Solving the question of winter water storage

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CavemanSam
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Solving the question of winter water storage

Post by CavemanSam » Wed Jan 16, 2008 4:59 am

There was a threat not too long ago about ways to store water in vehicles during the winter. I'm not sure if there is a way to keep water stored in a vehicle in sub zero temps from freezing (unless you put antifreeze in it, or have a heater on 24/7). I think the best bet would be to have enough air so that the container will not burst if when the water freezes. Then, if the water melts, you'll have a problem. This solution was suggested by andygates and congochris

I wanted to know what the optimum amount of water you should put in a container to ensure you have the maximum amount of water without having the container burst if the water freezes.

I've taken 6 Deer Park water bottles and filled them with different levels of water.

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Another view, after removing their labels
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The bottle with no markings (at the far right) is the water level as it came, which is 550mL, even though the bottle says 0.5L
Bottle 1 holds 500mL, approx 91% of the total
Bottle 2 holds 450mL, approx 82% of the total
Bottle 3 holds 400mL, approx 73% of the total
Bottle 4 holds 350mL, approx 64% of the total
Bottle 5 holds 300mL, approx 55% of the total

The procedure is to freeze the bottles solid, then thaw them out. The bottles will then be examined for leaks or failures. Hopefully by determining the level at which the bottle is not ruptured by the freezing process, the optimal amount of water to put in a container can be determined.
After that, the next step will be to see if the figures derived from these bottles can be extrapolated onto larger containers.

I tried to leave the bottles outside overnight, but even though the forecast calls for below freezing temps, they have not begun to freeze after several hours, so I have placed the bottles in the freezer.

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The rest of the test is contingent on the bottles freezing and all that, so I will update soon.

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Post by OhioMe » Wed Jan 16, 2008 11:40 am

Excellent. I was just wondering the same thing myself. We were going to use 2 2L soda bottles. I'm very interested in your results.
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Post by SamuraiBobX26 » Wed Jan 16, 2008 12:29 pm

Thats a pretty good idea. Please update soon wih oyour results
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Post by Kathy in FL » Wed Jan 16, 2008 12:41 pm

I forget the equation but there is also the idea of water mass affecting freezing.

For instance, a barrel of water will take longer to freeze than a bottle of water.

The barrels of water may ice over on the top and sides, but you should be able to break through the surface ice to liquid water below.

'Course I live in West Central FL and we only get minor freezes every couple of years so your mileage may vary.

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Post by ZombieKraft » Wed Jan 16, 2008 9:13 pm

This kind of real life testing should be commended highly.


Just so you know the results of this experiment are highly dependent upon the material of the container. Glass doesn't flex and will be much more likely to break then plastic and metal. Most military grade or even commercial camping containers should be able to handle any kind of freeze.

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Post by Murphy Slaw » Wed Jan 16, 2008 9:24 pm

If you keep the water in a cooler in your trunk, it helps protect against temperature swings, both high and low. Plus if it does break and leak, well, it's still contained. Keep your MREs in there as well, to help keep them cooler in summer, cause high heat kills their shelf life.

Interested to see how your test comes out tho. Keep us posted.

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Post by CavemanSam » Wed Jan 16, 2008 9:32 pm

Okay, I've finished the test.

I took the water bottles out of the freezer when I got home from work. They had been in the freezer for approx 16 hours and they were all frozen solid.

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There are no obvious signs of failure. No ruptures, external ice, or exposed ice.

Bottle 0 seems to have expanded. The bottom is bulged out quite a bit.
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I placed the bottles in the sink. I plugged the sink, rank hot water over the bottles, and let them sit in the water until it got cool. I then drained the water and ran hot water over them again. I had to repeat this 5 or 6 times before they were fully thawed.

Here are the thawed bottled filled with liquid water again.
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Bottle 0 still retains it's bulged bottom and cannot remain upright. No more vodka for Bottle 0.

Here is a comparison of the bases of Bottle 0 and Bottle 5
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The bulge remains even after the ice was thawed. When pushed back in, the bulge just pops back out. (fights back temptation to make jokes about the "bottle of the bulge")

Bottle 0, as it was purchased with no water removed. In this photo, I am squeezing the bottle to exploit pinhole failures, but I didn't detect any. Bottle 0 is intact and besides the bulge, appears to be structurally sound. Sound enough to carry water, anyways.
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It appears that 0.5L water bottles (or at least this brand) can survive being frozen. The only appreciable difference is that afterwards, the plastic on the bottom is warped and the bottle cannot be set upright.

I would like to continue testing different types of water bottles. I might try to get my hands on some glass starbucks frappicino bottles. Please provide me with input on this experiment and suggestions on future tests. Thanks ZS

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Post by Lurch » Wed Jan 16, 2008 10:26 pm

Nice analysis. Plastic coke bottles work too, not sure if they can be 100% full either. I think they're a little different type of plastic.
Not sure I'd try glass bottles, could be dangerous.

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Post by CavemanSam » Wed Jan 16, 2008 11:15 pm

Yeah, I'm having second thoughts about the glass. Maybe a more rigid plastic.

From this test, I would recommend filling containers 90%. Bottle 1 didn't get nearly as distorted as Bottle 0 and still carried quite a bit of water. Then again, this is only one test.

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Post by Mossberg_User » Mon Jan 21, 2008 3:56 pm

CavemanSam wrote:Yeah, I'm having second thoughts about the glass. Maybe a more rigid plastic.

From this test, I would recommend filling containers 90%. Bottle 1 didn't get nearly as distorted as Bottle 0 and still carried quite a bit of water. Then again, this is only one test.
What I did is fill them up almost all the way and freeze overnight without the cap. In the morning when it is frozen just cap it.

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Post by CavemanSam » Mon Jan 21, 2008 4:21 pm

Mossberg_User wrote:
CavemanSam wrote:Yeah, I'm having second thoughts about the glass. Maybe a more rigid plastic.

From this test, I would recommend filling containers 90%. Bottle 1 didn't get nearly as distorted as Bottle 0 and still carried quite a bit of water. Then again, this is only one test.
What I did is fill them up almost all the way and freeze overnight without the cap. In the morning when it is frozen just cap it.
That's not a bad idea. The reason for this experiment is to be able to keep a supply of water in a vehicle without having to haul it back and forth from the house everytime the temp goes below, and without bursting the water container. I could freeze and cap the water before I put it in the car, I suppose.

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Post by Mossberg_User » Mon Jan 21, 2008 4:37 pm

CavemanSam wrote:
Mossberg_User wrote:
CavemanSam wrote:Yeah, I'm having second thoughts about the glass. Maybe a more rigid plastic.

From this test, I would recommend filling containers 90%. Bottle 1 didn't get nearly as distorted as Bottle 0 and still carried quite a bit of water. Then again, this is only one test.
What I did is fill them up almost all the way and freeze overnight without the cap. In the morning when it is frozen just cap it.
That's not a bad idea. The reason for this experiment is to be able to keep a supply of water in a vehicle without having to haul it back and forth from the house everytime the temp goes below, and without bursting the water container. I could freeze and cap the water before I put it in the car, I suppose.
Thats what I was thinking.

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Post by CavemanSam » Mon Jan 21, 2008 4:52 pm

OhioMe wrote:Excellent. I was just wondering the same thing myself. We were going to use 2 2L soda bottles. I'm very interested in your results.
I've got 3 2L bottles in the freezer now. They haven't frozen all the way through yet, but I'll post my results when I get them.

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Post by Lurch » Mon Jan 21, 2008 9:19 pm

I like the idea of carrying water in my vehicle at all times. My problem though is that it needs to be useable water. Let's say that TSHTF and I'm having to use my GHB to get home, and it's 21 degrees farenheit, how are these big ice cubes useful to me? I don't want to put them inside my clothing to thaw, because that'll just lower my body temperature. Any way I can think to heat them up will melt the plastic bottle. I'm not trying to be negative, this is something I've thought about for a while, and this seems like a good time to look for ideas.
Any thoughts, anybody?

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Post by CavemanSam » Mon Jan 21, 2008 9:53 pm

Lurch wrote:I like the idea of carrying water in my vehicle at all times. My problem though is that it needs to be useable water. Let's say that TSHTF and I'm having to use my GHB to get home, and it's 21 degrees farenheit, how are these big ice cubes useful to me? I don't want to put them inside my clothing to thaw, because that'll just lower my body temperature. Any way I can think to heat them up will melt the plastic bottle. I'm not trying to be negative, this is something I've thought about for a while, and this seems like a good time to look for ideas.
Any thoughts, anybody?
I was thinking of an electric blanket that runs off of a 12V cig lighter adapter, or even an immersion heater. The immersion heater would still need a little bit of liquid water to work, but better than nothing.

Actually, now that I think about it, I think I'm going to have to add an electric blanket to my BOV kit, just because of how useful it could be.

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Post by CavemanSam » Tue Jan 22, 2008 12:35 pm

The 2L bottles are done freezing. I've had them in freezing temps for about 36 hours now and they're pretty much as frozen as their going to get.

Again, I had 3 levels of water

#1 had 2000 mL of water (100)
#2 had 1900 mL of water (95%)
#3 had 1800 mL of water (90%)

Here's what they looked like before I froze them.
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I put them outside with a temp of 18F for about 12 hours
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After about 12 hours, the temperature started to rise (still below 32F) and they were taking a long time to freeze so I popped them in the freezer

Here's what they looked like after 24 hours in the freezer.
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Here's bottle #1 by itself
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And a view from the top
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There seems to be no outward damage to the bottles, even bottle #1.
When I opened the bottles, there was a hiss which indicates that the air had been compressed. I am now attempting to thaw these bottles out to see if they will still hold water, but I believe that they will.

I don't have an electric blanket with me, but if I did, I'd test how long it would take to thaw a frozen 2L bottle.

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Post by Snapcat » Tue Jan 22, 2008 1:39 pm

Great tests. I like the idea of storeing water in the car year round. I leave bottles of water, pop, juice in my car all the time and I can't recall them ever freazing when they are near full. If I leave a small bit in the bottom then it might freeze overnight but not if there's more quantity in them.

So, an idea for the another test is to see how long it would take for them to freeze (if at all) in the car in normal winter temperatures. I live in Michigan and at the moment we are up and down from like 10 degrees F to 35 degrees F. From my experiences that I mentioned above they don't usually freeze. Of course this is the car I start up and drive, with the heat on obviously, everyday so that probably has something to do with it.

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Post by Jamie » Tue Jan 22, 2008 1:53 pm

I keep bottles of water in my car for emergencies, and they make it through the freeze-thaw cycles of winter ok...it is the getting tossed around and squashed that is hard on them...you need a bag for them to live in to avoid damage...I generally switch them out in the spring or summer and put in a new set...

I try to buy bottles made of heavier-weight plastic as I feel that it withstands the rigors of life in my car better than really thin plastic bottles...I don't know if that makes a difference, but it makes me feel better...

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Post by ais4122 » Tue Jan 22, 2008 5:15 pm

Thank you Mr Science for your experimentation. I had pulled my vehicle BOB out of my BOV because I was concerned about bottle containment failure from water freezing. Now, thanks to you I will put my VBOB back in my BOV where it belongs. I tried to take it out and put it back in the vehicle every night but that lasted like 1 day :lol:

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Post by phoenixmastm » Tue Jan 22, 2008 5:20 pm

Every night, back when I was in SIU, I froze all but the last 1/2" of my water bottle every night for a year solid. To this day it still holds water, and although the cap no longer fits right (seal is gone, doesnt tighten well) it still holds water without any visible signs of possible deterioration.

Dont remember what brand it was, I think it was some cheap 4 dollar bottle from the Super Walmart down there. Only thing I remember was that the plastic was pretty dang thick.
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Post by andygates » Tue Jan 22, 2008 7:10 pm

Good set of tests.

All the plastic bottles have been OK with the fullest deforming: yay for squishy plastic. I'm going to make a guess that the fullest glass or metal bottles will either split or pop their caps.

IIRC, nalgene isn't very squishy. Anyone want to try a test on an old nalgene bottle?
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Post by CavemanSam » Tue Jan 22, 2008 9:36 pm

ais4122 wrote:Thank you Mr Science for your experimentation. I had pulled my vehicle BOB out of my BOV because I was concerned about bottle containment failure from water freezing. Now, thanks to you I will put my VBOB back in my BOV where it belongs. I tried to take it out and put it back in the vehicle every night but that lasted like 1 day :lol:
Hey, glad I could help! It makes all this seem less like a giant waste of time :lol:
andygates wrote:Good set of tests.

All the plastic bottles have been OK with the fullest deforming: yay for squishy plastic. I'm going to make a guess that the fullest glass or metal bottles will either split or pop their caps.

IIRC, nalgene isn't very squishy. Anyone want to try a test on an old nalgene bottle?
I'm sure I could get a 2L bottle to burst if I filled the bottle up completely (up the threads).

I'm actually disappointed that nothing burst. To remedy that, i'll sacrifice my nalgene to the cause. I got an old narrow mouthed nalgene bottle and have since realized I dislike narrow mouthed nalgenes. If I can find it, I'll freeze it to death.

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Post by doctor_ocks » Wed Jan 23, 2008 3:01 am

Good test, man. You need a permanent title around here like "Smash" or "Professor Tester" or something equally as witty.
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Post by invicta » Wed Jan 23, 2008 5:11 am

Excellent test!

I hadn't even thought of keeping water in my car. I should probably drop a bottle or two in the trunk, just in case.
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