How to Stockpile Water: Survival Water Storage and Long Term Planning


Water is the most important item to stockpile, but it’s one of the most difficult things to store too. This problem occurs not because it’s hard to find water we can stockpile, but because of how much water we need. 

You might know that our bodies demand more water than food or anything else for that matter. This is the reason water is our key to surviving and thriving. 

Thus we wrote this article on how to stockpile water for long term water storage, to help you get a better grasp of this theme. Stay with us to learn the basics of survival water storage, how much water is needed per person, how to stock it, and keep it fresh when all hell breaks loose.

Why Do I Need to Stockpile Water?

stockpiled waterThis is a simple question with an even simpler answer, it’s like asking why do I need water. Every person can survive up to 100 hours without water. This is to survive, not fully function, and in hotter climates, these numbers go down. 

This is why knowing how to stockpile water or purify it, is one of the basics in preparing for a SHTF scenario. If you run out of water, you can develop dehydration, become weak and lethargic, and no one wants that in a survival setting. 

We are here to help you learn how to stockpile water, keep these risks at a minimum, and thrive after the disaster.

How to Stockpile Water?

Here is the big question! For us, prepping is a way of life, and we understand it is for you too.

Therefore, we prepared a short list of things you need to consider when it comes to your emergency water supply. We want to make this easily accessible to both beginners and masters of the trade, so here is a checklist of methods for long term water storage. 

  1. Make sure your water is pure – It doesn’t matter where it comes from, we have tricks on how to purify it in this article.
  2. Store it in the right containers – Read all about these containers in our article, just make sure they are clean.
  3. Store from 1 to 5 gallons per person per day – Officials say 1 gallon, we say 5, it’s up to you to decide. Read more about how much water for emergency storage you need in the next few lines.
  4. Store in a dark place – That’s just one of our tips, so find out more about water storage in the rest of our text. 

Make sure to store water properly using these tips after labeling and sanitizing:

  1. Be sure to label the container that is drinking water
  2. Replenish with new water every six months
  3. Keep water stored beween 50-70 degrees farenheit
  4. Keep water stored out of direct sunlight

Those were the basics of how to stockpile water, read on for our top 3 most important steps in getting together your prepper water storage, that might interest you. 

Step 1: How Much Emergency Water Supply Do I Need?

getting water from outside to stockpile

First, you’re probably wondering how much water should be included in an emergency kit.
Most survival experts will tell you that you need one gallon of clean water per person, per day, in order to survive. This means:

  • 0.5 gallon for drinking
  • 0.5 gallon for cooking and hygiene

Considering that we need to drink about half a gallon of water per day to maintain our health, that’s not an unreasonable number in most cases. Here are our questions: 

  • Are you trying to survive in a hot climate? You can sweat out more water than that in a day, requiring a severe increase in your water consumption.
  • Do we use water for more than just drinking and cooking? We also need water for bathing, washing our clothes, cleaning our homes and watering our vegetable gardens. 

While none of that water needs to be clean enough to drink, we still need it and have to include it in our overall water budget. By including those items, we want to change the amount of how much water to store for emergency and the like. We believe that an amount of five gallons of water per person per day emergency supply, even if we are extremely cautious in how we use water, should be enough.

How Much Water Do I Use Now?

We understand that five gallons might seem much, but it actually isn’t. Compared to how much water we use now! According to statistics, the average American family uses 100 gallons of water, per person, per day. Of that, about 40% is used to water the lawn, 18.5% is used to flush the toilet, 15% is used to wash clothes and 22.5% is used between bathing and washing. That’s a lot of water.

No matter what, we can’t expect to have that much water available to us in a survival situation. Even if that much water exists nearby our homes, hauling that much water every day is impractical. So we’re going to have to find ways to use what water we have as efficiently as possible.

What If I Have Water Nearby?

That’s great for you, make sure you know the basics of water purification, but even though we will need to be harvesting water from nature in some way or another, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t stockpile it. 

We should have emergency water at all times because we have no guarantee that any of the ways that we expect to get water in the event of an emergency will be available to us. There’s also the need to have enough water to get us through the disaster and into the time when we are living in our post-disaster mode, where we are harvesting water from what’s available around us.

The Bottom Line on Emergency Water Supply per Person

The bottom line is: There’s no real answer to how much our emergency water supply per person should be because none of us know what sort of disaster we are going to face. So the best we can do is to store as much as you possibly can, while leaving room for everything else in your life.

In the end, another piece of advice we can give you is to make a mock water emergency drill, where you use your water stockpile to make sure how many gallons of water are needed per person per day in your household. That’s the easiest way to know how many gallons of water to prepare when stockpiling your emergency water. 

Step 2: Keeping Water Pure in Long Term Water Storage

how to stockpile waterOne of the most important steps of how to stockpile water is ensuring its purity. Once you know how much water you need, make sure you know how to keep it pure. 

It doesn’t matter where you get your water from – the tap, your private well, rainwater capture, or the local creek, it’s probably not pure. You have to assume that the water will have microscopic pathogens and bacteria in it.

While the level of those pathogens may be low enough that the water is safe to drink at the time you store it, you can’t be sure that it will stay that way. Bacteria can multiply, turning that drinkable water into dangerous water. Unfortunately, you won’t know if that has happened or not, until it’s too late.

The solution to this potential problem is to treat your water with chemical purifiers to prevent any bacteria from growing in it. Next up is what you can use as a purifier.  

Purifying Water with Chlorine 

The most common and readily available of these is chlorine, the same chemical that municipal water authorities use to ensure that the bacteria count in their water is low enough to be safe to drink. Chlorine will kill pretty much all bacteria and other microscopic pathogens.

You probably already have chlorine in your home, in the form of bleach. The bleach that we use to whiten our clothes in the wash is 6% chlorine, which will purify water just fine. All you need to do is add eight drops per gallon of water that you are going to store. Chemists have standardized this amount to 20 drops in a cubic centimeter, so for your water containers, you can use these scales:

  • 2cc for a 5 gallon bucket
  • 12cc for a 30 gallon drum
  • 22cc for a 55 gallon drum
  • 40cc for every 100 gallons in a large storage tank

Step 3: Where and How Should I Stockpile Water for Long Term Water Storage? 

Once you know how much water should be included in an emergency kit and how to purify it when prepping you need to know the best way to stockpile water. Here come some of our guidelines for where to store your water, and after that a short take on how to store it. Enjoy!

  • For the easiest way of filling up your emergency water supply, but also the most ineffective and damn expensive way, is to buy commercially bottled water.
  • If you want to use tap water, make sure the bottle or containers are disinfected, you can store this water for up to 6 months. 
  • When it comes to a place for prepper water storage, opt for a dark and cool position, here are some of the tips for storage: 
  • Never stack bottles on top of each other
  • Make sure your water is not too old by checking the “use by” date
  • Close the top tightly
  • Don’t open it until you need it
  • Use containers or bottles made of plastic
  • Do not reuse bottles, if a bottle has held milk or juice, it probably holds bacteria too

Next up are our best ways to learn how to stock up on water, read on to learn how to deposit your emergency home water storage.

Bottles and Gallons for Stockpiling Water

drinking stockpiled waterThe most inefficient way of stockpiling water is to buy bottles and gallons of water at the local supermarket. While you can definitely build a stockpile that way and it will definitely be purified water, it will also be expensive. Considering how cheap water out of the tap is, buying bottled water for your emergency home water storage, just doesn’t make any sense.

The other problem with bottled water is that it really isn’t purified with the intent of long-term storage. Therefore, there is a risk of bacteria growth making the water unsafe to drink. On the other hand, if you bottle your own water, either from the tap or after passing through your own water purification system, you can add bleach to it, making it good for long-term storage.

Some preppers do this with gallon milk jugs that they have cleaned out after drinking the milk they contained. Gallon jugs fit nicely under most beds, giving you a convenient place to store a lot of gallon containers of water.

While gallon milk jugs work for storing water, they are still somewhat inefficient. It takes a lot of gallon containers to store enough water so that you can be sure of meeting your family’s needs. You might want to up your game to some larger containers.

Drums for Stockpiling Water

The blue plastic chemical drums you see everywhere are a common replacement for those gallon jugs, allowing you to put 55 gallons of water in one container, which can go in the basement, shed, or garage. While these containers are cheap when buying them used, you want to be careful about them. The last thing you need is some poisonous chemical residue remaining in the drum to contaminate your water supply.

If you buy these drums, always be sure to buy the ones that still have the label on them, so that you can see what they originally contained. Armed with that information, you can find out if the chemical is dangerous and what you need to use to clean it out of the drum. That will solve that problem.

On the other hand, if you can find white plastic drums, instead of blue ones, they are probably food-grade and were used to transport food products, such as cooking oil. In that case, it is much easier to know what you need to clean them out and make them safe for storing your water stock.

Tanks for Stockpiling Water

Another alternative in the used container market is what they call IBCs, which stands for “intermediate bulk containers.” These are roughly four-foot cube plastic containers surrounded by an aluminum framework. They hold 175 gallons of water and will have a drain outlet at the bottom. This makes them an ideal water storage container. Just use the same precautions about properly cleaning them before use.

One of the best stealth water tanks we’ve ever seen is an above-ground swimming pool. You can buy a 12’ diameter, 3’ deep pool for about $200. That will hold just over 2,500 gallons of water. If you up that to 16’ diameter and 4’ deep the price goes up considerably, but it will be able to hold 6,000 gallons.

Not only will using a swimming pool for a water tank help you camouflage it from nosy neighbors, helping you to maintain your OPSEC, but the normal maintenance requirements to keep it clean will ensure that the filtered water is safe to drink. You’ll have to be adding chlorine to the water all the time.

The Bottom Line on Stockpiling Water in Containers

Unlike the other steps, this one is up to you. We love the fact that you can use a pool for water storage, but also don’t recommend using pool water without changing it for a long period of time due to bacteria forming in it. Small containers and drums also show some cons like bulky storage.

This means it’s up to you in which containers you will store your emergency water in. Have in mind how much place you have and what is easiest for you to acquire.


After reviewing how, why, where and how much water you need for your survival water storage, we can say with confidence that you have learned how to stockpile water. 

The catch with this technique is to make sure your water is clean and safe to drink while storing it in the right container and place. Make sure you are ready for when shit gets real and you can thrive in your bug out location with enough water. thrive after the disaster we are facing.