How should I store my water: Size Matters Edition

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williaty
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How should I store my water: Size Matters Edition

Post by williaty » Thu Mar 06, 2014 11:03 pm

When I first got into prepping, one of the first things I focused on was water. Due to our living circumstances at the time, I chose to use WaterBricks due to the fact that they were stackable and I could pick them up and carry them somewhere else. They’re awesome and are absolutely the right choice for what I wanted them to do, but their dollars per gallon ratio is abysmal.

Now, with an improvement in our living situation, I want to significantly increase the amount of water we store. We have the room, we have the privacy, and we have a well pump that runs on 240V but we only have a 120V generator. So, I want water around for flushing the toilets, doing the dishes, washing hands, etc when the power goes off (we’re literally the end of the line, so it doesn’t take much).

The problem with the “significantly increase” idea is obtaining containers. Well, not obtaining them, specially, as US Plastics is a reasonable drive from here so I can just go pick things up. It comes back to cost and functionality. My big concern is what size of drums to get. 55 gallon drums are BY FAR the cheapest per gallon. However, they’d be a big mess if one failed, they’re going to be effectively impossible to move when full, and the support structure necessary to raise them above a 5 gallon bucket is significant. They also offer 35, 30, 25, 20, and 15 gallon drums. The smaller you go, the worse the dollar per gallon ratio gets because the price doesn’t drop nearly as fast as the volume. Here’s a chart:

Code: Select all

Capacity (gal)	Cost ($)	$/gal	Weight (lbs)	Diameter (in)	Height (in)	Hvy Dty?
55					$94.36		$1.72	458.095		23.5	36.25	Y
35					$71.67		$2.05	291.515		20.75	31.75	Y
30					$63.03		$2.10	249.87		19.375	29.75	Y
20					$48.09		$2.40	166.58		17.25	26.375	Y
15					$40.69		$2.71	124.935		16	22.75	Y
55					$50.90		$0.93	458.095		23.3	34.9	N
BTW, the lightweight 55 gallon drum at the bottom isn’t as good of a deal as it looks. It has to be drop-shipped so I’d pay freight vs the others being local pickup. It’s probably more in freight than the cost of the barrel.

So, the 55 gallon drums I think would be immovable when full (for me). I think there’s a good chance I could tip the 30 gallon drums on their rims and roll them. I’m absolutely sure I could do that to the 20/15 gallon drums. So the smaller ones would at least be mobile. Plus, they’d be a lot less messy if they leaked or, worse, ruptured. OTOH, with a goal of storing 100gal-ish, the 15 galloners are going to cost about $100 more total, which sucks.

What do you guys think about sizes for water storage containers?

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Re: How should I store my water: Size Matters Edition

Post by majorhavoc » Thu Mar 06, 2014 11:08 pm

Lots of variables to consider, but a forest for the trees kind of question is this: are you looking to have any kind of capacity to move some or all of your stored water with you should you have to move in an emergency?

If not, it seems like the 55 gallon receptacles are the way to go. Just deal with the required support structure and make your peace with the idea that there's no practical way to move them when they're full.

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Re: How should I store my water: Size Matters Edition

Post by NT2C » Thu Mar 06, 2014 11:30 pm

Looking at your location makes me wonder if you've factored in the possibility of them freezing, and what your plans were with that in mind. Since larger volumes will take longer to freeze solid you'd have water available for a longer time in the event of a cold snap with the bigger drums.

But, why not eliminate the possibility of a freeze completely (and make getting the water into other containers easier) by burying the drums below the frost line and using either a small electric or a hand pump to pull water from them? No support structure needed either.
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Re: How should I store my water: Size Matters Edition

Post by williaty » Thu Mar 06, 2014 11:46 pm

I intend to store them in the house. The only way they'd freeze is if we lost the ability to keep the house above freezing, which is very unlikely in the length of disaster we're prepping for. We're not bothering with EOTWAWKI-level events. Just storms, regional grid damage, etc.

My concern with moving them is solely being able to move them around the flat garage/basement floor if I want to re-organize and to bring them out to the garage doors to empty and refill them periodically, or if I have to move them out of the way to make a repair to the wall behind them or something. I'm not worried about being able to bug out with them; that's what the WaterBricks are for.

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Re: How should I store my water: Size Matters Edition

Post by BullOnParade » Thu Mar 06, 2014 11:52 pm

I keep two 30 gallon drums on my balcony, filled with 2l pop bottles. It allows me to store about 60l+ in each (that's about 50% capacity). I can easily move/rotate stock. They will freeze in the middle of a Canadian winter, but bottles can easily be moved inside to thaw.

If you have somewhere to store the larger size, I vote on the 55 gallon drum with a pump. Odds of failure are very low, replace drums more frequently if they are stored in direct sunlight. Moving while full requires a hand cart, consider it an investment.
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Re: How should I store my water: Size Matters Edition

Post by nathat » Fri Mar 07, 2014 8:29 am

in my AO you can find 55gal drums on craigslist for $25 that were used for other food items that are easy enough to clean out. It would decrease your cost ratio to the point you could buy twice as many and fill them half way while still allowing you to move them. This allows room for freezing, and if you WANT to fill them all the way you can.

As far as structure, search craigslist again for some cinder blocks and you'll be able to do it for free/cheap. And advantage of the 55 gal to consider as well is slightly more pressure if you try to use it in certian applications.

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Re: How should I store my water: Size Matters Edition

Post by Das Sheep » Fri Mar 07, 2014 8:38 am

I like bottled water in 24 packs.

Reasons:

Its easy to transport.

Its easy to use. Just grab a bottle.

Its easy to share. Have neighbors or allies you are helping out? Have a dozen bottles of water. Hard to do with a 55 gallon drum.

While its easy to purify the water in a 55 gallon drum and then seal it, that water will be exposed to bacteria once you start using it.

Not so with the bottles.

If things get worse, but not SHTF bad, you can like, throw a case of water in the back of your car (or keep on there anyway. I keep several, but I also drink a lot of water at work).

Bottled water is great.


I do see an advantage in having one or two 55 gallon drums at home for bulk water storage, and for things like water for cooking its great. They are also obviously much more reusable over the long term. But I think that there is some merit into diversifying into bottled water. Which is also very cheap.

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Re: How should I store my water: Size Matters Edition

Post by NT2C » Fri Mar 07, 2014 9:40 am

nathat wrote: As far as structure, search craigslist again for some cinder blocks and you'll be able to do it for free/cheap. And advantage of the 55 gal to consider as well is slightly more pressure if you try to use it in certian applications.
No. You need to understand the difference between cinder blocks and cement blocks. Not knowing the difference has killed people in the past, and will do so again in the future, but you don't have to be one of them. Cinder blocks are best thought of as purely decorative (they're more than that but this simplifies it) while cement blocks are structural. They look similar to the average person, and therein lies the problem. A cinder block cannot support the kind of loads a cement block can, and will fail catastrophically with little or no warning when used to support the kind of weight a cement block is used for.
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Re: How should I store my water: Size Matters Edition

Post by Murphman » Fri Mar 07, 2014 9:56 am

Why don't you just buy a 120V back-up pump?
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Re: How should I store my water: Size Matters Edition

Post by Nick Adams » Fri Mar 07, 2014 9:57 am

I store water in five 5 gal. plastic military water "Gerry" cans, I also have 5 of the old US metal water cans. The metal cans are older and Im not sure what was stored in them. I cleaned them out good but still I consider them sketchy but their water should be fine for non drinking. These 5 gal containers are pretty easy to find for $5 or so if you look around. I also have a large rain barrel that is usually filled.
In my case I also have a stream on my property. I have water purification Bottles I could use

Not sure where your water pump is but I have a well and the set up it uses is an above ground electric pump. I have a small gasoline engine on a cart that I can set up to run the pump if the electric goes off, I could also run the electric pump off my generator to off course.
I don't think I really need it with this set up but was thinking about seeing if I could put a manual pitcher pump in

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Re: How should I store my water: Size Matters Edition

Post by Dawgboy » Fri Mar 07, 2014 2:25 pm

I went with a combo of 7 gallon jugs and 55 gallon barrels. It's easy to get water out of a barrel with a barrel pump. You could also go with a 12 volt or 120 volt pump. A rule 360 Bilge pump works very well as you can stuff it through the bung hole.
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Re: How should I store my water: Size Matters Edition

Post by gundogs » Fri Mar 07, 2014 5:21 pm

KJ4VOV wrote:
nathat wrote: As far as structure, search craigslist again for some cinder blocks and you'll be able to do it for free/cheap. And advantage of the 55 gal to consider as well is slightly more pressure if you try to use it in certian applications.
No. You need to understand the difference between cinder blocks and cement blocks. Not knowing the difference has killed people in the past, and will do so again in the future, but you don't have to be one of them. Cinder blocks are best thought of as purely decorative (they're more than that but this simplifies it) while cement blocks are structural. They look similar to the average person, and therein lies the problem. A cinder block cannot support the kind of loads a cement block can, and will fail catastrophically with little or no warning when used to support the kind of weight a cement block is used for.
No,"cinder" block is just an antiquated term from the period long ago when blocks were often made from cinders. Now virtually all blocks for landscaping
and building are portland cement based concrete

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Re: How should I store my water: Size Matters Edition

Post by NT2C » Fri Mar 07, 2014 5:50 pm

gundogs wrote:
KJ4VOV wrote:
nathat wrote: As far as structure, search craigslist again for some cinder blocks and you'll be able to do it for free/cheap. And advantage of the 55 gal to consider as well is slightly more pressure if you try to use it in certian applications.
No. You need to understand the difference between cinder blocks and cement blocks. Not knowing the difference has killed people in the past, and will do so again in the future, but you don't have to be one of them. Cinder blocks are best thought of as purely decorative (they're more than that but this simplifies it) while cement blocks are structural. They look similar to the average person, and therein lies the problem. A cinder block cannot support the kind of loads a cement block can, and will fail catastrophically with little or no warning when used to support the kind of weight a cement block is used for.
No,"cinder" block is just an antiquated term from the period long ago when blocks were often made from cinders. Now virtually all blocks for landscaping
and building are portland cement based concrete
Um, no. While portland cement is used in making all forms of these blocks, "cinder" blocks do indeed still contain cinders or fly ash, and typically have about 1/5th the compressive strength of a "cement" or "concrete" block. Furthermore, cinder blocks are much more brittle than concrete blocks. Tap a cinder block with a hammer and it'll usually fracture. Tap a cement block with a hammer and it won't.

ETA: Here's a link with a very simplified version of the difference - http://www.ehow.com/facts_6190293_diffe ... lock_.html
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Re: How should I store my water: Size Matters Edition

Post by nathat » Mon Mar 10, 2014 11:13 am

KJ4VOV wrote:
nathat wrote: As far as structure, search craigslist again for some cinder blocks and you'll be able to do it for free/cheap. And advantage of the 55 gal to consider as well is slightly more pressure if you try to use it in certian applications.
No. You need to understand the difference between cinder blocks and cement blocks. Not knowing the difference has killed people in the past, and will do so again in the future, but you don't have to be one of them. Cinder blocks are best thought of as purely decorative (they're more than that but this simplifies it) while cement blocks are structural. They look similar to the average person, and therein lies the problem. A cinder block cannot support the kind of loads a cement block can, and will fail catastrophically with little or no warning when used to support the kind of weight a cement block is used for.
You're correct, I said the wrong type. Thank you for the correction as it is very important.

We call all blocks of these types cinder, however it's not the correct use and I should be careful in this setting. With my family/people I work with if I say, "pass a cinder block" they know I mean cement, but it IS NOT the same and I appreciate the correction.

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Re: How should I store my water: Size Matters Edition

Post by DannusMaximus » Tue Mar 11, 2014 10:16 pm

I rigged up some 55 gallon storage drums with spouts and moveable 'dolly' systems that I made pretty cheap. Link to the post, pics are included:

http://www.zombiehunters.org/forum/view ... =6&t=61200

These have held up for several years and I regularly move the full barrels around my basement to reorganize, clean, get to additional storage, etc. No leaks and no problems for one person to easily move them. I have since added a piece of plywood as a 'lip' on two sides to keep the barrels from scooting off the dolly when they get moved.
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Re: How should I store my water: Size Matters Edition

Post by thorian » Mon Mar 31, 2014 1:15 pm

KJ4VOV wrote:Looking at your location makes me wonder if you've factored in the possibility of them freezing, and what your plans were with that in mind. Since larger volumes will take longer to freeze solid you'd have water available for a longer time in the event of a cold snap with the bigger drums.

But, why not eliminate the possibility of a freeze completely (and make getting the water into other containers easier) by burying the drums below the frost line and using either a small electric or a hand pump to pull water from them? No support structure needed either.

I had a 210 gallon transfer tank for watering the horses. I thought the same thing that the larger volume would prevent freezing. However in one evening I wound up with a 1600lb block of ice. The good thing about larger tanks is that one can sometimes get a float tank heater to fit through the opening. It will keep the tank ice free in all weather.

Even in the fire trucks we would have to recirculate the water in the tanks to keep them from freezing up the pump panel during 0 and below temps.
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