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Jul 4, 2006 03:50 PM

Water - how long is it good?

I was about to toss (recycle) the empty half-gallon milk carton. The cat was dancing around my feet asking for breakfast in that feline-way.

It occurred to me in a disaster like an earthquake, I don't want to be giving the cat my stash of bottled water. I might need that. Also, for the purposes of washing, the bottled water would be better used for drinking.

Even so, what if I run out of bottled water. What then?

So the questions are...

If I clean the milk jugs and fill with water from the tap, how long would that be good?

How regularily should I replace the water, just in case I'm forced to drink it?

Are there any health concerns? Would I need to boil it?

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  1. The short answer is, carefully washing and reusing food-grade plastic jugs and bottles works fine; it's a good idea to add a few drops of (unscented, plain) bleach to each gallon of water, and keep it for no more than six months, if you plan to drink it.

    The longer, more detailed answer is here:

    Googling "store water for emergencies" will turn up all kinds of useful information from sources ranging from agricultural extension agencies to the Homeland Security folks.

    - er

    1. We were trained in the BAY AREA by firefighters for fire/earthquake readiness ( CORE ). They told us to wash milk cartons or orange juice containers and fill with water. They should keep for a year. It doesn't really go bad as much as go stale. They said to place water in every room of your house. You don't know where you will be if part of the house falls in. You also should have water and other supplies in a secure container ( steel drum, sturdy covered plastic in the yard.) In the Hills we are told to have water for at least 4 days.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Janet

        Thanks to both of you for the great advice. I've bookmarked this and will go through those links, but I'm leaving for the day soon.

        How long does it take for water to go stale? Any fixes for stale water? Should I stash a few bottles of Real lemon away too?

        1. re: Janet

          Yeah, where you put it is important. My mom put her emergency supplies in the "basement" -- not a good idea! Away from the house is good -- you don't want it anywhere where something can collapse or falle either on it or in such a way as to block your access to it. The car is good, too, if you park on the street as I do. I buy .75 liter bottles of water from TJ's by the case and leave it in the car so I always have it handy when I'm out doing stuff. When I get down to half a dozen bottles or so I buy another case.

        2. The problem with plastic bottles is that chemicals from the plastic, such as phthalates, can leach into your water. The FDA does regulate what chemicals are used in plastic bottles, but they dont ban phthalates, which might be harmful, though Europe does.

          1. I can tell you from Burning Man experience (bought too much water, had some left for next year) that 1 year was too long...