Water storage experiment

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Is this a waste of time?

Yes
5
13%
No
35
88%
 
Total votes: 40

Ricky Romero
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Water storage experiment

Post by Ricky Romero » Thu May 24, 2007 3:55 am

I recently posted on a thread about water storage:
Ricky Romero wrote:In places where the tap water comes from a city main and not a well, usually the water is chlorinated. I know that on certain days the stuff from my tap tastes like pool water. I would imagine no further purification would be needed in these cases.
This sounded to me like an assumption based on nothing, so I decided to become a guinea pig in an experiment that will determine the validity of my chlorinated city water theory.

Image

This is a 20 ounce plastic soda bottle retrieved from my kitchen trash. 30 minutes ago, it contained approximately 10 ounces of Dr. Pepper. I don't know who it belonged to (probably my GF's sister) and I rinsed it with only tap water (no soap, no bleach). For the record, this is not one of the days that my tap water tastes particularly chlorinated. A taste test performed to establish a baseline prior to capping revealed nothing out of the ordinary.

For this experiment, I will store the bottle full of tap water with the cap on for 1 full year and then drink it. It now resides on the top shelf of my pantry where it will be exposed to very little light. I don't think exposure to light will make a difference, but if anyone disagrees, I'll leave it out. Hell, I'll leave it on the windowsill. I'll update the pic if I see any visible changes (algae growth, yellowing, mold), but no matter what happens I will drink it.

I hypothesize that after 1 year, I will be able to drink the water in the bottle with no adverse effects.

I am starting a microbiology class at the beginning of June, and I'm considering taking samples periodically to test for bacteria growth, but this intrusion may taint my overall results through inadvertant introduction of pathogens or cleansing agents used on sampling equipment into the subject bottle.

Any thoughts, beside the fact that I'm up this late and probably am not thinking clearly?
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mrdbeau
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Post by mrdbeau » Thu May 24, 2007 6:38 am

Well, I've already had a year of micro and I'm not sure it makes much difference for purposes of this experiment (the micro, I mean).

A few things are relevant to that bottle of water staying potable:

1) Bacterial growth, obviously. Given that the quote you put up is true and that most city water is chlorinated and fluorinated and pretty much completley bacteria-free, I wouldn't worry about that too much. Additionally, do you have any idea how many different types of bacteria grow well in pure water? Pretty much 0. In fact, there isn't a single pathogen I can think of that is not going to die after a year in a bottle of pure water being stored around 70 degrees F.

2) Mineral content. Typically, when water goes "flat," it is due to the varying mineral content in the water. The amount of mineral content in your water very typically varies with where you live in the US. Some places (where I live, for example) contain water with a lot of sulfur, some places have water with lots of iron, and so on. Usually, modern water purification systems will function to remove a considerable amount of the mineral content, but not all. So, that's kind of up in the air.

3) Chemicals in the water. Things like Arsenic, Lead, Benzene, Carbon Tetrafluoride... all sorts of nasty stuff. The EPA is UBER-strict about municipal water systems filtering all that junk out of the water, and most of the time they do a pretty good job of it. I would think that you would have at most very trace amounts of any inorganic chemicals (arsenic, lead, etc.) and probably no organic chemicals at all (organic chemicals tend to be carcinogenic).

So, I'd say that your water is going to be fine after a year. Might not taste great, but it'll be perfectly safe for consumption. Also, keep it stored out of sunlight. I've always heard that sunlight can create ozone buildup in the water... no idea if that's true or not, but I've always read to store water out of direct sunlight. Additionally, freezing water is a great way to store it in small quantities and speaking from personal experience, you can freeze water for almost any length of time, and when you pull it out and it thaws up, it's going to taste exactly the same as the day you put it in there.
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Post by blackmesa » Thu May 24, 2007 6:42 am

mrdbeau wrote:Also, keep it stored out of sunlight. I've always heard that sunlight can create ozone buildup in the water... no idea if that's true or not, but I've always read to store water out of direct sunlight.
I'd imagine that lots of sunlight might cause some of the plastic from the bottle to leech into the water... probably wouldn't hurt you, but I wouldn't recommend it.

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Post by Jamie » Thu May 24, 2007 7:17 am

I think that the experiment is a cool idea, but to make it more interesting (and valuable from a scientific standpoint), you should get 8 bottles, and keep 2 in each of 4 different storage environments:

in a closet (dark)
on the windowsill (light)
in the basement (cool)
in the attic (hot)

photos before and after, and 2 people drinking from each of the bottles in a years time should yield some interesting results...

I predict that the bottles stored in the light and the attic will have evolved some sea-monkey-like wee-beasties swimming around in them (or green crap growing on the sides) by the time the year is up, and that the dark and cool bottles will taste exactly like water...

nfa
Last edited by Jamie on Thu May 24, 2007 7:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by herbalpagan » Thu May 24, 2007 7:47 am

I agree with NFA...only make one of each bottle tap water and one bought water. It's actually a great experiment! :)
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Post by ZombieKraft » Thu May 24, 2007 8:17 am

I don't think exposure to light will make a difference, but if anyone disagrees, I'll leave it out. Hell, I'll leave it on the windowsill.
Exposure to light = food source for algae = microbes that eat algae.

Buy a microscope and look at the water before you drink it. It will be very easy to do before and after microbe counts. Or run a coliform bacteria test.

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Post by Flammamancer » Thu May 24, 2007 8:22 am

From my own experience it just depends on the amount of bacteria that was in it before storage.
Its city water that already has chemicals in it so I believe that it will last the year before going bad.
I am reminded of when I kept water from my Moms house in a canteen where I left it somewhere for a few weeks and when I opened it up again WOOOO that was really rancide and the smell just would not go away even after I cleaned it out several times with Dish Soap/Bleach.
However water stored from my Natural Well seams to last forever.

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Post by Ricky Romero » Thu May 24, 2007 12:37 pm

nfa wrote:I think that the experiment is a cool idea, but to make it more interesting (and valuable from a scientific standpoint), you should get 8 bottles, and keep 2 in each of 4 different storage environments
I was considering this, as well as having a bottle that lab samples will be taken from and one left closed.

I didn't clarify in my first post, but my experiment is based on an imagined scenario in which water was collected at a moments notice. That's why I chose a scavenged bottle and rinse-only cleaning. I not only want to know if the water will remain potable, but determine the effects of questionable storage methods.

Since I'm not even 12 hours into this experiment, adding some bottles to the mix won't give inaccurate results. What do you all think about going long-term with this, and labeling one of the bottles "Drink me 5/24/09"?
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Post by Batman » Thu May 24, 2007 12:40 pm

I don't think it would be a waste of time as long as you didn't sit and wait for the year to pass before you drink it.

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Post by AwPhuch » Thu May 24, 2007 3:15 pm

20 oz bottle of water would grow algea and other poo stuff much much faster than a 55gallon jug of water, plus its clean sitting on a windowseal, try putting someplace dark w/ no sunlight then see how fast the icky stuff grows

Most large water storage containers are thick and dark and dont let light in, so your experiment is flawed from the start
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Post by Ricky Romero » Thu May 24, 2007 6:57 pm

AwPhuch wrote:20 oz bottle of water would grow algea and other poo stuff much much faster than a 55gallon jug of water, plus its clean sitting on a windowseal, try putting someplace dark w/ no sunlight then see how fast the icky stuff grows

Most large water storage containers are thick and dark and dont let light in, so your experiment is flawed from the start
No, it's not! It's not! It's not! It's not![/tantrum]

No really, it's not. It's still in the pantry, I only offered to put it on the windowsill if I got any objections about keeping it in a dark place. But no worries, I'm going to add more bottles to the experiment so there will be some in the dark, some in the light.

And what's the reasoning behind the notion that water in a smaller container will grow algae faster?
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Post by AwPhuch » Thu May 24, 2007 7:34 pm

because larger amounts of water has more of the stuff in it to kill the funk, even though the ratio is still the same

like a gallon of gasoline will go sour quicker than 10000 gallons

Be ready with the anti-diarrea medicine when you decide to drink the water that has been kept in the dark

I had a 3/4 gallon container on my desk at work, and within a week it was growing green slime funk on it, it also doesnt help that Houston tapwater is like sucking water out of a river that has been treated with assloads of chlorine...nasty nasty water..but at least its wet!
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Post by DFWMTX » Thu May 24, 2007 10:13 pm

I think it's a good experiment if you use multiple bottles kept in multiple places, including say one at the back of your fridge as a sort of control bottle.

Good luck with that.
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Post by 2now » Thu May 24, 2007 11:57 pm

I’ve got 2 liter bottles of water that I know I have not touched since I moved here 3 years ago. They sit in the well house, it’s a dark cool place. No problem with the water. Anyone care for a picture of 3 year old water?

Before coming here I dumped out the bottles. I havd filled them after the first big quake I felt out here, I think it was 1993. Most of the water was 10 years old. Kept in bottles in the basement. It was all fine.

All water was stored in soda bottles emptied, washed with hot soapy water and rinsed 3-4 times. Then filled with tap water, and the lid put on. No bleach. No problem.



The only problem to come up in this proposed experiment is if there is contamination in the bottle when it was filled.

The test is not about how well water keeps, but rather how well does a single rinse clean a soda bottle.

Still valuable, but know what your going to know from your experiment.
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Post by Ricky Romero » Fri May 25, 2007 9:22 pm

The idea that I posit is that chlorinated city water has enough chlorine in it to defeat any bacteria and algae that may develop. So no, I'm not testing the effectiveness of the single rinse, I'm testing the water's ability to withstand a year of storage under less than ideal conditions.
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Post by zephir » Sat May 26, 2007 12:54 am

I actually know the answer to your experiment.

Two years ago my dad was invited to take a tour of our local water district's facilities. He decided to take me along. I asked whether tap water is safe to drink after a long storage time of about a year. The guy that was doing the tour said that tap water is supposed to be used within 7 days of treatment, even if you boil the water, the longest time it can stay free of bacteria or contamination is 7 days. It doesn't matter whether the tap water was left out in the open or in a bottle. Once its exposed to open air, it becomes suspectable to contamination.

However, I did try the experiment on my own, and I do have stored tap water in both plastic and glass bottles sitting in my closet for at least 2 years.
And I also have a glass bottle of tap water sitting exposed to sunlight, heat for over a year now, and its still as clean and clear as the day it filled it up.

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Post by Ricky Romero » Sat May 26, 2007 3:05 pm

Drink it and take pics!
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Post by mrdbeau » Sat May 26, 2007 4:38 pm

AwPhuch wrote:20 oz bottle of water would grow algea and other poo stuff much much faster than a 55gallon jug of water

because larger amounts of water has more of the stuff in it to kill the funk, even though the ratio is still the same
ZombieKraft wrote:Exposure to light = food source for algae = microbes that eat algae.
Both of those statements are incorrect.

While it is true that algae must have a light source to survive (photosynthetic organism), any treated tapwater is going to have more than enough chlorine in it to kill any algae. Even with exposure to air or other sources, which theoretically may harbor algae, if algae got inside the bottle while it was being filled or however, the chlorine in the water would still kill it. On the other hand, it could be possible to get some algal growth around the top of the bottle if there was some moisture there.

Additionally, the concentration of chlorine in water is all that matters as far as killing bacteria and algae. If you have let's say 50 ppm of chlorine in a 20 oz. bottle of water, it's going to be the exact same as if you have 50 ppm of chlorine in a 55 gal. tank for purposes of retarding any growth of whatever nasties might be in the water.
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Post by jmcanon92 » Sun May 27, 2007 9:59 pm

I've got 2 or 3 one gallon water jugs in the basement that have been full of water for at least a year and a half since I changed out the water. I would have switched them out but they were in an inaccessible location. The jugs are in a dark but dry part of the basement and were well cleaned. When I tried some of the water to see how it was holding up it seemed fine.

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Post by ironraven » Sun May 27, 2007 10:27 pm

I think your biggest risk is contamination from the bottle- who knows what is in there. But an urban water system, unless someone break something, is pretty good at killing everything that might be in the water. Baring something living on soda residue that was put there by the person drinking it (backwash, not sabotage) or carried in on the air (like a mold spore), it should be good.

Note I said "should". Water storage is one of those things where most people would rather be safe than sorry becuase usually if you really need water, you need potable water right friggin NOW.

If someone wanted to be really paranoid, can it- one quart mason jars, even stove top rather than pressure cooker canning, and it should last forever becuase the steam from making water IN the jar boil will kill anything in the air.
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Post by Ahkaine » Tue May 29, 2007 11:30 am

nfa wrote:I predict that the bottles stored in the light and the attic will have evolved some sea-monkey-like wee-beasties swimming around in them (or green crap growing on the sides) by the time the year is up, and that the dark and cool bottles will taste exactly like water...
When we moved in 2005, I found some of my old Y2K water supplied in our attic. Mixed assortment of Glass and Plastic bottles filled with tap water. As I was hot from moving stuff out of the attic, and the water was still clear, and tasted slightly of chlorine (our local source really over chlorinated the supply), I partook of the water supplies. No side effect occurred.

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Post by Obiwan » Tue Sep 11, 2007 4:26 pm

I store the 2.5 gal containers of distilled water 3 to a box in a small closet in my basement...30 gallons total

So they are real portable in case I MUST leave

I rotate them annually and they probably could go longer...but the cost is less than $1.00 per gallon...so why worry

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Post by artyboy » Mon Sep 17, 2007 9:45 am

As long as you disinfect the container very well before you seal it the water should stay good for a long long time as long as the container doesn't have any tiny holes in it or something.
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Post by SilentVectorX » Sat Sep 22, 2007 1:23 am

Ever heard of SOLDIS? That's solar water disinfection. The idea is to let the sun's UV radiation kill everything in the water. Your bottle looks like a perfect candidate (you want to use a bottle that is not scratched or tinted). It also needs to be a certain type of plastic, but I'm pretty sure the clear stuff most bottle are made of is perfect.

I think some types of glass block UV... You'd want the bottle outdoors.

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