Just got an email from someone who asked “How long can you store water before you need to filter it?”
It’s actually a good question. I’m sure others wonder the same thing…
If you store water for a long time, does it go bad?
How often should I change the water if I’m storing it for long term preparedness?
Is my water safe to drink if it has been sitting there for a year?
Here’s my opinion:
Store Water !
First things first… Store water!
Water is a resource that many of us take for granted. If you live on a lake, river or stream you might not be terribly concerned about it. However the vast majority of us depend on clean drinking water coming out of the faucet tap.
What happens if it becomes contaminated or if it stops flowing altogether?
Store water to have your own temporary resource in case you need it.
How much water to store? That depends on your own risk tolerance, household size, space limitations, etc.. but at least think about it.
I do recommend that you consider a 55-gallon water drum storage. Augason Farms provides a nice solution for this:
If that’s too much for you, you might consider “Water Bricks” from Tom over at Camping Survival: WaterBrick Standard 3.5 Gallon
Or maybe a 7 Gallon Rigid Container
Does water go bad?
Many people think that water might go “bad” after a period of time.
Here’s the thing… water is water is water.
If you store water and are concerned about safe drinking, it’s all about the potential for contaminants.
My thoughts are as follows:
If the water was not contaminated to begin with and sealed in a clean non-contaminated environment, it will theoretically be safe forever.
The water will taste ‘flat’ after it has been setting in storage for a long time. But this can be somewhat overcome by reintroducing oxygen into the water. How? By pouring back and forth from one container to another. To aerate it.
How Long To Store Water?
My personal rule of thumb is to change out my water storage once a year.
Why do I do this? Because it’s easy enough to do, and it ensures that I’m regularly checking my water storage.
Do I expect that there might be problems? No, but it’s still good practice. One year when I replaced the water in one of my 55 gallon drums I noticed a lot of fibers floating around. As it turned out I had replaced the water spigot and for some reason the washer or a label had disintegrated and permeated the water. I’m sure I could have simply filtered it and would have been fine. But, it’s one reason to check your water…
Should I filter my water anyway?
Sure. The fact that you’re storing water means that you’re into preparedness and you should already have a quality drinking water filter. You do have one, right?
One of the best countertop water filters: Berkey Water Filter
IF you suspect that your water might be organically contaminated then purify it before drinking! The safest way to purify water is to boil it.
You can also purify water with ‘regular’ household bleach.
There are many ways to purify water to make it safe to drink including the water purification methods mentioned here…
Here’s a chart I put together for Bleach–Water Ratio For Purifying Drinking Water.
1. Store water!
2. Change it once a year.
3. If you suspect contamination, filter it!
To answer the original question, you can store water indefinitely if it was clean and safe to begin with and if stored in a sealed safe container. Best to store out of direct sunlight. Cooler is better.