Thursday, May 21, 2009

How To...Store Water in Plastic Bottles

One of my biggest challenges with food storage, actually, has nothing to do with food. It's the water storage part.

My problem is a mixture of no space and basic marital discord. You see, Mountain Man doesn't see the need for water storage. His argument: we live near a large body of water and we own several water purifying systems. My argument: what if our legs get cut off and we can't walk to get the water?

Just kidding. But I do feel strongly about having some drinking water in the house, and so I'm finally taking steps to have a water storage.

Because space is an issue, I am diversifying the types of storage and spreading them throughout the house in different areas according to what will fit where. I plan on having my water storage in three types of containers:

1. Store bought bottled water, for convenience when traveling.
2. Some 7-gallon containers like these. I don't have a lot of space for these, but I want some anyway.
3. Mainly in 2 liter soda and juice bottles, because they are readily available (as in, free).

So, let's walk through how to prepare 2-liter soda bottles and juice bottles to store water. I encourage you to check out the Provident Living website about water storage and purification. I've noticed that they've updated it quite a bit and I found it very informative. Even if I found it after I had cleaned out my bottles.

What you'll need is water (ha ha), bottles, and household bleach. Make sure your bottles are PETE plastic, and rinse them out in soapy water when you've finished drinking whatever is inside.

Fill up your kitchen sink or a VERY large bucket with water and add bleach. I added about a cup of bleach to a full sink of water (I have shallow sinks).

Gently insert your empty bottle into the water. You want to fill up as much of the inside as possible so the bleach solution can kill any microorganisms inside the bottle.

You won't be able to keep the bottles completely full of bleach water, so whenever you think about it roll the bottles so the bleach water has time to sit on each side of the bottle. If that made any sense.

Yes, you should use gloves.

I filled a bucket with some water and a higher concentration of bleach for the lids because the juice/soda inside the lids can be harder to get out.

I used to run my juice bottles through the dishwasher then fill them up with water and call it good. Then I noticed things growing on the inside of the lid.

Let them sit for several hours. I usually let it go all day. I like the smell of bleach.

After several hours of soaking, let the water out of the sink and rinse the bottles and lids. It doesn't have to be completely rinsed, a little bleach won't hurt you.

Nothing on the inside of these guys.

Fill the newly bleached bottles up with water. If your water comes from a reliable source (chlorinated tap water) you don't need to add extra bleach (source).

Clearly label your water bottles. You still need to rotate these regularly and having the date on them with help you rotate in a timely manner.

Store in a cool, dry space, away from direct light. Like your daughters' closet. They can't have that many clothes right? You aren't supposed to store your water directly on the ground. Anyone know why?

Start all over again. My goal is a 2 week supply for each member of the family. Wish me luck.

If you don't drink a lot of soda or juice, ask around to your friends and neighbors. I inherited my soda bottles from a soda-drinking family.

For more information on water storage, check out our series here.


Debi said...

I love your blog! Thanks for all the great info.
I have a co-worker who drinks a lot of Diet Coke. He used to just throw the bottles away but I asked if I could have them (we are NOT pop drinkers). He gives me about 7 bottles a week. This has been going on for almost 3 years. I have way more than I need, so I give them to my family and neighbors. Here is how we store our water.

Dh & I went to home depot and had them cut an 8 foot x 4 foot sheet of 3/4 inch particle board into 18 inch shelves (they cut it for you--and didn't even charge us). We got 2 boards cut, and ended up with 5 shelves from each board, 10 total for only $26. We can fit 44 bottles on each 4 foot x 18 inch shelf (4 rows of 11). All of ours are stored on one of the wood shelf on the floor of our cold storage room. When that shelf fills up, we lay another board directly on top of the lids and start the next shelf.

The reason you don't keep them on the floor is because there are toxins in the cement that can leak into your bottles and contaminate your water. Hope that makes sense!

Aleasha said...

awesome post abs!!! i also keep water IN my bleach containers once they are empty. i just give it a quick rince so there isn't THAT much bleach in there and fill er' up! good to go!!!!

Lynn said...

You are VERY WISE to store water in your home EVEN THOUGH you live near a water supply....
I come from an area where an outside water supply was poisoned.
This happens more than people realize.....contamination of streams, ponds, and city water supplies....they are contaminated either by accidents that happen near by (like toxic spills or whatever) or someone deliberately contaminates the water. AND MORE OFTEN THAN NOT.....due to run off from flooding in the area....there have been water bans due to the flooding of ponds, rivers and streams....so the ONLY source available was STORED water!! Even though there was MUCH water near by. : D
Good for you for STORING WATER!! It's a commandment for a reason.

Anonymous said...

Apparently, there are toxins in the plastic of bottles that can change to dioxin (a carcenogenic) if there is a change in temperature of the water, ie freezing or 'warmth of a car'. I have my water storage in plastic bottles right now, but wonder if I shouldn't change to glass or earthenware containers instead...your thoughts would be welcome...Sue in the UK

rebecca said...

I have read people advising that you don't store water storage on the floor/ground but I have never seen an official source say that. They say not to store water around pesticides or gasoline because they can leak through the plastic bottle, but if you ever think you water is 'growing' something its best to boil it for at least a minute to kill any moving critters.

Oh, and about using glass containers, that's a no no, glass breaks and it is heavy (hard to transport). Consider fiberglass or enamel coated metal containers if you why away from plastic.

Unknown said...

Hey, your bottle cleanup looks like mine does before hurricanes LOL, except that instead of on shelves, I freeze mine. I stop filling about 1 inch below the neck curve to prevent the bottle from breaking when the water expands as it freezes, and I place the cap on top without twisting it. Once they're frozen solid, I twist the cap on tightly, then store horizontally in the fridge.

I don't know for sure, but it seems that warm water in plastic would be more dangerous than cold water in plastic.

I'm going to order a HEWS or WaterBob to store 100 gallons in the bathtub. They seem pretty small when not filled. As far as not having access to the bathtub, we bathed with washcloths and used solar showers after Ike, but I'd have to come up with a way to use the solar shower without access to the tub (we have lots of private area in our backyard, but I'd have to rig an opaque shower curtain).

I read about water boxes, but it's a lot more expensive for 100 gallons of water than using the bathtub bags http://is.gd/CiD1 (beprepared.com).

As far as not storing on the ground, here's what I've read: Plastic is somewhat porous, and can possibly leech yucky stuff from concrete, but for anyone living in a place that floods, the flood water is mixed up with chemicals and sewage, and we really don't want that leeching through the porous plastic.

Anonymous said...

Have you considered a Schutz-type IBC tote? They can hold 275 or 330 gallons are are the most efficient way to store large quantities of water.

Troop 1309 said...

We have water storage in bottles too. Our little area had a 3 day power outage and there was talk that some of the wells that supply our drinking water might have had some 'issues' during the power outage. I figure if that happens again, we will have our own water so no worries.

Aleasha - We store water in old bleach containers too. BUT they are marked 'Use ONLY for dishwashing.' Bleach works its way into the plastic. You might be drinking more bleach then you should. I wouldn't my kids drink it unless the situation was dire. We will all need water for cleaning if we are faced with no running water, so be sure to mark which bottle is for what.

Diann @ The Thrifty Groove said...

I go the same thing you do with reusing water bottles. I have about a 30 days supply that I rotate constantly. We have had too mnay times when a water main has broke or electricity has gone out for a week. I just grew up all always having jugs of water stored around the house.
BTW, I just love your step by step pictures that you post! they always make a blog so much more interesting!

Anonymous said...

I buy Heinz vinegar in gallon jugs (because they make it from plant sources and not petrochemical sources). Besides using it for cooking, I add half a cup or so to my washing machine rinse cycle to help get the soap out and to disinfect the clothes (works well to get rid of sweat odor). As a result I am acquiring a set of nice large bottles that never held anything that needs to be cleaned out. I fill them with water as soon as I empty them, and pour a tiny bit of vinegar in to help kill bacteria (that's my theory, but I have no proof it works). I tie a cardboard label on each and write the date in pencil, erasing it each time I refill it. I tuck each one in a plastic grocery bag to keep the dust off. I use the water to for houseplants.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe no one has mentioned sodium flouride, one of the many harmful things in tap water, including prescription drugs and feces, no chlorinated water is not getting rid of these things! If you don't believe me, please google harmful effects of tap water and flouride in drinking water.
It has damaging effects to the brain one of which lowers IQ, also harmful to bones.
Please remember just because it is on the shelf or approved by the FDA does not mean there are no harmful effects.
Look at aspertame one of the biggest offenders of harmful health related issues.
It was passed by the FDA without the complete documentation, as well as false information on the ill effects on the body namely brain cancer, which has now been proven, but the damage is done it is in everything now.
People! do your research. Corporations are into profits not people.
A good website is Mercola.com.
A good doctor who gives excellent information on all kinds of products on the market and other much needed health news.
This is not to scare anyone only to protect.

Jarod and Tanya Rollins said...

So how often are you suppose to rotate your water? And also when I go to rotate my water can I just refill the bottles or do I need to clean them again to insure they stay clean? I would think that you need to clean the bottles again because contaminants can start to grow-thats the whole point of rotating the water right? because the water can go bad and start to grow things so you should clean the bottles again?

Thoughts of THAT mom said...

I've heard you should rotate your water supply ideally every 6 months, but at least every year.

Cecily said...

Okay, I was just getting ready to clean, sanitize, and fill some old juice bottles, when I checked out the Church's water purification page. They had a link to FEMA, which I looked out. FEMA says not to use fruit juice bottles because the sugars can't be completely removed and, thus, they cannot be completely cleaned. They said to use soda bottles only. None of the other websites I've checked have made this comment. Your take?

Lynn said...


We purchased 55 gallon heavy duty opaque plastic drums that use to be containers for pop syrups sold to restaurants and the likes. We washed them out well with soap and water and a good rinse. Then filled with tap water. That was 10 years ago. Every 5 years (so we've just gone through our second time) we test the water (drink it) and for good measure drain it on the garden and then refill them). We've never had a problem. There is NO syrup or sugar taste and as a matter of fact.....there is no "old" taste to the water either. Cool, clean and crisp. That's my take. ; D

Anonymous said...

All materials to some extent are porous and can leak toxins either way.
Even glass is porous. Keeping anything off the ground always makes good sense for many more reasons. It also helps to stop the invasion of rodents as they love anything they are able to chew.

But Hey if your stuck with Toilet water then when faced in trouble you will drink it. Good precautions also should be: Keep rainwater collection Drums (Good for gardening too) keep your Tanks full, fill bath and keep refreshing with cold water. When there is a power cut or disaster turn your Supply off as not to pollute it.
Cut your Tank supply off so you don't pollute bath storage etc and use the tank water as a last resort. Never ever use your Radiator water. This will kill you.
Store canned foods with high water content as they will last 20 years or more than it says on the can. Canned fruit is safest as you will see it bloat when off and you will get an alcoholic buzz.. :-)

Anonymous said...

Something i would like to add which makes all the difference.

Bleach breaks down into salts and is harmless after evaporating 2 small drops per litre is ok to consume but i don't advice that. 1 cap per 1itre of water in the sink or bucket (Use for about 50 bottles) Remove excess materials like labels, neck rings etc to remove hidden places for bacteria, submerge bottles for minimum of 20 seconds (Use same size bottles as they not only stack easier but faster to clean as a routine. 2 Litre Pop bottles are best and safest.

I use a fresh Brita Water filter to filter community sanitised water until you see some small particles getting through then call back 10 bottles and re filter with a new Filter. (Dont try to over filter as the water will lose the goodness and minerals) (For those who have the knowledge... don't throw the filters away after usage as they also have further usage).

Top the bottles up to the top point of overflowing place a nicely bleached and cleaned cap on top, tighten slightly so you can still squeeze water out of the bottle with lid on. Once the water overflows tighten lid so that 0% air is in the top. If you get it right then the bottles is not deformed and has no air bubble.

If you have no bacteria then this bottle of water will last 40 years or more limited by the plastics. But i would advice to recycle as mentioned here and max 6 months.

Did you also know that these plastics have a positive effect on oestrogens and hence a negative effect on testosterone for males.

Always store water purifies, Filters for after the effect as well as preparation (Any water out of a long stored bottle should be filtered again or boiled just in case.) Botulism can get in any organic material that is not stored well so just be really careful. about bacteria

Anonymous said...

Clorox Co. told me with their new concentrated formula it is 8.5% rather than the old usual 5%.
6 drops per gallon of the concentrated bleach.. and even if you need the water in a couple months to add 6 more drops, then let it sit with cap off for 30 minutes.
He strongly advised NOT to use fruit juice containers.
Also.. bleach only has 1 year shelf life from the time it was made.
He said to definitely add bleach to well water storage as well and rotate all water within 6 months.
Do not buy the scented formulas and the new splash free formula will look like soap and takes extra long to dissolve... the regular Clorox bleach is best.

He said if collecting water from a pond etc to double the amount of drops.

Unknown said...

Thanks for this nice looking blog. if you looking for a heavy-duty, commercial grade storage box? Rotovacs full lines of multipurpose outdoor storage bins provide solutions to your challenges. http://www.rotovacgroup.ca/

Anonymous said...

nice post We are Plasticware Manufacturers and Exporters, Laboratory Equipments

Anonymous said...

I had visited your website which was really good Bottles

Artesia Springs said...

If you are looking for water filtration system in San Antonio then Artesia springs is one of the best companies which provide best water filtration solutions.
For more details please visit our website http://www.artesiasprings.com or call us at (210) 637-5554

Unknown said...

You need to learn about plastic bottle safety and how to store water:

Ashik said...

Nice Article. Very Helpful. I also find a article same as this and its also very helpful.Please Check This
Plastic Bottle Safety

Bottle Testing said...

I appreciate your Informative post and thanks for sharing.

Bottle Burst Tester | Testing Equipment |
Hot Wire Bottle Cutter