By November 17, 2006

Reliance Aqua-tainer 7 gallon water jug review

This isn’t a review as much as it is a PSA and my general observations on what it’s like to handle seven gallons of water.

Water storage has been a big topic since starting up GIMPS and the companion forum. My strategy for keeping enough water on hand for our house for seven days involves two food-quality plastic 55 gallon drums and two food-quality plastic seven gallon jugs. It’s not like the seven gallon guys are going to mean the difference between life and death, but a 55 gallon drum weighs approximately 440 pounds when full. The seven gallon jugs will serve as a transport container for the 55 gallon drums. They could also be stashed in the car in the event of an evacuation.


After researching a number of systems, from foil bags to plastic bags in cardboard blocks to military-style jugs, I decided on the Reliance Aqua-tainer line. They come in four gallon and seven gallon sizes. I was going to buy two from South Summit for $15 each plus shipping. They were one of the less expensive online vendors, and I planned on getting some water barrels and other stuff from them anyway.

The desire to find a bargain on the larger barrels gave me enough time to visit Wal*Mart. I love that place, especially at one in the morning, when I went after checking Woot.com. You see some crazy ass people in there. Anyway, I was in Wal*Mart, and what did I find but a shelf of seven gallon Aqua-tainers. For $7 each. 🙂 Even with tax, I bought two for the price of one online with shipping.

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I came home and washed them out with a small amount of dish soap. NOTE: it’s a pain in the ass to get a bunch of liquid dish soap out of a seven gallon jug, so go easy. I blew a lot of water on the first jug trying to get all of the soap. I added 56 drops of household, unscented bleach per Clorox’s instructions, to each jug, and sealed it tight. The cap is a plastic twist on, with the standard drum “bung” size opening for a pump or siphon tube. The Aqua-tainer has a nifty reversible spigot on the cap.

56 pounds of water is still pretty heavy, and I wouldn’t want to carry it around by hand, but it sure beats manhandling a full drum.

The Aqua-tainer measures 11″ x 11″ x 16″ (including cap). The plastic is somewhat translucent and you can see how much water is in the jug if you get up next to it and squint:

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You’ll notice I have just over six gallons in each jug. I left room for expansion in the event the jugs have to be taken somewhere below freezing.

The handle on the jug is big enough for someone to get both hands around if you can’t carry it one-handed, or need help boosting it onto a table or into a car. It is very important that you screw the reversible spigot down as tightly as possible before tightening the cap. I didn’t do this at first, and it wasn’t until I shot these photos that I realized there was water leaking from the spigot-hole. I should probably re-chlorinate the water, but I figure that four days of limited exposure in the pantry wasn’t enough to overpower the 56 drops I put in when I filled the jugs.

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Make sure you get the spigot and main cap on tightly.

One thing I don’t like about the Aqua-tainers is the secondary plug airflow plug opposite the main cap. It doesn’t fit into its hole very well, and I had to jam pretty hard on it with my thumb before I was satisfied it was sealed. Unlike the main cap, there is no rubber gasket for the airflow plug. I would have liked to see more attention to detail here.

All in all, this is probably the cheapest and most convenient way to do long-term water storage at home, especially if you are single. Fourteen gallons could last a miserly person a week, especially if you scrimp on the amount used for sanitation. I can’t think of another product that has a better dollar-to-long-term-peace-of-mind value than the seven gallon Aqua-tainer.

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Posted in: preparedness, review

5 Comments on "Reliance Aqua-tainer 7 gallon water jug review"

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  1. Bond says:

    On Topic:
    You might checkout what the military uses to carry large quantities of water, I’m sure they have a good method, though probably close to yours. Good buy on those cans.

    Egregiously OT:
    I want to give kudos for late night trips to Wal*Mart. I’ve seen some crazy things there around 2-3am. I’m not making up anything below, no matter how crazy it sounds.

    1. Barefoot Toddler walking around the automotive area with absolutely no other people in site (I reported it).

    2. 4 people passing me on electric scooters with bike helmets and bomber jackets…

    3. Blind lady with a Seeing Eye potbelly pig.

    4. 3 Members of the Costa Rican army in full uniform (they were in for a convention, I asked in Spanish)

    5. 2 elderly folks playing checkers on a table that was for sale in the furniture section. They acted like it was totally normal, which was the best part.

  2. Congrats on your find!

    1) Did you wash them out with soap and water just to get any plastic residue or contaminants out?

    2) I thought the Clorox treatment was only for was of unknown safety — wasn’t this tap water you were using? Or did you put in the Clorox just in case?

  3. drfaulken says:

    I washed them out with soap and water just to get the plasticy smell out. I was also a little concerned about any industrial residue left inside during the manufacturing process. This is probably unfounded, but I wanted to make sure.

    You should always treat water that will be stored for a long time. There may be very small amounts of bacteria that come through tap water, or have entered the container during the filling process, etc. I know that my water is now good for two years or more. You don’t have to treat water that you will drink withing three to six months, but anything beyond that and I’d treat it.

  4. Dave Gilbraith says:

    Hi,
    You may miss out on the midnight trip to WalMart, but these jugs are available from Reliance with a vent hole that has a screw top instead of the one with a plug in your photos. I may have bought mine at a midwest farm and home chain store called Fleet Farm. I agree, with a screw vent hole, your jug will seal up much better, less chance of contamination.

    Because our drinking water in Saint Paul comes out of the Mississippi River, I buy all my water and store it in the Reliance jugs. I fill my jugs at the local Rainbow grocer which has a reverse osmosis machine and spigot from water that’s source was groundwater from a deep well. I think I pay 39 cents per gallon. It’s worth it to me, as the water tastes wonderful! I bought 2 of the smaller 3-4 gallon Reliance jugs with spigot and just keep one filled in my fridge, so I always have cold water. The stuff out of the tap is marginally okay for bathing and flushing the toilet. I won’t even let my cats drink it.

    Another tip for initial cleaning is instead of soap, use baking soda, let it dissolve, let it sit for a few days, and rinse. No plastic smell without the problem of soap residue.

    Bottoms up! Dave

  5. Relianceproducts.com has “industrial” solid caps that fit on these containers and which don’t leak like the spigot caps. So far they do not sell them on the web site or by retail, but if you call them up they will send you some for your water jugs.