Can I can water?

Bottling your own water for emergencies.

Michigan State University Extension educates consumers on the processes and procedures of preserving food and water at home. Canning water for shelf storage is a great option in preparation for an emergency when the water supply may be interrupted. Water is an important nutrient and the availability of safe drinking water is a priority.

Water can be processed in standard canning jars, also called Mason jars, with the manufacturer’s name printed on the side. These jars require using the two-piece lid, consisting of a flat metal lid with a sealing compound on the edge and a screw band that holds the lid in place during processing. MSU Extension recommends not using mayonnaise or other commercial use jars. Commercial jars are designed for a single-use and might not withstand the temperatures used in home canning, so are more prone to breakage.

The containers, lids and bands should be washed thoroughly and rinsed with hot tap water right before processing. Fill your water bath canner half way with water and heat to about 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Begin filling jars with water to within one-inch of the top. Wipe the edge of the jar with a clean cloth, place the lid and metal screw band on the jar and tighten. Place the jar on the rack in the preheated canner and continue filling other jars. When canner rack is filled, add additional boiling water if needed, so water level in the canner is at least one-inch above the jar tops. Bring water to a vigorous boil.

Cover the canner with the lid and lower the heat, maintaining a gentle boil. Process for 20 minutes, adding more boiling water if too much has evaporated. Set a timer to avoid guessing when it will be done.

After 20 minutes, turn off the heat source and remove the canner cover. Use your jar lifter to remove the jars and place them on a clean towel with at least one-inch between each jar. Do not tighten the bands. Let the jars cool at room temperature between 12 to 24 hours. You will know if the jars did not seal if the lid pushes down when your finger presses on the center. Jars that fail to seal can be reprocessed within 24 hours by replacing with a new lid. Remove the screw bands and store in a cool, dry place, preferably not in direct sunlight.

This process sterilizes and kills all organisms ensuring safe water that can be stored indefinitely. So, if you have a well and the power goes out, you can still have safe water to drink and to use for cooking. If you would like more information about canning, freezing or drying, please contact your local MSU Extension office.

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