If you’ve ever wondered how to store water in a 55-gallon drum, there are several steps you need to take to ensure you store it properly.
Having stored water is a big part of anyone’s emergency checklist, since clean drinking water is crucial to our survival. But, storing it incorrectly can make it hard to drink, or even cause the water to get contaminated. Making sure you store it correctly, especially for long-term use, is essential.
To properly store water in 55-gallon drums you will need to follow these 4 steps:
- start with a drum made specifically for water storage
- clean the inside of the drum before adding water
- use a potable hose to fill the drum with clean water
- place the drum in the proper place
Clean water is more important to our survival than anything else. And having a decent amount of it on hand can make a big difference in an emergency. But knowing how to store it can feel intimidating, especially if you know you may not need it for months or even years. Fortunately, it’s easy to keep large amounts of water on hand if you know how to store it properly.
I have become a big advocate of having a good emergency plan, after living through a hurricane last year that left my family and me without power or water for over a week. One of the first items we ran out of was enough clean drinking water, and we had to scramble to find some. I promised myself then that we would never be in that predicament again. Luckily, I learned about proper water storage and am happy to share my findings with you.
How Do I Properly Store Water in a 55-Gallon Drum?
In the early days of liquid storage, 55-gallon drums were made of wood slates and held together with strips of steel. People referred to them as barrels and they were created to hold everything from wine to chemicals to different types of food that needed to be purchased, moved, or stored in bulk,
Now, 55-gallon drums are made of different types of materials, usually depending on what is going to be transported or stored in them.
Drums that are bought for water storage are very specific and you should take great care to ensure you are buying a drum that is manufactured specifically for water or food storage, nothing else.
Food or water storage drums have to meet higher standards than other types of drums. These drums are made of steel or plastic and are lined with special interiors that will protect your water from excessive heat or any corrosive materials that could come from the container itself.
These 55-gallon drums can hold enough water to last an average person enough water to last them for up to a month. A family of four will find that one drum will likely last them for a bit over a week, assuming that the water is only used for preparing food and drinking.
Finding a drum for water storage is not difficult, as they are widely sold online as well as in certain specialty stores.
Some come shaped in a regular, cylindrical drum size. Others have been adapted to be easier to use, and stack on top of each other.
If you can, try to find water drums that have a built-in spigot on the bottom to easily access the water. You may even want to find the type that allows you to stack them on top of each other, if space is an issue for you.
Know that when a 55-gallon drum is full of water, its overall weight will be more than 400 pounds, so it’s vital that you prepare your drum properly for storage, and know exactly where you want to place it once it’s full.
1. Start With a Drum Made Specifically for Water Storage
As I mentioned before, making sure you have the correct type of drum for water storage is an important part of the water storage process.
There are all types of drums made for all types of materials. Purchasing one that isn’t appropriate for storing things that you will later consume can make your water undrinkable and possibly even dangerous.
Make sure you never use a drum that has been previously used for anything other than water storage.
Even using drums that contained other drinkable liquids or even foods is not advisable, since certain other drinkable liquids or foods could contaminate the water in ways that could be harmful to your health, particularly if that water is stored for a long period of time.
A good, water-safe 55-gallon drum will cost you between $120 and $160, depending on what brand you purchase. But the cost will pay off in the end, when you have a good supply of safe drinking water.
2. Clean the Inside of the Drum Before Adding Water
After you purchase the appropriate drum, you’ll want to make sure the inside is clean before you add the water.
Even though you’ve purchased a drum specifically for water storage, there could be particles or substances that are inside the drum left over from the manufacturing plant or that contaminated it during the shipping process.
Cleaning the drum is easy. Use a pre-made chlorine solution or mix one up on your own, using one cup of bleach and two gallons of distilled water.
Put the solution in the barrel and roll it back and forth for ten minutes or so, making sure all the interior surfaces are coated.
When done, rinse out the inside of the barrel with fresh water then leave it in a sun-filled place to fully dry.
3. Use a Potable Hose to Fill the Drum With Clean Water
Once the drum is cleaned and dry, you can begin to fill it with your drinking water.
Using a specific hose that is made for drinking water is ideal. You can usually find these at camping stores, or places that sell RV equipment, as well as online.
The hose you use should be lead-free and safe to drink from.
If you are in a pinch, or money is an issue, you can use a garden hose to fill your drum. Just make sure that the water is clean as it runs out of the hose, and that there aren’t any particles in the flow.
If you are concerned about the purity of the water that is filling your drum, you can also place a few drops of chlorinated bleach into the drum to ensure that no bacteria can or is growing in your water source once it’s placed inside the drum.
4. Place the Drum in the Proper Place
Finally, once your 55-gallon drum is full of water, you’ll want to make sure you place it somewhere that it will be easy to access, but also not in a spot that will be difficult to maneuver around until it’s actually needed.
Many drums are now made with easy storage in mind, and can be stacked or will fit snugly in an out-of-the-way corner of a basement, cellar, garage, or storage room.
It’s also important that you find a storage space that will stay cool and dry.
Though a good 55-gallon water drum will be air-tight, you still don’t want other liquids to affect the outside of the storage drum, as they could later contaminate the water when you go to extract it.
Too much heat or sunlight could also compromise your water quality if the drum is overexposed to either.
In a time of true emergency, these factors may not matter as much as having a good supply of drinking water will. But, if you have the time, space, and resources to properly store your water, it would be best to find a cool, dry spot to place your drum, but also a spot where you can easily access when the situation calls for it.
About THE AUTHOR
I have over a decade of experience in food and beverage management, including a ServSafe food safety qualification. As part of this qualification, I have been professionally trained in safe food storage.Read More About Mark Walker