Friday, May 7, 2021

The Chlorine Shortage

Clean water is essential for life. Chlorine is one of the easiest and most common ways to disinfect (kill microbes) water, and has been covered several times here and on other blogs. I even showed the basics for making your own chlorine bleach, and there is a post in the archives about a solar-powered bleach producer.

Chlorine is a basic industrial chemical, used in a lot of processes, but a majority of it (~60%) is made in two plants. One of those plants burned last year, and the other was recently flooded. This has put pressure on the market; as supply goes down, prices go up. Add in the quarantine-based surge in home swimming pool construction and you can add increased demand to further raise prices. 

What does this mean for a prepper? 

  • Since most municipal water plants use Chlorine gas as a final disinfectant for the water they supply, we can expect higher costs for our drinking water.
  • Some places may try to get by using less Chlorine, which raises the potential for bacteria in our water.
  • Household bleach prices will rise and availability will drop.
  • Swimming pool bleach will follow household bleach.
  • Suppliers may switch to imported Chlorine, which raises costs and means more transportation. 

Chlorine is a gas at normal temperature and pressure, and is shipped as a liquid under pressure. Pure Chlorine stores well, but once converted to household bleach it has a shelf-life measured in months. (Pool bleach lasts longer, but is chemically different.) Stockpiling bleach is a waste of money, so if you're counting on using it for water purification you need to either make your own or investigate other methods. Erin has written about Potassium Permanganate as an alternative method of water purification (it has other uses, too) so give that some thought.

Some other things to consider:
  • Conserve water if you're on a municipal system. Reducing the demand will ensure they can treat what they are pumping.
  • Have a backup water purification system on hand. If your city declares their water unsafe, they will usually enact a "Boil Order", so keep an eye on the local news. Use the search box and look for Reverse Osmosis for my recommendation.
  • If you have a swimming pool (a great way to store lots of water), check with local suppliers for a season's supply of chemicals. Look into alternative methods, which is outside my realm of experience.
  • Keep a supply of drinking water on hand. Having been through a few floods and other disasters, you won't get much warning before they shut down the water supply.

We live in a connected world where a failure at one location will have ripple effects that can affect you and yours. Do what you can to avoid the worst of the problems.


  1. Get yourself one or more Sawyer purification systems... 100k gallon endurance...tiny...

  2. Get yourself one or more Sawyer purification systems... 100k gallon endurance...tiny...


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