Thursday, December 13, 2012

Canning water

Here's a unique canning question from a reader which I don't think I've ever seen before:

Okay this is going to sound like a stupid question.... But have you ever tried canning WATER? Yes plain water!!!!

Here's why. We need extra water stored for emergencies, but plastic bottles of water are only designed to keep for one year or less, then they start leaking. The water storage bottles are very expensive. I was wondering if it was possible to can (filtered) water? It wouldn't cost anything if you had extra space in your canner, and used Tattlers (and extra unused jars). I was just wondering if anyone considered it. I found the link below for LONG term water storage in emergencies ... but that's way toooooo pricey for my wallet.

The link this reader included sent me to this site featuring... canned water!

She's right, the prices are shocking. Six cans at 24 oz. per can is 144 ounces of water. There are 128 ounces in a gallon, so this gives you just a hair over a gallon of water... for $20!! Not counting shipping!! And people complain about the price of gas!!

Besides, at the recommended storage of one gallon of water per person per day, we're talking potentially thousands of dollars "invested" in long-term storable water, if you purchase this pre-canned water. Yikes.

The answer to this reader's question is two-fold. One, you can certainly can water. But two, the better method is to have a limited amount of stored water on hand and then have the means to purify surface water.

I would imagine that water-bath canning filtered water for, oh, fifteen or twenty minutes (feel free to use half-gallon jars for this project) would sterilize water just fine, but you're back to the drawing board about how much water you can practically store.

In our case, besides a 50x50 foot stock pond we dug last year, and a 1500-gallon runoff tank for (filterable) house water, we keep about 30 gallons of water in gallon jugs set aside. Each is treated with a few drops of bleach and capped. We freshen the water every year.

I recommend everyone have multiple ways to sterilize water -- bleach, iodine, Berkey filter (if you can afford it), etc.

Canned water is fine, but it's only a short-term solution. Water is too important to consider only for the short-term.

An excellent question from this reader -- thanks for asking!


  1. I think it would be handy to have a little bit of this canned water. You would have something on hand until you could get Plan B working. Also, might help morale to Not be thirsty. Actually, I think I have heard of this before as a way to store water AND keep the canning jars clean inside. Just some thoughts!

  2. The other downside to canning water is that its in GLASS jars. (would break in earthquake, etc). The application for the metal canned jars of water in the link- is for short term use in an emergency (such as said earthquake or on a lifeboat, etc) till water could be located. Or you could have it in your vehicle for emergency use. Its the durability of the metal cans that you are paying the premium for- not that I have any canned water.

  3. Good article. I agree canning water is only short term. Better to live where there is water available. Nothing better than having live water on your land. Also learn to harvest water from your roof. Supplement that with a Berkey Water Filter. They are pricey but worth the investment. But if you have to bug out it's good to have a lifestraw (
    If you can't afford a Berkey then build your own water filter barrel.

  4. This is a great idea! You could use up all of your empty canning jars that are just sitting around and make them usefull. Just empty them as you need them for canning and refill them again with water as you use your food storage up. Great idea!!!! Thanks to the person asking the question. I would have never thought about this.

  5. And another thought...As far as canning jars breaking in an earthquake...We already have our entire large canning room earthquake proofed,with shelf stabelizer board on the outside so they won't fall off and the jars on the shelf are divided with heavy cardboard inbetween each jar so it's not a problem. Aslo all of the shelves are joined together and also to the walls so they can't fall over.

    P.S. We also painted the safety boards on the outside of the cabinets with chalkboard paint so we can easily mark the contense of the shelf on the boards with chalk but it can be easily removed and relabeled as needed!

  6. I prefer storing water in sterilized 2 liter plastic bottles. They don't split or degrade.

  7. Recommend some clean water on hand through this or other means and then lots of "dirty" water.
    Then get one of these: Sawyer Point ZeroTWO™ Bucket Purifier Assembly Kit

    and one of these for taste: Katadyn Carbon Cartridge

    -Old Solder

  8. While I haven't canned water, I do have boxed water. It's boxed in those cute little kiddy juice boxes. They work for our applacation. Hubby & I sport albacore fish and head out 60 miles off shore. Hubby has put together means to keep us safe as possable if something should happen ie epirb, Bag O'raft. I put together a "ditch bag" (think BOB) and that's where the boxed water comes in. So... canned water does have it's place, limited, but handy.

  9. Hey what about those 5 gallon pastic containers that
    you can buy at Wal-Mart. My husband won't buy any thing like that used, because you don't know what they
    have been used for.Even with that we filled them up and bleach them out for a couple hours. then empty them and refill. If you have spare bathroom, with an
    extra bathtub, you can put them in there. That way for
    some reason if they leek there won't be water all over the floor and you have maybe ruin something.

  10. I use these filters from monolithic. I filters down to .2 micron so 99.9% of bacteria is filtered out.

    I have a 3+ dzn filters @ $22 ea, some buckets and a stream running year round. Gobs cheaper than a Berkey and use the same filters.

  11. I have canned distilled water for years. Only if I have an extra space in the canner do I perhaps add a pint of distilled water. I do it mainly in case of need with a newborn. You never know if one might have a need. Another prep item to me.


  12. Why waste the energy. Just fill your empty jars and add the appropriate amount of bleach.

  13. When I was a kid, one gag gift item was cans of "instant water". The instructions told you "just add water and serve" :>)

    In a more serious note we buy cases of 1/2 liter water bottles for drinking in our cars, and for our bug-out kits. Since we gradually drink these up in our travels, that rotates the stock we need for bug-out so we do not waste money.

    Most of our drinking and cooking water runs through a Berkey filter or the filter in our refrigerator cold water dispenser. For portable/bug-out use we have filter bottles from Berkey to back up the bottled water.

    I looked for years for used clean food grade 55 gallon drums in our area, but did not find them. Eventually I ordered a new 55 gallon water drum with pump, bung wrench, and water treatment additive from Sam's Club. It cost me under $100 delivered, which was worth it to me and gave us an instant larger storage.

    As far as home canned water, I do not think I would take the expense of the fuel and the time to can water myself, but I do like Goldie's idea of canning distilled water as filler to take up an empty slot in the canner. That makes it a "no cost" solution. Distilled water has many uses including topping off wet cell batteries, and in an emergency you can always drink it :>)

  14. Hey just a thought. Those Berkely filters won't work.
    You will not any any power to house, so you won't have
    any running water at all.You won't be able to use the
    toilet, or do laundry or do any thig, if the emps hit.
    I don't beleive that they will, but what about any
    earthquake. That will knock out all power also. And
    keep your gas tanks full in your cars, at all times.
    You will not be able to use a gass station for ahile,
    I hate to be so dire and I am really thankful that nothing has happen here yet out west.

  15. Grandma canned her own emergency and medical water. Every time she did a batch of something else in the pressure caner she tossed in a quart jar of distilled water. If you had a wound that needed cleaning, this was what was used. If someone had a tummy bug, they were fed only the caned water until they were better. Baby formula was made with it too. She had shelves of it.

  16. I can water, like some of the others, when I have a "short-load" in the canner. I also keep plenty of water in 2 liter jugs. The 2 liters get rotated by emptying them into the Berkey and then being washed and refilled/replaced, as needed. In our location, water is of utmost importance. We have no natural sources nearby and will not be able to survive long-term. We have a large swimming pool that can be filtered, as well, but I pray the Lord moves us out of here before TSHTF.

  17. Thanks again to the poster about canning the water. I have canned several cases of water now. I can always dump it out into the Berkley if I need the jar for canning food. I will continue canning water until all of my empty jars are full.
    It just makes me feel better to know that I am just that much more prepared and more efficient as well. At least canned water could be consumed without filtering first.
    I love all of the ideas I have discovered on this blog. Thank you Patrice for your time and energy in upkeeping this blog. You are greatly appreciated!
    Becky M

  18. Too pricey! It looks like I'm paying more for the can than the water. I agree to your point on having the means to purify surface water instead. Great insights, Patrice!

  19. I live in the country. I bought a 550 gallon above ground water tank for around $400 at Tractor Supply. It's black and 100% blocks sunlight.

    Have to add, when I figured my year supply of food storage, most of the 550 was used up in meal prep. I calculated for 3 people, even though there are only two of us. Also, this did not include drinking water. Only food prep.

    Another option, if you have a pond or lake on your property is an Aqua Filter. I purchased the Aqua 3000. It will filter up to 3,000 gallons of pond water. Can't remember the cost exactly, but you can google it.

    If storing water I would recommend mineral supplements. Once it's boiled or "distilled", the minerals are removed, too.