"You know class, Human beings are made of 90% water..." We've all heard it before. The big three in survival are Food, Shelter, and Water. I like what Cody Lundin has to say about survival situations and preparedness. His take is that it's all about keeping your core body temperature at 98.6 degrees. No shelter, you can over heat, or freeze. No food, you can't keep the metabolic fires going. No water, you can't keep cool.
I think that most folks think that in prepping, food is the main concern. People can go quite a ways with out food, some like me more than others (see future post on getting healthy as a prep). But food is comfort. Food is what our mom gave us to shut us up, it's what we have with friends to celebrate joyous occasions, and going without it makes out tummys hurt. It's cool to look at your pantry and see stacks of food. Row after row of steel canned goodness just waiting to be freed of it's hermetically sealed confines... Mmmmm.
Water on the other hand is so boring that there is a whole section in the grocery store devoted to putting crap into it to make it palatable. Now, go back to your acres of cans in the pantry and find all your water. One case of bottles, maybe 2. 20 ounces per bottle, times say, 48 bottles max, that's like
7.5 gallons. If those are 16 oz bottles it's 6 gallons. Several things I have read have mentioned that for preparedness reasons, folks should store around a gallon to 1.5 gallons per person per day that they are expecting to prepare for. Think about that for a second. I'll do the math for my little family. 4 people, times 1 gallon, times 3 week crisis. 84-126 gallons. Personally, I'd like to be ready for 3 months at least, so that would be more like 270-540. Also, personally, I think that in the supper, I KNOW i can drink a gallon of water, and if I am doing hard labor gardening or what have you, I will. So maybe up that to 2 gallons per person. 720 gallons. Wow, that's the first time I have figured that out myself. Talk about an imposing number. Even just looking at the sheer weight of that, according to the british ditty, "...a pint a pound the world around..." means 8 pounds per gallon so that would be between 2160 and 5760 pounds of water. Awesome. Now, where to store it...
There are many many products out there that can be used for water storage. The following sites have some good water related guidelines for the storage and treatment of water for emergency situations. Basically, according to FEMA you can use household chlorine bleach at 16 drops 1/8 teaspoon per gallon. If you trust the EPA more than FEMA then you can use only 8 drops, but then they go on to say that 8 drops is approx 1/8 a teaspoon. So, toss the dropper and go for the teaspoon. Or for you nurses out there, 1/8 of a teaspoon converts to .62ml. You then must let it sit for approx 30 mins. Particulates must be filtered out to make the water safe otherwise they interfere with the chlorine.
One thing to remember, chlorine does have a shelf life as apparently the dissolved chlorine off gasses from the solution and eventually lowers the concentration. I have a bag of pool shock that is granular calcium hypochlorite. Taken directly from the EPS website:
"You can use granular calcium hypochlorite to disinfect water.
Add and dissolve one heaping teaspoon of high-test granular calcium hypochlorite (approximately ¼ ounce) for each two gallons of water, or 5 milliliters (approximately 7 grams) per 7.5 liters of water. The mixture will produce a stock chlorine solution of approximately 500 milligrams per liter, since the calcium hypochlorite has available chlorine equal to 70 percent of its weight. To disinfect water, add the chlorine solution in the ratio of one part of chlorine solution to each 100 parts of water to be treated. This is roughly equal to adding 1 pint (16 ounces) of stock chlorine to each 12.5 gallons of water or (approximately ½ liter to 50 liters of water) to be disinfected. To remove any objectionable chlorine odor, aerate the disinfected water by pouring it back and forth from one clean container to another."
Ultimately there's lots of math there, but also lots of info too. From what I have read, the granular calcium hypochlorite does not have a shelf life as it does not off gas. I cannot point to a single reference to that right now, so follow my advice at your peril. Or thank me, your call.
So we need to have alot of water on hand, we get that.. Now, how to store it... See that big hole over there, that's the hole in my preps showing it's ugly head. Sure, you have 55 or so gallons in your hot water tank, and another 5 or 10 in the pipes in your house, and given enough warning ahead of time and a bath tub you have 60+ gallons there too. All that however ain't 5-700 gallons. Incidentally if you have a pool or spa, that water is questionable at best. Bromine, fungicide, clarifier... all that crap is a chemistry lesson waiting to happen is used for long term. I bet you could filter most of that crap out if you ahd a big sack of carbon lying around, or at least some from a fire. The short answer is that if it were me, hell yes I'd use it, but I would also be thinking about the chemicals I put into it in the first place, or at least how to get them out. But I don't have a pool, nor a spa... So there we are, looking into the deep dark places of the interwebs at the multitude of storage options.
First thing's first. Provided your water source uses chlorination, you can pour it into a food safe, sealed container, keep it in a cool dark place, and you are good. If it doesn't, add chlorine per the directions above to get a faintly chlorine smell, and the proceed as normal. As for containers, Food safe is the first thing you should look for. At least for a few look for portability. Sure those food grade 55 gal drums are cool, but try hauling a full one from down by the river. Food safe 5 gal buckets are likely just about the optimal size in that regard. I have read about some folks using 2L bottles. Buy your kids 2L's of pop (Sugar free, non-caffeinated of course) and keep the bottles. Wash and rinse them and you should be good to go. They are good because they are crazy durable and are small enough to be stashed everywhere. You will likely get a post pop funk to your water supply, but hey, who's complainin when everyone else has mud puddle flavored water. Another entry into the scavenged water container category that most folks don;t think of is Boxed wine. Mmm Again, those crazy Mylar lined bags are fairly durable, and come in a handy box provided you don't destroy it while gutting it. I'm not sure where I will be headed, storage wise. I have heard about large 130 gallon containers that take up roughly the same footprint of 55 gal ones but are taller. They are kind of spendy, but pack a lot of utility for the punch. A huge cistern would be kinda cool, but where to put it... I imagine if you found a supplier of 5 gallon buckets that were food safe (not all plastic buckets are food safe. During the manufacturing process, companies use different chemicals to release the plastic from the form. just because the plastic is the same, doesn't mean that the release agent hasn't leached into the plastic, just waiting to give you a third kidney, or take half of one of the ones you have) and cheap you could stack those to the ceiling and not give it a second thought.
As for using your stored water, first, rotate it when you change your clocks back (this should be also when you change the batteries in all battery powered equipment so they don't corrode as well as put fresh ones into the smoke detectors.) If you have to use it, it WILL taste funky. Try an experiment. Leave a glass of water on the counter overnight. Taste it in the morning. It will be "funky". As I understand it, many of the dissolved gasses we are accustomed to tasting are offgassed during the night. Take your glass of funky water and pour it back and forth into another container 5 or 6 times. Try it again. Simple as that.
Another bit of water trivia. If you use iodine to purify your water, either tincture or povodone (roughly 10 drops per gallon with povodine and 20 drops per gallon for the tincture), it will taste like the inside of your medicine cabnet afterwards... Unless you dissolve a vitamin C tablet into it. Ok, now for a touch of chemestry. That asorbic acid interferes with the action of the iodine in the water, canceling out both the taste AND the flavor. This is something you don't want to use right away, as the water has not had a chance to become purified, so wait about 30-60 mins (Depending on what you read). Also, asorbic acid is asorbic acid, so I imagine that lemon or lime juice would work, as would asorbic acid from the health food store that is usually used to retain color during dehydration and other types of food preservation.
Here is a list of websites that have TONS of info regarding water disinfection.
Get Ready Gear (simple to read form)
This was a heavy post, but hopefully can become a bit of a resource for some of you out there.
(insert catchy catch phrase here)