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You can go without food for up to three weeks, but you can only last up to 4 days without water. After all, we’re over 60% water ourselves. We often take a clean, endless water supply for granted, but there are times when you may need to fall on a private water supply.
In such emergencies, having your own water reservoir gives you independence from the public water supply and can make all the difference. However, it’s not enough to have a store of water, it’s also extremely important that your water is stored properly, keeping it potable and safe to use.
Whether you’re considering purchasing a water storage container for an emergency or simply for outdoor adventures like camping and hiking, we’ve got you covered with 11 of the best water storage containers, ranging in capacity from small to massive.
WaterBrick Tan Water Storage Container (6 pack)
If you’re looking for a portable, sturdy and durable container for water storage, the WaterBrick Tan Water Storage Container is a great option for you, being the ultimate in portability. These containers can hold up to 3.5 gallons of water (13 liters) each, for long term storage. You can use them individually or stack them up to 4 feet high which allows for more efficient storage while taking up less space.
Unlike most other water containers such as large tanks or cans that are not convenient or easy to carry around with you, the Waterbrick offers versatility. It can be used as a bulk storage system, a block of ice, hunting blinds or even as a sandbag and it’s also a popular choice for military purposes.
The individual portable size of each one makes it perfect for any emergency that may force you to leave your home. You can use them in winter vehicle emergency kits, disaster readiness grab-and-go kits and for outdoor activities as well. They make great storage containers even at home, easily fitting in your refrigerator or under your bed.
We loved the look of this product and found it a very convenient solution for our water storage issues.
- BPA free
- FDA approved
- Ultra-violet additive – extends life up to 15 years
- Industrial food-grade container
- The quality of the handles is low
- The lids can be hard to open
iSpring T32M Pre-Pressurized Water Storage Tank
3 used from $25.86
Here’s a great water storage container from iSpring that’s reliable and fits easily under your sink. With the capacity to hold up to 4 gallons of water, this water tank can be placed in a vertical or horizontal position and works perfectly whichever way you decided to keep it.
What we liked most about this product is the special surface on its metal body that prevents it from getting rusted. The metal is sturdy, but you can be sure it won’t contaminate the water so there will be no strange, metallic aftertaste that you sometimes get with other products. This is because it’s made from FDA-grade butyl diaphragm with post-cure procedures that doesn’t cause any changes in the taste or odor of water.
This storage tank works well with reverse osmosis systems so if you have an RO system installed in your home and you need a smaller sized water storage container for it, this product will do perfectly. Its reasonably priced for its size and performance.
- Meets NSF/ANSI standards
- Special surface treatment to prevent rusting, dents, metal contamination in water
- Shut-off valve isn’t pre-installed
- Works well with RO systems
REDCAMP Gallon Portable Water Container
Store clean, potable water with this portable water storage container by REDCAMP. This product comes with both a 4 and 4.9-gallon capacity, making it just the right size for anyone needing a portable water container for outdoor activities, emergency situations or even home use.
The REDCAMP is made from environmentally friendly non-toxic HDPE plastic. However, you’d need to give it a good rinse before you decide to use it, to remove any possibility of plastic taste in the water. Cleaning the REDCAMP is easily done with the provided cleaning brush.
The opening of the container is wide enough to make pouring and filling up easy without spillages. The only drawback we noticed is that this container can leak from the lid if not kept upright. Other than that, it’s a great product that’s very easy to use.
- Comes with a spigot
- Cleaning brush included
- Durable and sturdy
- 1 year limited warranty
Scepter BPA Durable 5 Gallon Portable Water Storage Container
This military water can is a popular choice as a useful water storage option for unexpected scenarios and emergencies. Made of thick food-grade LDPE and HDPE plastic with the capacity to hold up to 5 gallons, this heavy-duty container offers excellent durability and can last for several years of use.
The Scepter water storage container comes with an easy-pour spout with good flow. We loved the versatility of this product since it can be used not only to store water but even other liquids such as oil or fuel.
The Scepter is 100% BPA free which means it won’t affect the taste or odor of your water and you can be sure that there’s no danger of any chemicals getting into your water as well.
This container with its space-saving, compact design comes with a strong handle that makes it easy to carry around. Overall, it’s a great product which is bound to give you real value for your money.
- Great portability
- Tight screw top
- Thick plastic
- No leakage
Saratoga Farms 5-Gallon Stackables
Need a durable water storage container for emergency storage, boating, camping, road trips and so on? These 5-gallon stackables will fit the bill perfectly.
Made in the US using food-grade HDPE plastic, these water storage containers are free of BPAs and 100% non-toxic which means your water will always be safely stored. They are durable so you will never have to worry about them breaking under cold or hot conditions, or about chemicals leaching into your water.
These containers are lightweight but come with a strong, built-in handle for easy moving even when they’re filled up. They are well-made, sturdy and stackable due to the flat top and bottom surfaces, saving space.
- Perfect for heavy-duty use
- Easy-grip handle
- Built-in twist breathing port
- Made from food-grade HDPE plastic
Norwesco 45223 35 Gallon Horizontal Water Tank
The Norwesco 45223 35 Gallon Water Tank is an excellent multipurpose choice for anyone needing a water storage container for camping, irrigation, emergencies and so on. This tank comes in different sizes from 12-gallon capacity to 15,000 gallons so that you can choose the right size for you according to your needs.
What we liked about the Norwesco tank is its corrosion-resistant exterior and the fact that it is extremely lightweight. Also, it doesn’t have any seams, joints or welds that could leak or rust.
Manufactured using resins that meet FDA specifications, you can be sure that this tank will store your water safely without causing any changes in taste or odor.
You will find two grooves which make it easy for you to attach it or tie it down if needed. With its great sturdy construction and excellent storage capacity, Norwesco has provided a product with sturdy construction and excellent storage capacity that’s guaranteed to satisfy.
- Comes in a variety of shapes and styles
- Fittings need to be purchased separately
- NSF certified
- Comes with a pressure release button
WaterStorageCube BPA Free Collapsible Water Container
Here’s another great option for a portable water storage container that you can easily store and take around with you if needed.
We were really impressed by the Water Storage Cube which not only has a compact design but is also collapsible, making it perfect for camping since you can just fold it up when you don’t need it and fill it up when you need to. Other than camping, you can also keep it in your vehicle or for home emergencies.
This product comes in several sizes up to 5.3 gallons, which you can choose depending on your needs but all sizes are easy to carry and store. The plastic won’t affect the taste or odor of your water as it’s made with the highest quality USA raw materials. It’s also non-toxic and BPA-free so you can be sure that your water will be kept safe and uncontaminated.
We liked the custom-made lid and spigot of this tank with its gasket-less design preventing leaks. Also, there are no parts that needed to be replaced.
Unlike bulky water bottles that take up too much space in your homes or are inconvenient to take outdoors with you, this product is compact and lightweight. It’s so durable you can even sit or stand on it when it’s full and it will easily hold your weight.
A simple and inexpensive solution to all your water storage needs.
- Leak-proof spigot
- Soft molded handles for easy transport and holding
- 30-day money back guarantee
- Slow water flow
Aquatank2 Water Storage Bladder
For a more unique water storage option, consider the Aquatank2 Water Storage Bladder. It might look fragile but this device is tougher than it appears.
The inner lining of the bladder is made of 100% food grade polyurethane with a durable nylon outer lining. This is much thinner and therefore lighter than standard rubber bladders but offers excellent durability.
The Aquatank2 comes in several sizes, ranging from 15 gallons to 300 gallons. Because they can be folded up and carried, the Aquatank offers the best portability of all the water storage containers on this list.
One thing to note is that sharp objects may damage the Aquatank2, so place in a static or safe environment to avoid damage. However, the unit is puncture-resistant and made to last for years.
Overall, one of the best solutions if you’re looking for a portable, lightweight and large capacity storage solution.
- Lightweight and portable
- Variety of large capacity sizes
- Made of food grade materials
- Keep away from sharp objects
WaterPrepared 55 Gallon Water Storage Tank
If you’re looking for a bigger sized container for water storage, this Water Prepared tank is a great choice as it has the capacity to hold 55 gallons. Its unique stackable design gives you the option to stack the barrels on top of each other which is perfect when you want to save space, or you can even set them side by side.
Although these tanks tend to give off a plastic smell initially, they are 100% free from BPA and the smell will go away when you start using them. They’re also highly durable and you won’t have to worry about any cracking or leaking.
One of the best features of this product is the spigot which is of very high quality and makes it easy to release the water without having to worry about moving the tank.
The tank is heavy when filled and there are no handles available so moving it about isn’t really an option. However, if you’re in a storm zone and run the risk of being without freshwater, this gives you the ultimate emergency preparation.
- Less portability – no handles available
- Top-quality spigot
- Made from FDA/NSF compliant materials
- Difficult to empty especially when stacked
Sure Water 260 Gallon Water Storage Tank
If you’re looking for a large capacity water storage tank, the Sure Water is a good choice. The unit is made of BPA-free and FDA-approved components for safe water storage. The system has also been independently tested to meet NSF standards.
Although large, the unit has been designed for easy movement through door frames. This allows you to easily transport the Sure Water into any room in your home for storage. This thoughtful design makes the Sure Water container versatile and gives you more options on where to store it without compromising on capacity.
Because the unit is UV stable, it can be stored outside. However, it’s not the best solution for storage in winter conditions as it is not freeze-resistant. Unless you don’t mind having a block of ice instead of water, we suggest indoor storage.
- High-capacity storage
- Narrow design for easy fit through all standard door sizes
- Food-grade composition
- Meets NSF standards
- BPA-free and FDA-approved
RomoTech Vertical 550 Gallon Water Reservoir
For heavy-duty massive water storage, think RomoTech Water Reservoir. This thick-walled water storage container has been designed for heavy-duty use. While the walls are thick and durable, they’re also translucent so you can keep track of your water usage.
RomoTech is made of polyethylene and can be used to store a variety of liquids including potable water, agricultural and industrial chemicals and other liquids. However, it’s not designed to store flammable liquids so avoid fuel storage.
The unit is BPA-free and FDA-approved, made of HDPE, meaning no harmful chemicals leaking into the water supply. However, there may be cracking or damage to the unit during cold winter months due to ice formation. In these cases, it’s best to drain the reservoir.
- Massive capacity
- Highly durable thick walls
- Not suitable for use in icy conditions
Why Store Water
As we mentioned in the introduction, water storage offers many benefits as long as it’s done correctly. This will give you clean water for use when your regular water supply is unavailable.
Some scenarios in which a private water supply becomes handy include:
- Natural disasters which cut off access to regular water supply or damage infrastructure
- Unforeseen incidents like the Flint Water Crisis where public water supply becomes contaminated
- Conflicts and economic collapse
- Camping, hiking or recreational vehicle lifestyles
All these are certainly good reasons to have a plan B for water supply.
What to Look for in a Water Storage Container
When looking for a water storage container, there are several factors to look for. These include:
The capacity of the water container is one of the most important decisions you have to make and will depend on your specific water requirements. For this, consider how many people are in your household and how much water your household uses per day.
The CDC and the EPA specify that a single person requires 1 gallon of water per day for drinking, washing and cooking. In an emergency situation, it’s best to have up to 2 weeks’ worth of water, meaning 14 gallons for the average person.
To know the capacity for your household, simply multiply that number by the number of people in your home. For example, for a household of 4 people, a storage container of at least 55 containers will ensure that you have the minimum amount of water required for 2 weeks.
However, if you’re purchasing just for hiking or camping, then your requirements will be different. You may need more or less water as per your usage.
The size of the container will determine the ease of portability. Naturally, larger, rigid containers will prove much harder to transport.
If portability is of importance to you, there are collapsible and foldable storage containers which allow for easy transportation, especially when empty. Some containers can be easily stacked like bricks when stored but taken apart and transported individually if required.
Don’t forget to consider the size of your vehicle and whether the dimensions of the container allow it to be transported in it.
This is one we often don’t tend to consider, but the shape of the container contributes greatly to its portability and storage requirements.
Some containers are designed to be narrow and tall, to ensure greatest capacity while still allowing the unit to fit through regular doorways.
Others, like water bladders, can be awkward in shape and size, but can easily fit under a bed or table. It all depends on your storage space.
Water for consumption should always be stored in a container made of BPA-free food grade polyethylene plastics. This keeps the water safe from contaminants in the vessel itself, which can leak into the water over time. FDA-approved containers offer you the peace of mind that the product meets safety requirements for food and drink storage.
The best plastics are PETE, HDPE and LDPE but avoid PVC, PP, PS and any others.
Water storage containers range in price, so it’s best to consider how much you’re willing to spend on the unit before you begin looking. Having a ballpark figure will filter your options.
How to Store Water Properly
When preparing to store your water, follow these guidelines to ensure that the water is being stored safely:
- Ensure that you have a BPA free plastic container that is clean and free of dust, dirt, debris and other contaminants.
- Choose a thick-walled container but opt for translucency if possible so you can keep track of your water storage.
- Don’t keep the container in direct sunlight and don’t store it directly on concrete.
- Clean and sanitize the container prior to filling it with clean or treated water.
- Don’t allow any contaminants to come into contact with your water.
- Ensure water supply is tightly sealed and this is maintained until use.
- Rotate the water supply once a year.
Properly stored water doesn’t have an expiration date, but it’s still wise to change your periodically. However, if the water has been stored correctly, it can be stored for up to 5 years.
Tip: Stored water loses oxygen over time and will inevitably acquire a flat taste. Don’t worry if and when this happens, it’s par for the course. You can fix this by simply swirling your water in a jug or glass. This makes the water interact with oxygen and balances the taste.
How to Make Water Safe
It’s one thing to store water, but it’s another thing to ensure that the water is safe for drinking. Just because water looks and smells clean doesn’t mean it is. The EPA has outlined at least 80 harmful contaminants that are commonly found in water.
There are many ways to purify water, either before you store it or after. Here are some ways:
This is probably the easiest way to clean a large container of water affordably and conveniently. Chlorine and iodine tablets or drops are the most popular way to ensure your water is free of biological contaminants like viruses, bacteria, cysts and spores. The CDC recommends storing chlorine dioxide or unscented liquid household chorine bleach to disinfect the water.
Note that not all products are capable of removing all viruses, with some allowing protozoans like cryptosporidium to exist. Always check which contaminants the product is proven to remove and choose accordingly.
We’ve covered the best water purification tablets and drops in our detailed article, including some products that remove 100% of all biological contaminants from water.
Boiling water is a time-honored method of purifying water, and effectively removes biological contaminants. However, it requires energy and equipment especially if boiling large amounts of water.
For best results, bring the water to a rolling boil and allow it to boil for at least 5 minutes. If the water is highly contaminated, extend this period to 10 minutes. Once the water cools, simply pour into your chosen container and store.
Boiled water can have a flat, unappealing taste but this can be countered by adding some salt to balance the pH levels.
If you have a reverse osmosis system at home, this is an excellent way to remove most of the contaminants in the water. While RO systems remove almost all impurities it may not target all microorganisms.
Another issue with RO is that it demineralizes water, removing nutrients like calcium and magnesium from your water.
Distillation gives you the purest water, free of almost all contaminants. It’s one of the most effective ways of acquiring purified water.
This can be done via DIY methods or using a water distiller, which is similar in appearance to a kettle. Distillation works by heating the water until it vaporizes, then collecting and condensing the water.
The trouble with distillation is that it’s slow, consumes a lot of energy and yields small amounts of water at a time. It can take an hour or more for a liter of distilled water.
Another issue is that many people dislike the taste of distilled water, which is flavorless and flat. While it’s the best in terms of purity, the logistics of distillation don’t make it a viable choice for storing large amounts of water.
Chemical purification doesn’t remove physical or chemical impurities from your water, which is where filtration systems come in. There are many types of filters on the market, and which you choose depends on your specific requirements.
However, most filtration mediums aren’t effective at removing microorganisms, which is why it’s a good idea to combine water purification methods for a comprehensive filtration solution.
How to Clean Your Water Container
Before you fill up the water container, it’s important to clean and sanitize it to avoid any issues. Here’s how to do it:
- Wash the container using dishwashing detergent and rinse it out thoroughly.
- Sanitize the container with chlorine bleach. Dilute 1 tsp per quart (or 1 liter) of water and use that to rinse out the container. Ensure that the bleach solution reaches all parts of the inside of the container.
- Leave the solution for 30 to 60 seconds, then pour out.
- Rinse the container with clean water or allow to air dry.
- Fill the container with clean or treated water for storage.
Potential Water Sources to Fill Up Your Water Container
This will vary depending on your geographical location, water reservoirs in the area, the size of your water container and your water storage requirements. There are many ways you can access water for storage, but each source will have a different quality.
- City Water – this type of water is typically disinfected with chlorine or iodine. You won’t need to disinfect the water further as it’ll already be free of biological contaminants.
- Well Water – if you have a private well, note that you’re responsible for the quality of the water. This type of unregulated water should be tested and disinfected to kill pathogens. Additionally, you may need to filter out iron and other similar contaminants.
- Rainwater – harvesting rainwater allows you to make the most of the rainfall in your area. Always check the rainwater harvesting regulations of your state.
- Pool Water – in the event of an emergency, a pool can be an excellent source of water for washing and other hygiene purposes. However, it’s not fit for consumption or cooking, unless filtered comprehensively.
Some other sources can include melted ice cubes, streams, ponds, water in the toilet tank (cistern) and water in your storage tank water heater. You may need to treat these different types of water in different ways.
How NOT to Store Water
We’ve talked a lot about how to store water, but it’s also important to have a look at how NOT to store water. These are the things you should avoid:
- Avoid storing water in anything that isn’t made of food grade materials. Remember that only certain types of plastics make the cut.
- Avoid storing water in containers that have been used to store other items before, especially if it wasn’t food or drink.
- Avoid storing water in metallic containers, as these are prone to rust and corrosion. Only stainless-steel containers are proven to remain rust-free.
- Avoid storing your water in direct sunlight. Always place the container in a shady, cool area to maintain balance, durability of the container and chemicals leaching into the water supply.
The Bottom Line
Clean, drinking water is essential for our survival so it makes sense to prepare for any eventuality by having a private potable drinking water supply. The CDC suggests storing water for at last 2 weeks per person.
When choosing your storage container, there are many factors to consider to ensure that you’re storing sufficient water for your purposes. It’s a good idea to have at least one large bulk storage container and a smaller portable option for grab-and-go situations.
Always remember to store your water in contaminant-free, sanitized, food-grade plastic containers away from direct sunlight, in a shady, cool location.
If you want to learn more about ways to purify your drinking water, go here.