Monday, March 29, 2010

Becomin A Texan Prepper - Long Term Food Storage

If you have decided to prepare for a longer emergency such as hyper-inflation, civil or nuclear war, or a multi-year emergency, the next section is for you. Storing enough food to last a year or longer is going to take a lot of preparation on your part; additionally, you are going to spend some money. Your choice is going to be how much?

Long Term Food Storage

The Latter-day Saints (the Mormons), as a group, are probably the experts on storing food for a long-term emergency. They have many quotes, teachings, and other recorded lectures on the importance of storing food. As individuals, the record isn't so good, so don't expect an individual Latter-day Saint or their family to have any food storage.

The Mormons command their members to store a year supply of food. They have central storehouses, called Bishop Storehouses, where members can get their food. If you know some Latter-day Saints that are willing to help you, you are in luck. The available food is centered on the basic four. Basically, the Latter-day Saints store wheat, sugar, salt, and dried-milk.

Heed Ms. Tate's warnings in "Seven Mistakes in Food Storage."

If you don't know any Mormons, you are going to have to do this on your own. The Mormons use to use only steel #10 cans; the cans hold a gallon of product. The Mormons started to switch to Mylar bags placed in cardboard boxes in the late 1990s.

Both containers have their advantages and disadvantages. Steel cans are rodent proof, but they rust. Mylar is rust-proof, but the bags and boxes don't resist rodents very well. The steel can method also requires bulky cans and a special machine to seal the can. The can sealing machine can be expensive.

Because of these extra expenses, I am going to write about using Mylar bags and food-grade 5-gallon buckets for you food storage program. I like this method. If you want different methods of storing your food, read Alan Hagan's "Prudent Food Storage FAQ version 4.0" for other options.

First, you need to order your Mylar bags, oxygen absorbers, and 5-gallon buckets. I use new buckets because I only have a local source for new buckets. These buckets are #2 HDPE plastic, food-grade buckets. Supposedly food-grade and non-food-grade buckets use a different mold releasing agent when the bucket is manufactured.

Just so you know; a mold releasing agent is a chemical the manufacturer puts on the equipment to make it easier to remove the bucket from the equipment when the bucket is made.

It is OK to use used buckets. The rules for using used buckets for food storage are the same as water storage; clean and only had food products in them.

Second, you have to buy your food. There are different places to buy your food. Whole food stores, organic-food stores, feed stores, warehouse stores, and ethnic-food stores are a few of the places to buy food. Depending on your source of food you may have to pay extra shipping costs.

Whole food and organic-food stores will have a variety of grains and beans fit for human consumption. Their products will range from organically-grown grains and beans to traditional farm-grown grains and beans. Warehouse stores may have only one type of grain and one type of bean. The feed store usually must order grains fit for human consumption, and an ethnic-food store will only have bulk food specific to that ethnic group. Call or visit to ask about their policy on ordering and the availability of food.

When you are putting up your own bulk food, you have to plan in advance. All of the materials must be on hand before you get your food. Foods in paper sacks are a poor storage container, but an emergency might dictate that you will need to get the food before the canning supplies. I would rather have 3 sacks of rice and beans and no canning supplies during a food emergency then all of the canning supplies and no food.

Next, you have to decide if you want your food in big Mylar bags or little Mylar bags. If you decide to use little bags, you will need to cut up the big Mylar bags and make small bags. To make a big bag into smaller bags: take a big Mylar bag and fold in half. Cut along the fold. Fold and cut as needed to make smaller bags.

Once you are finished cutting, you need to seal the edges of the bag. Make sure to leave one edge unsealed.

To seal, take an electric clothes iron, set on high, and iron the edge, flip over and iron the edge again. I usually iron one-inch seams. This is a skill; it takes a little practice.

When using small Mylar bags, I fill all the bags first with food. I put in one or two oxygen absorbers, and then seal the bag with the iron. Then I put the sealed bags in a box or 5-gallon bucket.

For large bags, I put the big bag in the 5-gallon bucket then fill with food. I put in four 500cc oxygen absorbers, push some of the air out then seal the bag with the iron. Once you open the bag of oxygen absorbers, you have to move quickly.

I always have all the food I am doing that day placed in bags first. Then I open the oxygen absorbers bag and put in the absorbers, push the air out, then seal. If you have two irons and a helper, it goes a lot quicker.

I usually get 35 pounds of wheat, rice, and sugar; 50 pounds of salt; and 25 pounds of beans in their own separate bucket. I put my beans in smaller Mylar bags before I put them in the buckets.

For all my food in Mylar bags, I label the top of the bag, where I sealed the bag, with the item's name. An example is "Black Beans." Before I seal the bucket, I write the name of the item and how many pounds are in the bucket, on the lid. An example is "Black Beans, 25 lbs." Once I seal the bucket, I place a label with the item's name, the weight, the package date, and the expiration date on the side of the bucket. An example is "Black Beans, 25 pounds, Nov 2008, Nov 2016."

If you use a bucket opener, you are able to reuse the bucket and lid. You could probably reuse the bucket and lid even if you use a knife and screwdriver to open the lid.

Bucket openers/lid lifters come in plastic and metal. I have given plastic openers to friends and family. I have about 5; 3 plastic and 2 metal. (Remember PACE)

All of the food gets stored in a cool, dry, and dark place, the basement. If you don't have a basement, you will have to get creative in your storage. There are many creative ways, a table made of buckets, just add a table cover; under the bed as a bed frame; staked along a wall with a curtain covering the stack.

One outside storage method I have seen was called a pallet root cellar.

Don't put your food storage in a hot place like the garage or attic.

Now there are ways to reduce your cost. You can use animal/feed-grade food. You can omit the Mylar bag and use metal 55-gallon open head drums for your storage containers.

If you use animal feed, make sure you are getting animal feed with nothing mixed in. No molasses, no minerals, no vitamins, no mixes of different grains, or cracked grain. Cracked grain will not last as long as whole grain.

Do Not, Don’t; Never get seed that has been treated for your food storage. Seed is treated with chemicals to resist rot, fungus, and other nasties. These chemicals will harm/kill you.

Omitting the Mylar bag in the 5-gallon bucket will allow water vapor to enter the food. Yes, it takes a little while, but the food will not last as long.

There are two types of metal drums, open-head and closed-head. A closed-head metal drum has two small holes in the top. Soda syrup usually comes in a closed-head drum. The top of an open-head metal drum is totally removable. The top has a grove and a seal that seals the drum tight.

To use the cleaned drum, open the top and put your sealed Mylar bags inside. When filled or finished, close the drum using the provided clamp. Just like the water barrel, these weight 350 pounds or more when full.

OK, you have 350 pounds of wheat, 150 pounds of rice, 125 pounds of various beans, 70 pounds of sugar, 35 pounds of salt 356 multivitamins for every man, woman, and child in your family. What do you do with it?

Eat it! You have to get use to using these foods. You have to use these foods in recipes. Learn the spices that your family likes then add the spices to your food storage. You have to learn to use the machines needed to use it, and buy the wheat mill and the corn mill, the pasta maker, and etc. The local library is a great source for information on baking and cooking using whole food such as wheat, corn, rice, and beans.

You will also have to learn how to use different cooking methods solar ovens, slow cookers, pressure cookers/canners, hay boxes, and masonry ovens just to name a few because electricity and propane may not be available.

The above advice includes the dehydrated and freeze-dried foods that are available. As far as I know, Mountain House is the largest supplier of these dehydrated and freeze-dried foods.

They sell from their website and they have many retailers. You have to shop around to find the best deals. Different retailers have different prices for the same product, some include shipping and some don't.

Just like MREs, these foods can be expensive, but the freeze-dried foods have a 25 to 30 year shelf life. So if you want, you can feed a family of four for about the price of a used economy-size sedan.

For really long-term food security, you will need to learn how to grow, raise, and can your own food. Once again the local library has a wide variety of books on gardening, raising sheep, chicken, goats, and other animals for food. The library also has books on organic gardening, making compost, and other chemical-free vegetable and fruit growing techniques.


Be Prepared with a Three Day Emergency Food Supply:

Food and Water in an Emergency by the American Red Cross:

Keeping Food Safe During an Emergency:

Seven Mistakes of Food Storage by Vicki Tate:

Viking Preparedness - Canned Food Shelves

You will need to scroll down to "Canned Food Shelves"

Mormon Basic Four - Appropedia:

Mormon Basic Four and Other Food Storage Plans:

Then click on "Food Storage" on the left hand side of the page

Then click on anything under "Food Storage Programs"

Such as Ester Dickey's 40+4, Mormon table of 4, or Kearny's Survival Food Plan

Prudent Food Storage FAQ version 4.0 by Alan Hagan:

Prudent Food Storage FAQ version 2.5 by Alan Hagan:

Oxygen Absorbers:

Plastic Buckets:

Pallet Root Cellar:

Cooking With Food Storage Ingredients

Cooking With Food Storage Ingredients: Dry Beans

Grain Mills:

Solar Ovens:

Mountain House:

Hope you find this information useful.

Someone You Know


Monday, March 22, 2010

Becoming A Texan Prepper - Part Three - Short Term Food Storage

Ladies and Gentlemen, forget about running into the woods to hunt, trap, or fish for food for you and your family during a disaster because every other Texas Non-Prepper is thinking the same thing. Don’t believe me, go deer hunting on opening day. Everybody and their brother and sister are out. By the end of the day, every deer in the woods are scared and will be gone to another state. During good times, coming home without a deer is a few jokes and a beer or two. During bad times, you and your family may go hungry or starve.

So what’s a Texan Prepper to do?

Store What You Eat and Eat What You Store.

Short Term Food Storage

For a short-term emergency, buying more of the food that you normally eat is the best way to prepare. Now this food should be boxed food such as macaroni & cheese and crackers, and canned food such as fruits, soups, vegetables and meats.

While you are making a list of the canned and boxed food you and your family will eat, I want you to think about how you are going to cook this food? Are you going to heat the food? Do you need water to prepare the food? How are you going to clean up afterwards?

For a short 3-day emergency, paper plates and napkins, plastic utensils and cups, and other picnic supplies might be a good idea. Have enough for each person to have a clean set of utensils for each meal, this includes plates. To save on cups, write the person's name on the cup and have everyone reuse their cup. Make sure to have extra cups because kids and some adults seem to always throw their cups away.

If you are going to need water to prepare the food, you will need to add to your water supplies. An example: Mac & Cheese takes 6 cups of water, according to the directions, to make. That is 6 more cups of potable water you will need to store. If you are going to wash the plates and utensils, you will need even more potable water.

You can probably get away with eating directly out of the can/box for three days, but warm meals will be needed during the winter.

There are many ways of heating your food. If you have barbecued, cooked over a fire, or have a wood stove, you can heat your emergency food for eating. Remember, you will need fuel to last during the emergency you are planning for.

Charcoal must be kept dry, same with wood. With wood, you will also need kindling. Propane lasts as long as the container, but you will need a propane stove or grill. Liquid fuels, such as Coleman gas, are flammable. Store your gas and liquid fuels away from the house. Lastly, remember the matches.

I put my matches, about 2500 strike-on-the-box matches, in a small 30-caliber ammo can. This protects the matches from humidity, and if they ignite the ammo can keeps the fire contained.

Now cooking inside the house can be dangerous. Don't ever use a charcoal stove inside the house or an enclosed building or tent. The burning charcoal produces carbon monoxide (CO). This stuff is deadly.

Don't let the list of things keep you from preparing for a short-term emergency because you probably already have all the needed stuff, except for the extra food.

Preparing to have food for a longer emergency, two to four weeks, is a matter of storing more canned, bottled, and boxed food, but you can't put this amount of food in a box and forget it. You will need to start rotating your food.

There are a few ways of rotating your storage food. One method is to buy all the food at once and put it on your pantry shelves. When you need something, like a can of pears, you go to the store and buy a can of pears. Go to the pantry, take a can of pears off the shelf, and put the can that you bought in the back. This insures you always have fresh canned food, if there is such a thing as fresh canned food.

This method insures that you have food now; additionally, this method also insures that you have food that you eat, but it has at least one problem. Most people don't have $500 to immediately drop on food plus their normal food bill.

A variation of the above method is to buy one or two extra of the canned and boxed foods you normally eat every time you go to the store. Put the extra food on the shelf and rotate as mentioned.

Another method of rotating your food is to build special shelves. The shelves are a set of ramps. As a can is removed, all of the cans immediately roll one spot down the ramps. If your grocery store has the new Campbell's soup displays, open up the display and observe. Some refrigerators have soda can dispensers with the ramps. Just use a can, then buy another can and add to the top of the ramp as needed.

This method is OK, but you have to know how many cans a set of ramps hold, and it wastes a little space. Each set of cans needs its own supports for the ramp, more money and more complicated to build.

To save money, I watch for sales and stock up then, and I buy store brand products instead of the major name brands. Be careful, some store brands taste slightly different from the national brands of food.

Some people will tell you to buy your food in bulk at the warehouse store, I usually don't recommend this because you have to pay extra money up front for membership; the sizes of cans could be too big, wasting food; and you and your family might not like the food.

One thing you may wish to avoid in your food storage are MREs. Meal Ready to Eat are specialized meals developed for the military. They have greatly improved since the meals first came out; however, you have to like them. If you are in the military or know some one the military, they will tell you MREs can suck. Plus, at about the same price as two cans of fruit, 2 cans of vegetables, three cans of tuna, and a bottle of water, you get one MRE. MREs are expensive but they do offer convenience and portability in an emergency.

If you have decided to store food for only a couple of weeks, stop here and read the first four links. I invite you to continue reading even if you are only preparing for a short-term emergency.


Be Prepared with a Three Day Emergency Food Supply:

Food and Water in an Emergency by the American Red Cross:

Keeping Food Safe During an Emergency:

Seven Mistakes of Food Storage by Vicki Tate:

Someone You Know


Saturday, March 20, 2010

New Declaration of Independence

What amazes me is how little I had to change....

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one to dissolve the political bands which have connected one with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

I hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, one must withdraw consent to be governed, given that government has proved it's self prone to usurpation and tyranny— That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the Individual to alter or to abolish it, and to institute self government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to myself shall seem most likely to effect my Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce one under absolute Despotism, it is one's right, it is one's duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide for their own future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of Americans; and such is now the necessity which constrains me to alter my former Systems of Government. The history of the last many Presidents and the CONgress is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over this Individual, and to all Individuals that make up this once great nation. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

They have refused their Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.They have forbidden their Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till their Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, they have utterly neglected to attend to them.

They have refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.They have authored legislation which is unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the Founding Principles of this nation, for the sole purpose of fatiguing us into compliance with their ideology.

They have dissolved Representative Government completely, for opposing with manly firmness their invasions on the rights of the people.

They have refused for a long time, after such dissolution, to understand that their place is to represent, not dictate. They have succumbed to bribery, thievery, and coercion, and trampled on the Constitution for which many hundreds of thousands have fought and died to protect.

They have endeavoured to overpopulate these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to constrain others, and encouraging their migrations hither, for the sole purpose of placating their corporate campaign donors, and enlarging the rolls of Democrat voters.

They have obstructed the Administration of Justice by stacking the courts with judicial nominees representing only one ideology.

They have made Judges dependent on their Will alone for the attainment of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

They have erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

They are keeping among us, in times of domestic peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of the People, in direct violation of Posse Comitatus. They have constructed a mechanism to federalize the National Guard, under the vague pretense of an undefined emergency.

They have affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

They have combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving their Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For giving away our sovereignty, colluding with the United Nations, and contemplating treaties which destroy Constitutionally guaranteed Liberty:

For protecting them, by considering Trial for punishment for any "transgressions" by the World Court on the Inhabitants of these States:For destroying our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury via the "Patriot Act":For considering transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences via the World Court:

For abolishing the free System of American Laws, establishing an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these States

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Liberty, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

They have abdicated Representative Government here, by waging War against us.

They have plundered our savings, ravaged our earnings, burnt our livelihoods, and destroyed the lives of our people.

They are at this time contemplating large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Heads of a civilized nation.

They have constrained our fellow Citizens who've taken the Oath to defend the Constitution to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

They are exciting domestic insurrections amongst us, and endeavour to bring on Socialists/Communists/Marxists, the merciless Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Government, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our American brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. I must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces my Separation, and hold them, as I hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

I, therefore, the Representative of myself before God, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of my intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the God that gave me life, solemnly publish and declare, That I am a Sovereign Individual, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent, that I am Absolved from all Allegiance to the President and CONgress, and that all political connection between myself and the Federal Government, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as a Free and Independent Individual, I have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent People may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, I pledge to each Sovereign Individual my Life, my Fortune, and my sacred Honor.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Becoming A Texan Prepper - Part Two - Water Storage

For basic survival, each person in your family will need a gallon of water every day, according to the federal government. So, you will need 12 gallons of water for a family of four, for a three-day supply. (4 people times 3 days equals 12 gallons).

One method of storing this small amount of water is to buy cases of water at your local grocery store, discount retailer, or warehouse store.

Another method of storing this amount of water is using 2 liter soda bottles, so a family of four would need 24 bottles. (4 liters in a gallon; so 2 bottles per gallon times 12 gallons equals 24 bottles) You can use other sizes of #2 plastic soda bottles. These bottles come in 16 ounce, 1 liter, 2 liter, and 3 liter. Just adjust the number of bottles to the size of the bottle. (1 liter bottle: 4 bottles per gallon times 12 gallons equals 48 bottles)

Now, most folks won’t drink 24 2-liter bottles of soda in a month, much less a year. So, ask friends and family, who drink soda, to save these bottles for you. When you ask, make sure to have them save the screw-on caps, too. Just in case, you might need a cover story, to protect your preps. (remember that healthy dose of paranoia)

To prepare a #2 plastic bottle for water storage all you need to do is rinse the bottle and cap, inside and out, using regular tap water. Why, just tap water?

Most municipalities put chlorine in their water, so you don’t need to add chlorine for cleaning or storing your water. You can use soapy water to clean the bottle, but you have to make sure you rinse the bottle, very, very, very, well. If you don’t, you can cause everyone to get diarrhea from drinking the soapy water.

I personally recommend adding chlorine to your storage water. This adds a level of protection to your stored water. Just in case.

To add chlorine to your storage water, you will need chlorine bleach with at least 5.25% sodium hypochlorite with no additives, scents, or other chemicals. Clorox bleach used to be the standard, but they changed the formula. I now use a different brand, but it still has at least 5.25% hypochlorite with no scents or soaps. You will have to read the label to find this information.


"New Information from American Red Cross"

Using bleach (that is newly purchased, with at least 5.25% hypochlorite) to treat your water.

4 drops per liter/quart

An example: one 2-liter bottle gets 8 drops of bleach

1 teaspoon/5 mL per 5 gallons

An example: one 5-gallon bucket gets 1 teaspoon of bleach

1/4 of a cup/50 mL per 55-gallon barrel

An example: A 25-gallon barrel gets 1/8 of a cup of bleach

The above recommendations are used to pre-treat the water for storage and drinking.

Storage water should be rotated at least once a year. Rotating insures that you have a reasonably fresh supply of water. I like to do this in the summer. It is warm outside and there is extra chlorine in our municipal water supply (tap water).

Now, most Texan Preppers are going to want to have more than a three-day supply of water, so you will need larger containers. Just like the 2-liter bottles, there are other recycled containers you can use.

One recycled container is the 5-gallon bucket. Many different items come in these buckets such as cake icing, berries, pickles, sauces, and other food items. You can get these buckets with lids from school cafeterias, bakeries, or grocery stores.

Don’t ever use buckets that have contained non-food items like asphalt, paint, and chemicals. The same goes for buckets that you don't know what has been in the container.

Another used container for water is the 55-gallon plastic barrel. They come in a variety of colors. I try to stay with the blue, white or natural plastic colors, just because. Just like the 5-gallon bucket, only barrels that have held food or drink items should be used.

No matter which type of container, new or used, you use; you will need to clean the container and treat the water.

To clean the bottle, bucket, or barrel just rinse with tap water using a garden hose and spray nozzle or your kitchen faucet. Insure all solids and residue are removed from the inside and outside of the container, don't forget to clean the lids.

Some people say to use a power washer for cleaning your larger containers.

I disagree!

Unless it is your brand new, never used, power washer, unknown chemicals such as soaps, waxes, or other cleaners have been used in the power washer, especially the rented ones.

Some used 55-gallon barrels have had soda drink syrup in them. Try as hard as I can; I can't initially remove the taste. I have found rinsing then filling the barrel with water and letting the barrel sit for a few weeks then emptying then rinsing and filling again helps to remove that Mountain-Dew taste.

If you don’t want to save some money, you can use store bought containers. You can find many of these water jugs, usually 5 to 6 gallons, on the internet or at local retailers. The same rules of rinsing the container and treating the water, still apply.

No matter the size of the container you store your water in; you are going to have to protect your water from sunlight by storing your water supplies in a dark place or covered with a tarp, this prevents algae growth in the water.

This one-gallon of water recommendation only covers water for drinking. As most Texans know, we need water for other uses such as flushing the toilets, washing clothes, and watering our gardens.

For cooking, we are going to need more potable water. Potable water is another way of saying water we can safely drink and cook with. We can use non-potable (can’t be put in a pot for cooking or drinking) for flushing toilets and possibly washing clothes.

The way I store non-potable water is in cream colored 55-gallon plastic barrels. They are marked, using a permanent marker, with non-potable water written on three sides. These marking make sure I don’t forget what is in the barrel.

Sooner or later, your water storage is going to run out. You are going to have to decide on how to replenish that water for you and your family.

One method is using 5-gallon buckets or other large-mouth container such as pots and pans to collect rain water. Simple, cheap, and everyone has some pots in their home.

Another method is using a blue tarp. You form the tarp into a cone, kind of, and catch the water as it runs off the tarp. I like using 5-gallon buckets. The bucket holds a lot of water, so I don’t have to run out into the rain to change the container.

You can also use a sheet of 4 mil or 6 mil plastic sheeting from the hardware store, a poncho from the military surplus store, or your house’s roof.

To use your roof, as water catchment, you are going to have to clean your roof because bird poop, grit, and other pollutants collect on the roof until it rains. Right now, a lot of folks are thinking they have to hose of their roof off just before it rains.

Nope. All you have to do is build a roof washer. A roof washer is a simple device that diverts the first few minutes of rain before allowing the remaining rain to flow into your collection containers.

The Montana State University has a pretty good one displayed in their publication “Rainwater Harvesting Systems for Montana” number MT 9707.

Another great publication is “The Texas Manual on Rainwater Harvesting.” Hawaii also has an excellent book called “Rainwater Catchment Systems for Hawaii.” Both of these manuals are the best, and since they are free for the downloading; they’re also the cheapest. Both books will teach you how to design, build, and use a water catchment system.

During a disaster, Texan Preppers may be able to also access open sources of water such as lakes, ponds, streams, rivers, and other sources. All you have to do is find the water source and mark it on a map for later use. If you plan to use an open source of water, you are going to have to disinfect the water.

To disinfect water from a suspect source such as a pond or river, just use chlorine bleach or boil the water. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has a good publication on water disinfection.

Basically, you filter the water, to remove any big particles, through a towel or t-shirt. Next, you boil the water for three minutes. Some folks will remember that the boiling recommendation use to be ten minutes. I have seen one or two sources say that a rolling boil for one minute is fine to disinfect the water.

With chlorine bleach, filter the water through a towel or t-shirt then just follow the recommendations for pre-treating your storage water. To get rid of that chlorine taste let the water sit for about 30 minutes or stir or shake the container. The stirring and shaking drive off the chlorine in the water this will also make your stored water taste better.

If you have some money, you can buy a water filter. Water filters come in several models. I’m going to describe them as portable and camp models. Don’t let me confuse you because all of the filters are portable.

There are only about three recognized camp models of water filters: Katadyn, Berkey, and AquaRain. All three are expensive, very expensive. There is a method of reducing this cost. Basically, you buy 3 or 4 of the filters and use 5-gallon plastic buckets to construct a camp model filter.

Daire from Alpha Rubicon has an article on making a Home-Made Berkey Water. The article can be viewed at

Daire's pictures are excellent. Notice the nuts to hold the filters tight while the filters are still lying on the bucket lids. One change I would make would be to put two blocks of wood between the upper and lower buckets. I would do this because I don't want the nuts to have to hold 40 pounds of water.

The portable models of water filters are numerous. You will have to do your own research because there are so many.

Now, our homes also hold a vast amount of water. Just think, how big is your hot water heater? Most houses have a 40 to 55 gallon water heater. To get to this water, all you have to do is drain the tank. Make sure you turn the hot water heater off first.

Before you access the water in the water heater, you have to shut the water off to the house. The reason, you may pull contaminated water into the house from the city water lines. This will contaminate your water.

Another source of water in your home is the water pipes. To collect most of the water in your pipes, open a faucet at the highest point in your home then open another faucet or spigot at the lowest point in your home. The water will drain from your pipes. All you need to do is catch the water in a clean disinfected container.

They last method of collecting water that I will write about is the solar still.

Solar stills are a classic way of collecting water. You have probably seen it in most survival manuals. You dig a hole. Put a container to collect water in the bottom of the hole, and then form a piece of plastic sheeting into an inverted cone that covers the hole. The sun shines and evaporated water collects on the plastic. The water very slowly runs down the plastic and drips into the cup.

The survival manual usually forgets to tell you to put a small stone in the bottom of the plastic to hold the plastic in a cone shape over the cup and a length of clean tubing, rated for potable water. The tubing sits in the cup and runs out of the solar still. This set up allows you to drink the collected water without disturbing the solar still.

Solar stills work, but you have to remember; you are looking to produce one gallon of water a day, just for you. I have heard it takes about 20 of these for one person.

The solar still can be supercharged by urinating into the hole, avoid peeing into the drinking cup, adding green plant material in the bottom of the hole, or putting non-potable (can't put in a pot to cook with or drink it, the opposite of potable) water in the hole before covering with the plastic.

If you supercharge the solar still insure the non-potable water or plants never touch the plastic. If it does, the water collected will be contaminated.

I can't urge you enough. Don't contaminate your clean equipment and potable water. One drop of non-potable/dirty water can cause severe medical problems.

A modified method is skipping the hole and just putting green plant material in a plastic bag. Set the bags in the sun and water will form on the plastic. If you use this method, make sure you use food-grade bags and avoid poisonous or harmful plants like Poison Ivy.

A variation of the solar still is a distiller. Basically, you heat the water and allow the water vapor to collect on a clean sheet of metal, glass, or plastic. Allow the condensation to collect and drip into a clean container. A distiller is the only method used on water from a waterbed because of the plastics and chemicals used in most waterbeds.


Montana State University - Rainwater Harvesting Systems for Montana

Texas Water Development Board - The Texas Manual on Rainwater Harvesting

University of Hawaii - Rainwater Catchment Systems for Hawaii

University of Hawaii - Rainwater Catchment Systems

EPA - Emergency Disinfection of Drinking Water

Wikipedia - Solar water disinfection

Alpha Rubicon - Home Made Berkey Water Filter by Daire

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