Written By: Andrew Miles
Written By: Andrew Miles

30-year licensed plumber out of NYC. Specializing in Water Filteration and Softening Systems. Now, retired and enjoy sharing my industry knowledge here. See my bio.

Nobody ever expects that they will be dealing with an emergency, but the value of being prepared cannot be overstated. The most important element on the planet is water, and ensuring that you have access to clean, drinkable water no matter the situation or circumstance is invaluable.

Best Water Storage Container

More and more people are making the wise decision to purchase a water storage container, and even if they never use it, I can guarantee you they are glad to have it. Having a water storage container can provide you with endless peace of mind that you have a safety net of clean water no matter what happens.

Water storage containers come in all shapes and sizes, and choosing the best water storage container will be entirely dependent on your situation and needs.

There are so many quality choices available, and as time goes on, we are seeing that storage containers are becoming more and more versatile and have many more uses than simply storage. By following our in-depth reviews and our buying guide, we are confident that we can point you in the right direction to choose the best water storage tanks and containers for you and your family’s needs.

The Right Way To Do Long Term Water Storage

Having a reliable long-term water storage plan is vital to your survival in dire situations. There are a few tips and tricks that may seem simple but are of the highest importance when storing your water.

The most important thing to consider is the volume of water needed. It is well documented that each person will need at least 1 gallon of water per day to retain proper hydration and hygiene. You will need to consider the number of people you are going to be storing water for and, additionally, how long you expect to be without a clean water source.

FEMA recommends that every person have a minimum of 3 days of water in reserve tanks ready to go when disaster strikes. Keep in mind; this is the bare minimum. We suggest that having at least two weeks of clean water available is the right decision based on recent natural disasters and situations where people were without their usual water source for months. Hurricanes and tornados can occur in many parts of the world and are strong enough to knock out water supplies for a long time. My rule of thumb is it is always better to be over-prepared than unprepared.

Another factor that is often overlooked is the temperature and environment that you are storing water. Most water storage containers are made from UV-resistant materials and colors, but that alone is not enough to keep your water in the best shape possible. You will want to make sure that you have your reserve water storage tanks in a dark place and between 45-70 degrees (Fahrenheit) to maintain peak water quality.

The sun can do a ton of damage to your water supply, and that is why color is so important when it comes to water storage containers.

There are several quality storage containers on the market, and you will notice that most of the plastic ones are colored dark blue or sometimes green.

These colors are the most UV-resistant in the color spectrum and do a wonderful job of combatting sun rays and UV light from reaching your water supply. Color may seem like just an aesthetic thing, but it is a major factor with water storage containers.

It is also a widely known fact that a blue barrel or tank is water and does not contain explosive material. For example, red barrels are widely regarded as gasoline, and storing water in a red barrel may be a bad idea for this reason and because red does not resist UV-light very well.

How Not to Store Water?

There are several misconceptions regarding water storage and some common myths important to understand the truth about. The biggest one is plastic and the various types of plastic. You may have noticed throughout the article, and you will notice below how often we stress BPA-Free plastic. Some people are under the impression that you can store water in any plastic container floating around the house. This could not be further from the truth.

Every plastic has a recycle symbol and number on it somewhere. It is important to remember that polyethylene plastic is the best plastic-type for water storage, and these can be identified by having a stamp with the numbers 1, 2, or 4.

These numbers specify that the plastic used is safe for water storage, and they also signify that nothing has been stored in the plastic container before. Many people use milk jugs to store water, and this is a BAD idea. Milk jugs are biodegradable and will break down over time. You also must consider unless the bottle has been cleaned thoroughly plenty of times, any live cultures leftover in the milk bottle be harmful to you if ingested.

Another thing to remember to avoid is water storage containers that are reliant on power. When a natural disaster strikes, there is a good chance that if your water supply is out, you will most likely not have access to electricity. This also includes battery-operated systems. As we all know, batteries run out of juice eventually, and if you do not keep up with them, they could come back to bite you when they run out at a crucial time.


Best Water Storage Containers for Emergencies


Blue 55 Gallon Water Storage Tank By WaterPrepared

Blue 55 Gallon Water Storage

WaterPrepared has a real winner with its 55-gallon water storage container. They paid attention to every detail when constructing this water system, and we appreciate the attention to detail. The first thing we noticed about this system was the versatility of the water storage container.

They designed it with emergencies in mind, but we have seen it used in several different ways that are very beneficial.

When it comes to emergency preparedness, this water tank checks all the boxes. Fifty-five gallons of water is enough for months of water in a survival situation, and the BPA-Free and UV-resistant plastic is great for keeping water cool and healthy for months. Because the spigot was designed to be attached to a garden hose, you can also use this water tank in the garden or barn. I have seen some folks attach a pump to the hose and use this water tank as a source for cleaning stables and vehicles too!

Why We Love It

  • The spigot is integrated into the tank making it more secure and easier to access.
  • It is constructed of enhanced HDPE plastic that is BPA-Free and combats contaminants.
  • We like that the water storage container is blue. It helps block sunlight and keeps water cooler than other color plastics.
  • Even with its large water capacity, it is still straightforward to store. They made it less than 3-feet for every measurement.

Keep In Mind

The spigot was tricky to install into the water storage container.


3. Augason Farms 6-07910 Water Filtration And Storage Kit

Augason Farms

The Augason Farms water storage container is such a popular choice because it is large, versatile, and comes loaded with added pieces that are critical in case of a water emergency.

For being a 55-gallon water storage container, this drum does not take up a ton of space, and because it is made from plastic, it is extremely durable. Not to worry, the plastic is BPA-Free and is completely safe for water to be stored in and consumed within a few years of filling.

The added siphoning pump and hose make it easy to use your water storage container for numerous other things, rather than just an emergency well. It is wildly popular with farmers because you get tons of water in one drum, and the 6-foot included hose can help fill troughs and clean up the barn. It also comes with a water treatment formula that can stabilize and purify the water when it is mixed in. This is vital to ensuring that you have clean water when you need it the most.

Why We Love It

  • You get a ton of bonus features with the Augason 55-gallon drum that is all usable and will be needed in the feature.
  • The included siphoning pump fits perfectly and does a great job siphoning water from the tank.
  • There is a water treatment formula included, and it has a shelf life of 4 years, even after opening it.

Keep In Mind

The bottom of the storage container became discolored after just a few months.


4. 15 Gallon Emergency Water Storage Barrel

15 Gallon Emergency

This 15-gallon dark blue water tank is the perfect size for when you are in an emergency or need to keep your water supply mobile. The capacity is enough that it will allow you to have enough water to live on for 1-2 weeks, and the weight will not be a problem to shuffle around if necessary. When empty, it weighs only 10 pounds, and there is a handle on the top of the water storage container that makes maneuvering it a breeze.

The plastic is 100% BPA-Free, and the dark blue color is UV-resistant does a great job of blocking light from reaching your water supply. There are two different size fittings in the top where you can connect a hose or siphoning pump, and they are both easy to access and manage. One thing we noticed about this 15-gallon container is that the plastic is thick.

I am not worried about the durability, and after rolling it across the grass while it was full, I am even more convinced that this thing will last years.

Why We Love It

  • The dark blue color is UV-resistant and helps keep the water cooler and UV-Free.
  • Fifteen gallons may seem too small, but moving the water storage container can be difficult with anything larger. Even when this is full, it can be moved.
  • We appreciated the different options of spout sizes; it can accommodate anyone’s situation.
  • There is a handle on the top of the tank that makes carrying easy.

Keep In Mind

The instructions are not very detailed regarding opening the container, best storage conditions, or cleaning instructions.


5. LCI Plastic Water Can 5 Gallon (Green Can)

LCI Plastic Water

The LCI water storage tank was designed with the military in mind and worked exactly how it should. With a 5-gallon capacity, you can carry this jug around with ease for hours on end, and it will contain enough water to get you through any situation that can arise that day.

Some people may frown at a smaller capacity. Still, considering that the average human uses less than 2 gallons of water per day, this tank can provide you with enough water to survive for multiple days if needed.

The large handle on the top makes it easy to grip, and if you are looking for an emergency water supply for your Jeep or Humvee, it easily ties onto any trailer. One of my favorite things about the LCI water tank is that the company focuses on employing veterans, disabled, and blind people and provides them valuable jobs vital to our economy and well-being.

Why We Love It

  • The UV-resistant green color is a great insulator for water and keeps sunlight out effectively.
  • We were very impressed with the strength of the plastic; it feels indestructible.
  • The spigot at the top works well when you want to use the can to clean, cook, or drink water.
  • There was no plastic taste with the taste of the water after storing water in this for weeks.

Keep In Mind

The cap is easy to twist off, but I wish it were connected by a rope or plastic piece, so there is no risk of losing it.


6. WaterStorageCube BPA-Free Collapsible Water Container

WaterStorageCube BPA-Free

If you are looking for a portable short-term water container, the WaterStorageCube boasts a ton of basic but quality features that guarantee to get the job done.

The first thing you will notice when removing it from the box is the heavy plastic. It is not weak or flimsy and is built to withstand the rigors of the mountains or desert. The attached spout is leak-proof, and it is an easy way for you to fill your cup or water bottle for a long day ahead.

There are no seams on the water storage container, which is very important to me when I am looking at these items. Seams tend to leak, but with this on-the-go system, that will not worry, thanks to its solid construction. The 5.3-gallon capacity is plenty for one person to use for an entire week, and there is enough storage to keep water in there in case of an emergency. The lightweight and packability of this storage container make it an interesting option for many people.

Why We Love It

  • There is no added taste from the plastic with this portable storage container.
  • This is a great size for a day trip or just a few days at the cabin or out in the woods on an adventure.
  • The collapsible nature of the container makes it easy to pack with you virtually anywhere, and it weighs mere ounces when empty, and it will fit in your back pocket.
  • There is a loop attached that allows you to hang it anywhere and use gravity to deliver water.

Keep In Mind

The hanging loop is not strong enough to hold the weight of the jug when it is full.



What To Consider When Choosing a Water Storage Container for Long Term Prepping

how to buy a water storage container

Why Am I Storing Water?

The most common use of water storage containers is for emergency reasons related to natural disasters like floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes. Natural disasters can strike at any time, and if you are scrambling to find water for your family, that can be the difference between life and death. Even if you live in a calm area that may seem safe from these types of natural disasters, some other situations can arise, and it does not matter where you live for these.

There have been hundreds of incidents with local water sources like city water supplies and wells being contaminated.

These sorts of situations can arise for several reasons, but while it may seem unlikely, I promise that you will be sorry if you are not prepared when the time comes. Another scenario that we have run into is when pipes break or water pipes freeze. This happens all the time in my home state of Minnesota, and having an emergency water tank nearby has saved me multiple times from having to eat snow!

Size of Container

When we refer to the maximum capacity of a water storage container, we refer to the amount of liquid it can hold when full. This is the most important piece of information you must consider before choosing the best water storage container for you. The rule of thumb is that each family member will need 1 gallon of clean water per day to maintain hydration and hygiene. If you have a large family, you may want to look into larger tanks or multiple, stackable storage containers easily stored upon one another.

FEMA suggests that you keep a minimum of 3 days of clean water set aside. We suggest that you have a few weeks available just to be safe. Make sure you calculate the number of people in your family by the maximum amount of water available in your storage and ensure that the storage container can meet your needs for a minimum of three days, but ideally, a few weeks if possible.

Portability Options

Several water storage containers are available that are 55-gallons, and many folks may be wondering why everybody does not purchase one of these.

Besides space being an issue for many people, you must remember that 55 gallons of water weigh several hundred pounds.

If you do go this route, you must accept that your water storage container may not ever move when it is full. Some people prefer somewhat smaller tanks that have handles and are much lighter when full. It all comes down to personal preference and the space you have available.

Durability

This is an important factor for me and many of the people I work with. The last thing you want is to need your reserve water container, and you realize that it has been leaking or that the spigot/valve is broken. This can cause massive headaches and can sometimes have even bigger ramifications during an emergency. We prefer to have all our spigots, valves, and threading made from brass or stainless steel. Plastic is great for many things, but these are not those things.

We also prefer to have our storage containers be made from thicker, durable plastic or metal that can take a beating. Remember, during an emergency, you may be dealing with a ton, and if your water storage container cannot handle it, then it might as well just not be there.

BPA Free Plastic vs. Metal Containers

When it comes to plastic, you must ensure that your plastic water storage container is BPA-Free, and all components are at a minimum, food-grade materials. If plastic is not BPA-Free, there could be added chemicals to the plastic that can be harmful when ingested.

I would never buy a plastic water storage container that is not BPA-Free and nor should you.

If you go the metal route, you will want to ensure that all the fittings and tanks are made from a quality, rust-resistant metals that are strong but light enough to be mobile. Metal storage containers are a popular choice because they are tough, and many come with built-in pressurization. Be careful to avoid alloys and other mixed metals that could harbor bacteria.

Properly Sealed Lids

One of the most overlooked aspects of a water storage container is the seal. Your water may be sitting in the same place for years before you need it, and if it is not properly sealed, you will run into issues with bacteria and possibly spiders!

Ensure you understand how the lid seals and ensure that there is a gasket or an attached lid that is completely leak-free. A good way to check is to try and put pressure on the storage container from the inside and see if there is any expelled air. This will tell you if there are any air leaks, and if there are, you need to tighten it back up.

Ease Of Storage

The more advanced water storage containers get, the easier they are to store. Not everyone has space for a 55-gallon drum, and if you are in the boat, you need to find a solution where storage is nice and easy. Many systems are becoming stackable, where you can place multiple water storage containers securely upon one another.

I suggest finding these types. Ensure that you can first fir the water storage container into space you have reserved for it and then make sure you have some extra room above for stacking.

Ease Of Use

When it comes to using the storage container and gaining access to the water, you have many options. The most common type is a spigot built-in, or you can attach it to the storage container when needed. These are easy to use, but you want to make sure you verify the spigots material. Plastic seems to break easier.

The other common type of access is via a siphoning pump and water hose. Depending on what you are using the water for during this specific moment, this is a common type of water delivery system that allows you to use it for many uses.

These included bathing, cleaning, or even taking care of animals. Regardless of which type you choose, you must be comfortable using it and find it easy to use even during high-stress situations.

How to Clean Water Storage Containers

Cleaning water storage containers is a tough job. Many of them come with one small access point where you fill the tank and remove it. Before cleaning it, make sure that it is not a single-use storage tank. Some tanks are designed only to be used for water storage once. This is due to the type of plastic they use and how water may end up in the plastic’s tiny crevices and could start growing mold or bacteria.

If you are ready to clean the container, you should always consult the manual that came with the unit. Usually, companies will let you know the best way to clean their product and how you can make it easy on yourself. There is no single way to clean a water storage container, and it will be entirely dictated by the storage container you choose. Keep this in mind and use the cleaning process to determine which is the best water storage container.

Some basic tips unanimous across most water storage containers are using warm water and a soft brush to avoid scratching the plastic. Scratches in the plastic allow bacteria and protozoa to burrow in there and possibly contaminate your drinking water supply.

How to Purify Water Storage Containers for Long Term Storage

If possible, it is always a good idea to fill your tank with filtered and purified water. That is the best course of action, to begin with. Once it is filled, we strongly suggest using a water purifying compound that can take acidic or bacteria-filled water, kill everything in its path and make the water healthy and safe to drink. There are tons of these products available, and a little research will go a long way.

If you have been storing your water for a long time, then we suggest using the purifying compound before consuming or using the water for anything else. This is just a safety net for you, and even though your water might be okay to consume already, this compound will make it the best it can be.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I still need to replace my water storage containers if they have yet to be used?

new water storage containers

If they are sealed shut and away from the elements, there should be no issue using them if they are sitting empty. If there is any excess air, moisture, or unfiltered water trapped inside, you should not use it.

Can plastic storage containers handle boiling water?

plastic storage containers and boiling water

You should NOT boil water in plastic. It cannot handle high heat like glass and other water storage types.

How long can water remain in a storage container?

How long can water remain in a storage container?

Most storage containers will last years after being filled for the first time. Based on the model and the material you choose, the longevity will fluctuate. Many BPA-Free models can keep water for years and keep it clean and fresh.

What are plastic containers safe for water storage?

What are plastic containers safe for water storage?

The first thing you want to confirm is that the entire storage container is BPA-Free. From there, you will want to make sure that the plastic grade is #1, #2, or #4. These are the plastics that are rated to handle water storage in the long and short term.

Conclusion

Many people fail to understand the importance of having a backup water supply in case of an emergency.

There are too many examples of natural disasters and freak accidents not to be prepared when the need for clean water comes.

Luckily, there are several options on the market, and each one carries unique characteristics that separate it from others.

Depending on your unique situation, finding the best water storage container can be tricky. By following our buying guide and considering a few of our review section options, we are confident that you will find something for you. We sincerely thank you for tuning into this article and wish you luck finding the best water storage container for you.

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One Comment

  1. I am most captivated when you wrote that it is well documented that each person will need at least 1 gallon of water per day to maintain proper hydration and hygiene. Your post convinced me more that it is really important to have a reliable long-term water storage plan. I better look now for a company that provides portable water storage tanks so I can start my water storage plan.

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