The rain barrel starts with a food-grade barrel, modified to accept and store rainwater run-off, discharge excess rainwater once the barrel is filled to capacity, and dispense rainwater for watering the garden or for whatever use you find for captured rainwater.Note:
It is not recommended to use captured rainwater for drinking, but the food-grade component ensures that the barrel has not held contents that could damage the water supply or plants, or be absorbed by plants and then ingested when those plants are eaten.
I use it for the following:
Water the garden
Refill the toilet toilet tank after flushing
Various household construction and cleaning uses
The components cost between as little as $25 to more than $60 depending on what you're willing to spend. Including the Lee Valley components below, the total came to about $40 and the barrel was another $20. (The optional quick-connect coupling would add another $10.) You may be able to source less expensive components.
There are various acronyms used with plumbing fittings, and I will list the ones I used here:
- NPT -- National Pipe Thread
- GHT -- Garden Hose Thread
- HB -- Hose Barb
Components for the rain barrel (parts I used and approximate cost in parentheses):
Food-grade watertight barrel (220 liter Greek pickle barrel, $20)
My local hardware store happens to sell used food-grade barrels during the summer.
Screen to filter incoming rainwater (3" kitchen sink strainer, $1)
Overflow fitting (Right-angle 3/4" inner diameter 1-1/2" male NPT to 1" HB fitting, $1.75)
Overflow hose (1-1/4' flexible hose, 6 ft, $3)
Bulkhead fitting (Bulkhead fitting, 1-5/8" outside diameter, NPT female threads to accept a standard 3/4" spigot, $8)
- Nipple to connect bulkhead fitting to shut-off valve (3/4" male NPT to 3/4" male GHT, $1)
shut-off valve (Lee Valley Straight shut-off valve, $13)
Hose union gasket (Lee Valley O-ring washer, 10 for $3.25)
- Optional: quick-connect fitting (Lee Valley Brass Quick Coupler, $10)
Dry fit all components once collected to make sure all threads match and everything fits as expected.
For the base of the barrel, I used a couple of cinder blocks and a piece of flat blue stone I had in the yard. This makes filling watering cans a lot easier. The higher you're willing to put the barrel, the more water pressure you can achieve.