Water rotation can seem like a big mystery with all kinds of different advice floating around. We hope to make things a little more simple and address the reasons WHY you rotate to help you make a decision for how often you want to rotate YOUR water storage. Please leave any additional questions or comments about water rotation in the comments below.
Why You Rotate Water
With properly treated water stored under perfect conditions you may be able to get away with never rotating your water. However, it’s usually better to be safe than sorry. Bacteria, algae, etc. can start to grow in your water making it very unpleasant (and unsafe) to drink should you need to use it. Store-bought water needs to be rotated by it’s “expiration date” because the plastic used for the containers can break down and/or start to leech chemicals into the water. If you re-use containers it is also very possible that there could be remnants of food/water left in the container that can be a contaminent to the water over time. Even if you are using brand new containers and purified water, there is always the chance that something from the air can get into your containers and cause the water to become contaminated.
How Often to Rotate Water
There are many differing recommendations on how often you should rotate your water storage. You may hear anywhere from every few months, to a year, to five years, to never. Assuming you have properly stored your water, we feel that it is a good idea to CHECK your water every six months. Make sure nothing is growing in it and that it is still drinkable. Unless you add a special additive (see below) we recommend that you rotate your water once a year. Your water probably will still be ok if you go longer than that, but it is better to be on the safe side (plus it seems a bit gross to drink 10 year old water, lol).
Tips to Rotate Less Often
Here are a few things that can help your water storage be good for longer:
- Store in opaque containers to keep out light (dark green and blue are best)
- Store in a place that is dark and cool consistently
- Sterilize any containers you are storing water in before filling
- Treat your water with a special water treatment. The Aquamira Water Treatment combo can treat up to 60 gallons of water and they claim “When used according to instructions, and kept in a sealed container, treated water needs no further treatment for 5 years”.
- If you have a good water purifier you may choose to avoid rotating and just treat all water when the time comes to use it
What to do With Rotated Water
If you have hundreds of gallons of water stored, you want to make sure to be able to USE the old water so you aren’t wasting it. Some ideas for using your water are:
- Rotate in the spring and water your lawn and gardens with it
- Use it to flush your toilets
- Run several batches of laundry using stored water
- Wash your car with it
- Water house plants
- Purify it and use it for drinking/cooking
- Give your dog a bath
- For more ideas check out the responses from our readers on Facebook
If you store water mainly in large barrels some of these ideas may not be that easy to facilitate so you may want to consider treating the water to give you a 5 year rotation time frame.
How to Improve Water that Hasn’t Been Rotated
If you haven’t been diligent about rotating your water, all is not lost! Most often the biggest complaint is just the taste of the water. You can improve the taste by pouring the water back and forth between two containers a few times. This will aerate it and improve the taste. It’s also a good idea to store some sort of drink mix like tang, crystal lite, koolaid, etc. if you have picky “drinkers”. If you are worried about the safety of your water, you can always boil it to purify it. If you are conserving fuel or need to also filter out any particles, then have a good filter/purifier like a Berkey on hand. The idea is to make sure you have a way to have clean and drinkable water in the case of an emergency.
For more water storage articles view our Water Storage FAQ Post.
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-Jodi Weiss Schroeder