I plan to buy some 55 gallon barrels like this to store drinking water. http://greif.thomasnet.com/item/usa-industrial-packaging-products-plastic-drums/plastic-drums/gp-55? They are made of heavy duty polyethylene (HDPE) food grade plastic.
I have two issues.
1 - I have heard the water will acquire a strong plastic taste after a few months. It is safe to drink but tastes pretty bad. I’m thinking it would help a lot if I rinse the inside of the barrels thoroughly and let them sit in the sun for a few days to out-gas.
2 – Some sellers say not to set them directly on concrete, as the water can acquire a taste of concrete. This makes no sense to me because that would require moisture from the concrete to wick into the barrel. If the barrel is water tight that can’t happen.
I’d appreciate any help with these issues. Please be clear if you have actual experience or base your response on what you have read or heard.
I bought ten 55-gallon drums a few years back from Emergency Essentials, free shipping and on sale. I do store mine on thin plywood, do not know why, but that is what was recommended. I have no plastic taste at all. When new, I did rinse with a weak bleach solution and let dry. Hope this helps. FYI- My L-16 solar batteries are also stored on wood. Old habit are hard to break.
I havent really looked into this, but when i took my CERT class they said that when storing flats of water bottles to not place them directly on concrete because of the absorption. They said that even the cardbord packaging was not enough of a barrier. I personally use scepter 20L jugs in the back of a storage closet not on concrete and have had no issues. Anyway it is just what they are telling people in Los Angeles CERT classes.
We have three 55-gallon rain barrels attached to our leaders and gutters. They are not so much for storing water to drink as for storing water for watering our huge garden. Our barrels are food-grade blue plastic ones that a local junk dealer added brass spigots to, and then water-tested them for leaks. Cost us $25 each, and they are a third souce of emergency water for us. We have a well with and torpedo bucket and an electric pump--for which we still need a propane generator and some tanks. The rain barrels are plan B. There is also a local pond.
We find that using the rain barrel water water on the garden after every few storms, and cleaning out the barrels every so often, really keeps the water good enough to boil and drink in a pinch. We can take off the lids and scrub them out. A very little bleach keeps the pond scum at bay.
I got a bunch of those type of barrels used from someone in NH for just a few bucks each, picked up 2-4 everytime I drive through. This years project is to hook them up to rain gutters and help reduce the cost and dependence on the municipal supply for the garden. For emergency drinking water I keep a 7 gal jug full and change it out once in a while or when I go camping, with fresh.
I'd test and see if you do pick up a plastic taste and how periodically you have to change the water to avoid it. Or, to store drinking water long term, you could run it through something like a carbon filter to improve taste just before use, and disinfect if necessary too. If you're just using the water for irrigation it doesn't matter.
HDPE is vapor-permeable, the containers "breathe", so to speak. That's probably the source of the warnings. We don't use them for aging beer for this very reason, oxygen permeates the material and causes the beer to go stale.
Water stored in plastic subject to heat can leach chemicals into the water, regardless of plastic formulation-
If it tastes like plastic, do not drink it. The smell and taste is coming from SOME amount of contamination. If you want 100% safety, use 5 or 6 gallon glass carboys or stainless steel containers. For example, 15 gallon beer kegs are stainless, and will work fine when cleaned and sterilized. The downside is cost per gallon of water storage.
We use plastic chemical barrels for rainwater collection for watering. These barrels have been used for storing zinc solution, but when filled with ultra-pure water and left in the barrels for several weeks, no zinc contamination was detectable, but the water does have a slight plastic odor. I would only use this water for plants.
sounds like we need pick up the black one or paint some black to put in the green house to heat it up in cold weather . Possibly extending our growing season to year round .
I set my rain barrel on a "bed" of small rocks. The bed is a couple of inches deep to support the rain barrel since it gets heavy(450 pounds) when full.
Safewrite mentioned about the water getting dirty. I did not realize that could happen. A few weeks back, a pungent smell was emanating from the water. This lasted for several days so I emptied out the water and to my horror, the bottom of the barrel was slimy and sludge filled. I'm guessing the stuff that fell off the trees and onto my roof/gutters/downspouts and then into my rainbarrel fouled up my rain water. And I have a screen on mine too. A quick rinse did the trick. I'm assuming I'll need to do this at least a couple of times during the spring bloom period.
Ah, finally a subject I have experience with...:)
Rain barrels will grow all sorts of nastiness, but I've never seen any evidence that it is toxic, i.e. our animals drink from them all the time. I won't be testing it on myself, however. Areas with racoon populations should think long and hard about even using collected rainwater for anything but landscape watering-
A small amount of bleach added to the barrel will keep growth down for a good long time, if the water coming off the roof is NOT "first flush". I use 1/4 tsp/gallon. You shouldn't be catching that stuff anyway. Wait til after the first storm of the season, then hook up your barrels, or opt for one of the first flush systems avilable.
For greenhouse applications, here's the rule of thumb: 3 gallons per square foot of transparency. Our greenhouse only has clear siding on the southern side, at a 45 degree angle, allowing maximum off-season sun to heat the black plastic barrels. If you can set up and fill your barrels in the summer, you will find you have a bit more residual heat, vs. trying to heat them up in the winter. Black STEEL barrels transfer heat much more efficiently, but I realize the plastic ones are much easier to come by for most people.
Our greenhouse this past year was a prototype, but it definetly proved the concept. We had huge tomato plants ready to go out by April, and could have done ever better had we made the greenhouse air-tight at night. Check this one out-
Don't forget to periodically use the stored water, rotate stock. That is, if you are using it for something other that thermal mass.
Rain barrels will grow all sorts of nastiness, but I've never seen any evidence that it is toxic, i.e. our animals drink from them all the time. I won't be testing it on myself, however.
My handyman gave some water from my rain barrel to his dog, who promptly got sick. He also used the water to mix grout for my tiles. The grout was supposed to be white. It came out brown/blue/green. My garden veggies are all green and growing though, for now.
Just need to keep it clean.
Tictac -- This looks like the answer to item 2. Even though water molecules cannot penetrate the plastic, gasses can, so you could get a concrete taste. Wood under the barrel would be needed. It would also prevent moisture collecting underneath. Your link was also very helpful to clarify warnings I’ve read about storing ingestibles in various types of plastic. Thank you.
I will store these in my basement filled with tap water for emergency use. The temperature ranges from 60 to 75 degrees F. I would rotate the water periodically and I expect that after a couple of cycles the chemical leeching would be minimal. I think boiling it before drinking would mostly evaporate the plastic chemicals, if need be. In any event, it would still beat ditch water
Thanks everyone for your replies.
Yikes! If it made the dog sick, i would not water root veggies/tubers with it.
I have 2 800 gallon tanks, and 2 5000 gallon tanks. All 4 tanks are crystal clear, as of yesterday, and our last rain event was about 3 weeks ago. It's probably the result of adding a tiny amount of bleach, BUT it's also possible that my heavy-duty tanks do not transmit as much light as do blue barrels. Those blue barrels will readily grow algae, in my experience. But then again, it never made my animals sick, so something is certainly different.
I think it depends a lot on the area too, ours is high desert, not much grows here except what we cultivate, so perhaps our roofs are less contaminated by various bacterial/viral agents/whatnot.
Another issue to consider is roof materials. Some will dump large amounts of hydrocarbons and other crap into your water, so it pays to do some research in this area.
One thing I've found through testing and experimentation is that rain water is superior to well water for plants. Keep in mind our well water is high pH (8.5) with about 350 ppm dissolved solids. Over time, this causes high pH in the soil, and crusting due to salt build-up from evaporation. Rainwater is about pH 6, 30 ppm TDS, which means it can be used to leach the soil and reverse the process. Salinization causes the loss of irrigated farmland, so it's something to ponder if you want to create a truly sustainable garden/small farm.
I was wondering if anyone has any experience with this water device. I have never heard of this before, and it probably works much better in my high humidity climate, but I am hesitant to buy something that might end up being more trouble (who will service this in my area?) Sounds like a great idea, but who knows? http://www.ecoloblue.com/
what are you going to do with 55 gallons? Way too small..... here we have 10,000 gallons of storage. Anything less and you cannot possibly runa house and garden.
Don't worry about concrete... we build water tanks made OF concrete all the time in Australia. No probs.
As far as plastic is concerned, I don't know anything about HDPE, but here we also make and use plastic tanks like this http://www.ptq.com.au/tanks.htm?gclid=CMq1qLvF66kCFUNMpgoddzqCXg though I'd rather have steel ones like this http://www.wetearth.com.au/Aquaplate-Water-Tanks but I think if I ever need more I'd get these http://www.kingstonsheetmetal.com/
The 280W power requirement immediately takes it off my list! That's a lot of power, especially if it's continuous... over 6.5 kWh/day, or TRIPLE the total energy consumption in this household....
Surely pure rainwater should be pH 7?
Also, rainwater often has disolved N in it, simply from falling out of the sky through the 80% N atmosphere. This is even more noticeable during storms when lightning must cause some ionisation of the air causing even more N to be disloved... or so I've heard.
I have a 30 000 litre / 7500 Gallon concrete water tank. I also have a 2500 litre secondary tank. The concrete is over 20 years old, the plastic tank is 5 years old. Both are fine. I filter the water with a simple inline filter before it reaches the washing machine (white shirts that turn into brown shirts are not fun). I filter the water i drink that will not be boiled. I don't filter toilet or shower water. I wash the tanks out once a year. Generally off a 27 foot x 9 foot roof i catch enough water for myself to live like i would in town. When i had a girl last year I didn't catch enough by a long way. I am in an area that has moderate amounts of rainfall. Not wet but not dry either. My water storage is minimal. The local government requires a new dwelling to have 120 000 litres as a minimum.
Don't expose the water to direct sun, it will develop nasty bugs within months. Guardia and crypto sporidium both can be present in tank water. These are nasty bugs from a survival point of view. I lost a tank of water when a tree that was over the catchment dropped lots of flowers. The water turned bad and needed to be pumped out. Watch the pipes you use to catch rain water. PVC is easy but the WHO say that pvc pipes on water catchment is the leading cause of lead poisoning in the western world.
44 gallon drums of water are not enough for anything really. From a survival point of view you are limiting yourself to a single person surviving for 14 days.
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