I’ve done very little water stockpiling in the past for a few different reasons:
- I lived in Canada, where rain and precipitation in general has never been an issue.
- Again, I lived in Canada, so rivers, streams, and bodies of water in general were both plentiful and easily accessible.
- I’ve always lived in a house with a backyard, where I could set up buckets, tarps, and whatever else I wanted for collecting water in a pinch.
Though this wasn’t an instant way to get water if an emergency situation ever happened, things being what they were, I was never motivated enough to bother stockpiling very much water at all (besides a few packs of water bottles for the car of course).
Things are different now. Thomas and I live in the UK, which to be fair also has no issue with a lack of precipitation or bodies of water. The issue lies in the fact that we now live in a flat, and so if we needed to collect water, it’d be tricky to do so without leaving our building if we ever felt it unsafe to be outside.
So I need to stockpile water now. It’s not a question. The best food stockpile in the world would be little more than useless if you didn’t also have access to water for an emergency.
And so I need to get water for my flat.
But how? What’s the best way to stockpile water?
Well, I know the cheapest and most affordable way: buy a couple big jerrycans, fill them with water myself, and that’s a job done.
But is it the best option for me?
I’m not sure why it never occurred to me from the start to simply stockpile bottled water. Maybe it’s because I was fixated on costs in the long run – because in that respect it’s much more feasible to go for a jerrycan solution over a bottled water one.
The thing is that being in a studio apartment means I have very limited space when it comes to stockpiling water. What I would do in a house would likely be completely different. I’d probably use both methods, to maximize the benefits of each – as well as having a large number of water collection methods in place.
Regardless, I’ve decided that in this flat, stocking bottled water instead of stocking water in jerrycans is the way to go. Why?
Here are 12 reasons.
12 Reasons I’m Stocking Bottled Water Instead of Tap Water in Jerrycans
1. Bottled water is factory sealed with no contaminants.
If prepared incorrectly, bottling your own water can turn into a disaster. Water that’s been exposed to bacteria (which, when it comes out of the tap it usually is exposed to the bacteria in your house and in the air) has a good chance of letting that bacteria grow if it’s left alone. That’s why most people will boil the water they want to stockpile before putting it into a jerrycan to store it. And why most will also add some bleach to prevent that bacteria from growing even if it does somehow manage to get into the water. Wise things to do – and they’ll work, but if you buy factory-sealed water instead, you’ve already got water that’s been sealed with no bacteria in it.
2. Stockpiling bottled water takes a lot less work.
Because you don’t have to boil it and add bleach to it yourself. Just buy what you need and throw it in a dark corner, away from pretty much anything else, and you’re all set to go.
3. Easier to switch bottled water in and out.
A fan of rotating through your food stockpile? I am, and I’d see water stockpiles as no different. Yes, I absolutely would drink bottled water way past their “best before” date. Does that mean I wouldn’t rotate through them at all? Hell no. I might as well be rotating through them, especially if I’m using bottled water to begin with. Instead of using regular water bottles, I often throw already bottled water in an EDC bag and go. I refill them a couple times with tap water then throw them out. Again, this may not be the most cost-efficient way of doing things, but since I do it anyway, I might as well take advantage of it by helping to keep a water stockpile fresh.
4. Bottled water is infinitely easier to use than jerrycans would be.
If an emergency comes, I’d much rather use a bottle of water than a jerrycan to get through that emergency situation. Some jerricans have taps that make them easier to use, which is great, until you realize that those taps often leak. Even if you manage to get one with a tap that isn’t leaky – no one could possibly argue that having a few water bottles around would not be easier to use. It’s just much more convenient.
5. Bottled water stands less of a chance of being contaminated when used.
When water is exposed to air, it has a chance of ending up with some sort of bacteria. The longer it stays out in that air, the higher that chance, and over time, when bacteria does get into the water, this can become a problem – unless you boil the water before drinking it toget rid of bacteria. Bottled water will last longer than water in jerrycans because once you open the bottle or the jerrycan to use the water inside, time before it needs to be re-purified starts ticking away. You can use a bottle or two without having to re-purify/boil the water – not true of large jerrycans, where you’ll have to boil the water if you’ve left it for too long without using it.
Yes, it’s better to have the water in jerrycans than no water at all. Absolutely. You can boil the water you have in there and make it completely drinkable once again. But I would rather stockpile bottled water to begin with, so that I no longer need to worry about using the water before it needs to be re-purified.
6. If there are any leaks or breaks, I’d rather few bottles going than an entire jerrycan.
Shit happens. And I’d rather not have all my eggs in one or two baskets – or all my water in one or two jerrycans. That sounds horrifying to me. I’d rather have a bunch of water bottles. In case I happen to break one somehow, it’s not an issue. If I break one of my two or three jerrycans, it’s a pretty big issue.
7. Bottled water is easier to ration.
If you decide you need to drink “x” amount per day to be safe for “x” number of days – you can easily pull out the right amount of bottles to do the trick. Not so easy with a jerrycan water stockpile. Yes, completely possible as you can measure out the right amount of water, but still not as clear and simple as pulling out the right number of bottles.
8. Bottled water is easier to transport.
Need to get your water supply from your house to your mum’s because she’s got a fireplace and you haven’t, so her place is more ideal for camping out in? Well throw those bottles or jerrycans in the car and go. Gonna have a lot harder time with the jerrycans, especially if you’re not very strong or have a bad back, especially if they’re big jerrycans. Water is heavy. Transporting it can be a real issue.
9. Bottled water is also easier to give away.
Relatives need some water to get them through? Yes, they should have stockpiled, but luckily you have enough for everyone. Much easier to hand off a few bottles of water than it is to pour them a jug to take home.
10. Bottled water is easier to trade.
If you ever do get into a situation where you need to trade off some water, bottled water is much easier to do this with. It’s also much easier to hide the fact that you’ve got plenty more where that came from than if you were giving out water that came from a jerrycan. You could say you just happened to have a few water bottles lying around, and trade those. Versus if you have a jerrycan, you’re going to get some people confused as to why you had water around without the taps on in the first place. Much harder to cover up.
11. You’ll still look like an ordinary person if you’ve got a lot of water bottles stocked up. Not so if you have jerrycans.
You can stick bottled water in the closet if you want, stick plenty of it in the car, have some at work – stick it wherever the heck you want and it won’t really look funny or be an issue particularly because it’s just bottled water – you’ll look like a camper or one of those folks who just doesn’t like to drink tap water. This will help you keep under the radar if that’s important to you.
12. Overall, bottled water is also easier to store.
Because it’s easier to lift, you can throw it near anywhere in your house. You can get a bunch of small jerrycans to do that with, or even have water bricks, but that would defeat the point of having a cheap solution to the water storage problem, in my opinion.
How do you store water?
Which way do you prefer for storing water for a stockpile? Do you use just one method, or multiple? Do you have different methods of water storage for different types of water? Do you even need to stockpile water where you live? Let me know in the comments section!
Austin Wiese says
We keep a good supply of the 5 gallon jugs (The kind you refill at Walmart or Lowes). We continually go through them, to make sure the water doesn’t go bad, and just refill 1 or 2 every week when we are getting groceries. To make sure they are water tight, we buy the snap on (one time use only) caps from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01IRXBUYG
Bottled water that is out of date, the plastic can leach into the water. I can my water in a pressure cooker. When I can veggies, meat and such I put a couple jars of water into jars to can. They are sealed and will last forever that way.
We generally buy a couple dozen 1 gallon water jugs prior to hurricane season, then use them up over the winter on camping trips.
Works out well. 300mL water bottles seems a bit much, I prefer the gallon size or 2 liter size because it’s closer to 1 days ration per person so it’s easy to figure for.
Elise Xavier says
Agreed – it makes perfect sense to use 2 L bottles. Smaller is a bit of a waste. Those are the size I’ve been stockpiling.
Barbara Harman says
I have a small suitcase size system that purifies water on demand. Much easier and less real estate than collecting bottled water. Uses UV light filtration and can purify 75 gallons of water a day using solar energy, regular plug in or generator power. Now you have an unlimited amount of water and only takes up space of suitcase.
Elise Xavier says
That sounds amazing! Did you make up this kind of system yourself or learn about it somewhere on the net? Do you have any links that would explain how to set it up?
I really wrestle with why a prepper couple would move to the U.K. and to an apartment no less. Seriously, what’s up with that?
Elise Xavier says
While you might think we made a stupid move from a prepper perspective, I honestly beg to differ.
Properties are quite frankly around the same prices here (besides the London market), for the same amount of land and actually much more garden space in some instances. The issue is that when we arrived here, banks were not too happy to loan to us, and while we could’ve done a song and dance for them to give us the money for a mortgage on a house, we decided it’d be better to simply live mortgage free in a small flat and use all that extra money to buff up a huge financial stockpile – something we’ve been wanting to do for ages but hadn’t gotten a chance to thanks to the large mortgage we had on our house in Toronto.
Also, from a survival perspective, I mean can you really compete with the lack of a sub-zero winter here in the UK vs Canada? Coming from even Toronto, which is the warmest city in all of Canada, it’s like a dream come true to not have to deal with thoughts about power going out in the middle of the winter being disastrous if you don’t prep right. (We had a good 5 days with no power in the winter once and that would’ve been really bad if it wasn’t for some really great neighbours. You can read our experience about it here if you want: http://morethanjustsurviving.com/preparing-for-winter/ ).
About knives and gear and carrying what you want – not much has changed from Canada besides a few extra public-EDC restrictions. You still have to have a good reason to carry knives, you still can’t carry guns, and you can carry whatever you want in terms of knives on your own property.
Not all of us can move to the United States without trouble. Between the UK (where Thomas is from) and Canada (where I’m from) it makes most sense from my perspective for us to be in the UK (lack of a proper winter tipping the scales hard in favour of the UK). I don’t regret our decision, not from a prepping perspective or otherwise.
Hope that explains things a bit!
I use a combination of jerrycans and bottled water. Bottled water for drinking and jerrycans for washing and cooking. The jerrycans with the built in tap are very convenient to place over a kitchen sink, something I have done many times at a cabin without running water. Yes the taps will eventually break, but only after heavy or careless use. I made the mistake of buying the 7 gallon size last time, and found them way too heavy (about 60 lbs) to handle comfortably. Stick to 5 gallons or smaller, less chance of someone straining themselves lifting them in an emergency. Bottled water has a real safety advantage.
Elise Xavier says
This (bottled for drinking + jerrycans for washing & cooking) I think is honestly one of the best ways to do things. Period.
Thanks for the advice about sticking to the 5 gallons or smaller. I think I would’ve been one to try something way too big to be feasible.
I can’t wait til I have a house. Being in England is going to make water collection so much easier, and that way I never really have to worry about not having enough jerrycans for washing and cooking around.
Bob Ocean says
Hi Elise, I agree in principal, however, the eco foot print is not good.
I swapped from 20 litre containers on Boat, from 20 to 10 litres and has made a big difference in Portability. (10 kilos vs 20 kilos) Buy NEW ones for a warehouse etc.
A Water Bob, is a great way of moving water around without mess.
I also find small round containers a BIG waste of space. Why not spend some money on a Very good filter and fill your own? large or small..
Elise Xavier says
You’re right about the eco footprint. Frustrating. I will definitely rethink this once I have a house and it’s easier to do things, but here I’ll stockpile water in bottles (though likely won’t rotate it out too too often – maybe a two year rotation).
I need to look into good filters too. Any suggestions?
I represented a water company. You have good points. Now permit me to make some suggestions:
1. the plastic used in grocery store bottled water is not designed to last more than a matter of months.
2. google pool water disinfectant. A $7 a pound CORRECT pool shock will treat 10,000 gallons of poor water. The US government has a publication that specifies the correct pool shock. Store it in a clear plastic container in a cool place. It reacts with water and your hands.
3. google the UN discussion of using 2 liter partially blackened 2 liter pop containers to purify (and not filter) bilge water.
4. If you go to the paint store and find a 5 gallon container with a number “2” on the bottom, the item is food safe. Then you but a $7 reusable lid instead of the crummy lid that comes with the paint bucket. The 5 gallon paint bucket, as modified and described can hold water or food.
5. never buy water in the 5 gallon water company delivered containers. People store PCP, drugs, urine in the same. The company cannot remove chemicals that migrate into the plastic 5 gallon container. Heck, one day, I was at my brother’s lab at a major university and I noticed a 5 gallon container in the corner. It was Kahlua. On another occasion, when at the National Institutes of Health, he saw drugs stored in the 5 gallon home delivery water bottles.
The 5 gallon #2 paint buckets can be stacked. They can be used as a table support.
Elise Xavier says
Are water bottles really all not designed to last more than a few months? The ones I have say they “expire” in around 2 years – is this uncommon or just not reliable?
Pool water disinfectant I’ve heard is the magical disinfectant of the gods (never expires). Many in another article recommended it when I said I was stockpiling bleach (which has a relatively short shelf life). I really need to get my hands on some pool shock, but I need to do my research first to find the right one.
Storing water in paint buckets is something I never would have thought of. Really good size for moving around and definitely fine for garage style stockpiling, though I’d really rather not in such a small flat. Once I have a house though!
Thanks for the warning about the water company delivered containers.. :S That’s horrifying.