How Much Bleach to Store

I’m a numbers sort of gal, and this week I was pondering how much bleach I should really be storing for an emergency.

Water purification –  As always, I should mention that boiling is best. But, boiling takes time, it takes fuel and sometimes that might not be available or prudent. Yes, you can get chlorine designed for pools and use that, but I don’t have a pool, and finding cheap pool supplies isn’t as easy out here in rural Iowa as it might be for some of you. Bleach however is widely available, in large, strong, storage ready containers.

Numbers –  3 gallons of water per person per day.  I store for 5 now (4 humans, 1 cat). That works out to 15 gallons of water per day.  Yes, yes, most sites tell you to store 1 gallon per person per day, but really, have you ever tried to stay hydrated and clean with only 1 gallon of water for a day? It’s really hard. And after a disaster, cleanliness becomes more important, not less, 3 is as low as I’ll go for my estimates.

One gallon of Clorox bleach will, on average, sanitize 3000 gallons of water (less if the water is particularly dirty). So, 3000/15 gives me 200 days of water for each gallon of bleach.  That’s not bad.  That’s actually a lot better than I thought.  Of course, it helps that I’m not watering livestock and my family size is small.  If I’m only planning for my family, all I’d need to store is 2 full gallons of bleach to assure a whole years worth of sanitized water.  That’s super cheap insurance.

Now, let’s look at some other factors.  Do you have livestock that will need clean water? From a small flock of chickens all the way up to a dairy cow, if you know you’ll be providing water for animals, and if you want to insure their water is free of bacteria/viruses/staph/flu/e-coli, bleach might be a better solution than boiling.  Chickens might need only a gallon of bleach a year for their water sanitizing needs, but cows need 25 to 50 gallons of water per day, so you’re looking at 60 days of water sanitizing for one cow with each gallon of bleach.

How long until your neighbors run out? Assume they have less than one gallon of bleach in their house, we’ll say 1/2 gallon to make the math easy.  That means your average suburban neighbor will have 100 days worth of water sanitizing bleach, before they have to rely solely on boiling, or begging some from more prepared neighbors. Again, that’s better than what I thought I would find after running numbers.  Now, whether or not they’ll have the knowledge to use it properly, I won’t even speculate on.

Does anyone else notice how often random comments to a boil order shine a light on the ill-prepared? Something to the effect of  “How can we boil water with no power?!” It’s a classic, makes me giggle/cry every time.

Ratio of Clorox Bleach to Water for Purification

FILTER first to remove particulates.
2 drops of Regular Clorox Bleach per quart of water
8 drops of Regular Clorox Bleach per gallon of water
1/2 teaspoon Regular Clorox Bleach per five gallons of water
If water is cloudy, double the recommended dosages

Filters have their place, especially the really nice ones like Berkeys, but in terms of cost, nothing beats bleach.

– Calamity Jane