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Procuring a Rain Barrel? Answered

I am looking to start my DIY water collection system, but the key for me is to find 3-4 55 gallon plastic drums for this project. I located someone on craigslist selling several drums for a very reasonable price. The question I have is, should I be very concerned that these plastic drums once contained various car washing fluids? Can these be effectively rinsed out? Will my garden be severely impacted by this?


i bought 2/50 gal. food grade barrels at a coca cola warehouse for $5 each! they held the syrups for making soda pop. i was loading there, noticed them & inquired. glad i did! i would only use food grade plastic barrels for rain water collection.

I know, I know - but I actually saw them for sale in Target.

When I asked the same question of an enviromental scientist friend of mine the answer I got was a question. Would you eat or drink what was in the container before? If the answer is no, remember the chemicals or substances in the barrel impregnate the plastic and will leech out over time. Food grade plastics are resistant to reacting with the food products stored in them and are generally safe. I wouldn't chance it, I mean you are more than likely interested in the health benefits of growing your own food, so why introduce any chemical to counter what you are trying to do. I would try to get a barrel from a soda bottling company, or an olive processor or even a bakery.

I think it would depend on the washing fluids in particular like if it was a wash-n-wax product.  Generally though, I wouldn't worry about it unless you're growing very sensitive plants such as bog plants, but after a few fills and empties, any leftover chemicals wouldn't be much cause for concern.

I got my rain barrels from a home brew store where they were originally filled with extracts.  I've seen barrels sold on craigslist that had cherry syrup extracts and generally edible stuff.  If you're at all concerned, hold out for barrels that contained food/beverage ingredients or just plain water.

8 years ago

I found them on Craig's List.  Barrels are used for animal feeders and H2O.


8 years ago

I picked up some free ones from my cities water treatment plant that had a anti couagulant in them, which they add to the water supply, so I just had to rinse them out.

Wash them with soap and water, then rinse very well.  You might even let water set in them over a week end.  By then if there is ANY trace of the original fluid it would only be a trace.

Car washing fluids are not really very dangerous except when concentrated.  Diluted as used or as they will be after washing out they are going to be pretty safe.