Wednesday, March 1, 2017

How to Store, Sanitize & Use Water for Emergencies Printable ~ Proverbs 31 Preparedness Series

"Water is life, and clean water means health."
~ Audrey Hepburn

Storing water is probably one of the most important concepts in preparedness and common sense in general! Though we have never faced any extreme crisis on our farm, we have lost the ability to drink our well water a few times each year. Having a back-up supply of water is very prudent no matter where you live or whatever your circumstances!

While the easiest way to store "emergency" water is to simply purchase and store "bottled" water, it is not the most cost-efficient. Though it would make convenient drinking water, I personally couldn't handle dumping bottles of purchased water into a pot in order to boil some pasta or cook up some rice. This is where some alternative storage options would be helpful and more economical. Of course, another option is to prepare meals that don't require the use of water in a state of emergency (but this would eliminate many convenient and frugal pantry foods).

If you live in the city and get your water from a municipal district, your tap water* is already chlorine treated and is ready to be bottled directly by you -- for free! Just fill up some sanitized containers and keep them in a safe, convenient location. If you are like us and draw from your own well, further treatment is necessary. Both procedures are shared in detail in the printable below.

* Even if you consider your tap water undesirable for drinking, a large reserve could still be stored for cooking/boiling foods, brushing teeth and so forth. Your purchased water could then be used for only drinking.

How Much Water Should You Store?

  • 1 gallon per person per day for drinking
  • Some sources also recommended to store additional water (an additional 3-gallons per person per day!) for washing, cooking, sponge bathing, doing the laundry, cleaning dishes, etc (source). However, this would depend on how prepared you want to be as this can take up a significant amount of space!

To begin, determine your family's needs based on how far you are from a water source and what kind of emergency your particular area is prone to. For instance, if you have a river running through your back yard, water storage may not be as critical as for those who live in the heart of a city. If you live in the middle of a desert, water storage should be a major priority!

How to Store and Sanitize Water ~ PDF Printable

Either way, knowing how to sanitize water during a state of emergency is priceless! There are a few options for water purification but I chose to share the version that is easy and affordable and doesn't require any special equipment! The State of Washington provides an excellent 2-page printable (updated link is different than the one pictured) which describes the basic water purification methods depending on different scenarios.

It would be wise to print this out and add it to your Proverbs 31 Preparedness Binder if you are making one. While the internet is chock-full of information, it may not be available in the event of a crisis and the information you store in your binder will be gold! We are placing all of our printable binder information inside of plastic sheet protectors for extra caution.

What Containers Should Be Used to Store Water?

Use only food-grade containers to store your water (i.e., do not use containers previously used to store non-food products). Many sources discourage the use of plastic milk jugs for various reasons. The common item of choice is to recycle soda bottles. We will use our sparkling water bottles.

Clean, sanitize, and thoroughly rinse all containers prior to use. A sanitizing solution can be prepared by adding 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of liquid household chlorine bleach (5 to 6% sodium hypochlorite) to 1 quart (or liter) of water. Only use the household bleach without thickeners, scents, or additives.

The Wise Way to Store "Home Bottled" Water

Rotating your water storage every six months is highly recommended when you bottle your own to keep the supply fresh (purchased water bottles will last forever if stored responsibly).

Note: Do not dump the "expired" water down the drain -- use it to wash dishes, water your plants, etc.

Make sure to label your stored water with the date and any pre-treatment measures.

Store your water away from direct sunlight, in a cool, dark area for best results.

Other Water Storage Options

An easy way to store additional water that can also bless a power crisis scenario is to fill any empty areas of your freezer with bottles of water (see article here). Should you lose electricity, these "ice" packs will sustain your frozen foods longer. In the event of an emergency, the water can be thawed and consumed without any pre-treatment.

Another idea (if you have excess space and an abundance of canning jars) is whenever you are canning and don't have enough jars of produce to fill your canner, place boiling hot water in clean jars and can them for a shelf stable water. 

While this next method shouldn't be used for "drinking water", it would be helpful for washing your hands, dishes and produce and can be stored in a less-desirable location because of it (such as the garage). You can fill up your empty bleach bottles with water (the remnant bleach will keep the water clean of bacteria but since it isn't a controlled measurement, this should not be used for drinking water). Be sure to label the water and include that it is NOT FOR INTERNAL CONSUMPTION.

Emergency Water Sources (Always Disinfect Before Using):

  • hot water heater tank (note: you may be able to use this water source without disinfecting)
  • plumbing pipes
  • toilet tank (not the bowl or a chemically treated tank!)
  • rain water collection 
  • water left inside garden hoses
  • snow 
  • natural springs, streams and rivers 
  • liquid in canned fruits and vegetables

When in doubt about your water source (such as when using collected rain water, etc.), you should always exercise caution and purify it first. This would be necessary for not only cooking but also for tooth brushing, hand-washing and the cleaning of fruits and vegetables.  Follow the sanitizing procedures found in the printable. 

Water Preparedness Ideas When You KNOW a Crisis Is Coming:

  • Fill up your freezer with bottles of water, no pretreatment is necessary (see article here)
  • Fill up any pitchers and large pots you have with water
  • Fill up (a clean) bathtub with water as a back-up supply
  • Fill up all your thermoses with boiling hot water (for coffee, tea, etc...)

Other Items of Interest:

  • Water from a swimming pool/spa can be used to flush the toilet (though never to be consumed)
  • A Working Pantry shares an article on the importance of water after a catastrophe. Patsi had experienced Hurricane Matthew and has lots of "been there" information!

Ways to Make "Treated" Water Drinkable (aka More Desirable) and/or Nourishing:

As the easiest and less-expensive way to treat water includes bleach, here are some options to make your treated water more palate-pleasing. Also keep in mind that while sugar will help out with the taste of stored water, the negative part is that sugar itself can increase thirst (salty foods will do the same thing)! I would advise to use both sparingly. And although boiling the water will also help with the flavor, cooking fuel may not be a luxury you have during a time of crisis and therefore may not be a viable option.
  • The taste of stored water can be improved by pouring it back and forth between two containers before consuming (this method will add oxygen back into your water supply and enhance flavor).
  • Tea/Tisanes ~ Place a couple of tea bags (or a handful of herbs) per quart sized jar (or 6 - 8 bags to a gallon of water) and set it in the sun for 1 - 4 hours (or all day if you like). The stronger the tea/tisane, the less "bleach" taste will be present. You can consider making a stronger concentrated tea and dilute it with your stored water during the week. The reason the solar tea is preferred is that during a crisis, you may need to ration out your cooking fuel.
  • Instant Coffee (if you like yours with cream, etc., which may not be available, you might consider having a few of those flavored coffees on hand)
  • Hot Cocoa Mix
  • Powdered Lemon Crystals ~ You can sweeten this to make a lemonade of sorts or use as is. This also doubles as a vitamin c source.
  • Natural Electrolyte "From the Pantry" Recipe #1 ~ 1 quart water, 1/3 c. canned lemon juice, 1/3 c. raw honey, 1/4  tsp. sea salt (or Himalayan pink salt). To prepare, warm half of the water up slightly in order to dissolve the honey and salt, then add the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  • Natural Electrolyte "From the Pantry" Recipe #2 ~ 1 quart water, 10-packets of powdered lemon crystals, 1/3 c. raw honey, 1/4  tsp. sea salt (or Himalayan pink salt). To prepare, warm half of the water up slightly in order to dissolve the honey and salt, then add the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  • Emergen-C ~ Although the taste alone will mask the water, the bonus is the immune support, vitamin C, antioxidants , B vitamins, and electrolytes it conveniently provides during a crisis. I would personally add more water to each packet in order to dilute and stretch them.
  • Other items that * I personally hate to use*  due to the dyes, fake ingredients, artificial flavors and so forth are worth mentioning as well (should you like to keep it on hand for emergencies and make drinking treated-water during a crisis for children less stressful)... Kool-aid, powdered gatorade (for the electrolytes), tang, Nestea, and any other powdered drink of these types.
Consider stocking some of these items in your Proverbs 31 Preparedness Pantry
Do you have any water storage strategies you would like to add? I am in no way an expert in this area, but am sharing what is workable for my family (and on our budget).

Your homework for the week:
  • Decide how many days/weeks/months worth of water you would like to store for your family. Do the math at 1 gallon, per person, per day and start storing!
Extra Credit:
All the fine print. This post may be shared with some or all of the following link-ups: The Art of Home-Making MondaysModest Mom Monday'sMonday's MusingsMake Your Home Sing MondayGood Morning Mondays,  The Scoop, Tuesdays with a TwistRaising HomemakersWise Woman Link UpHomestead Blog Hop Wow Us Wednesdays,  Coffee and ConversationHomemaking ThursdaysHome Sweet HomeOur Simple HomesteadAwesome Life Friday Link Up and Create, Bake, Grow & Gather. Thank you lovely ladies for hosting these. This post may contain affiliate links (which are merchant links that help to support this site at no additional cost to you if you purchase an item through them).


  1. Great information I printed it out to keep in my binder. Thanks so much!

  2. Jes, after having dealt with the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew I can't tell you how important drinkable and useable water is. This is a major thing and I'm so glad you've included it in your series. I've printed the pdf out and will be adding it to my notebook and of course I will be reading and studying the information to see how I can use it in my own preparedness. I wrote about drinkable water in a disaster situation in my Building a One Month Preparedness Pantry series. Here's the entry on water ...

    1. Thank you Patsi! I have added your link to the article! :)

  3. How imteresting and useful this post of yours is, darling JES, I always learn something important when I come and visit you here, you're such a treasure to me !
    And the paintings you've chosen are stunning, I love them so !

    Wishing you amost wonderful month of March,
    sending my dearest love to you

    XOXO Dany

  4. Terrific information! We've lived in this house for over seven years now. With the exception of a year or two when we received bottled water, I've had to take gallon jugs to town to get them filled a couple times a week. It's a hassle, but it's what we have to do. The filter the EPA put on our sink for well water doesn't remove all the floaties and who knows what. We do know that it has lead. I don't know what else. It's been a blessing to have extra bottle water stored over the winter months. We have used most of our storage water now since my husband wants to start over. I need to start accumulating it again.
    Be blessed!
    Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage
    Be blessed!

  5. Thank you, Jess, for such great information! I will definitely be printing this out for my binder. We were given a Berkey Water Filter for Christmas a few years ago and love it!! The filters are so powerful that unsafe water from rivers, lakes, and ponds can be turned into drinking water. They are costly, but worth the investment.

    1. Great suggestion for those who can afford it! That is definitely on my wish list! :)

  6. Thank you for providing this important information. Gail

  7. Thank you this was wonderful information. We are increasing our supply and options. Water is the weakest link in our preparedness. Many thanks! xxx

  8. Hello JES- this is some good info about water storage. Living in the city you don't think about these things until disaster strikes and then you realize how vulnerable you are. Better to be prepared- at least with properly stored water. Good information in your article!

  9. Such good information there, usual. We have water tanks here in our state but they are banned in some regions I believe. During our extended drought a few year back the government was encouraging people to buy water tanks once again and provided a rebate. I think we have about five water tanks of varying sizes on this suburban 1/2 acre.

    1. That is excellent! I am assuming you mean rain water collection tanks? We also have two large one's on our property. I should have mentioned those more specifically in the article. Thanks for pointing that out! :)

  10. This was really helpful JES, thank you. We had a prolonged power cut in July last year (I was glad it was not the winter), which resulted in our water going off, and although I had some water stored, it was not nearly enough. Thank you for sharing this :-)

    1. So glad you shared this situation with us! It is important to know that not all reasons for preparedness is catastrophes but other random events which make stored water a blessing!

  11. If you have a Berkey, Nikken, or even a grocery store gravity filter system (and some spare filters of course), you can filter your stored water to remove the bleach or whatever you used to kill the germs, and improve the taste that way and make it nicer for cooking too. Learned this from an emergency prep book I read that suggested using iodine tablets (which make the water safe but taste horrible); it said kill the germs first than use the filter bottle to improve the taste (both Berkey and Nikken make personal size filter bottles as well as the family/household one).
    Besides beverage mixes and teas, you can also add some bouillon, store-bought or homemade. Thanks for sharing the info!


    1. Great tips Davette! Thank you for sharing them with us! I also like the idea of personalized water filter bottles!

  12. Excellent information! We keep a supply of clean water stored in the basement so hopefully we're set in case of an emergency. Those images are sooooo fun to see. Love them all.
    Have a great rest of the week!

  13. Jes, you're right in time for storm season here in Tornado Alley! I always keep supplies stored under the basement stairs, but I take special care to change them out/replenish them twice a year. March is the big month. I feel a real pull to do it better than good this year as I have this gut feeling we're going to have a rough storm season. Couldn't tell you why as I'm a native Californian and don't have the keen storm sense these Kansans have! But, I'll go with my gut and take special prep care.

    We were hugely grateful for our storage when we had a huge earthquake in SoCal 23 yrs. ago. I had a bucket stored just for pool scooping/toilet flushing, plenty for drinking for us and the pets, and extra for anything else.

    On a lighter note, my friend always stores a few boxes of Girl Scout cookies in her tornado kit. Her logic is that she eats when she's nervous. Sheltering in the basement is nerve wracking so the cookies relax her. And if a tornado sucks her up, she'll die happy!
    Silly girl!! I put in trail mix lol.

    1. Hi Debby, just the word tornado frightens me!! Yes, you are very wise to make those preparations! I also lived in So Cal during that earthquake... I think anyone who settled near that San Andreas fault thinks often of water storage! P.S. The trail mix is a grand idea!

  14. What an excellently written post JES, as always, you have covered every possible aspect of this important issue in food storage. After all, if you don't have clean water, most meals that are in food storage can't be cooked. Printing out this is highly beneficial to have in case of an emergency when online is not available. Thank you again for this wonderful resource!

  15. We do have a lot of water storage thanks to my 15 year old son who took it upon himself to do that. We had quite a lot of room in our basement root cellar so he put many, many gallons (50-100?)of water in there. We have not treated it however and we do have well water. I am wondering why exactly it needs to be treated. We do have a Berkey water filter that we could run it through before drinking however. We also do have a river in our back yard and in the winter when it is frozen we have snow that we can melt. We also do have several small water filters that we use for back packing and canoe trips. Some of those are not that expensive to buy and are nice to have on hand for emergencies. I do also like to have frozen bottles of water but I need to do more of that as my freezers are emptying out during this winter season. Water is a huge issue for being prepared.

    1. Looks like you are all set Abbi! The well water if sitting stagnant can grow bacteria because it isn't "treated" like the city water. However, if you have a Berkey water filter, I think that will do the trick -- just run all untreated, stored water through it in case of an event... Thanks for taking the time to share here today! :)

  16. Good reminders.... One thing I did for a while was to collect 2 liter soda bottles from extended family to clean and refill... I was able to put them at the back of my storage shelves where they were out of the way, but are there if needed. Not too excited about storing them in that kind of plastic but it is what I had available. I have also been finding a few of the 5 gallon storage containers (like from purified water) at sales and have bought extra lids from ebay. Water is so important to store and we would go through a LOT w/ our dehydrated items. Thank you for the great reminder post. :)

  17. I'm a bit of a prepper and have a small stockpile in the basement. I love the ideas of how to freshen stale water. Good tips to add to my collection! thanks!

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment! I appreciate it! :)

  18. Hi the water pdf link doesn’t work do you think you can make a printable link?

    1. Hi there, looks like they changed the link and document, I updated the link for you 💝


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