In this article we are going to talk about water storage, and how you can store water in 55 gallon drums for an emergency situation. Remember, to be half comfortable, you should plan on storing enough water to have around 5-10 litres per person, per day. This total includes water you will need for cooking, washing up, and personal hygiene.
I will cover the following points in this article:
- Where to buy 55 gallon drums
- What you will need to prepare and store water long term
- Disinfecting and cleaning the drums
- Properly filling them with water
- Storing requirements
- Accessing the water in the drums
First off, lets take a look at what you are going to need, materials wise to get this project underway.
- 55 Gallon Drums
- White plastic sheet or tarp
- Unscented Bleach
- Duct Tape
- Bung Wrench
- Siphon Hose
Where to buy 55 Gallon Drums?
You can pick up 55 gallon drums at a number of different places, but be sure to buy new. Buying online tends to be the cheapest, and Amazon offer some good deals. If you do decide to buy used, make sure you know what has been stored in the drums previously. You don’t want old oil drums, or any nasty chemicals ruining you water supply.
Disinfecting the Barrels Before Use – How to
First off, you need to wash the inside of the drum out with regular dish soap. Just put a little soap inside, along with some water. Don’t fill it too much, as you now need to tip the barrel on its side, and roll it around to get the soapy water everywhere inside the drum.
Next, rinse out the inside of barrel. The easiest way to do this is set the barrel upright, and put the hose into the filler hole, and just let it run until all the soapy water is out. Drain the barrel, and repeat for good measure. I know this is quite a waste of water, so you could use it to wash you car, windows of the house, or doors…
Next, we need to kill any germs in the barrel. To do this, well will be using 1 teaspoon of unscented chlorine bleach in 1 quart of water (1.1L). Roll the barrel around to make sure every part of the inside of the drum has been covered by the mix, then wait 30 seconds to a minute, and pour out the solution. Now you can let the barrels dry out in the air, before filling them with treated tap water, or any other treated water.
Properly Filling the 55 Gallon Drums with Water
To fill your emergency water storage barrels with water, use a hose that is food safe, not the typical hose you use to water the garden or wash your car. If you are filling the barrels with regular tap water, you don’t need to take any further steps, as this water is already treated, and can be stored for around a year, or more depending on the conditions, though, I usually change it every 6 months for good measure.
If you are storing water that has not been treated, for example, rain water, make sure it is firstly, filtered to remove any small particles and dirt, then use water treatment drops, or 2 teaspoons of unscented bleach to 55 gallons of water. You can also use 4.6% sodium hypochlorite (pool shock), mixed at the correct ratio if you don’t have bleach.
Storing You Drums
Avoid storing your barrels on concrete, instead, set them on a pallet, or 2×4 sheet of plywood. This is recommended because when the concrete heats up, it can release chemicals which can leach into your barrels, and contaminate your water supply.
Position your barrels when you want to store them, then begin to fill. If you fill them, then try to move them to the storage location, it will be hard work, as they are very heavy when full.
After you have filled your drums, screw on the bung using the bung wrench. Be sure to make sure it is on the right thread when tightening to effectively seal your barrel.
It’s also a good idea to write some basic information on the side of the barrels, such as fill date, any additives, if it’s tap water, rain water and so on.
After you have all this done, throw your tarp over the barrels and you are good to go.
The reason I have chosen a white tarp is because it will reflect sunlight, and prevent the water barrels from heating up. Another reason to use a tarp is to prevent others seeing your water supply!
Getting the Water out of the Barrels
Place a clean bucket, or similar near the 55 gallon water drum so the siphon hose will have a downward slope. Next, insert the siphon hose into the 55 gallon drum (copper end). To start the flow of water, start shaking the siphon hose up and down while keeping it submerged in the water. After a few seconds, the water should begin to flow on it’s own, and you can stop shaking.
To stop the flow, just take the hose from the water.
And that’s it, you now know how to setup a water storage unit for yourself and family. Remember, water is one of the most important preps you can have, so my advice is do this now before going and splashing cash on fancy guns and other gear!