The Best Water Storage Containers

The Best Water Storage Containers

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I want to share the best water storage containers today. We all want to store water for our family in case of an unforeseen disaster. In my book, “Prepare Your Family For Survival” I recommend four gallons of water per person per day.

Now, The American Red Cross recommends one gallon per person per day. I get thirsty just thinking about only one gallon. Is it because I live in the desert? Possibly. In case you missed this post, The Best 5-Gallon Water Jugs.

I use a product called Water Preserver to protect the water in my containers from contamination so I only have to change out the water every 5 years. This is what I use, Water Preserver. I know there are other products available, but this is what I use.

Unscented Bleach

I don’t recommend unscented bleach, but if you decide to do that, it’s recommended that you use 2 drops of unscented bleach to one quart of water. It’s recommended that you rotate your water every six months using the bleach treatment approach.

If you are still on the fence as to what water storage container(s) to buy, let’s talk about some options today. Keep in mind, I’m talking about long-term water storage containers.

Some of you may have seen some of my containers before, but I know there are a lot of people who have not. Please keep in mind that we need several ways to store water. Let’s get started with a few today. I’m a visual person so I will share pictures of my containers with you so you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Please make sure you keep your water safe by storing it on 2 by 4’s to keep it off the ground or concrete. You don’t want chemicals to leach into the water container(s). When filling your water containers, please use a lead-free hose, like this one. Lead-Free Hose

The Best Water Storage Containers

The Best Water Storage Containers

High-Capacity Water Tanks

The tank shown below holds 250 gallons of water. You can see it is sitting on top of 2 by 4’s to keep it off the concrete. We also used a strap around it that was attached to the wall with a strong hook screwed into a wood stud to hold it in place in case of an earthquake.

Read More of My Articles  Water Storage: How Much Do You Really Need?

You can fill it from the top and drain it with a spigot about 18 inches off the ground. There is another spigot close to the floor so it can be completely drained when needed.

High Capacity Water Tanks

Medium Size Tanks

Some years ago I purchased the water storage tank shown below from I just tried to check out any new product offerings on their website and it didn’t come up, so I’m not sure this company is still in business. I’m sure there are other companies with a similar tank.

This one stores 160 gallons. It is unique in shape since it is oblong with measurements of 36″ x 29″. It measures approximately 42″ tall, including the tank filler cap on top. It was my understanding that they built it at that width so it could fit through a door of at least 30″ wide.

Note the large filler cap that screws on the top of the unit. I did notice it had a small cap accessed in an indentation in the side of the tank’s top so you can use natural water pressure when draining by simply loosening the cap.

Also, note the raised ridges on top. These were designed to accommodate another tank stacked on top so that the tank wouldn’t be prone to shift or slide. The tank has a spigot on the bottom so it can be efficiently drained if needed.

I also used the Water Preserver product in this tank to protect the 160 gallons. Note the 2″ x 4″ wood slats on the bottom for support. This is the company where I bought mine years ago, Water Prepared

160 Gallon Tank

Small 55-Gallon Barrels

To be honest, this is my least favorite way to store water. The good thing is, at least in Utah, they cost about $40.00 without the covers.

Because I live in the desert, I opted to buy UV Barrel Bags to protect the blue barrels from the heat. I bought the first set of Barrel Bags about ten years ago.

I just recently replaced them. Keep in mind we have temperatures that get up to 117 degrees here in the summer. When I took the old covers off, the barrels literally looked like new ones. I was so happy to see no destruction from the sun.

Occasionally we get freezing temperatures, so I never fill them totally full. I leave room for expansion if the water freezes in the winter. Here are the things you will need if you decide to get 55-gallon barrels:

  • A Bung (to loosen or tighten the closure cap)
  • A Barrel Pump ( you need this to get the water out, there are no spigots)
  • UV Barrel Bags
  • Water Preserver (one container per barrel)
The Best Water Storage Containers


The WaterBrick on the left can hold 3.5 gallons of liquid and 27 pounds of dry food. The WaterBrick on the right can hold 1.6 gallons of water (currently unavailable) or 13 pounds of dry food. If you want a WaterBrick Spigot, this is it. The Water Preserver is needed if you only want to rotate your water every 5 years.

The Best Water Storage Containers

Right now I store 56 gallons of water in my WaterBricks under a queen size bed (depends on your bed frame and leg height) in my guest room.

Queen Bed

WaterBrick Tips

  • Dimensions of the WaterBricks (3.5-gallons)  9″ W x 18″ L x 6″ H 
  • Dimensions of the WaterBricks (1.6-gallons) 9″ W x 9″ L x 6″ H
  • These are stackable, 16 of the 3.5-gallon size will fit under my queen-sized bed (56 gallons total)
  • They stack/interlock for easy storage as well, yet you can easily grab one and go.
  • Add 1/2 teaspoon of Water Preserver to store for five years, change the water every five years (for the 3.5-gallon size) 
  • They have convenient handles that have a “grip” on them to protect your hand. The handle folds into the unit for easy storage and stacking.
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What about using smaller containers like empty milk jugs?

I’ve been asked many times why I don’t write about or recommend the smaller jugs. There are a number of issues I worry about, like whether were they properly cleaned out before the water was added, whether they are made of plastic designed for food or water storage for extended periods, will chemicals leach into to container if left on the ground, or concrete, etc.

My experience has been that they are also prone to leaking. I do think they are fairly handy for short-term use if other options aren’t available, and they are basically free since you are re-using them.

I do think a better option MAY be the heavier plastic containers used for fruit juices. They tend to have a thicker plastic that should hold up better over time. I’ve also heard that the larger vinegar containers tend to hold up ok for water storage on a shorter-term basis.

Final Word

Please think about adding more water storage containers to your stash. It’s all about being prepared for the unexpected. We can do this, one container at a time, right?

Please tell me your favorite containers, you like to store water in, I love to hear from you. May God Bless this world, Linda

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  1. You didn’t give any links as to where to purchase these water jugs. I have quite a few of the water bricks but would like to get at least the 160 gallon one.

  2. Linda,

    I use the same water preserver (sodium hypochlorite) to keep the water in my automatic chicken waterer from growing mildew. I use 1 tsp in a 5-gallon bucket.

    FEMA recommends using 8 drops per gallon if you use unscented bleach. A teaspoon per quart sounds like massive overkill. Oh, and “unscented” bleach has a chlorine smell that on the label of the product is now usually called Regular Scent.

    1. Hi Ray, wow, what a great idea for the automatic chicken waterer! I just changed it to 2 drops per quart. Thanks for catching that. It’s a little easier to get bleach now, not sure how long this will last. Linda

  3. I buy the heavy duty drums from my local car wash, but only the ones that just had soap in them. It takes a while to rinse them thoroughly, but then I add bleach and water and let them sit for a week. I then siphon the water out and fill with clean water and the 5 year preserver. The drums only cost me $15.00 each.

    1. Hi Peggy,
      How big are the drums you get from the car wash? And do you just speak to the manager and ask when they will be replacing them? Thanks for sharing!
      My family got the 500 gallon containers from a bakery that stored sugar. They did something similar with water and bleach to try and clean out the sugar. Once they are ready to drain and refill, they flood the yard similar to an orchard.

  4. Linda, I’m fond of the containers called totes. They are white plastic containers with a larger filler cap on the top and a drain on the bottom. They have an aluminum cage built around the container with a serious pallet like bottom that forklifts use to move them with. They are stackable since they have a metal frame. Like many larger storage containers they have been used to transport liquids for manufacturing. I have ones of food grade that have been cleaned before being offered for sale. The ones I have are of the 250 gallon and 330 gallon sizes. Approximate dimensions are 42″ wide by 48″ long and 52″ tall for the 330 gallon size. I use them for water storage but have seen may you tube videos where they use them for rain water collection and storage.

    1. Hi Bert, I know exactly what those are! They are awesome! We were going to buy some they were pretty inexpensive but then we didn’t have enough room on the side of my house to store them. I swear we can hear the people talking next door the houses are so close to each other! Not really but they are way too close for me! LOL! So those would not fit on my lot. Those are fabulous! Linda

  5. Hi Linda
    I’m curious why the stackable 55 gallon containers are your least favorite and since you showed a picture of them covered, I’m not really sure what they look like. I just ordered two 55 gallon stackables (yes I’m from Utah), because the price was sooo much more affordable, about $60 each. That’s a little over $1 per gallon. The 160 gallon tanks were going for about $500-600! That’s crazy expensive!
    Thank you for sharing your research and knowledge.

    1. Hi Robin, great question. First of all the 55-gallon ones I have covered with a UV ray protector are NOT stackable. I have had those for about 15 years. They were cheap. They are fine but not my favorite. They now make stackable 50-gallon barrels that are sturdy and strong. These are similar to my sturdy 160-gallon barrels. Smart Tank 50 Gallon Stackable Water Storage Tank – BPA Free -Smart Tank 50 Gallon Stackable Water Storage Tank – BPA Free -$209.00.
      The 55-gallon barrels I have are not stackable unless you build an extremely heavy-weight frame for them so they stack horizontally. Here are similar ones to what I have: 55-gallon: on Amazon the cost is $122.00. Walmart used to sell them for about $35.00-50.00. They are NOT stackable. If you know about some STACKABLE 55-gallon for $60.00 each, please send me the link, I have never seen them that cheap. Linda

  6. Hi Linda,

    The link to the water preserver isn’t working. Do you by chance have another link? I know this post is a few years old so not sure if you’ll see this. Thank you so much!

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