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Prepping 101: Doomsday Bunker – Part 3: Clean, Good Water & Food Supply

Water disruption tap dry Selangor Bunker

It is said that one can go on without food for 30 to 40 days but one will die without water in 3 days’ time. So it is imperative that these 2 crucial items are part and parcel of the doomsday bunker logistics and is able to sustain the occupants for a very long time. Image source: Photo by PS Photography from Pexels

It also needs to have a good filtration system to ensure the water is clean enough for consumption.

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At the very basic level, water does not expire but it can get contaminated or get stale and this is why it needs to be filtered, boiled and stored properly. Water stored in plastic bottles however needs to be avoided as plastic does break down eventually.

Bunker Factor 4 – Water Supply & Storage

It is reported that human needs about 100 gallons of water per day but this includes washing clothes, cooking, bathing, drinking and toilet use. In a doomsday bunker where water is a luxury, the use of water needs to be rationed considerably. Perhaps limited to the use of water for drinking, personal hygiene and human waste which can reduce it to about 10 gallons per day per person.

For the doomsday bunker, the likely source of water for the occupants’ consumption will be stored water in huge containers and also from an external source.

For the stored water in a bunker, one needs to look at huge containers that can store water for a very long time and some of these containers can hold as much as 3,000 gallons of treated water for long storage.

3,000 gallons of water can sustain a person for almost a year and longer if the water used is recycled and replaced continuously. Perhaps the bunker will hold 10-20 of these large containers for long term storage and to ensure backup supply.

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This is a video where South Sudanese and Congolese refugees in a refugee camp are being taught how to build their own, easy to build water filtration system.

However, storage alone will not be enough if the usage grows with the number of bunker occupants and for the use of water pools for rearing fishes and hydroponic farms. So the water can be replenished into a bunker from underground water canals or from a rainwater harvesting system. However considering the water would not be clean in a closed bunker and is likely to be contaminated, it needs to undergo a series of filtration systems.

There are plenty of ideas on the internet on how one can make a cheap, easy to construct and effective water filtration system that can be constructed in a bunker. The usual examples of DIY filtration use gravels, fine sand and charcoals which are easy to obtain and do not cost much to filter out the contamination and unwanted dirt.

The filtered water still undergoes further processes to kill germs and bacteria – either by adding chlorine or by boiling the water.

Doomsday Bunker Food Storage Expiry

The key to having food last long is the manner it is stored and if stored well, some of the food can last for years. Image source: Taste of Home

Bunker Factor 5 – Food Supply & Storage

For food storage in a doomsday bunker, it needs to be varied to provide different types of food. There will be several types of food sources:-

  • Canned food
  • MREs (Meals Ready to Eat)
  • Deep frozen food
  • Salted dry food
  • Green & fish produce from an aquaponic farm

prepping house storeroom Food bunker canned

One of the easiest, cheapest ways to store food for a very long time and this one comes in a variety of tastes, colours and smells. Image source:

Canned food

This will be an obvious choice considering that a lot of foodstuffs are canned these days, they last for months if not years and they can be easily stored. There is too much evidence that canned food would be made an ideal choice for long term food storage.

Yes, canned food can go bad. According to the USDA, high-acid canned goods, like tomatoes and citrus fruits, will keep for up to 1.5 years. Low-acid canned goods-that’s pretty much everything else, including vegetables, meat, and fish-will last for up to 5 years.

Canned foods are sterile, so they won’t host bacteria, but eventually the taste and texture of the items inside will deteriorate.

Keep them at room temperature in a dark place, like a cabinet or a pantry, and avoid buying bulging, rusted, leaking, or deeply dented cans as they have higher chance of being spoiled.

(Source: Real Simple)


As for commercially canned food, the USDA divides this type of food into two categories – highly acidic and low acidic.

The highly acidic canned foods include citrus juices, pickled foods, tomato-based foods like tomato soup, food with vinegar, and more. Their recommended shelf-life is 12-18 months of storage unopened and up to 7 days in the refrigerator once opened.

The low acidic foods are the rest of the canned foods, which don’t include vinegar, citruses, or tomatoes. These foods, according to the USDA, have a longer shelf-life of 2 to 5 years.

This makes commercially canned foods like peas, squash, corn, vegetables, non-citrus fruits, meat, poultry, soups and more highly suitable for stocking up your emergency supply or for your long-term pantry storage.

(Source: Merch Dope)

Canned food is also my first choice for my own doomsday storeroom when I created one at home back in 2012. The obvious ones in my storage are canned tuna, canned mackerel, canned red beans, canned green beans and my favourite, canned chicken curry with potatoes. Canned tuna can be eaten straight out of the can without any cooking and it can provide nutrients immediately.

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An example of retail MRE that can last for 2 years from the date of manufacturing and you just need to add water to trigger the heating element and it comes in the famous Malaysian dishes. It is sold for RM77 for a pack of 4 online and each pack is sufficient for one person.

MREs (Meals Ready to Eat)

MRE or Meals-Ready-to Eat is not a new concept and has existed for a long time in the military services for the soldiers on the frontline who will not have the luxury of having a hot, cooked meal and these kinds of food have extended to preppers and campers who have little time to cook or is on the move. MREs are similar to canned food in that, it is ready to eat and can easily be stored in deep down bunkers.

Note MRE’s don’t have a specific expiration date but an average MRE stored at 80 degrees

Fahrenheit will be safe to eat for up to three years. If they’re stored at much cooler temperatures, then some or all of the contents could be good for up to five years. Conversely, if they’re allowed to bake in the Texan sun, then they might last as little as one or two months.

If you don’t know what conditions your MREs have been stored in, then the manufacture date may not be that helpful. Equally, just because an MRE is a few months past the three-year mark doesn’t mean it’s not safe to eat.

(Source: Primal Survivor)

Given the fact that we can easily get fresh food in the luxury of our home, I hardly store MREs at the home storage. But MREs came very handily on overseas assignments – the project team often pack as many as Brahims MREs as they have a good selection of Malaysia sauces and dishes such as Chicken Rendang. In Kabul, the team packed a number of Brahims MREs and we got the hotel kitchen to heat them up and serve them during lunch after we have already gotten bored of the Afghan food.

Deep frozen food

Freezing food is another option for preserving food but for it to work effectively in an underground bunker, it needs powerful refrigeration to keep food in deep cold. These will take a lot of power and it will not be feasible to allocate power for this purpose.

Items from the freezer section of the supermarket are safe to eat indefinitely. They have expiration dates because they won’t taste good forever; flavor and texture break down over time.

Once you open a bag of frozen peas or corn, pour out a portion rather than reaching in with your hand, which can introduce bacteria. (Bacteria can’t grow in the freezer, but they can survive. If you don’t cook an item after you defrost it, the bacteria could still be dangerous.)

(Source: Real Simple)

However, it is possible to have small refrigeration that can preserve food on a shorter-term basis say for a couple of days for example for that leftover food.

Salted dry food

Over a country that is in the tropics, salted dry fish would be another feasible solution. The process is simple. Salt can last forever and thus there is no danger of it going bad and is effective to extract water from meat. A certain area of the bunker can be allocated to have the sunlight through several layers of blast-proof glasses but enough to hang a couple of salted fish to dry.

Dried fish, depending on the method of preservation and the environment it is stored in can last from a few months up to one year. However, most would recommend that you don’t let it go past 2 months.

Salt cod is 80% protein and contains practically no water or fat, so if kept in a dry place, it won’t spoil for very long periods. It has been stored on long sea voyages — and kept in hot, dry climates — without refrigeration, for centuries. As long as salt cod is kept dry, it ‘s unlikely to spoil.

(Source: Bike Hike)

The salted fish method will be the way to preserve fish reared in small, self-sustaining aquaponic farms.

Aquaponic Farm Fish Hydroponic Bunker Food Vegetable

It is a self-sustaining system where the fishes produce the necessary nutrients for the vegetables and the vegetable filters the water for the fishes is ideal for a bunker. Image source: Lyndon Water Africa

Aquaponics farms

Despite canned food and MREs, one needs fresh food in a bunker eventuality, especially vegetables and to provide the necessary nutrients, one can add fish into the equitation:-

Aquaponics farms are a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics — where fish are raised in tanks and the water from the fish tanks is recirculated into the plant beds, so the plants can absorb nutrients from fish waste in the water. When the water is returned from the plant beds to the fish tanks, it is cleaned of waste.

Hydroponic and aquaponics farmers can grow many of the same things that are grown in traditional soil-based farms, including (but not limited to):-

Herbs like basil, cilantro and mint
Vegetables like bell peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes
Greens like romaine lettuce, rainbow chard and spinach
Fruits like strawberries and melons
Flowers like cosmos, marigolds and zinnias

Aquaponics farmers can grow all the produce listed above plus they can raise many types of fish and shellfish in a separate tank, including:-

Edible fish and crustaceans like tilapia, catfish, trout and prawns
Ornamental fish like koi and goldfish

(Source: Food Print)

Water used for washing and showering in the bunker can also be routed to the aquaponics farms if it cannot be recycled and filtered so that can be used for other usages in the bunker including for waste disposal.

To be continued

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