Water barrel issues

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Travlin's picture
Travlin
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Water barrel issues

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.

Travlin 

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LG
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Sir, I bought ten 55-gallon

Sir,

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.

LG

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cert

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.

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Wendy S. Delmater
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water barrels

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.

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Water barrels

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.

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HDPE is vapor-permeable, the

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-

http://www.darienct.gov/filestorage/104/114/163/Plastics_Primer0714.pdf

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.

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55- gallon barrels

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 .

FM

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Travlin wrote: 2 – Some

Travlin wrote:

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 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.

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Ah, finally a subject I have

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-

http://dpd.cdc.gov/dpdx/HTML/Baylisascariasis.htm

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-

http://www.botanic.org/Solar_Energy.asp

Don't forget to periodically use the stored water, rotate stock.  That is, if you are using it for something other that thermal mass.

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Could be Toxic

tictac1 wrote:

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.

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That’s very helpful

tictac1 wrote:

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-

http://www.darienct.gov/filestorage/104/114/163/Plastics_Primer0714.pdf

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. 

Travlin 

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Yikes!  If it made the dog

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.

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Water supply

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/

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55 galls?

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/

Mike

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ecoblue

Starr10 wrote:
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/

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....

Mike

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tictac1 wrote:One thing I've

tictac1 wrote:
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.

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.

Mike

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Underdone Water

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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That's realy a lot of helpful

That's realy a lot of helpful tips on water storage guys. I honestly thought that a lot of this stuff was pretty common sense, but I guess it's not really all that simple to get everything settled.. That could possibly be why plumbers cost so damn much then! Haha!

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HDPE is a viable alternative

HDPE is a viable alternative but I'd still go for polyethylene if I had the chance.

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Introduction

It is my great opportunity in joining you all. Hope for long and happy association with you all. 

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Ecoloblue

I watched their video and it seems that this is basically a dehumidifier with some added filtration.  We have two standard dehumidifiers on our property and use them sparingly because they are very high energy draws. They produce a lot of water and I would not hesitate to drink it in an emergency with a little filtration, added chlorine,  or running it through a UV light.

"Potability
Water collected from any dehumidifier is technically distilled water in that it does contain few of the minerals and other particulates that are removed in a true distillation process. However, a true distillation process condenses the steam of boiled water, and the boiling process kills any microbes and fungi that may be present in the pre-distilled water. Dehumidifiers are also not kept to a state of cleanliness required for food-grade standards (drinking water usually has very high legal requirements). The collected water is therefore not considered safe to drink.[1] Also, as the water may sit for a while in the collection bucket, the water may be quite stale, in particular with fungus collected from aerial spores."

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Polyethylene Water Storage

We have 3,000 gallon tanks manufactured by Norwesco and labeled for Potable Water. After 14 years they are as good as new. We paint the exterior to block light from coming in. (Although they are black, you can see light when you stand inside one). Newer tank designs are better at shielding light. We have 45,000 gallons of total storage and use  the water in our house after double filtration and UV sterilization.

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Rain water in the Barrel

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-

The water in rain barrels may pose a threat if you drink it without making sure that it is safe. No one should do it. If you want to save or store water on this types of container make sure that you regularly clean it. If it's not used for drinking you can use it for watering the plants instead. Taking care of the garden and tending to the lawn also consumes water. :)

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In my opinion, it's always

In my opinion, it's always better not to drink water stored in plastic cans. But, we are available with water in plastic cans when we are in public. So we may be forced to drink it. In our houses, make sure we drink pure water stored in sterilized cans or clean steel pots. 

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Water bottles for drinking--swimming pools for plants & ponds

My little opinions for water storage:

  • For human drinking water use only bottles meant for drinking water. Best is crystal-clear "stackable" Poland Spring 3-liter bottles. Convenient and space efficient. $1/bottle at some supermarkets. If using this for storing other water sources: mark the year with a Sharpie. Then every January, crumple and recycle the bottles more than 1 year old. I.e. total cost is not much and you can reuse them for about 1-2 years. It boggles my mind why anybody would want to store drinking water in huge barrels that are difficult if not impossible to work with and to clean properly and must be re-used for years to justify the cost and bother. Well for cattle alright that's a different matter.
  • For passive solar heat storage: the same stackable crystal-clear 3-liter bottles. To maximize heat collection, buy a small can of black paint coloring at any hardware or paint store. The kind they use to mix custom colors--without the paint. Add a dash to each Poland Spring 3-liter bottle--so the water is grey. Stack up in any unused space in any greenhouse. Also maybe build shelves along the back wall just to stack as many of these as possible.
  • GSE to preserve non-drinking and non-plant-watering water. If you want a totally nontoxic way to stop water from possibly getting gross after years, add to each bottle a little squirt of GSE Grapefruit Seed Extract. (Best price is if bought by the gallon but make sure it is name brand "Nutribiotic." Not the Ebay stuff that is unknown quality.) But do not drink this water and do not use GSE to sterilize drinking water. For temporary use, yes GSE can make water safer or cure or prevent serious bacterial food poisoning. Also, twice daily slightly-diluted by only wetting the skin can cure acne or athletes foot. Rubbed behind and all over the wet ear--not in the ear--can cure ear infections. Apply 1-2 times daily to slow-healing leg scratches after wetting the spot--the spot will heal. But for long term use, GSE eventually weakens the intestinal flora immune system, even in tiny amounts. Use only to treat existing problems. Do not use for long-term prevention, either internally or externally. Except for storing water that is not for drinking. Or use a strong solution to spray heavily on books, shoes, under carpets, inside walls and ceilings, basement walls, to stop mold. Etc. Also can use once a week in ultrasonic humidifiers.
  • For active solar heat storage: ok this is where plastic barrels make sense to me. Drill holes for PVC fittings threaded for a garden hose near the top of one side and at the bottom of the opposite side. Buy black garden hoses. Series them and snake them under clear plastic or inside a greenhouse. Attach the higher end of the hose series to the lowest end of a plastic barrel at the end of a barrel series. Attach the higher end of that barrel to the lower end of the next barrel. Etc. Then the higher outlet of the last barrel goes on the lower or "colder" end of the black garden hose. When the hose gets hot, it starts a current running through the barrels. When the barrels are warmer than the hose, the stored heat comes out to warm the greenhouse. Also, maybe add a short length clear tubing somewhere so you might clearly see whether the water is moving. If not, a small pump might be needed.
  • To protect a row of crops from freezing: use the above method to join 2-gal jerry cans. (Such as Cat's Pride cat litter comes in.) But in this case, the hose does not need to be black and only just long enough to join the barrels or cans. Also, instead of screw fittings, you can just drill two holes in the top of jerry cans, sized just right for flexible PVC tubing, then join the containers with PVC tubing. Use siphon methods to get the tubing filled with water. Set them in a row along the row of crops. Cover with Remay Frost Blanket, followed by 1-3 layers of "US-made" clear plastic from Greenhousemegastore. Prevents overheating as well as preventing freezing. Still, good idea to open the plastic when the sun is strong. During really cold nights: use a garden hose to drip hot tap water into one end of the series of cans. Cover the 3/4-in garden hose with 1-in foam pipe insulation so the slow-drizzled hot water stays hot to the end of the garden hose.
  • For large amounts of water to survive droughts: use multiple small swimming pools. For collecting water from your roof so as to water ponds and gardens during droughts: use Craigslist to buy multiple small above-ground swimming pools whenever someone in your area is unloading them cheap. But only if you can cover them and otherwise make sure small children and animals do not fall in.
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PS--I meant clear vinyl

PS--I meant clear vinyl tubing (not PVC tubing) to connect 2-gal containers.

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