The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that you always have an emergency water supply stored near your home. However, when you are storing water, you need to make sure that your emergency supply is safe to drink. So, how long can you safely store water?

If water is properly cleaned and stored, it can be stored indefinitely. Tap water can be stored for up to 6 months. To safely store water, store it out of the sun, in cool temperatures, and away from toxic substances. Before storing water, make sure it has been properly cleaned and filtered.

To find out more about how to safely store water and how to make your stored water last longer, keep reading.

Sterilizing and Preparing Water for Storage

If someone wants to store water long term, it must be clean first. Water should be gathered from a system with a Division of Drinking Water “Approved” rating. The plastic or glass container that the water is kept in needs to also be thoroughly cleaned with chemical disinfectants before it can be used for long-term storage. Then, each gallon of water can be treated with 4 to 5 drops of unscented liquid chlorine bleach like Clorox or Purex that contains 4% to 6% sodium hypochlorite.

One teaspoon of bleach disinfects 5 gallons of water, and it should sit in the container for about 20 to 30 minutes before anyone drinks from the container. Doing this will stop microorganisms from growing in the water while it is stored for weeks or months to come.

How to Safely Store Water

Before you start storing your emergency water supply, you will need some food-grade water storage containers. You will also need to determine which method of sanitation you will use for your water. Before cleaning the water, thoroughly clean the container to make sure it is safe to use.

Then, clean and sanitize the water in whatever method you have chosen and fill up your containers. When storing the water, make sure it is in a location that is cool, out of direct sunlight, and away from any toxic chemicals.

The table below has information about how safe water stored in certain containers is. It also has information about the effectiveness of the container.

ContainerHow Effective Is It?
Plastic Soda BottleIf cleaned, these can be used to store clean water. However, they are more vulnerable to contaminants than other containers.
Heavy Plastic Drums or BucketsYou will want to find FDA-approved containers of this size to best sanitize and store your clean water. These containers can be found at surplus or camping supply stores.
Commercially Packaged WaterThis is the best type of water to use for your emergency water supply, as it can last for up to 5 years.
Water HeaterIf you close the intake valve after the water supply is disrupted, this water will be safe to drink. However, it can become contaminated easily.
Water BedWater beds contain dangerous chemicals, so do not drink water from a water bed. However, you can use water from a water bed to sanitize items.
Bleach BottlesThese containers should not be used to store drinking water, as there may be leftover bleach in the container. However, they can be used to store water that will be used for sanitation purposes.

How to Make Stored Water Last Longer

Tips and Tricks for Storing Water Longer

Stored water can last longer if it is properly capped every time it is used. Ensuring the container is completely closed is one of the best ways to ensure that water does not get contaminated and lasts as long as possible. Another fantastic way to lengthen the storage life of water is to refrigerate it after use when possible.

For those who are going camping or on a road trip, ice packs can be useful for keeping stored water cold and well-preserved. This is beneficial because colder temperatures are not hospitable for bacterial growth in water. In addition to this, lower temperatures also help stop plastic bottles from leaching potentially harmful chemicals into the water.

Storing Water Longer with Temperature Control

Although colder temperatures are good for making stored water last longer, freezing temperatures are not. This is because chemicals can leech from the plastic bottle and into the water source when the frozen water thaws. Instead of freezing the stored water, put ice in the water you will drink within the next 24 hours.

Water Storage Options

To make your stored water last as long as possible, store it in an opaque container that can be sealed. Many long-term storage tanks are opaque. However, if you do not have an opaque container, you can store water in water bottles with filters, plastic bottles, stainless steel bottles or containers, glass bottles or containers, water heaters, water beds, or bleach bottles.

Water Bath Canner Treatments

Filtering and treating water with chlorine or sterilizing drops and mixtures can help extend its storage life. However, some people filter water treated with chlorine or sterilizing drops to improve the taste.

Some people use water bath canner treatments that involve boiling jars of clean water for a minimum of 20 minutes. This boiling treatment makes the water clean for basically forever, as all of the pathogens in the water are killed during the boiling process. This means that no new bacteria can grow in the water, so it will be safe to drink until after it is opened.

Overall, there are many things that you can do to make your stored water last longer. To determine if the water from your water storage container is safe to drink, look for algae and other particulates. If there is algae or particulates in the water, sterilize or filter the water before drinking it. Even if your water looks extremely clean, you can always filter it before drinking it. After all, it is better to drink extremely clean water than contaminated water, as contaminated water can easily make you sick.

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One Comment

  1. Here’s a tip for you. Ever noticed how if you leave water in a sealed bottle too long it tastes funny? If you give it a good shake, you aerate it again and it tastes much better.

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