Storing water is one of the most important things that a prepper can do. It should be the first thing on your list, or at least close to the top!
Historically, water services are one of the first things to go during a disaster. It only makes sense that discussing is something that we do!
Many people claim to be preppers but they haven’t stored a drop of water. They have freeze-dried rations for months and enough guns and ammo to wage a war single-handedly, but they’ve ignored the most important thing for human survival…water.
Before we take a closer look at water storage, let’s talk about a couple of common misconceptions that people believe to be true about water and water storage.
The number one question people ask when they first decide to store water is, “How long does it take until my water goes bad?” This isn’t a concern at all! When water is properly stored, it doesn’t ever go bad.
The only reason that you’d have to worry about this is if you believe your water has somehow been contaminated from an outside source. Other than that, your water should be clean and ready to drink when you need it.
I also get asked how often you should rotate your water. This goes along with the first question. You don’t need to rotate your water at all. If you’re storing bottled water that you drink anyway, then you should use that oldest water first to preserve the taste.
Many people try to say that you need special water storage containers to store water. That simply isn’t the case. Even though we’re reviewing several of the best water storage options later in this article, any food grade plastic container can be used to store water. This is especially important to know in case a storm is coming and you need to do some last minute water storage.
When you’re first starting out, you can fill 2-liter soda bottles, empty water bottles, or anything else that used to contain consumable liquids. Things like milk jugs aren’t the best option since they’re very thin, have a tendency to break and leak, and can fill your water with bacteria if they are not washed out well.
Be sure to completely rinse out any container that you may be reusing!
Some people will tell you that you don’t need to store water if you have something like a Big Berky water filter. If you live on the shore of a lake, then this could very well be true but if you live in the middle of the desert or somewhere like California that relies on modern infrastructure to supply you with water, you’re going to want to have plenty of water available for emergencies.
Another thing I keep seeing pop up on other prepping websites is the ridiculous idea that you should only store water in the perfect container. A bucket of nasty swamp water is 1000 times better than no water at all. Store water in a way that makes sense for you and your family. If that means you use 2-liter soda bottles, then so be it. As long as you understand that you may need to run that water through a filter before you drink it, you’ll be good to go.
It takes just three days to die without water. To put that into perspective, a person can go for weeks without food!
When storing water, you should try to store 1 gallon per person per day. That may not seem like a lot, but it adds up really fast and that makes storing water more difficult than it may first appear. That’s one of the reasons that people often skip over water storage.
As a baseline, I’d recommend storing enough water for you and your family for 2 weeks and then add from there. That means you should have around 56 gallons of water stored at a minimum for a family of 4.
Should you buy large or small water containers?
It really depends on your situation. If you live in an apartment then you’ll probably want something on the smaller side. If you own a home or have access to a garage, then you can go for a combination of large and small containers.
Small containers are the easiest to store since they can fit just about anywhere and can be moved easily if needed. The downside is that it’s expensive to buy a lot of smaller purpose made containers.
Large containers allow you to store a ton of water really easily. Just a couple 55-gallon containers will put you lightyears ahead of most people. The downside is water is extremely heavy and once you will these containers it can be really difficult to move them. For larger containers, it can be pretty much impossible to do without heavy machinery. They also take up a lot of space which makes them less accessible to some people.
I prefer a combination of the two. I use large water tanks in my garage and backyard and I have a 55-gallon barrel and WaterBricks in my basement.
I know the water in my basement is clean and can be used right away in case of an emergency. The water in my tanks outside and in the garage should be okay to drink, but I would probably run it through a filter or boil it just in case. Either way, I have plenty of water.
Can I fill water tanks with secondary water?
Before you fill your water tanks or barrels with a hose in your yard, you need to know if you’re using secondary water or not. If the water source is coming from the secondary water, you should filter the water or boil it prior to drinking it.
Secondary water is allowed to have more contaminants in it than primary water and the EPA standards are non-enforceable. This means you’re better off assuming it isn’t safe to drink.
A simple water filter like the Big Berky will make getting that water to a drinkable place really easy.
Cost: We evaluated cost because it’s an important factor for most of us.
Durability: This is one of the key things you should consider when choosing containers for water storage. If the container breaks, at best it will leave you without water. At worst, it will flood your entire basement and leave you with expensive water damage to repair.
Storage: How the container stores, stacks, etc.
Features: Each container we looked at has a little something different to offer. We did our best to sum those up in the description and gave them a rating based on the overall usefulness of those features.
We also decided to divide the containers into two groups, portable and non-portable. It didn’t make sense to us to compare a 3.5-gallon container to a 250-gallon water tank, so we didn’t.
Portable water containers are those containers that can easily be moved around when they’re filled. In this case, they range from 3.5-gallons to 5-gallons.
WaterBrick Stackable Emergency Water Storage Container
The WaterBrick is one of the best-known purpose-built water storage containers on the market. It’s very durable, stores extremely well in almost any situation and is small enough that it isn’t overly heavy when full.
Its small size is also one of its downsides. At only 3.5 gallons you’ll need to buy more of these to meet your water storage requirements and they cost about as much many of the 5-gallon containers out there.
The API Kirk 5 Gallon Samson Stackers are another purpose-built, stackable water container. They’re durable, but less so than the WaterBricks, and can be stacked up to 3 high (5 high if you brace them or stack them in the corner).
This particular kit consists of four 5-gallon containers, a wrench to secure the lids in place and a spigot.
The Reliance Aqua-Tainer 7 Gallon Rigid Container was the least expensive container that we felt was still strong enough to trust our water storage too. It can’t be stacked when it’s full which really limits your ability to store it in certain situations but its low price kept it on our list for this year.
Our non-portable water containers are those containers that are meant to be filled in place and not moved again…at least not easily moved. If you’re looking for the best way to quickly meet your water storage needs, these are probably it.
The downside is they usually can’t be placed in apartments and some cities have ordinances against outside water storage.
The Legacy Premium Food Storage 15 Gallon Emergency Water Storage Barrel is here because it can be used by those people that need to store water in an apartment. If you don’t have a size restriction like that, we don’t recommend that you purchase this barrel as its more expensive than it needs to be for only 15 gallons of water storage.
The Augason Farms Water Storage Barrel 55-Gallon Drum is a well-made water barrel. It will suit you well if you’re looking for a no-frills way to store water for an emergency.
There are other, less expensive barrels similar to this but we’ve had some bad luck in the past with no name brands. If you’re willing to take a chance, then you can save $5 or $10 on a different brand.
We found our new favorite water storage container during this review. The 55 Gallon Water Storage Tank By WaterPrepared. It’s replaced all of our traditional 55-gallon drums and actually saved a lot of space.
This unique design allows you to stack them up to three high so it saves you a lot of room compared to placing 55-gallon drums side by side. It’s also extremely well made.
Having the right amount of water on hand for an emergency should be a top priority for everyone. Hopefully, this review helped you find the best water storage containers for home use.
If you have other water storage container ideas, let us know in the comments!
Make sure you check out our other preparedness articles before you go.