Be sure you’ve read part 6 of this series before proceeding.
Since all sorts of unsavory methods are used to keep municipal tap water “clean,” the water from your faucet is probably not going to have the proper ph balance. It is absolutely essential that you have the proper ph levels when you’re storing water long-term, and by long-term I mean a year or longer. Ph levels in municipal water vary wildly from city to city, but most such water is treated with lime so that the ph levels are neutral or close to neutral when it comes out of your faucet.
But you don’t want your water to be ph neutral. Good drinking water will have its ph just a little on the alkaline side, so you’re going to have to bring yours up, especially when you hope to store your water long term. And especially if you plan to use stabilized liquid oxygen to maintain that proper degree of alkalinity.
The word “alkaline” has an unpleasant connotation to most people, but we’re talking here about balancing alkalinity against acidity. You don’t want your water to taste acidic, so you have to balance it out with a little more alkaline.
Testing Your Water
If you wish to protect your drinking water using Activated Stabilized Oxygen instead of chlorine bleach, you’ll prepare pretty much the same as we discussed in the series on water storage . You’ll still pre-filter the water with the RV water filter, but after you’ve filled your container you’ll want to test the water’s ph levels. That takes a special litmus paper.
Even though basic litmus paper used to be pretty commonplace, you might have to do a little searching to find some. A few pharmacies still carry it, but not all. If there’s a science supply store in your area, you can get it there. If all else fails, buy them over the internet.
This litmus paper comes in two forms: red and blue litmus strips. Often, both red and blue strips will be sold as a pair, but all you need are the red ones. (They’re actually more of a shade of pink, but they’re called red litmus papers.) The label should indicate these strips have a range of 6.8 to 8.1
You may remember doing these litmus tests in seventh grade science class. Just dip the strip into your water. You don’t have to soak it; just getting it wet is enough. Note the color right away because in about fifteen seconds or so, the air will turn the strip darker, and it may confuse you. If the paper changes color to blue or bluish violet, your water is already fine, and you’re ready to add the stabilized oxygen.
More than likely, though, the paper will remain pink, which tells you there’s not enough alkaline in the water. You’re going to need to raise it a bit. Do this by adding baking soda.
A small amount of baking soda won’t affect the taste of your water, and it serves to raise the alkaline level. The tricky part is determining what is a small amount. (I hope I don’t have to tell you to use a fresh, unopened box of baking soda for this. You don’t want to use that old box in the refrigerator unless you want your water to taste like all the stale odors that have been absorbed from your fridge.)
Start by mixing two or three teaspoons of baking soda in a glass or bowl and stir it up good. Make sure your container isn’t all the way full so you’ll have room for this mixture. Add this to your container of water, put the cap on, and shake it up real good. Test it again with a fresh strip. If the paper still remains pinkish, mix a couple more teaspoons in a glass of water and add that mixture to your container; try again.
Don’t forget to shake your container real good. Yes, I know it’s heavy and awkward and difficult. Why do you think I don’t use this method?
Keep adding baking soda mixture a teaspoon or two at a time and testing the water until the litmus strip comes out a nice blue violet. Congratulations, you’ve done it!
I hope you remembered how many teaspoons of baking soda it took for your first container so you don’t have to experiment with your next batch. However much baking soda it took to get your first container right will be the same with all your subsequent ones, as the ph level is the same with all the water coming from your source. So, keep track. If it took, say, eight teaspoons of baking soda for your first 7 gallon container, it will take the same amount for the second.
If all this measuring and testing is too much of a hassle for you, or if you just can’t find the litmus strips anywhere, there is a cheat you can do. Just add two teaspoons of baking soda for every gallon of water. It may turn out to be more baking soda than necessary, but it won’t harm you (actually, it will be good for you), and the worst thing that can happen is the water will taste a little sweet. That’s not so bad.
Okay, once you’ve got your water on the alkaline side, you can add your stabilized oxygen. You’ll be using about 25 drops of liquid oxygen per gallon or 1/4 teaspoon. If you’re using that seven gallon container I recommend, that comes to one and a half teaspoons per container. Just like when you were using bleach, it doesn’t take much. Unlike the bleach, using more than necessary won’t be harmful, but it will be wasteful.
Put the lid back on. Lift that sucker up over your head and shake it up real good. Set it back down and fill the remaining space with additional filtered water. Then, put the cap on tight and shake it up one last time. Roll it around on the grass and get that oxygen completely mixed into the water.
Now go take the rest of the day off. Your arms are going to be killing you.