Water. Prepping 101 The Basics.

Water Prepping 101 The Basics.

The SARS-2-Covid-19 bug is coming at us for another round. Because of this, we are digging further into the latest high tech gadget to make sure our homes are free from the Virus. See our post on To UVC or Not UVC. During the 1st wave, a lot of people found they had holes in their preps or came up short for needed supplies. One supply that was overlooked, Water. Even more people found out that they weren’t prepared at all.

So I decided to bring back the prepping 101 series as a reminder, “Dont’ forget the basics!” In case you missed it our Prepping 101 series started Here.

Today, we’re going to talk about water, and do you have enough?

Do You Store Water?

Let’s look at the basics of prepping.  We’ll go back even further than the Gather Intel post we made back in January, Prepper Pantry

  1. Store water (safely)
  2. Make sure you are able to cook the food you’ve stored
  3. Implement an off-grid waste system (Trash and toilet waste)
  4. Pack a bug out bag with a bug out plan

The first item on that list is, drum roll please… store water.

How many folks here store water? How do you store it? Do you rotate?? What do you do to preserve it?

As a child of the NM desert living in South Carolina, the water waste here is DEVASTATING to me. Folks here literally let it run down the street! (Whoa panic attack coming on. DEEP breath.) In a state where the water table is measured in inches rather than the hundreds of feet back home………

Back on topic.

In our house we store 3 types of water. Yup y’all heard me, 3 types: bottled, bulk, and other (not for drinking).

Bottled

We store, on hand for each person 3 cases each Sounds like a lot, but in reality its only about 15 gallons. (Depending on the size of the case you buy.  YMMV.)

Why bottled? Ease of storage and it is easily accessible. Easy to store easy to grab and go with and easy to use in an emergency. Don’t be sucked into the designer waters. There is not a bit of difference between Great Value brand bottled water and the 5x as much case bottled by the leading cola company.

Store 3 cases per person.

Bulk

Here is where storage becomes and issue. Bulk can be anything from 5 gallon bottles to the 300 gallon cube /caged containers and larger. The issue with storing large quantities of water is keep it “pure and sanitized”

Back in the day, decades ago, Chris and had a water bed. It was NOT a good storage idea. Well, it was’t a good idea to have to sleep on your storage Keeping it clean and drinkable was tough. Heated water loves to grow bugs. But, it gave us and idea. We tried twin sized bed bladders. They worked, but they are a pain to handle. And, they need a frame to support them.

Thankfully, bulk water storage is easier today. We use a couple of things.

Under each bed is a 50 gallon bladder. Today, the one that we used has been replaced by a better one. The new one is 60 gallons, tougher, and no plastic taste that our old one had.

In the house, we have racks of 5 gallon containers. We use this 4 tier high bottle rack. Each person in the family has 1 rack with 20 gallons of for each person. I also just ordered one of these pumps for the 5 gallon water bottles. My wife has trouble lifting it on the dispenser. This will make it a lot easier. This is the one we bought.

Other

Next is the 360 gallon “Cubie” container. This contains rain water which is sanitized for drinking if needed, but it is our “Other” water. This water is intended to flush the toilet, wash dishes, plus wash hands and people. In a pinch, we can drink it safely. Also, it is to water our garden. South Carolina has lots of rain. So, refilling it is not an issue. It’s big, it’s bad, and a hurricane isn’t moving it.

That Is a Lot of Water!

It seems so. But, it’s time for a little math. If we take a 360-gallon cube container, four 5-gallon bottles of water per person, and one 50-gallon water bladder per person. It comes out to 730 gallons of water in our house. That’s a metric poop ton (As my eldest Jake says!) of water.

According to the EPA, we use about 300 gallons per person per day. That 730 gallons we have put by will only last 2 people about 2 ¼ days give or take. Most medical professionals suggest that we drink at least 4 quarts (1 gallon) of water per day. We can double or even triple that depending on exertion level, temperature and humidity.

Now, add in water needed for food prep, washing up, and basic hygiene, and you could hit 10 gallons a day. Doesn’t sound like much compared to 300 gallons. But at that rate you’d be out in a week. 

Sanitizing

I wrote a piece on sanitizing for the Covid virus. In it, I talked about using bleach and how to use pool shock to make bleach. What we didn’t cover was how was how to use it to purify water.

Disinfect Water Using Household Bleach

This is a great option when you can’t boil water. Only use regular, unscented, chlorine bleach products that are suitable for disinfection and sanitation as indicated on the label. The label may say that the active ingredient contains 6 or 8.25% of sodium hypochlorite. ***Do not use scented, color safe, or bleaches with added cleaners.***

Here are the steps to disinfect drinking water with liquid bleach. If the water is cloudy, let it settle and filter it through a clean cloth, paper towel, or coffee filter.

    • Locate a clean dropper from your medicine cabinet or emergency supply kit.
    • Use the table below as a guide to decide the amount of bleach you should add to the water, for example, 8 drops of 6% bleach, or 6 drops of 8.25% bleach, to each gallon of water. Double the amount of bleach if the water is cloudy, colored, or very cold.
    • Stir and let stand for 30 minutes. The water should have a slight chlorine odor. If it doesn’t, repeat the dosage and let stand for another 15 minutes before use.
    • If the chlorine taste is too strong, pour the water from one clean container to another and let it stand for a few hours before use.

Volume of Water

Amount of 6% Bleach to Add*

Amount of 8.25% Bleach to Add*

1 quart/liter

2 drops

2 drops

1 gallon

8 drops

6 drops

2 gallons

16 drops (1/4 tsp)

12 drops (1/8 teaspoon)

4 gallons

1/3 teaspoon

1/4 teaspoon

8 gallons

2/3 teaspoon

1/2 teaspoon

 

*Bleach may contain 6 or 8.25% sodium hypochlorite.

That will put you on the right track for making your water safe to drink. Also Do not forget to sanitize your containers!

Filters

Filters are a useful item. We have a few types for daily use and in the Bug Out Bag, (More on that in a later). The Life Straw. Is a GREAT tool. Everyone has one and a spare filter. For the home, if you can afford it, The Big Berkey is the standard of the industry. It is PRICEY but it is an investment in water security for your family.

There is, however, a more affordable workaround: The DIY Berkey.

The DIY Berkey

A new Big Berkey is almost 500 bucks. I’d like to share the how to build one for less than half. I am not going to rewrite nor copy it. Its easier to just link the article and I’ll share the parts list here.

Supplies:

Instructions:

  • Drill two 1/2″ holes in the bottom of the upper bucket and two matching holes in the lid of the lower bucket.
  • Drill a 3/4″ hole in the side of the lower bucket toward the bottom. Make sure that the hole is up just far enough for the spigot to clear when the filter is sitting on a flat surface
  • Assemble the lower bucket by installing the spigot and the lid with holes.
  • Install the filter elements in the upper bucket through the holes in the bottom.
  • Assemble the filter by placing the upper bucket on the lower. Be sure to line up the holes so the tubes extend through the lid of the lower bucket. Place the remaining lid on top.

To use the filter, fill the upper bucket with water and wait. If you are starting with dry elements, it will take quite a while before the water starts dripping into the lower bucket. It takes up to several hours for the clean water to drain into the lower bucket. This process can be sped up considerably by frequently topping off the water in the upper bucket. This maintains maximum pressure on the elements.

Notes:

  • I had no scientific way to test the water quality; however, the filtered water was clear, had no odor, and tasted similar to distilled.
  • The specifications of the Black Berkey elements can be found here: http://berkeywater.com/BerkeyLight/BB_Purification_Elements.html
  • There are a number of ways to make this even cheaper: Use free buckets from a grocery store bakery or restaurant. I have found the same type of spigot for $5 since making this one. Super Sterasyl elements can be substituted for the Black Berkey elements. They cost about $84 a pair.
  • The filter can be made considerably larger by using any two stacking containers suitable for water, trash cans or 30-gallon water barrels for instance. The flow rate can also be increased by adding more filter elements.
  • The filtered solids remain on the outside of the filter elements and will eventually interfere with the rate of flow. Therefore, it is important to prefilter through a dense cloth (we use cloth diapers) if your source water is particularly cloudy. The elements can be scrubbed clean with a plastic scouring pad. The Black Berkey elements last for about 3000 gallons each (6000 gallons for the pair).

The link for this article is http://www.alpharubicon.com/kids/homemadeberkeydaire.htm

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