Preparedness blog

How to Store Water Correctly

By Jeff and Amy Davis
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55-water-storageWe've had a lot of questions from our customers asking how to set up their water storage. Here are a few tips to consider:

After you have used the Water Storage Calculator to determine the amount of potable water you would like to have in reserve, and after you have used the Water Preserver Calculator to find the amount of water preservers needed to keep your water's shelf life, you are ready to start storing the containers.

What Type of Container do You Need?

Size. Make sure that the container is big enough for your needs. We recommended that you have 3 gallons per family member per day. For a family of 5, for example, you would need a 55-gallon barrel every 4 days approximately.

UV coated. You want to make sure that light isn’t getting in to your water. This can increase the possibility of contaminant growth inside the container or barrel, and will render your water storage useless. You want to make sure that it’s dark inside that tank! If the barrel you are using allows for light to shine through, this can be resolved through the use of thick green or black paint to create a homemade UV barrier for your barrels.

Material. Besides making sure that you have a UV coating on the barrel, you’ll want to make sure that it’s BPA free. Research has shown that, given the ideal circumstances, BPA plastic compounds from such containers can seep into your water and create hormonal problems in the human body. The material should also, however, be strong enough to endure the potential duress of additional water containers stacked on top of one another.

Quality. You’ll also want to make sure that each of the containers is durable and won’t warp, crack or split easily under temperamental weather conditions (depending on where you store it).

Where to Store Your Water Tanks:

Before purchasing your water container, check out the Features & Specifications tab below your desired product. This tab will open up a drop-down menu with 6 detailed sub-options. Under Dimensions (LxWxH), you will find the area that you will need to store the container. Because a 55-gallon drum of water can weigh upwards of 450 pounds when filled to the top, it is important that you identify a easy, clear access to the area where you will store the containers beforehand.

Generally, we recommend storing these in an area that is covered from elements, protected from direct sunlight, and that can fit the entirety of your storage in one area. For most people, this accurately describes either their garage, shed, or unused basement area.


When you first purchase the tank or container, it will come with preparation directions. To ensure that the inside is clean, you can use a mild dish soap and clean water to wash out the inside walls, base and lid of the container. Here's an article on how to clean, prepare and fill a water container.

We recommend using a water preserver to keep your water safe for 5 years. If you don’t use a water preserver, you’ll have to rotate your water storage every 6-12 months. Although, bleach is considered to be an alternative to a water preserver, bleach was not made with human consumption in mind read more about it here. The water you use can come from a well or from a hose. We advise not using a lead-lined hose, to allow for the water to be as clean and safe for your family as possible.


Place the tank or container in it’s final resting place. You’ll want to place a wood board or block between the barrel and the cement. If you don’t, toxins from the cement can seep into your water supply.

Fill the container about half way. After you fill it half way, you can check the seams and valves on your container, if you have them. (This is when you add the preserver.) Once the seals are checked, fill the rest of the container.

If you’re container is larger, you may want to strap the barrel or tank to the wall. This will prevent it from falling during an earthquake.

Browse our huge selection of water barrels, containers, and other accessories.

Comments or questions? Let us know in the comment section below!

10 years ago
Howard Bannister
10 years ago at 6:42 AM
I would not rinse out the tank with a lead contaminated Chinese made garden hose. Use an RV type fresh water hose that is lead free and made for potable water.
Lauralee Hensley
10 years ago at 2:04 PM
When I worked as a nurse for ventilator tracheotomy patients, I went to a respiratory seminar. I found out there that even sterile water will start to grow small amounts of bacteria and such within twelve hours after the sterile water bottle is opened and outside air gets inside the bottle. That is even if it is quickly recapped. They found that the bacteria level is about the same as in normal tap water in areas that have treated tap water from their city or community. So, even if you store your water safely in whatever form, I'd say boil it or use water purification tablets per the instructions that come with them, or still put the safely stored water through a purification filter right before using whatever amount you need. I wouldn't process too much water than you can consume from your stored supplies though, or you'll just end up having to retreat it, to be safe. That's my opinion though.
Eric C
9 years ago at 10:54 AM
I just bought a 30 gallon water storage container and was wondering if I can store it outside underground. More specifically, if i dig a hole that will fit the container, fill it and then bury it again, will the water inside last just as long as it would inside my garage?
Frank S
9 years ago at 8:01 PM
Hello, I live in Northern Nevada (Sparks) and in the winter it can get down to freezing. What are suggestions for eliminating the possibility of freezing if the container is stored in my garage? The concern is that the tank could rupture; disabling the tank and creating a cleanup problem. Thanks for getting back to me. FRank S.
9 years ago at 9:35 PM
I purchased a 650 gallon water tank several years ago. The tank is a heavy black tank made for water storage and is not in direct sunlight. I have treated it with bleach several times over several years but I have not kept it maintained religiously. Do I need to replace the water? It is "emergency" water and when and if ever needed I would boil before consumption. Advice please.
9 years ago at 4:00 AM
Regarding what Lauralee said about treating your water right before friend created the smallest pressurized DC (battery) powered Ozone generator and had a batch manufactured in durable otter boxes. Ozone is 20 times more powerful than chlorine to kill bacteria in water....with our unit you can purify water a glass at a tome before using in about 2 minutes....great for camping....easier to store than bleach and reuseable....check out.
9 years ago at 10:08 AM
This might be a stupid question, but.. here it goes anyways. Tiled pantry floor counts as being the same as concrete floor? Therefore I should not my water bricks on tile? The large container in the garage be on wood board, so no problems there.
9 years ago at 2:24 PM
Living in florida, my garage gets very hot in the summer. Can I still store treated water there?? any special considerations?? thanks
8 years ago at 11:01 PM
Is hydrogen peroxide (edible type) useful in preserving water for storage? Thanks.
8 years ago at 7:40 PM
Does water from one's water heater have to have chlorine added to it or be boiled before drinking in an emergency?
8 years ago at 7:52 PM
Oops, sorry. One more question. I live in the middle of a city, not near any lakes or rivers. I am 10 miles from the ocean, though, and wonder if ti would just be smarter to save for a desalinization device for water. Can pool water be used? If so, what precautions are needed? THanks for any help you can give.
7 years ago at 4:45 AM
Here in Texas it gets up to 105 degrees.. If I keep my water storage in the Garage. ( which is the most practical). It gets up to 90 degrees inside..but I don't want to change a 200 gal. water tank every 6 months, Any suggestions?
7 years ago at 7:07 AM
Is there some kind of device that we can test our stored water with to make sure it is clean for drinking and cooking? I don't want to have to boil water before every use, but want to be sure it is not full of bacteria and other harmful things.
7 years ago at 4:58 PM
Stupid question here; Sorry, but I'm new to this and this is probably a stupid question but I would appreciate the feedback, so I'll risk it. I have yet to purchase a large container to store water but have some bottled water. What would be the recommendation on purchasing water preserver and putting that into 16.9 fl oz bottles to try and preserve them? Would that at all be feasible or probably just a bad idea? Is the amount too small? Will the commercial bottles not hold up? Thanks.
7 years ago at 2:13 PM
I'm using the 55gallon drums from costco and storing them in my garage. I have gas cans and paints among other chemicals used for working on my car. Will the fumes Get absorbed into the plastic and into the water?
7 years ago at 4:08 PM
I too am new to water storage. There are several questions on here that have not been answered and I think the answers would be helpful. Don't think there IS such a thing as a stupid question when learning something new.
7 years ago at 11:55 PM
What about storing larger containers outside on bare or grassy ground? Or would it be better to place a tarp underneath. There would obviously be no control of temperature, and minimal protection from the elements with only a tarp cover. How long would the containers last in these conditions?
3 years ago at 12:49 AM
14 gallons per person per day? Where did you come up with that? Are you planning on the people taking a daily bath, growing crops? I had training in the military that dealt with rationing water and if you didn't have a shortage, and were feeling very generous, 2 gallons per day per person was recommended. If not a single gallon per day is enough for a normal person to use for hygiene, cooking, and drinking. I personally live the the majority of my time on a property without a developed spring, so I haul water in. I normally use much less than a gallon each day for cooking, my sponge bath/shaving/teeth brushing, dish washing, and drinking. I do normally drink milk, juice, and iced tea daily, along with an occasional pop or Gatorade. But even if you counted them in my water ration as opposed to being part of my food, I'd still be way below 2 gallons a day. (disclaimer: I also dunk myself in the river about once a week, when the weather is agreeable, as I feel refreshed after doing so - but this is a comfort and not a need.)
1 year ago at 6:41 AM
The challenge of using 16.9 oz bottles (particularly refilled ones) is that the crummy plastic decays rapidly. It’s not easy to see, but there’s a “best by” date on all bottled water, and it’s there for a reason: The bottles are frequently NOT BPA-free and they usually have a little “2” inside a triangle. That means they’re good for one filling (how you bought them) plus one more filling. After that, the plastic is no longer safe to even meet the laughably weak standards of marketed water. The bottles do decay, even in indirect sunlight. .For emergencies? Yes, you can keep it and use it. But for long-term storage, there’s a good reason water storage options are heavy-duty plastic!