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Home Water Storage and Purification For Starters

We all know that people can go on for sometime without food, but without water it's a whole different ball game. Water is the most essential part of any food storage system. However, compared to its importance, water receives very little attention. People are prone to underestimate its significance and having stored water available. This great, life giving and life-preserving resource is always called upon first during any emergency. An individual without water will suffer dehydration, heat stroke, and muscle cramps. Death usually occurs after 5-9 days without water. In times of emergency, your source of water may become contaminated or even cut off for many conceivable reasons. The only way to counter these dangerous possibilities is to have your own stored water and the capacity to purify extra water should you require it.

The typical person in the United States of America consumes 24,605 liters of water a year, and realistically it is not practical for the average prepper to store a year's worth of water for emergency purposes. However, if one considers that an interruption to the water supply could be brief, one should only plan to store a month's supply of water. Nonetheless, water storage requirements will vary from person to person, and will depend on variables such as the type of food consumed (freeze dried, dehydrated, or natural), the environment, and the age, and physical condition of each family member. Statistically, it has been documented that the minimum requirement of water storage for environments that are not too hot, both for consumption and cooking, is on average four liters per day per person. This amount of water will allow you to cover both your hygiene and individual drinking needs.
Storing Water

It is desirable to store your water in clean plastic containers, buckets, and water tanks. The reason plastic is preferred is because it does not break and is lighter than its counterparts (glass and metal). In addition, metal containers give stored water an unpalatable taste after a certain period of time. One ought not to use containers that were previously used to store toxic chemicals as traces of these may potentially be detrimental to human health. Make the sure the containers were used for food grade applications.

Large amounts of water, however, can be kept in high capacity water tanks, rain cisterns, and swimming pools. For the obvious reasons, plastic water tanks are the preferred choice when it comes to preparing your emergency water system. It is an advantage to have high capacity water storage tanks that can be connected directly to the main water supply to ensure that the you always have stored water it is rotated once every six months. The rotation of water not only ensures it is safe for drinking, but also improves the taste and quality of the water.

Where to Store

Water stored in small containers can be kept in small spaces or in the basement. If you decide to store water using barrels or even high capacity water tanks, you should consider keeping the them in the garage, or possibly even outside. Since the color of water barrels are generally blue, they usually won't be as affected by sunlight. However, heat may affect the freshness of the water, therefore it's a good idea to keep the barrels or water tanks out of direct sunlight by covering them with a tarp.

How to Purify Water

There are three effective ways of disinfecting water to make it suitable and safe for use: Boiling, chemical disinfection, and water filtering.

There are different methods of purifying water and making it safe for use and consumption. Water that is contaminated can hold bacteria, viruses that can cause diseases – dysentery, cholera, hepatitis, typhoid, and other infectious diseases -- that can threaten human health. Untreated water can also contain algae, parasites, chemicals, and pesticides. Because these microorganisms, and pollutants can't be instantly detected, water from questionable sources have to be purified before being used for any purpose.


The safest and easiest way to purify water is to boil it for 3-4 minutes to destroy whatever is in it. Boiling water for one minute should kill all bacteria in the water, but the remaining deleterious microorganisms may need the additional three minutes of boiling to be completely killed. If you are living in a higher altitude, you will have to triple the amount of time you spend on boiling the water. To make water fully sterile, you may should boil it for 20 minutes in a pressure cooker. Pressure cooking is a way of cooking in a sealed container that does not allow air or liquids to escape below a certain pressure. Since the boiling point of water increases as the pressure goes up, the pressure that builds up within the cooker makes the liquid – in this case just water – in the pot rise to a higher temperature before it boils.

Chemical Disinfection


Household bleach, containing sodium hypochlorite will purify water cheaply and easily. However, you have to make sure that that sodium hypochlorite (at 5.25% concentration) is the only active ingredient. As a side note, chlorine readily evaporates from open bottles, therefore, be sure to always keep the bottle closed. In addition, chlorine has a two year shelf-life and its potency decreases by half with each passing year.

To purify water, add the bleach solution to the water intended for either drinking, cleaning, or cooking. Eight drops of chlorine should be added for each gallon of clear water you wish to purify – add 16 drops if the water is murky. The bottle of water with the added chlorine should be shaken and be made to stand for 45 minutes. If there is a taste or odor of chlorine in the water you just purified, it is a sign that the water is safe for consumption. Otherwise, repeat the procedure and wait an additional 30 minutes and taste the water for chlorine again. Be sure to rotate your supply of chlorine solution as it is usually weakened by heat, contamination and, most of all, time. You may opt to buy chlorine tablets that perform just as well, if not better, than household bleach.


Experts don't recommend the use of iodine for the purification of water for the long-term. However, since most common emergencies are short-term, the instant availability of water can be a matter of life or death for all of us. The taste of iodine tainted water is not particularly delightful, but in an emergency having safe water to use is absolutely golden. To purify water with iodine – if the iodine is in solution form as opposed to tablet form -- add 8 drops to a gallon of clear water. Add twice that amount if the water is cloudy, and contains visible particulates and impurities.

Water Filtering

Granular activated carbon filters and microfiltration are the two best methods that are used individually or in combination by commercial filters in the market. An example of a filtration system that utilizes both methods is called a multi-barrier system. Filters are available in all sizes, they range from portable units to large home systems.

Granular activated carbon filters have an internal structure that is highly absorptive. They greatly improve the taste and odor of water and remove chlorine, hydrogen sulfide, and most hydrocarbons. These filters also reduce the concentration of organic chemicals, industrial chemicals, pesticides and herbicides, heavy metals and a few trace minerals. Bacteria and viruses can only be partially purged and unfortunately, fluoride, nitrates, salts and asbestos fibers, pass through. Fresh carbon filters are more effective as they contain more carbon.

During micro filtration contaminants from a liquid are removed as the fluid is passed through a microporous membrane. A normal micro filtration membrane pore size gamut is 0.1 to 11 micrometres (┬Ám). Micro filtration is essentially different from reverse osmosis and nanofiltration because those water filtration systems utilize pressure as a means of pushing water to go from low pressure to high pressure. There are two types of micro filters: ceramic and fiber. Ceramic filters, often with sub micron pore size, are used to filter out cysts, bacteria and even viruses. Micro filters are also capable of removing parasites, fungi, radioactive solids, asbestos and fiberglass fibers. However, some minerals, toxic chemicals will not be filtered out. Fiber based micro filters are mainly used for removing sediment only.

Portable water filters are utilized by campers and hikers, relief organizations during emergencies, and armies. These filters are small, portable and usually filter water with the use a mechanical hand pump. There are some portable filter that use a siphon drip system push water through as others are built into bottles. Cloudy, muddy water is pumped through a flexible silicon tube via a specialized filter, ending up in a container. These portable water filters remove bacteria, protozoa and microbial cysts that can bring about harmful disease. Parts of water filters may have delicate meshes that should be replaced or cleaned regularly. In addition, ceramic filters should have their outside scrapped after they have become clogged with particulates, sediment and/or algae.


Having stored water, or the ability to convert dirty non-potable water to drinkable water is invaluable and could potentially save your life and your family's. Just make sure to continually rotate and, should you need to, purify your stored water so that it maintains its freshness and its complete usefulness.


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