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Erik's Upgraded Drinking Water Storage w/Pics

Posted: Tue Dec 25, 2007 2:42 pm
by Erik
Merry Christmas, ZS!

Today, I finished upgrading my water storage. Why upgrade? A couple of reasons. First of all, I live in the southeast, the area that's had the ongoing drought. The drought hasn't broken yet, and you can read about it here: . As a result, I have chosen to add more gallons of drinking water.

My old water storage, which you can see at, was a total of 341 gallons. Most of the water was stored in four 50-gallon metal barrels. Those barrels were designed to hold liquid. In fact, they previously stored fruit juice concentrate. Unfortunately, they did start to rust a little bit, specifically around the bottom seam, where the floor and side of the drum meet. You can see a picture of the rust below. If you look closely, you'll notice the bright-colored ring at the bottom of the barrel. That's the rust.


Fortunately, it is very easy for me to buy replacement barrels around here. I live in the same town as Baxter Healthcare Corp, which takes 55 gallon barrels of IV solution and packages it into IV bags for the healthcare industry. Previously, I was afraid to use these containers for water storage, as I was scared of the "chemicals." However, I've talked to a couple of experts, and they all agree it's perfectly safe to store drinking water in containers previously used for IV solution. Apparently, IV solution is designed to safely go straight into the human body, just like water.

Around here, you can buy their emptied 55 gallon plastic barrels, which are indeed food grade, for $8 apiece. You can get them all over the place. Most other towns, they run $50-80 each. These drums were used once, then sold to a salvage/tool place by Baxter. There are always at least a hundred for sale at this price at this one location, though there are other locations. They are basically in new condition, merely emptied of their original contents. I gave the store owner $64, went out to the huge stack of barrels, selected eight, and then took them home in two truckloads.

These containers held a solution of 90% lactic acid, called PURAC FC 90. The barrels were filled less than two months ago.

The barrels are sealed using a screw-in plug instead of a lid, which is fine with me. There's still a tiny bit of PURAC sloshing around in the bottom. To clean out the remaining contents, which are 100% water soluble, just tilt the drum downward, spray out with a house while water comes out the bottom plug. Turn over and repeat.


Believe me, you want to make sure your barrels are exactly where you want them before you fill them with water, because once they're full, they aren't moving anywhere. I can't move 450 pounds. Can you? Once they're full, add 1/4 cup unscented bleach, and you're good to go for a few years of storage.


Here it all is. The four totes each hold eighteen 2-liters, or 9 gallons apiece. The water heater 80 gallons. I'll also add in the twenty gallons of stored water in my PAW closet for easy access. Finally, if you add in the eight 55 gallon drums, that's 576 gallons of stored drinking water. Woo hoo! Drought, do your worst!


Posted: Tue Dec 25, 2007 2:50 pm
by TheFreakinBear
Erik, that is fucking awesome! I love it. I wish we had the means to store water like that if not at least even the means of getting containers like that and transporting them. I'm still looking for a POS truck that will just run lol.

Still an awesome set up not to mention affordable. What's in the two rectangular containers?

Posted: Tue Dec 25, 2007 3:40 pm
by BHP
Outstanding work Erik, glad you followed up on the IV fluid barrels. If I can find similar food grade drums like that in my area I will follow your lead, I would even pay up to twice what you did if need be.

Posted: Tue Dec 25, 2007 4:09 pm
by Grace
How'd you manage emptying out the fruit juice barrels?

Posted: Tue Dec 25, 2007 4:27 pm
by TheFreakinBear
From what I got out of it, they were already empty. They use them to transport the juices to wherever and then empty them out. There was some chemical left over in them to clean them out which is what he is showing you how to do because otherwise it could harm you and the water.

Posted: Tue Dec 25, 2007 4:30 pm
by HurricaneDad
To Hell with your basement. :( Living here in the upper Midwest without a basement, we've got little room for things like 8x55 gallon barrels anywhere that won't freeze.

Looks great, though! For those who don't have the luxury of a BSK factory close, try looking for Coke or Pepsi bottling plants. They might have the plastic drums available.

Posted: Tue Dec 25, 2007 4:32 pm
by Erik
Grace wrote:How'd you manage emptying out the fruit juice barrels?
I stuck one end of a garden hose into the full barrel of water. Then I stretched it out down the incline of my driveway. Then I mouth siphoned the water and let it drain. I tossed two of the barrels and kept the other two in my garage/basement.

TFB, those four square containers hold 2-liters full of water.


Posted: Tue Dec 25, 2007 5:13 pm
by AwPhuch
Cool you have a hand pump to get the water out..or are you going to gravity feed with syphon

Posted: Tue Dec 25, 2007 5:29 pm
by JRod
I'm actually up in NC atm Erik, and while the weather is cozy I was wondering if you had given any thought to lifting the barrels up off the ground (onto pallets maybe?) to keep them from freezing right away when the temperature drops? For those of you considering metal water barrels this helps to keep the bottoms from corroding.

Now if only I could find some small barrels for that cheap. I don't trust the floor of my apartment to hold full 55gal drums.

Posted: Tue Dec 25, 2007 5:39 pm
by ZombieKraft
Any advice on finding used drums in other areas?

Posted: Tue Dec 25, 2007 5:58 pm
by Hanuman110
Hmm, Google tells me that your a little less than an hour from Hickory, NC. My sister lives there. I may just have to take my truck next time I visit and pick up some barrels. Excellent post.

Posted: Tue Dec 25, 2007 8:03 pm
by southalabama
Thats cool, I was feeling good for scoring a pair of 5 gallon water storage jugs at a closeout store for $3.00.

Barrels are the way to go.

Posted: Tue Dec 25, 2007 9:31 pm
by Erik
AwPhuch wrote:Cool you have a hand pump to get the water out..or are you going to gravity feed with syphon
I'm going to syphon the old fashioned way.

JRod, thanks to my location, the basement will not freeze, even if it does snow up to an inch here twice a year. Also, your apartment floor should easily be able to hold a 55-gallon drum. A full bookshelf weighs more than that. Imagine how much a piano weighs.

ZombieKraft, I have no advice to dispense on that topic. I only have barrel-finding solutions for my area only.

Roadpirate, PM me next time you're in the area and I'll personally show you the location of all the like-new 55 gallon barrels you could ever want for $8 apiece, tax included. We're talking piles of barrels as high as semi truck trailers.


Posted: Tue Dec 25, 2007 9:53 pm
by pyratemime
And here I was happy that I had started to store water in gallon containers. You make me feel inadequate sir and I hang my head in watery shame.

Posted: Tue Dec 25, 2007 10:18 pm
by Erik
Psssh, don't feel ashamed at all! If you're storing water, you're wayyy ahead of most people.

Just don't use milk containers. They will spring leaks over time. Promise. 2-liters are awesome.


Posted: Tue Dec 25, 2007 11:10 pm
by The Highwayman
VERY nice post, Erik! Good job!!

*grimaces in jealousy, as he plots out a side-trip to NC after Z-Con*

Posted: Wed Dec 26, 2007 12:21 am
by grand94jeep
Good Job Erik. 8)

Posted: Wed Dec 26, 2007 5:25 am
by Buddha
You are setting a very high bench mark.

Thankyou 8) :D

Posted: Wed Dec 26, 2007 7:41 am
by cougar
Damn fine set up, and write up. Thanks Eric.

Posted: Wed Dec 26, 2007 9:34 am
by pyratemime
I am using the Arizona Tea containers because they are a thicker plastic.

Posted: Wed Dec 26, 2007 9:57 am
by Erik
Yeah, they should be fine.

Posted: Wed Dec 26, 2007 10:23 am

I envy you for having a basement. The best I can do at the moment is buy up craploads of the Ozarka 1-liter bottles and stack them on shelves in my garage. At the moment I'm considering whether I should clean out the empties for more drinking water (they're not really dirty upon inspection), or use them for emergency wash water storage.

Posted: Wed Dec 26, 2007 11:06 am
by wurlwynd
I have my barrels up off the floor. I buy horse feed one ton at a time and it comes on these hard plastic egg-crate type things. Holds up the water barrels about 5 inches from the floor quite handily.

Those barrels are made of plastic that is permeable to many different chemicals, and a leak in your basement may ruin your water supply.

Nice setup, though.

Good to see others are prepared...

Posted: Wed Dec 26, 2007 12:58 pm
by Dietrich
Way nice job! I have a few of the 30 Gal drums like that in the basement, set up on some boards to let air circulate underneath and prevent water from condensing on the plastic. I also put a piece of plywood on top, and now have a workbench!