Water Storage Containers Pros and Cons

In BabyStep 2: Water we go over a few different options on storage containers for your water. As we have rearranged our food storage areas, lived through small “emergencies”, and practice other scenarios during our 7 Day Challenge each year we have come to realize that there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution to water storage. There are many different things to consider and we wanted to go into more detail on some of the different options and why they might be the right one for you. Hope this is helpful for you!

WaterContainersFace

Remember this is for actual WATER STORAGE, if you have some solutions in place for purification/filtration your storage needs may be less. However, we feel like it is never a bad thing to have lots of actual water stored in case you don’t have access to ANY water in an emergency.

Used 2 Liter Pop Bottles or Juice Bottles

Pros
– Essentially FREE if you buy them anyway or get from someone else
– Convenient size for smaller water emergencies
– Easy to store anywhere in the house

Cons
– Must rotate every 6 months to 1 year
– Hard to clean out enough that the taste isn’t a bit “off”
– Concern about bacteria if not cleaned out well enough

Best Used For
– 72 Hour Kits
– People on a tight budget
– Small spaces storage solutions

Store-Bought Water Bottles

Pros
– Great tasting, so it’s ideal for drinking water
– Easy to rotate through the individual bottles
– Easy to store anywhere in the house

Cons
– Must rotate every 6 months to 1 year
– Price per gallon can be fairly expensive
– Difficult to store in large quantities
– Bottles will freeze in winter, and chemicals can leach into them in severe heat, so not ideal for car kits in extreme conditions

Best Used For
– 72 hour kits
– People concerned with taste of drinking water
– Small emergencies

Small Water Pouches or Water Cartons

  

Pros
– 5 year shelf life!
– Awesome for 72 hour kits
– Water typically won’t freeze in the pouches or small water boxes

Cons
– Expensive storage method
– Not ideal for large quantities
– Not available in local stores everywhere

Best Used For
– 72 Hour Kits
– Car kits

Found Online
Emergency Water Pouches
Aqua Blox Water Box

5/6 Gallon Plastic Jugs

Pros
– Decent price per gallon
– More convenient size than large barrels
– Pretty easy to empty and rotate
– Easy to find in the camping section of most stores

Cons
– Many of these jugs end up having problems with cracking and leaking so beware
– 5 or 6 gallon jugs can be HEAVY if you are trying to pour with them and haul them up and down stairs by yourself
– Must be rotated every 6 months to 1 year
– Take up a lot of space in storage since you can’t stack them

Best Used For
– Smaller storage spaces
– Tighter budgets

Found Online
Options at Amazon.com

Water Box Kits (Mylar bags inside cardboard boxes)

Pros
– Good price per gallon
– Stackable up to 3 boxes high
– Only have to rotate every 5 years

Cons
– A little bit complicated to set them up and fill them
– Wasted space in your storage room above the stack of boxes
– Not very convenient for accessing small amounts of your water storage
– Not available in local stores everywhere

Best Used For
– Larger quantities for people who don’t like rotating
– Great for sliding under beds or sticking on closet shelves

Found Online
Water Storage Box Kit from Emergency Essentials

Water Bricks

Pros
– 3.5 gallons per brick makes it more manageable than 5/6 gallon containers
– Stackable from floor to ceiling!
– They are safe to freeze so can be stored outside
– Great size to stash under beds, in closets, etc.

Cons
– A little more expensive per gallon
– Not available in local stores everywhere

Best Used For
– Storage rooms where space is an issue
– Shorter term water emergencies for drinking and cooking
– People without considerable budget restraints

Found Online
Water Brick Containers

Water Barrels

Pros
– Best solution for storing LOTS of water
– Available in multiple sizes from 30 gallons up to 250 gallons
– With additives, can extend rotation needs to every 5 years
– Great use of floor space in a storage room with water barrel towers

Cons
– Slightly difficult to fill and rotate
– Not very accessible when you have to actual USE the water
– Not an ideal solution in small homes/storage areas and can’t be stored outside

Best Used For
– Longer term water shortages
– Large quantities of water storage

Found Online
Water Barrel Towers
Water Barrels from Emergency Essentials

Remember, you will probably find that a combination of these storage containers works well for you. We use almost all of these options for one purpose or another in our water storage. What water storage solution works best for YOU?

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  • Jessica Nielsen Haworth

    I always refill containers like gaderade, juice containers, etc. The sturdier bottles. I also fill my empty soap containers (hand and laundry soap) with water to use for dishes and washing clothes in an emergency. Why waste the containers?

  • maggie

    You forgot water bath canning in 1/2 gallon mason jars. Filter regarding water in a Britta. Boil water. Fill jars and cap. Water bath 20 minutes. No chemicals, no rotation neccessary, all you do if you use them is aerate the water by pour from one jug to another a couple of times. Perfect for stay at home emergancy like water shut offs or pollution notices. Bonus if you fill with distilled water it will be safe to use in medical equipment such as a cpap machine or to make soap, etc. Cons….the 1/2 gal size is expensive so you might be better off with quarts. Not really suitable for bugging out unless carefully packed in a bucket…maybe surrounded by mylar packed foods or items like toilet paper in plastic bags. But they are reusable for a lot of things in an emergancy.

  • Bobby N Chell Riha

    question here I bought 8 blue barrels how do you know if they were food grade

    • Horser01

      There should be three little arrows on the bottom (The recycle icon) with a number in the middle. Find out what number it is and look it up. Each number represents a grade. Do you know what was in them before? That’s important too.

      • Bobby N Chell Riha

        no I dont bought them at an auction

      • Bobby N Chell Riha

        although I have been around many items such as fertilizer feed etc and they retain the smell for a long time with those- these have no smell whatsoever

        • Horser01

          Did you get a receipt? Sometimes you can guess what was in them by the company that sold them. (Food company = food, etc). Otherwise, if you’re comfortable using them anyway, just make sure you clean them out really well. I like to fill them up with cleaner diluted with water and let them sit for a couple hours/days before dumping them out. Then either do it a few more times, wipe it out, or (if the openings too small to get a hand in) put your thumb over the hose to make a pressure washer… Basically make sure there’s no residue in there. Even if there is something harmful left behind after the cleaning, chances are it’ll be so diluted by what you put in there that it won’t really hurt you, unless it’s some pretty powerful stuff… Mind you, that’s just my personal experience… I’m not a doctor. 😉

  • Lyra

    We buy the Zephyrhills 3-quart containers. We are lucky that my grandmother-in-law has a water filtration system at her house and she fills up our jugs for us. We use them every day. So we are rotating 14 now but I’m trying to get up to 18 and more.

  • rusty27

    PUROGENE water purifier makes a big difference in barrels and water brick water storage. Just X amount depending on the size.

  • Matel Onely

    Question for you. Why do the 5/6 gallon water storage jugs have to be rotated every 6 months/1 year and the water bricks or water barrels don’t? do you mean the containers have to be replaced or just the water. If it’s the water, then wouldn’t the water in the barrels/brick have to be rotated/refreshed just as often as the 5/6 gal jugs.

    Thanks.

    • It depends on the container. Water bricks and boxes are more opaque and thus keep out light and elements better. They are sturdy material designed to last. Some water containers “expire” like store-bought water bottles. The recommendations are based on what the manufacturers have said specifically. It never hurts to rotate at least every 6 months-1 year just to be safe 🙂

  • Bill in upstate NY

    We use a food grade 650 gal. cistern outside, with a brass spigot and garden hose attached. Works great for times when the power goes out and the well pump doesn’t work or during droughts . Very easy to access the water. Cons: it will freeze in winter and the initial cost is a few hundred dollars. You need to make sure you get one that is made for potable water, not farming chemicals. We also have Water Bricks stashed around the house. I keep 2 in the car trunk for emergencies. We even made a coffee table out of them and covered it with leftover fabric. Having clean water you can easily carry is important, especially if you have to evacuate.
    The Berkey water filter is what we rely on everyday. Drinking water, ice cubes, coffee, water for our dog and cooking too. Always keep extra filters on hand. If the water you put into it is dirty the filters will need to be cleaned more frequently . A spare spigot is a good idea too. In addition we got a Rubbermaid 300 gal. water trough to use as an indestructible pool for the kids. A great way to have an extra supply of water in the warm months too.
    One more thing I learned, Aqua Literz) ( the 1 liter size) should not be frozen. When I needed to use mine I found they all burst. The smaller size ( Aqua Blox) were fine when frozen.

    • Thanks for the additional information! Very helpful 🙂

  • The Hard Way

    Another con for pop bottles. We had a rat get into our storage space. It chewed through the thin plastic wall of the pop bottles and drank out of it. The rat lived rather cozy in our storage space because it found food and water handy…until we called the exterminators anyway.

    • Yikes! Maybe stack them inside a stronger rubbermaid bin or something?

  • Disaster Prep Officer

    You left out the larger 250, 500 and up containers to be used in tandem with a Berkey, Life Straw or Aqua Pail.

  • Carolyn Mader Hagerman

    With the arthritus I have in my hands these bricks look like the way to go over my present 6 gallons jugs that are really hard for me to lift. And believe me, if I needed to use them, I sure would like to be able to lift them and use them!

  • Luv

    Essential water storage and space-saving too!

  • Suzanne

    Those water bricks look wonderful! Very limited on space so even with the cost being higher, I really think those would work great for us.

  • Rebekah Shearer

    I look at it this way, as in most “nest eggs” we have to diversify. This is another area that we are working to build up. It has been my MAIN focus as for now to get enough water backup in case of an emergency.

    Right now we have a water dispenser that holds 5 gallon plastic blue Jugs. We have 4 3 but I’m working on 6. I don’t drink water out of the sink because it’s been tested and has found to have organisms in it. We ARE however going to add a salt water tank and a reverse osmosis system within the year.

    We are on a waiting list for rain barrels for our gardening needs.

    I also have 2 cases of water bottles in the freezer to keep everything cold if electric were to go out so it would keep everything cold for longer while also giving us ice cold water in need.

    We will use water from the water barrels for our two toilet buckets along with the doodie liners.

    I like to see these options you listed and be able to discern what our needs will be. Thank you!

  • Debbie T.

    these look very interesting. Would be great for my limited storage.

  • Debbie Moores

    looks like the best solution to my storage issues and the avail of having water on hand

  • Brenda

    Hadn’t heard of these – Looks like something I could use – Thanks for the info!

  • Vivi

    Water bricks, that’s a great idea. I had not seen those.

  • Monica A.

    We have 55 gallon drums that we will use for water storage.

  • MamaRandom

    I got some of the mylar bags, but instead of the boxes, I put them in 5 gal buckets. They are sturdier and can stack better. Doesn’t solve the difficulty of using it factor, though.

    • Great idea! I ended up swapping out my water boxes for water bricks over time as I could afford them. But the bucket idea makes a lot of sense!

  • Heather Peterson

    I use large juice bottles for our water storage..but in need if refining it. Thank you for the pros and con’s.

  • Mickey Louth

    We have access to spring water so I’m not storing any; but we are looking into a Bison pump for our system. Never know when the spring will go dry or someone commandeer it.

  • Beverly

    I have three WaterBobs (these are large and will fit in a bathtub to be fill if you can anticipate an emergency), 10 waterbricks (LOVE them) and water pouches for portability. I will store water in any appropriate container and date it for rotation. Can’t have too much water!

  • Angela Okrasinski

    We have 55 gallon drums that we will use for water storage.

  • Jilly Bean

    I try anything. Some do leave a taste but I suppose in an emergency I wont care about that. Especially if I can boil it anyway.

  • Annie

    I refill our 2-liter pop bottles, keep water bottles on hand for 72-hour kits and car kit, and also keep some gallon water bottles. We have a couple of 5-gallon containers, too. I’m really in need of some 50 gallon containers, though. Oh, I also refill bleach bottles for water for cleaning or dishes. Every little bit counts.

  • MinnieCo

    I’d like to invest in the stacked containers when I have the ability to do so. For right now, I’m going to start saving my 2 liter and juice bottles.

  • mrzitro

    I use stackable 5 gallon containers but they aren’t very stable. The water bricks are a better option. When they are stacked, it’s like building a sturdy wall.

  • samigirl

    I didn’t think to save that much water going to have to rethink things here!

  • Terri

    This post had perfect timing. I was just doing a search online today at lunch. Being on a very restricted budget I was contemplating saving and cleaning plastic milk jugs. Good information!

  • Monika

    I received a blue 30 gal drum from a vendor at work 🙂  so my question is why should I not store it outside in a shaded area? I do not have the ability to store it inside, if I do not fill it to the top so that there is room for expansion from freezing would that work?  Thought and knowledge welcome.

    • Extreme temperatures and light can cause your water to go bad faster and can weaken your containers. There may be concern about chemical leaching into the water in high heat situations as well depending on your container. If it is your only option, definitely leave room for expansion in case of freezing, and do your best to shade the barrel from the elements and sun.

  • ImBeccaFaith

    Since bleach is used to purify water, why can’t empty bleach containers be filled with purified water and used for water storage?

    • We’ve heard that it could be too much bleach, but this would be a great way to store water for cleaning.

      • emorra

        Bleach containers may not be food-safe. When plastic is molded, they use different “release” chemicals on the mold for food-safe vs. non food-safe containers, and these chemicals remain in the plastic. Always use food-safe plastic to store anything you will eat or drink!

  • KamiFay

    How do you go about rotating your water storage?  Don’t want to waste all that “old” water!

    • emorra

      Use it as you would use tap water! Drink it, cook with it, use it to water plants, use it to water gardens or lawns etc.

      • Dwight

        When we are advised to rotate the water, does that mean to empty and refill the container or discard the container?

        • Just empty and refill the container. As long as it’s not the individual small water bottles you buy at the grocery store. Those plastics aren’t designed for longer term storage and would be better to just drink and throw away and buy new ones. Hope that helps!

  • Zoelife7

    I have a 55 gal. blue water barrel. I filled it with tap water. How often should I empty/replace water in it. Or, what can I do to extend the water in it so I don’t have to mess with it so often. Thanks!

    • Jennifer

      If you find out let me know.
      Jennifer

    • Savingmoney101

      i have been told ” by those that i think is in the know” to rotate the tap water storage every 6 months. personally have let it go 9 months and it is still drinkable but starting to notice a change in the taste..alot depends if your water contains any levels of chlorine (bleach ) I called our extension office and city office to find our city water in pleasantview ut does.  

      • Zoelife7

        Thank you so much for the response. I let it go a year and, I agree, there was a different taste, but I think it was just fine to drink as Albuquerque’s City water definitely has Chlorine. I was just wondering how long it would be to actually drink. Thanks for your answer.

  • Betty

    In the summer when I am canning and don’t have enough jars to fill the canner, I sterilize more jars and fill with boiling water and process them with the rest of whatever I am canning.

    • Jennifer

      If you process them with the pressure canner, how long do you process them?
      Jennifer

      • Betty

        However long I am processing the other food.

  • Meg Stout

    I’ve started doing aquaponics, so between my rain barrel and my aquaponics system, there’s always ~300 gallons of water out there. I’m planning to create a biosand filter with one of my 55-gallon drums (icky water goes in, pure water comes out). And for days when I’m out of bleach or boiling capability to make my sand-filtered water all happy, I have a solar oven with a water pateurization indicator (WAPI) so I can know my water has been adequately pasteurized. I also have a variety of old soda bottles filled with water hanging around, so I’m never in a panic when the water main breaks.

  • stoutmtc

    I’ve started doing aquaponics, so between my rain barrel and my aquaponics system, there’s always ~300 gallons of water out there. I’m planning to create a biosand filter with one of my 55-gallon drums (icky water goes in, pure water comes out). And for days when I’m out of bleach or boiling capability to make my sand-filtered water all happy, I have a solar oven with a water pateurization indicator (WAPI) so I can know my water has been adequately pasteurized. I also have a variety of old soda bottles filled with water hanging around, so I’m never in a panic when the water main breaks.

  • Gunga Din

    Excellent information, Thanks!

    I have two 2,500 gallon black water tanks that are feed from a deep well on my property.  The water tanks feed the house.  Having a continuous buffer of 5,000 gallons of fresh water is a great comfort.  During I have a portable generator that allows me to pump the water during power outages.  They way the tanks are plumbed I can also get the water out of the tanks via gravity.  I am in the process of going 100% PV solar for my water pumping needs.  I am very fortunate to have a small farm that allows me to go to such a large scale of water storage.

  • Gunga Din

    Excellent information, Thanks!

    I have two 2,500 gallon black water tanks that are feed from a deep well on my property.  The water tanks feed the house.  Having a continuous buffer of 5,000 gallons of fresh water is a great comfort.  During I have a portable generator that allows me to pump the water during power outages.  They way the tanks are plumbed I can also get the water out of the tanks via gravity.  I am in the process of going 100% PV solar for my water pumping needs.  I am very fortunate to have a small farm that allows me to go to such a large scale of water storage.

  • The 2 liter soda bottles can also be used for emergency disinfection purposes via the SODIS method so long as they are clear and the water you’re disinfecting is relatively clear. I keep a few dozen bottles of water in my freezer as extra water, large blocks of ice if needed, and for disinfection too. They’re great to have on hand.

  • Sarah Lee

    Thanks for going over the different options. We use the 2-liter bottle method, and it was great when we moved because after emptying them they were really light and we could smush them flat a little and screw the lid on to keep them more compact for packing into big plastic tubs. These are good to use if you use city water, but if you use well water and you don’t add chemicals, you’ll have little green things growing in there! 

    Just curious… if you use city water, which has been treated, why do you need to rotate them every 6 months to 1 year? 

    • You never know if there are lingering contaminants in your actual container, so it’s a good idea to use bleach as well just to be safe. But the bleach will evaporate out after a year or so and then the water will be susceptible to contamination again. Also chemicals from the plastics can leach out over time, especially if exposed to light. That is why some of the other containers offer longer shelf lives for the water. It can really depend on the container. That is what we have gleaned from our research, hope that helps a bit.

  • Jennicookrn

    I’ve bought the WaterBob. It is essentially a bag that fits in the bathtub. I will need a siphon to make it easier when needed.

    • Jennifer

      Where do you get a WaterBob?  Want to read about it. 
      Jennifer

      • Kristen

        Jennifer, Watersafe is another bag that fits in the bathtub.  It is made in America and comes with a siphon.  You can check it out at http://www.mywatersafe.com.