8 Myths About Storing Water That Are Actually True
Monday, October 16, 2023 6:17
We all know the importance of water in our lives. You don’t even have to be a prepper or survivalist to understand that. We use water in countless ways throughout each and every day of our lives, mostly without giving it a thought.
It’s only when that water is hard to come by that most people realize just how precious it really is. We preppers know that and include water storage as a key part of our preps.
That’s not to say that preppers get water storage right all the time. Sadly, the internet contains a wealth of wrong information and we’re just as susceptible to finding it as anyone else is.
Most of the time we have read enough that we recognize the bad information that’s out there. But every once in a while, there are things that slip through as being true, even thought they’re not.
Then there are the things we deny, thinking they can’t be true, even though they are. A lot of that has to do with nothing more than just how well it’s written.
When it comes to something as important as the water that we drink, we can’t afford to believe the wrong information. That includes throwing out “myths” about water storage which are actually true.
Some of those myths are warnings to us, which we need to take into account for our own water storage. Doing so will help us to mitigate against the potential problems that they could cause.
Stored Water Tastes Bad
This myth is true, but it’s not dangerous and is easily rectified. Water tastes better when it has a small amount of dissolved air in it.
That’s why our home faucets (both in the kitchen and bathroom) have aerators on them. Those aerators mix air into the water, so that it will taste good.
As water sits, whether in a pitcher on the counter or in a storage barrel in the basement, the air gradually comes to the top and escapes. This is slow enough that we don’t notice it; but it will affect the taste of the water.
Fortunately, the fix is easy. All we have to do is stir the water vigorously or pour it back and forth between two glasses or pitchers a couple of times, so that air can get mixed back into the water.
You Need to Store a Gallon of Water Per Person, Per Day
This one is both true and false at the same time. We do need one gallon of water per person, per day for survival. But that water just takes care of cooking and drinking. It is not enough to take care of all our needs, specifically cleaning.
It certainly won’t take care of watering a garden, no matter how hard you try; so, if growing your own food is part of your plan, don’t try to count on only a gallon of water per day.
The thing that is important here is that we only need one gallon of purified water per person, per day. All the other water we use doesn’t have to be purified. That includes water we use for bathing, cleaning and gardening.
In fact, we can use greywater for any of those purposes, allowing us to use the same water for washing clothes, then bathing, then cleaning the floor and finally watering our gardens.
Water Needs to be Both Filtered and Purified
This is a somewhat dangerous one, because there are a lot of people out there who are trying to tell us the opposite; but it is in fact true.
That’s because purifying and filtering are two different things. Purifying water is the process of eliminating bacteria and other microscopic pathogens from the water.
Filtering, on the other hand, removes sediment from the water. If all we do is purify the water, such as through chemical purification, we could still have water that contains sediment, even dangerous sediment. We should filter it too.
You can easily build your own water filter in under 30 minutes, using this guide and a few basic materials and tools.
Looking at it from the filtering point of view, there are some water filters which do a good enough job that they will not only remove sediment from the water, but the microscopic pathogens as well.
Drinking Saltwater Will Kill You
This one is absolutely true, especially if the saltwater we are talking about is ocean water.
The concentration of salt in ocean water, commonly referred to as its salinity, is about 35 parts per thousand. However, the salinity of human blood is 9 parts per thousand.
When we drink saltwater, it raises the salinity level of our blood. This will, in turn, cause water to come out of the cells in our bodies, passing through the cell walls into the blood, in an effort to reduce the salinity of the blood.
That leads directly to dehydration, which will kill. The more saltwater that is drunk, the faster it will kill us.
Boil Water for 10 Minutes to Make It Safe to Drink
Boiling water is one of the oldest and widest known means of purifying it.
But is that true? Yes, in fact, it is.
Louis Pasteur discovered in the mid-1800s that bacteria and protozoa die at 158°F, much lower than the boiling point of water, which is 212°F.
So, boiling water will purify it, making it safe to drink or for medical use. For that matter, anything put in that water, such as a cloth to be used for a bandage or a medical instrument will be purified by the heat in the water.
But that doesn’t mean that we need to boil all our water or even that we need to boil water when no other means of purification is available.
Pasteur’s discovery led to what is known to as “pasteurization,” a process where the microscopic pathogens are killed by heat. But pasteurization only requires that the water be heated to 160°F, not to boiling temperature.
By pasteurizing water, instead of boiling it, we can purify the water, without using as much energy or fuel.
Don’t Use Milk Containers to Store Water
Actually, the myth going around is that we can use milk containers to store water. That’s theoretically true, as they are made from a polyethylene based plastic, which is normally one of the best plastics for water storage.
But… and this is a very big but, the containers need to be absolutely clean, down to a microscopic level. If any residue from the milk remains, it can feed any bacteria that are in the water, allowing that bacteria to grow.
You’re better off buying container just for the water, even though it will cost more.
Milk containers are also designed to be at least somewhat biodegradable, meaning that they can and will break down over time. If this process happens too quickly, it could result in the loss of some of your water stocks, not something you want.
You Will Die of Thirst, Before Dying of Starvation
Another true myth. While hunger might bother us more, even causing stomach pain, it won’t kill you very quickly.
You can live for anywhere from 30 to 100 days without food, depending on how much fat reserves you have in your body and how active you are.
Chances are high that you won’t function as well, but you won’t die.
On the other hand, you can only survive three to five days without water, depending on the temperature and your physical activity.
Losing anything over 10% of your body’s water will make you mentally disoriented and cause physical weakness. It can even cause chest pain, akin to that of a heart attack. Death can occur with losing as little as 15% of your body’s water.
Your body can lose anywhere from 17 to 50 ounces of water per hour while involved in physical activity. The range of variance is so broad because your body size, the temperature, and what sort of activity you are engaged in will all affect your water loss.
The activity required for survival will push you more towards the high end of this range, so you need to make sure you keep hydrated.
Water Barrels Can’t be Stacked
Most barrels and containers intended for storing water and other liquids are actually designed for stacking. The key to knowing whether or not they are is the shape of the container.
If the top of the container is flat, providing a stable surface for another container to sit on top of it, then it was designed to carry the weight of that other container and its contents.
This doesn’t mean that barrels and container can be stacked without limit. Everything has a weight limit, including plastic barrels and specialty water containers.
For the containers, check the manufacturer’s literature, which should give clear guidelines on how high they can be stacked. For 55-gallon plastic barrels, don’t go over two high.
Water is undoubtedly one of our most precious resources, and its importance cannot be overstated. It’s a fundamental element of our daily lives, vital for survival, and indispensable for various purposes beyond drinking and cooking.
As preppers, we understand the significance of water storage, yet we must also be discerning in the face of common misconceptions. These so-called “myths” often contain grains of truth, reminding us to remain vigilant in our preparedness efforts.