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How to Keep Water Fresh in Jerry Cans and Buckets

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All around Durban people are experiencing issues with water. Some have water; some have a trickle of water; others have an intermittent water supply and some unfortunate residents have none.

The recent rains did a number on our province, especially the eThekwini area where devastation from flash floods and mud slides are still evident as rescue teams search for missing and deceased people.

With water tankers being in short supply, people are making a plan to get water for domestic use – for many it isn’t easy. The first question is always, where are we going to put the water and then how do we keep it fresh?

Boiling Water to Drink

Water is one of the fundamental necessities of life so there is no supplement or replacement for water.

Boiling is the surest method to kill disease-causing germs, including viruses, bacteria, and parasites. The high temperature and time spent boiling are very important to effectively kill the organisms in the water. Boiling will also effectively treat water if it is still cloudy or murky.

Assuming you have the means to start a fire and boil liquid, or if you have electricity, this method ranks as one of the surest ways to purify water. Boil water for at least five to 10 minutes to kill all microbes. And store water in safe, clean water containers.

How Much Bleach?

Chlorination has long been used as a way of making water safe for drinking, and chlorine is produced by the active ingredient in household bleach, sodium hypochlorite. Household bleach is therefore very useful to include in any kit for emergency situations.

When choosing your bleach, check the label; you want one that has at least 4% sodium hypochlorite. It is also wise to avoid bleaches that contain colourings or perfume.

Dilution is key to safely consuming bleach. The Centre for Disease Control in the USA recommends adding eight drops of unscented bleach per gallon of water, if that water is clear. That is eight drops in about four liters; equal to about two drops per liter. An eye dropper is useful here). This works out to be 1/2 teaspoon per 10 liters of water. Stir or shake the water after bleach has been added, and leave to stand for 30 minutes.

As the chlorine works, it is used up and so loses much of its smell. The treated water should smell slightly of chlorine to indicate that the impurities have been removed and it is safe to drink.

How Long Can Water be Stored Before it Goes Bad?

The length of time potable water can be stored safely ranges anywhere from a single day to indefinitely depending on how you are storing the water and the purity level of the water, to begin with.

Clean water that is left in an open cup outside is likely to go bad (become contaminated) within 1-3 days. Water from your tap (assuming that it is clean enough to drink) that is stored in a sealed container can last up to 6 months or maybe longer, however, it may be a good idea to check and add a small amount of household chlorine bleach to purify the water (do not use bleach that has fresheners or scents). Purified water that is sealed in a food-grade container will last for a long time, 2 years, or even much longer.

If properly stored, water will not spoil. The contamination that gets into it is what actually makes water go bad. In theory, your water could store and stay good forever if you take the proper precautions by sealing and storing your water so that bacteria or other contaminants don’t get into it and cause it to go bad.

Get it Right from the Start

Clean water in a direty containers isn’t much help, so make your that your storage containers are clean.

Water storage conditions to prevent it from going bad include:

  • Start with clean potable water
  • Store in clean food-grade plastic, glass, enamel-lined metal, or fiberglass containers
  • Tightly seal container to keep out light and chemicals (covering water storage with a tarp could be a good idea)
  •  Store up off of concrete, away from chemicals or anything that you wouldn’t want to leach into the water, and keep in a dark, cool location

I’d say any fresh/tap water is good for a week to a month in a good clean container. I cannot stress how important the cleanliness of the can is prior to filling with water. This is a must for good/safe water.

Bottled Water

You know that it’s essential to daily life. You know it hydrates you, helps your organs function, and boosts your energy levels. Water is important. But a question to consider when it comes to water is this: can water expire?

Does water expire? In short, no. Bottled water doesn’t “go bad.” Although water itself doesn’t expire, the bottle it comes in can expire, in a sense. Over time, chemicals from the plastic bottle can begin to leak into the water it holds.

If your water bottles don’t have expiration dates, a good rule of thumb is to drink them before they hit the two-year mark. If you’re storing bottled water for longer periods of time, storing it properly may help make it safer to drink even after two years.

Tips for Storing Water

Tips for storing safe water in a container after cleaning and sanitizing: Label container as “drinking water” and include storage date. Replace stored water every six months. Keep stored water in a place with a cool temperature.

One thing that makes water stored in container taste strange is the lack of aeration. Just shaking up your water bottle will usually improve the taste a lot.

Using a Filter

If you have a water filtration system or at home, you can make extra sure of the safety of your water by running it through the system.

It works well to use a filter pitcher to filter drinking water needs each day from the bulk tank and it does a great job of making the water very palatable.

One thing that makes water stored in container taste strange is the lack of aeration. Just shaking up your water bottle will usually improve the taste a lot.

Visit Household Plastic today for a selection of buckets, jerry cans, jugs and other containers for water.

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