of accidents, during life saving measures and body recoveries. I am not a medic (I am medically trained) and I am not a dr. I am just a civilian, first aid, C.P.R., E.M.T.A., medic/first responder, High angle rescue trained. Most on my own time on my own dime but, company’s I work for (I do construction) know I am a Master S.C.U.B.A. Diver/Dive Master and know I have a lot of first responder training so, they also ask I help if the situation arises. So, my vote (amongst other immediate use items that are in my first aid kit) is a first aid kit. Thank you.

  25. I always read all the comments on this site. They give anyone good food for thought. This week you are asking me to think of what is important to carry with me everyday. When I leave home, on my fireplace mantel are all the things I usually carry with me. My Case folding knife, cash, credit cards, a box of matches, the little round pill carrier and tiny little flash light, that is on my key chain, but after giving it much thought, I would not go out of the house without picking up my pocket pistol. Don’t leave home without it..

  26. I don’t have a vehicle without a first aid kit, a flashlight, multi-screw driver and jumper cables. My purse has a keychain flashlight and a few small bills of cash…I need to build up my reserves of cash. I usually also have a few water bottles in the vehicles, too. I try not to let my gas gauge go below 1/4 tank…in the Jeep I have a gas can with about 4 gallons of gas with stabilizer added (Jeep’s gas gauge doesn’t work…so have to keep a running tally of gallons in/miles driven). I am working on building 72 hour/BOBags for the 5 of us.

  27. I haven’t worked in earnest yet on an EDC bag. I would have to say, though, small bills and some energy bars.

  28. Although I have my whole EDC bag with me all the time, the most important item in it for me is my extra medication. Without that everything else is moot.

  29. We have this thing, not sure of the name, that uses ultra violet light to kill bacteria in water. My daughter used it for a science experiment a couple of months ago using creek water. Although the water did not look clean, it did taste really good.

  30. My purse is my EDC, as well as a basic survival kit. Matches, first aid, knives, lighters, you just never know when your going to need that stuff. Plus I’m a mom, so the first aid kit comes in handy. A lot. Lol I’d really like to win a life straw, I am still very new to all of this, but from what I have found it seems like an amazing tool to carry along on my outdoor adventures and to have on hand.

  31. My most important EDC is a good quality folding knife. Right now I am using an awesome pocket fixed blade from Nick Woo at Woo Metal Works. Thank you for the contest!

  32. I bought a couple of lifestraws and because I was afraid they might break in my bag, I got some large water bottle2 and put them inside the empty bottles. That way I can fill the bottles with water for drinking now and later. I am getting too old to crawl on the ground. I might never get back up!

  33. Yes, thanks for your articles. Not sure what I’m supposed to answer here, about water or a I’ll do both. Lighter in my purse, and I’ll have to look into the 55 gallon barrels.

  34. The lifestraw ia a great tool for all kinds of uses. It is every bit as good as a Pur filter on the faucet, and it is portable.

  35. Thanks for all the constant updates — hard work on your part but much appreciated by us all.

    Have you tried out the following water filter? It seems to work fine and sure handles a bunch of filtered water without filter changes.

  36. Thanks for all the information you provide for us. I always learn something new from each of your articles. The Life Straw sound great. Crossing my fingers that I win! Kepp up the good work.

  37. When I was getting clean water at the water store, I was using milk jugs and some of those milk jugs were over a year old. I used them for ages. I don’t understand why you think they are too fragile to use. Of course, some of them did get holes, and some I didn’t get very clean, but as a whole they were pretty good for six months or longer.

  38. I just wanted to add a company I have found and deal with for water filters. The reason being this company has what they call a Rad filter. It filters out radiation from the water. They developed it after the disaster in Japan. It has been through all kinds of testing and given rave remarks. They have drinking bottles, pitchers, straws, and even pumps and bags. The company is Seychelle Water Filtration
    32963 Calle Perfecto
    San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
    Tel: 949-234-1999 Fax 949-234-1998

    I love my water bottles and pitcher and will also get the straw and the pump for my barrels.

  39. Enjoyed the article, love reading what others carry (great ideas) .. Always have my bag, cash, small knife – would love to add The LifeStraw as well.

  40. My edc is my Leatherman Skeletool, a pocket flashlight, and a lighter. The Leatherman was a safety award from work so it was free and the flashlight i need for work so its always with me and the lighter is for just in case. Glad i found this blog. Its one of the few that doesnt have this newb in a panick when i read it. Thanks for a cool, calm, and sensable approach to prepping (my wife definitely appreciates my less panicked state now)

  41. Great ideas and input here! Water is one thing we always seem to take for granted–until we have none. I like the mention about colloidal silver, although I would use small plastic containers for short-term portability. But definitely glass for long-term storage. Thanks for a great article!

  42. My EDC is my PURSE … really … It has a strip of water purification tablets in an Altoids tin, firesteel, two knives (Gerber EAB lite & a multi-tool type, paper, pens (blue & black), paper clips, pocket rain poncho, $5.00 in quarters, two flashlights, a refillable butane lighter, travel advil & tylenol, antacids, band-aids, salt & pepper packets, spare keys (I am bad a locking myself out of things), emergency instructions for survival situations (pocket-sized) along with the usual ID, cash, bank/gift cards. It is an evolving work in progress & a personal challenge to see how small I can keep it. 🙂

  43. Enjoyed the article. need a portable filter. Have a large home made filter made from 2 buckets and two ceramic candles.

  44. I’ve purchased a 375 gallon plastic tank several years ago and captured rainwater into a gutter and collect it. I used the water in my garden mostly but have boiled some for drinking and a couple of drops of bleach per gallon. I’d like to save that time processing some of that water for consumption. This is a great time-saving product that I could depend on for good, clean, and safe drinking water.

  45. I always have my portable Berkey on hand when I travel and use it to purify the hotel water and refill my thermos and were good to go.

  46. Besides our Berkeys, we have an electric ionic pH water machine that connects to our pipes under the sink, with extra filters.

  47. Great article,I’m brand new to the idea of survival but,have to say this article has helped me to start planning.Worst case nothing happens and can use this to take family for the first time camping.

  48. Unfortunately I dont have a portable water purification unit we have a small homemade filter, for home made with a berkey type of filter, as it was all we could afford. Please enter us into the drawing for a lifestraw, for myself & grandkids.

  49. for the most common emergencies, the item I have used the most is my smartphone. with it, I’ve found gas stations, food, lodging and ATM’s in unfamiliar places, called for roadside assistance, checked in with loved ones after earthquakes, been automatically notified of safety threats in my workplace, managed my budget and paid bills to avoid financial crises, and passed my free time reading tons of blogs like this one.

    I know there are tons of bigger emergencies that would render my phone useless, but so far, it’s kept me out of or gotten me out of most of the crises that happen in everyday life.

  50. I carry a Buck Whittaker Pocket knife.
    I have a need for a portable source (The LifeStraw Personal Water Filter)for my BoB It weighs enough with only 1 Gallon of water in it currently.

  51. my EDC is my lighter..if i have that, i can make fire…if i have fire, i can find water to boil, i can keep warm, i can signal for help…if i had a Life straw, it would be even better…lol 🙂

  52. My Buck knife, and because I am retired law enforcement, my handgun. Never leave home without it.

  53. I am not sure you can get it down to just one item, but a knife (which is always in my purse) should be one.

  54. My edc has a knife and a compass. I’ve even used the compass in an urban setting, to orient myself on a map so I don’t emerge from a subway looking like a TOURIST (aka prey). I can head off in relatively the correct direction that I want without hesitation. Later pick a safe place to study the map further.

  55. I’m new to prepping and have found many valuable articles here on your site, and I’m now following you on Twitter so as not to miss new ones. We have an artesian well and live near several bodies of water, about 55 miles NW of Boston, so we’re in a pretty rural area. We’re unlikely to ‘bug out’ if something big happens, but we are just beginning to stock up on survival necessities. I’d like to have the Lifestraw for my one-year-old grandson, who lives with us (with this parents), as it’s really important to have access to the purest water for him.

  56. This year my hub and I have added a lot to being prepared for the time and resources we have. My hub works many hours(salary of course) and is going to school full time. We have my daughter’s family and her boxers living and I care for her 4 children as well as my own. So aspirin, Tylenol and motrin are additions to my purse.We have made huge steps for our resources this year. It’s already looking bleak for next few years but even if we take baby steps forward,we will try.

  57. Water being such a basic necessity, I have the most redundancy in this part of my preps. After this, then fire. I can test, boil, diy berkey filter, diy sand filter, diy soda bottle solar purifier, store bought filters/purifiers (several) purifying tablets,(several), bandanas, long term storage of water, 4-way sill cock key, fire hydrant wrench. Have not made a solar still yet. Have not set up rain catchment yet.

  58. Great article! Thanks. I have a pool in the yard and still fill up bottles. No one in the family agrees but I don’t want my wife or daughter and 3 grand kids not having clean water. I also have a Sawyer water filter that is good for 1 million gallons. Thanks again!

  59. I always carry a knife of some kind. Usually my Benchmade. But sometimes the Schrade, or one of several smaller pocket knives. And a Leatherman! Cash in small bills.

  60. We have a Sawyer home and portable water purification system. One to stay and one to go in the BOB.

  61. My EDC item is my pocket knife. I am seldom more than 10 to 15 miles from home and if I go farther I take my bob.

  62. I’m here for the Lifestraw giveaway. I need a portable water purification method other than just bottled water. It’s on my prep list.

  63. Okay, well, I use boiling, Katadyn tabs and a Frontier Emergency straw. For the house, I have both self-bottled water using half gallon juice bottles and bleach that is purchased new every six months.

  64. I don’t have a portable water filtration system and have been researching what is out there to try to make the right choices. THANK YOU GAYE…you’ve really helped me with the information you are providing!! Please enter me in your drawing for a lifestraw

  65. A comment and a question
    The comment, although I read this article previously I am here for an entry into the LifeStraw contest. I currently only have Brita products for at home use. I plan on making a DIY filter and purifier soon, but where I live now it is not feasible for some of my projects.
    The question, I seem to remember having read that bleach or chlorine can be dangerous, more so in larger quantities, but also cumulative. Would using peroxide be an exceptable alternative, as I know I’ve read that in many instances it is as good as and safer then chlorine for cleaning and disinfecting.

    • You can safely remove the chlorine from your stored water by exposing the water , uncovered, to the air for a minimum of 24 hours. I recommend using 1 gallon containers to do this, as I do not have accurate information on how long it would take to dissipate into the air from larger containers.
      Vinegar can “purify” drinking water, as it kills most bacteria, viruses, cysts, and parasites; but the taste takes some getting used to, and I am not certain how it would work for long term storage.

    • I’m posting this because the myth of what chlorine does still persists.
      I use vinegar since it’s an antibacterial. Due to the toxic poisoning of a river back east, do your research to find what will work best for different situations. I do use a filter for my home and have extra filters, but I’m in the process of learning how to distill water since that’s the only method I’ve found which provides good water w/o the complications. No, I won’t use chlorine, if it destroys the environment, I don’t need it.I’ll use what i have for the last 8 years, vinegar and baking soda and/or borax.

      University Study Discovers Bleach is Ineffective at Killing Mold on Wood and Other Porous Surfaces.
      “While bleach is often recommended for remediation of surface mold on wood and other porous surfaces, our [university research study] study results illustrate that the treatment does not eliminate the surface microflora,” is the conclusion of the Oregon State University study of the effects of chlorine bleach on mold growth on Douglas fir wood [an important timber crop in the state of Oregon]. The research study was conducted by Professor Jeffrey Morrell, Dept. of Wood Science, Oregon State University, as assisted by Adam Taylor [graduate research assistant] and Camille Freitag [Senior Research Associate], as published in Forest Products Journal, 54:4, 2004.”

  66. I can usually find or make most anything but I live in the desert and have to drive 60 miles to work so my number one “edc” is water. Instead of using bottled water or gallon jugs for emergencies I keep an old GI issue belt with four canteens in the trunk of the car. Much easier to carry and keeps my hands free for other things.

  67. Hello Gaye,
    Thanks for the great review of the Lifestraw. For us “preppers-come-lately”, I think this item is probably the best place to start, especially if one is working with a tight budget, as I am. If I had to pick one other item, it would be a good poncho. I live in the Pacific Northwest, and as important as water is, an inability to stay dry creates all kinds of issues as well.

    Be blessed!
    ~ Mark

  68. My purse is loaded with some basic tools along with a small LED flashlight as something always needs fixing in the car or elsewhere. Never leave home without tools. My weak area in prepping is with water and the collection method right now is rain water. Thanks for all your great tips. Yours is the first site I go to every day.
    Please enter me me in your drawing for Life Straw Water Filter.


  69. Using a bucket with layers of sand and activated carbon. Make a hole in the bottom and there you have a great water filter with minimal cost. Not as easy to carry than the LifeStraw… would be nice to have!

    • This is a good way to clean up rain water that has been collected and stored.
      I would boil the water (or distill it) after filtering it before using it for drinking or cooking to kill bacteria, viruses, cysts and parasites that might make it through the sand/carbon filter.
      The filter you describe works well for cleaning up water, but the activated carbon will eventually begin to develop bacterial growth after continuous use.
      Sometimes flushing this type of filter with salt water will kill off anything growing in it (then flushing the salt out with clean water until there is no salty taste) will work, too, and save the hassle of replacing the carbon.

  70. Water is #1 in my book, I always carry a bottle of water no matter where I go. I also carry pepper spray, mini flashlight, aspirin and when I find a small glass bottle I plan to carry collidal silver just in case I’m stuck somewhere and start feeling sick. And everyone needs a lifestraw to carry at all times.

  71. I personally have a Brita, but after finding out about LifeStraw via, I want to get one myself!

  72. The most important EDC item is my brain; without critical thinking abilities and survival skills, all the rest is worth very little. Of course, I also carry a Leatherman Micra multi-tool and a Streamlight Strion light; no sense in starting from scratch in each situation.

  73. I’m new to this forum____ and to prepping. Enjoy your articles and am beginning to assemble some survival gear, food, etc. Look forward to your ongoing articles. Thanks.

  74. Just started prepping, so I don’t really have a EDC item other than my buck knife. I would like to win a lifeStraw.

  75. a comment on your very informative article about water: i suggest that if you buy bottled water for storage, only buy the ones made of clear plastic. the translucent ones tend to leak after a few months in my experience.
    about the silver thing…i read a story by a vet who served in either korea or vietnam. he said his group would fill a bucket with river water, throw in a silver dollar, and by morning the water would be safe to drink. has anyone else heard anything like that? i wonder if that method holds water (sorry).

  76. I carry my .380 bodyguard with two clips at all times. I don’t want to have to use it but if TSHTF, I could take your knife, life straw, food, water, or whatever else is your number one carry item. I can hit you from 50 yards. I don’t want to have to do this,but if my family is on the line… Too bad for you. You should have carried a gun too. If I am more than an hour from home, I will also have a collabsable KelTec .40 sub2000 rifle with 99 rounds (3 33 round mags). You will die from 200 yards out… And I will have your gear. Again, I am not a bad kind of guy, but I will do what needs done when it is time. I pray we are not put in such a situation. My last thought on the need to carry a gun is this… You are WAY more likely to be the victim of a violent crime than the subject of a post apocalyptic event. I have a toolbox in the bed of my truck that has every tool conceivable, and I always carry a pocket knife. All of the tools and knife are for convenience. The gun is for when things turn south and the crap actually his the fan. Nothing trumps a gun for an average citizen.

    • Right on Keith.
      I hardly go over 50 miles from home. I do carry a small pocket knife, but I don’t see a great need for a knife when I am within 50 miles from home. I suppose if I was in a traffic accident and needed to cut my seat belt, but think of all the possible needs to be carry a weapon that goes “boom”. Don’t leave home without it..

    • You’re not a bad kind of guy? To me you are the epitome of what’s wrong with this world. Too many willing to take from those that work with no effort on their own part. Yes I carry a gun. I carry a gun to protect myself from your “kind of guy”, not to take from others the way you seem to think is acceptable. Maybe you should spend as much time thinking about how to be self-sufficient for your family as planning on how to take from mine…before someone with a bigger gun leaves your family to fend for themselves.

    • Thanks for making my point Kris. I can’t imagine myself ever doing something like that, and I have been busy preparing. My point is, what about all the people who would? When confronted by them, would you rather have a straw or a rifle? I am going with the rifle.

  77. We usually only have a substantial tool bag and a small amount of water with us in the car. At home, we have a number of water storage and purification methods collected. We recently bought 2 of the LifeStraws,but have them with our at home collection of bug-out supplies. Think we should really be carrying another of the LifeStraws with us — at least one in each car. Maybe we can win one of them! Really enjoy your site/articles!

  78. Since I’m a stay-at-home mom mostly driving around town & w/the kids, I typically keep a bin in my van at all times that includes some basics – mylar blankets, matches, energy bars, small tools, sanitizer, etc. I would say the most important item, though is water.

    At home, I keep fresh bleach, a Katadyn filter, cases of bottled water, dozens of frozen 2-liter bottles that I filled, and a 55-gal drum for the garden which I could purify in a pinch. My “weak link” is something more portable, so I’d LOVE to have the LifeStraw!

  79. I am excited to learn all I can and this article on Water The Basic Survival was excellent. I hope to be put in the “mix” to win the Life Straw Personal Walter filter. It sound amazing.

  80. Some would say water. Others would say a gun. I don’t disagree with those. But what I find myself with most of the time is my pocket knife and phone. I use both every day. The phone I would say is almost more important as long as cell towers are still working. It can not only contact people but also act as a GPS locator so loved ones can find you. As long as the battery is not dead and there is signal. Now if there is an active shooter then I would rather take my gun to a gun fight than my phone and knife.

  81. Hello, I am new to your site, which you may have noticed lately has added some extra traffic to your posts. I have seen several signs of a coming economic collapse in the past several years, but have only recently begun to prep in earnest.
    I have a couple of questions, if you don’t mind. The first has to do with water that is outdated. Can that be kept in the same bottles, and used safely for things like flushing? I thought I’d separate them from the rest of the bottles as they become outdated, label the as “other,” or something like that, and use them in the future for uses not pertaining to consumption or cooking.
    My second question is about storing things like rice. I just bought two small bags of rice, as I don’t really know how to properly remove air from a container and keep it safe for future use. Could you explain in detail, if you wouldn’t mind?
    I am the only prepper in my family, and have to think of five to eight people, depending on whether some other family members suddenly show up. My youngest child has high-functioning Autism, so his diet is minimal. He currently eats things like plain rice cakes with organic peanut butter, “Natural” hot dogs, and things like pop tarts. I have to think of him the most, but the group as a whole. I would appreciate your help and advice, or even that of other readers.

    • Water will only ‘go bad’ if bacteria, etc. are allowed in. I store tap h2o + 6 to 8 drops of pure (no additives) liquid 5/6% bleach added. I also add another 4/6 drops every 6 months to a year. I never “dump’ the h2o. If i ever need to use the water, I can ‘offgas’ the excess bleach. In addition, any surface water (not pre-treated) you need to use requires a completely different set of standards. There is lots of info out there for you to see. For future consideration, check out ‘calcium hypochlorite’. DO your research tho; it can be dangerous stuff if not handled properly! Best wishes to you and yours.

  82. To me shelter is first followed closely by potable water. Another great giveaway, thanks for the opportunity to win an extremely useful prize. Good luck everyone.

  83. I have a UV light water purification device thats excellent.BUT it relies on batteries and if going into the woods or hiking or planning to be out & about for an extended period, you better have extra batteries. Or better yet use rechargeable batteries that receive their charge from a solar charging device. I also have a water bottle that uses a filtering device. But if the water is exceptionally dirty be sure to first run it through a bandana to remove large particles. Then perhaps a ceramic filter like a Katadin or one of these UV light filters.
    But regardless of what filter or combination of filters you decide to use be certain you have a means of making water potable. It’s the most important element of survival.

  84. This is a great post but I do have a few more questions. I really do understand about used milk jugs being hard to clean…but, since we don’t drink juice or pop in this house we don’t have access to those jugs. I do however have access to a lot of used milk jugs. Is it completely crazy to think that water could be stored in milk jugs as long as you plan to boil and then filter it before drinking. I do have ‘ready to drink’ bottled water but I could put up so many more gallons if I could use milk jugs and then just plan to treat the water before drinking it. Also, I’ve been wondering about the 2, 3, and 5 gallon buckets that previously held food and can usually be obtained free from bakeries or restaurants. Can water be stored directly into them or are there liners available that could be put into the bucket to hold the water?

    • Hi! Not sure about the bucket question but I can personally guarantee you that milk jugs don’t work. They break down and leak and cause more problems then they are worth. My so uses a c-PAC machine for sleep apnea and I tried storing his distilled water jugs (same as milk jugs) and even in as short as four months they broke down. Hope that helps!

    • I agree with Jody. Milk jugs will not work. I bought water in jugs. The jug seams pop open and the jugs break over time. Short term storage maybe but long term, no way.

    • Yep, I had stored jugs of water (purchased that way) and a few months later I had water leaking all over my shelves…little “seam” leaks..and empty jugs.

    • I have around 75 gallons of water stored in 1 gallon jugs. About half are from distilled water the rest are food grade jugs that held bbq sauce, salsa, etc. I have never had a problem using the plastic jugs (no leaking) and they have been in our basement for over 3 years. I also use plastic jugs for many gardening chores and they hold up for years. I would like to know what people mean when they say the jugs” break down”.

    • It does not appear that you are using milk jugs, which are the main culprit due to milk sugars that can never be completely removed. Milk jugs are also lighter in weight although some dairies may use heavier plastic than others.

      Other types of plastic jugs and especially PET plastic, are sturdier and will hold up better over the long term.

      BTW, I have seen purchased distilled and spring water come in both thin, flimsy jugs and heavier, sturdy jugs. Yours must be the latter if they have held up for years.

    • Yes, I agree with what both sides of the argument are putting forth here. I have had success with distilled water jugs that have not broken down for years. I would encourage you to read the food storage basics article where the types of food grade plastics are mentioned. Take a look at the number inside the “recycle” triangle. Chances are the successful jugs are not the same plastic as the failures. Skip the milk jugs though. Those are for the recycle bin or store something else in them that does not matter. When it comes down to it for the cost of quality products, why take a risk?
      Other comments regarding water;
      The bathtub. If you can see a potential disaster coming, fill it up. They make pods that can hold a lot of water (50+ gallons) in your tub. That can cover your FEMA recommendations per person and some homes have more than one bathtub.
      Rain barrel. I keep thinking about doing this. Not sure the neighbors would want to see them on the outside corners of the house though. Attach to downspout from a gutter. Valve on the bottom to drain before winter freeze breaks it open(if applicable). Use the water for washing, etc.
      Other water filters. You mentioned Lifestraw and we all know there are MANY more out there. A good article on micron filtration vs. distilling vs. boiling, etc., would be great (I have not been reading on this site for very long at all). Sometimes it gets hard to compare products, techniques and so forth. I spoke with someone at length who got hit with Giardia … umm, no thank you, not worth the risk, too scary.

    • Although there are many water filtration systems out there I have found Lifestraw to be the best of them all. Not only the personal Lifestraw filter but the family filter also. All it takes is a little patience (for the system to work its magic) and the Lifestraw family filter can keep a family of three supplied with more than enough clean, drinkable water for a year!

    • You can not use milk jugs period! They are constructed of a diffrent grade of plastic which is bio degradeable. They will retain water for less than a year before they break down. Also the plastic retains residue from the milk, there is no way to completely eliminate the residue. I buy my milk from a farm, I watch the cows getting milked. The farmer has to wash the exchanger each and every time with a cleaning solution the eliminates the residue from the “GLASS”. They never use plastic in milk production, every thing is glass or stainless steel!

    • I actually know very well how hard it is to completely remove all milk residue…We milk our own 2 cows. It is just that I have some neighbors that have offered to me all of their used milk jugs since they buy from the store. Even if I had to completely throw the jugs of water out every year and replace them, I was more questioning about the ability to filter or treat the water stored in them. I mean if I cant filter water from an old maybe contaminated milk jug, then I would question if I could filter ‘wild’ water from a creek or stream or such.

    • i don’t drink milk, so have never tried to store water in milk jugs. but i do buy bottled water in translucent one-gallon jugs sometimes, and i’ve tried to reuse those. they dissolve. it usually takes anywhere between 6 months and 2 years, but they do eventually leak. the only jugs i reuse now are the clear ones, and i’ve never had one of those leak.

  85. Thanks Gaye for these refreshers! Water barrels are one way to go, but for older persons, or disabled, water is heavy to carry from the barrel to where you need it. In those cases I have found water bricks to be the most viable option. You can store them in every room you will need them and they hold 3.5 gallons each and they have a sturdy handle. They stack nicely and are also the best option if you don’t have a garage or basement for barrels.

  86. “While clorine and boiling will kill most microorganisms
    in water, distillation will remove microorganisms that resist these
    methods, as well as heavy metals, salts, and most other chemicals.”
    This is a direct quote from the Red Cross Emergency intructions.
    Water contaminated with metals or poisoned with chemicals can only
    be elimanated by distillation, plus it gets rid of everything else.
    The Survival Still created by Glenn Meder is worth looking into.

  87. Hello, a new reader here and I have not read anything on how to treat / filter water that has been subject to radiation . Any ideas?

    • Curtis, welcome aboard! Check Sawyer water filters and purifiers. There is a difference. I have a couple of their bucket purifiers and several other filters. People also talk about Berkey’s

    • Also, while Red Cross and others do maintain distilling water, and I agree with that advice. Depending on the emergency at hand, you may not be able to have or be able to use your heat source for distilling your water. I do have plans on making a solar distiller also. Remember to all, you must have alternate methods of doing a task. 3 1s 2, 2 is 1, 1 is none.

  88. I have a ‘water board’ – its not what you think. It is a water filtration system that can be solar powered but since we use ours on our boat (which is solar powered) I opted not to use the solar panel. I drop the suction hose into the lake, turn it on and fresh, clean, safe, tasty water comes out the other end! It takes about 5 mins to produce the 5-7 gallons we need for showering, drinking, food, coffee whatever. If we need more it just takes a flip of the switch!

  89. I have been looking at the 550 gallon outdoor water storage tanks at our local Tractor Supply Company. According to the specs it is made of corrosion resistant polyethylene construction and is safe for drinking water. What would you suggest for cleaning a tank of this size? I have thought of just filling it with water and then treating it if and when we need it. The plan would be to rotate it out every 6 months. Thanks!

    • Your Tractor Supply Company should be able to advise you and what to do mitigate the growth of algae and bacteria in the tank. They may actually suggest calcium hypochlorite (Pool Shock. Regardless, I would do as you suggest and treat the water as your remove it from the tank for use.

    • If the Mfg. OKs treatment in the tank, and it’s a closed system, I see no need to ever ‘DUMP’ your supply. Pool supply stores can supply you with test strips to check your supply (just like a pool), and you can add to as necessary (just like a pool). Seems particularly logical to me. Wish the best to you and yours.

  90. When our area faced the microsystin problem it was mentioned that boiling the water would only make it worse and more toxic. Small amounts of bleach however would kill the microsystin and make the water safe to drink.
    I always thought boiling water was always the safest way to go until I heard this.

    • I would say in very dangerous water situations is best to put a few drops of bleach per gallon of water and than run it through a filter system. I prefer the AqauRain Gravity filter over the Berkey because it is USA made and the ceramics (that do the job) are really a much better quality.

  91. Question for readers…I have a potential water source for SHTF scenario, however the water is approx 30′ below ground. (Well) Looking for a portable hand operated device that will bring it to the surface containers. My concern is that most hand pumps need to be primed and perhaps the 30′ of hose below the pump would have to be full/primed as well. Is there a device that will do this without having to be primed?

  92. Source for hand water pump:

    There are also some less expensive ac or dc submersible pumps which would work well (pun intended) with a small solar arrangement.

  93. Remember you can always get water from your sump pump tank. If the power goes out for any great length of time you will have to remove that water or risk a flood. Purify it, re bottle it and it will be good to drink.

  94. I use the large Hawaiian Punch jugs. Large spout, sturdy plastic and the even have sturdy carrying handles. I also found that if you are seeing a need for slightly smaller storage units, Ocean Spray Juice containers work well (large spout and heavy duty plastic).

    I recommend rinsing out whatever containers you use well and then store them for a few days without the cap to air them out. The plastic will absorb some of the original substance. Then, if it loses its smell after a few days, do the bleach sanitizing thing. Simply discard the containers which do not smell clean.

    A final comment, Yes, PCBs are bad, but so is dehydration.

  95. I would suggest the use of Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide for keeping water safe – chemical sign is H202 – it breaks down to water and oxygen – Chlorine creates

  96. Hey everyone,
    Certainly there’s a lot of ways to store water. I’m fortunate enough to have extra space, so I use the 275 gallon chemical pallet tanks that I got from a farmer buddy. The tanks used to hold Roundup herbicide. Yucky stuff, I know. It can be cleaned out though. I used 5 gallons of ammonia from the local dollar store, and 5 gallons of water. After first flushing the tank VERY well, I simply poured the ammonia and water in the tank, and let it set for 15 minutes. Then I flipped the tank on it’s side for another 15 minutes. Then the next side, and the next, and finally the top.then I filled the tank the rest of the way with water and let it set a few days. I drained it, rinsed it out extra well, and filled it again. I change the water every couple of months afterward, because there’s certain to be the tiniest amount of chemical residue leaching from the plastic of the container. After the second filling, I’m fully confident the water is safe to drink. You won’t need to sanitize the tank with bleach after the ammonia, as ammonia is a sanitizing agent. If you feel compelled to do it anyway, NEVER NEVER mix ammonia and bleach!!!!! Sometimes you can get these containers used from the local Coke or Pepsi plants. They hold syrup, so the super cleaning procedure isn’t necessary. They will flavor your water though. sells these tanks new for about $479, and some 5 gallon jugs too. I got mine for for free, and spent about $6 on ammonia. As mentioned in the article, the 55 gallon drums are a great choice though. You could also use 5 gallon soap jugs from the local car wash or detail shop. Clean them the same way as the big tanks.

  97. I meant to ad that these big tanks can be stacked 3 high. That’s about 2350 pounds for each full tank, so your location has to able to hold the weight. I personally have 2 tanks. That’s about 550 gallons of water reserve – enough for 1 1/2 years at the minimum usage. They’re stacked into a space 40″wide x 48″deep by about 92″ high, so it COULD fit in your basement…

  98. is an awesome source for odd stuff for preppers. They have chemical suits, mylar food storage bags, food grade buckets, desicant, and oxygen absorber packet, etc……………. Check out these links:
    275 gallon IBC tanks:
    Various sized plastic drums:
    % gallon stackable plastic Jerican jugs:

    • the #1 item from ULINE on my wishlist is the film coating that supposedly makes windows bulletproof. But it would cost $200 to do my whole house so on the wait list it remains. You are absolutely right though, I have their latest catalog and it is a preppers dream for sure.

  99. Something I like to do is fill used, cleaned and sanitized 2 liter pop bottles, with water and put them in the large freezer in my garage. If the power goes out for a long time, I have frozen water to keep perishables fresh. The bottles keep the water contained as they thaw.

  100. Dear Gaye. Do the water bottling instructions from this post mesh with the instructions given by Glenn on the recent podcast? I was not able to attend the podcast but listened to the replay a couple of times. It was amazing to learn the science behind water purification. I think I might need to redo all my water bottle storage. Gaye you really bring amazing resources BDS. I continue to learn something new all the time. Karen S.

  101. Hi everyone, I read in an old book once about people using rinsed out bleach bottles to store water. The bottle is made to not corrode, and the bleach residue would purify the water. Any thoughts? (Obviously scented bleach would have additives, but I don’t see why this wouldn’t work for plain-ole bleach.)

    • You enter using the Rafflecopter at the top of the page. Click on “Free Entry for Backdoor Survival Subscribers”. You will be asked to enter your email address so that you can be contacted if selected (at random) as the winner.

    • You are welcome. I have more coming up each week during the month of September, including more solar items which I know that everyone wants. Like I said, the Prepper Giveaway Queen LOL.

  102. About a year ago I emailed you an idea regarding storing city water by directing water through 55 gal barrels each time anyone turns on a faucet inside the house. I have two barrels Connected in series with my city water supply which furnishes a supply of fresh water. A simple inexpensive way to always have 110 gals stored without having to worry about keeping it fresh.

  103. All your giveaways are great. You have so much information that I copy them into word documents so I have them to read several times.

  104. Water. It’s what I worry about most. Survival with little to none would be painful. I’m always buying an extra multi-bottle case to put in the closet, then rotate them out after a few months. Thanks for this opportunity.

  105. I would love to have it in my kit. I love that deal and giveaways but the information provide is always the best. Thanks for all you do for us.

  106. Water access is my primary concern. I live in a small city outside DC and digging a well is not an option. Thank you for providing such great resources for us.

  107. I’m not so fond of the word “prepper” you are survivalist preparing for the future preparing for future events that may or may not come

  108. The cost of containers to hold water is bad enough but then to have to pay for the water if you are not one your own well is prohibitive. I can buy 443 cases of water for $1,325 which would give me 2,339 gallons of water. I figure a minimum of 6 gallons a day for 4 people. It’s the plastic bottles that I find so repulsive. I’m told as long as the cases are stored in cool dry place they should be safe and that even if they taste like plastic if I empty them, pour it back and forth a whole bunch that it would oxygenate it and improve the flavor. Guess I could always use the squirt bottles to change the taste and all of the larger containers are plastic too. After that it’ll be off to the river and using my water purifier.

  109. Gaye, I have a question on another note. Just spent over an hour going through the Archives because I am looking for the book (essential oil bible) that you like so much but I can’t find it cause I think I’ve gone blind. Would you post the name of it please? I think it would help me pull it all together a lot faster than the rate I’m going.

    • I am fairly certain you are referring to Valerie Worwood’s book, The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy. I bought this book years ago before EOs were so mainstream and I still refer to it often. Link

  110. Thank you for all the information.I am having a brain drain but is it really necessary to rotate bottled water from the store?

    • I don’t. It is my opinion that water does not go bad unless it become contaminated. I do, however, verify that the seal or the bottle itself has not been compromised in any way.

      You know me when it comes to “best by” and “expiration dates”. Bogus and mostly a CYA from the companies involved.

  111. Thank you for this giveaway. This is the first one I have entered. I live in hurricane territory and need to store supplies and water – enough for three days or more.

  112. Thank you for the chance to win this important piece of information. We can never have enough water. Thanks too for your website and all the information you give.I have learned so much valuable information and look forward to getting more!

    • As much as I love my international followers, it is very difficult and costly to ship across the borders of the US. A few winners without US mailing addresses have been assessed customs duty which is totally outside my control. So sorry.

  113. Thank you Gaye for these opportunities to win items to help us all prepare. Also a Thank You to all subscribers that are sharing experiences and tidbits of info. We are in this together!

  114. I’d love to use a print version of your book on Water—think its so important to be prepared. I don’t know how to harvest water from the air–desperately need your book!

  115. Thanks for the recommendation to have at least one gallon of water per person and pet per day for two weeks. This could be useful to ensure that you’re able to last in an emergency for as long as possible. In order to do this, you’d probably want to figure out where to store it and then find the best containers that will stack well and be able to keep your water clean and safe to drink for you and your loved ones.

  116. Isn’t it safe to assume that if it didn’t matter what type of plastic container you use, as long as you have a filtration system like a Brita or other type of filter, it wouldn’t matter how long you stored your water?

  117. Outstanding article – and useful wisdom as always. But there is one fatal flaw that comes up over and over again. At the outset, you say that, “Water is the Most Important Survival Basic,” and go on to say that “Clean water is something we all take for granted.” Absolutely true! But what about AIR? That’s the gigantic elephant in the room that everyone, especially survival & prep sites completely ignore. When the SHTF, air quality will immediately start degrading from volcanoes, nuclear power plants, fires, meteors, pathogens, etc., to the point where it will be impossible to sustain human life without an air filtration/purification system. 3 minutes is our limit without air, and when we are “there,” it will be too late to try and build a filter. N100 masks are NOT going to cut it, and for that matter neither will PAPR (respirators) or gas masks (8 hour solution). An NBC system is essential, but one that can be developed with a range of solutions. For example a small portable system for a car to get you home, and a more robust system for a home or basement (or shelter/bunker/etc). It is amazing to look through the top 300 or so survival & prepper sites, and not a single one has an Air Quality solution! Assuming that we can breathe in a grid down or cataclysmic scenario is foolhardy – and 100% fatal. Please address this issue in a future article, as I think the survival community might have some really good ideas & expertise if we could start a conversation. Thank you!

  118. Ya say, “These containers typically hold up to 55 gallons of water and with the addition of proper purification chemicals, will keep the water safe for up to five years.”

    I filled (10) 55 gallon blue barrels with tap water out of the garden hose in 2009. I did not put bleach or anything else in it. I just went out and checked it out and there is absolutely nothing wrong with the water.It’s stored in a shed which has a roof and 4 walls, so the drums are not in direct sun light.

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