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Is my water tank safe?

JRR

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I just picked up a 275 gallon water tank to use as part of a rain catchment system. I was told it had only contained "salt water." After a bit of research, I find out that it's an Aqueous solution used for cleaning, and the salt probably wasn't sodium chloride. Any idea what is in those containers?

Thanks.
 
I looked. I couldn't find any. I'll look again tomorrow, but I don't think there are any labels.
 
Rinse, flush, and repeat. Use water, beer, whiskey but never scotch. You could let the water sit in the tank for several days and then take a sample to whatever local agency in your neck of the woods does water testing (i.e. well water) to see what they report.

In the end, what will the water be used for?
 
Rinse, flush, and repeat. Use water, beer, whiskey but never scotch. You could let the water sit in the tank for several days and then take a sample to whatever local agency in your neck of the woods does water testing (i.e. well water) to see what they report.

In the end, what will the water be used for?
Keep in mind with water, blood or any other kind of test, they are only testing for the specific items you request.
In the case of water it’s the standard lead test that and maybe 10 other chemicals unless you specify something else and how do you know what was being stored in it.
I would not use that water unless it was to water my plants.
 
Food grade IBC's are commonly available and quite cheap (I paid under $180 for my four) they used to contain canola oil used for cooking at 'fish and chip shops' but were pressure cleaned before I even got them...

On the way to the campsite on my then new property
1716193896179.png
3 were used as 'storage', the fourth used for transporting water from the local 'council water stand' (you can just see the two solar panels on top of the two tanks on the right)
1716194271888.png
They fed drinking and washing water to the caravan while building the shed from a 12v mains pressure waterpump run from an old 'dead' car battery, charged by the two panels on top of the IBCs
1716194452257.png
These days, just used as 'ballast' for the 'temporary arrays' at the shed...
1716194524693.png
Each IBC holds 1000L (265 gallons) and cost me $45 each (and about $10 in diesel to pick them up lol)

Without knowing exactly what those containers of yours held originally, I would be dubious about using them for drinking water- they 'probably' are safe- but unless you can find out exactly what cleaning chemicals were actually used ('salt water' can mean many different things, some not so good to drink), I'd be dubious about using them for drinking water at least unless they were triple washed and left filled with water for at least a month to 'soak out' any traces, then triple washed again....
 
Hi all. Consider that it is really tough to keep drinkable water in any of these containers. The tank itself is not usually under pressure, and out of the elements like a residential well pressure tank. The pressurized side is only after the pump in this case. I use a tote like those at an off-grid cabin myself, for shower, toilets, etc. but not for drinking. Very easy for things to grow in the tanks.

Not trying to be one of those negative on ideas people, but just throwing it out there.
 
Agreed. I’ve had mine for around 20 years. Surprised they have lasted that long. I did spray paint the top to provide some uv protection.

A cup of bleach every once in a while helps.
 
My 55 gallon poly drums were $15/ea and previously held Pepsi syrup.

It's relatively easy to filter out any biological contaminants or anything that might be growing in water stored in these containers. Some bleach as mentioned earlier, a particulate filter and UV sterilizer in the water line, or an RO filter on the drinking side, no big deal.

It's hugely more difficult to filter out industrial contamination or poisons, and the potential dangers can be far more than just an upset tummy for a few days.
 
Hi all. Consider that it is really tough to keep drinkable water in any of these containers. The tank itself is not usually under pressure, and out of the elements like a residential well pressure tank. The pressurized side is only after the pump in this case. I use a tote like those at an off-grid cabin myself, for shower, toilets, etc. but not for drinking. Very easy for things to grow in the tanks.

Not trying to be one of those negative on ideas people, but just throwing it out there.
They are quite ok for drinking water as well, if kept out of the sunlight (I ended up wrapping mine in shadecloth- also kept their temps down in 40C plus temps) plus add either 'tank treatment' tables (widely available from most hardware stores or rural suppliers in Australia, or even a small amount of bleach (which in the proper proportions is quite safe to drink after the water has been treated)

Many people are 'overly cautious' about rainwater tanks- a good 20% of Aussies live on them with zero issues (many never treating them in any way lol)
Mine are only relying on the first flush diverters..., I did treat the big tank at the shed with bleach after frogs got into it, but only used it for showers and washing clothes for the first tankload, but been using it for drinking after that...
1716216745280.png
22500L in that one (9000 gallons)- now fitted with first flush diverters and the tank inlet sealed to stop frogs spawning in it again...
:-(
 
They are quite ok for drinking water as well, if kept out of the sunlight (I ended up wrapping mine in shadecloth- also kept their temps down in 40C plus temps) plus add either 'tank treatment' tables (widely available from most hardware stores or rural suppliers in Australia, or even a small amount of bleach (which in the proper proportions is quite safe to drink after the water has been treated)

Many people are 'overly cautious' about rainwater tanks- a good 20% of Aussies live on them with zero issues (many never treating them in any way lol)
Mine are only relying on the first flush diverters..., I did treat the big tank at the shed with bleach after frogs got into it, but only used it for showers and washing clothes for the first tankload, but been using it for drinking after that...
View attachment 216519
22500L in that one (9000 gallons)- now fitted with first flush diverters and the tank inlet sealed to stop frogs spawning in it again...
:-(

I imagine that's helpful for fire fighting as well.
 
I just picked up a 275 gallon water tank to use as part of a rain catchment system. I was told it had only contained "salt water." After a bit of research, I find out that it's an Aqueous solution used for cleaning, and the salt probably wasn't sodium chloride. Any idea what is in those containers?

Thanks.

Safe for What ?

Drinking Water ?

Roof catchment water “could have” bird poop or other toxic materials on the roof. So in my mind the question should be is the system safe if you want it “Potable”.

In my career, I have had to disinfect public drinking water systems. Typically that process utilizes a “chlorination process”. Further the municipality water system will be “chlorinated”.

Be aware if you are drinking from catchment water.



 
Yeah you have to be careful of drinking rain water. I put in my rain catchment system 26 years ago. It uses a sand and gravel setup before the tanks and after I have a whole house filter unit. It has been the supply for me, my Dad when he was still alive and several pets through the years. I do occasionally treat with bleach (especially in Spring when pollen is everywhere).

My experience with this long term exposure may be a warning to others. While almost never getting sick or suffering any direct effects from drinking the water I have noticed some negatives. When I first started drinking rain water 26 years ago I had a full head of hair, I was strong and quite handsome. But as the years have gone by drinking and washing in the water a lot of my hair has fallen out, I get fatigued after minor physical activity. My looks are no longer that great and my memory seems to be hit or miss.

So before you embark on setting up a rain catchment drinking water system you may want to consider what it might do to you 20+ years from now. You don't want to look back and realize the harm it might have done.
 
Hi all,
Jokes aside (good one by the way Matt), I agree with RV8R that you should just know what you are getting into. I have some experience with camp drinking water systems that families use, and I take that very seriously.

Just don't get in the situation where you have no clue what the risks are, and are feeding experiment water to people that have no idea what it is. Experiment on yourself all you want!

If you go into it with a learning mindset, and get the info you need for it to be safe, then great. There are places that test water for cheap or free, so it wouldn't hurt to test it when installed, then also months down the line to see if you are staying relatively free of some of the common bacteria. Also know that this type of system is not something you can just leave alone for weeks at a time, then come back to it and use. Not for drinking anyhow.
 
I don't know about you but I just lay out under my eaves with my mouth wide open under my downspout when it rains. Refreshing!
 
Safe for What ?

Drinking Water ?

Roof catchment water “could have” bird poop or other toxic materials on the roof. So in my mind the question should be is the system safe if you want it “Potable”.

In my career, I have had to disinfect public drinking water systems. Typically that process utilizes a “chlorination process”. Further the municipality water system will be “chlorinated”.

Be aware if you are drinking from catchment water.
This!

The container likely wont be the one to contaminate the water. The water should already be considered contaminated by something.... bugs, bird poop, pollution and so on. The process to filter and treat the water will be the most important.
 
Without serious filtering and cleaning rain water from the roof is only good for watering the lawn.

I am on well water and have had to shock it once when the test came back with bad stuff. I still use an undersink RO filter setup with UV light as the final stage. I test it once a year through the county health dept - not required but only costs $20

When I change the filters on it I put 1/2 teaspoon of bleach in at the start and run it until I smell it at the end, then let it sit 30 minutes and flush then put in new sealed filters.

For anything other than drinking the well is perfectly fine... well I admit I drink the well water to but it is basically liquid rock with a PPM reading upwards of 800 in spring and 450 the rest of the year. The RO was primarily put in to lower that down. It has 8 stages - 3 particle, the RO filter element, then for drinking another particle filter, a remineralizer, then the UV light. I have a switch to run through a DI canister set and put out 0 PPM water for my wife to water her carnivorous plants.
 
Update: The seller has informed me this tank contained a saline solution used to flush the lines on the machinery at a chicken processing plant.
This!

The container likely wont be the one to contaminate the water. The water should already be considered contaminated by something.... bugs, bird poop, pollution and so on. The process to filter and treat the water will be the most important.
I fully intend on making sure the water is potable. I've been mostly off the grid for going on 6 years now, but I have problems with my well running dry in July and August, hence the need for a water tank.
 
I imagine that's helpful for fire fighting as well.
It is actually a legal requirement in many council areas that tanks have an approved standard fitting that the bush fire brigade can connect to...
(in my case a 65mm Storz outlet is required at the tank itself...)
One of these
1716243935699.png
Basically, a T fitting is fitted to the tanks outlet valve, one line goes to your own waterlines, the other has the Storz vavle fitted to it... Should the bushies need to fight a fire on your property, they can connect to your water tanks to get extra water...
(it is also a requirement that if your water pump is mains powered, it must have an alternate source of power, or an alternate pump powered by some other source available be available for fighting fires)
 
Well water here (well bore water) is considered non potable where I live, and is allowed to only be used for agricultural purposes (plus it tastes bloody nasty as hell lol)- anyone relying entirely on bore water for potable purposes has to have a 'treatment plant' fitted and undergo regular testing, not required for rainwater tanks (although many people do regular testing anyway)
Especially after bushfires have been in the area, testing services can be swamped, as in Australia, aerial firefighting choppers and planes drop fire retardent- which is seriously nasty stuff to ingest, so having it contaminate your tanks is bad...
(our local council will allow you to have your tanks refilled for free after a bushfire, but the draing and cleaning costs are on you unfortunately- weird rules- you can't drain a tank onto the ground if it is contaminated by fire retardant- the same stuff they were dropping on the ground during the fire.... WTF???)
 
Well water here (well bore water) is considered non potable where I live, and is allowed to only be used for agricultural purposes (plus it tastes bloody nasty as hell lol)- anyone relying entirely on bore water for potable purposes has to have a 'treatment plant' fitted and undergo regular testing, not required for rainwater tanks (although many people do regular testing anyway)
Especially after bushfires have been in the area, testing services can be swamped, as in Australia, aerial firefighting choppers and planes drop fire retardent- which is seriously nasty stuff to ingest, so having it contaminate your tanks is bad...
(our local council will allow you to have your tanks refilled for free after a bushfire, but the draing and cleaning costs are on you unfortunately- weird rules- you can't drain a tank onto the ground if it is contaminated by fire retardant- the same stuff they were dropping on the ground during the fire.... WTF???)

Sounds like government rules.
 
I really wouldn't use anything to store potable water that is not labeled as food safe and preferably know the chain of custody.
Especially if they are any kind of plastic. Most plastic has rough surfaces and can easily bond with chemicals. This bond can not be removed with regular cleaning (friction & soap/emulsifing). Plastics (even "food safe" surfaces) can also leach chemicals (like BPA).
 
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Relating to the pollution aspect, it is interesting to note that rain water/"fallout" has measurably improved in the case of inorganic mercury since a lot of coal burning power plants have been shutting down. I remember how they tried to say it was mostly because of China but when they started shutting down local coal plants there was a measurable reduction in methyl mercury in local fish populations that people would eat.
 
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Sounds like government rules.
Well water in southern Iowa is all contaminated unless you go really deep ( I think 1000ft+) so they actually ran water lines out to even fairly rural areas. Farmers there use lot of chemicals and is common for people to dump all their garbage in waterways/ditches and burn it.
 
Well water in southern Iowa is all contaminated unless you go really deep ( I think 1000ft+) so they actually ran water lines out to even fairly rural areas. Farmers there use lot of chemicals and is common for people to dump all their garbage in waterways/ditches and burn it.

Yuck
 
I bought 3 potable 325 gallon tanks new 10 years ago … $300. 00 each…1000 gallons storage… the pumps feed a manifold to send where it’s needed…or turned off to simply store the water..

I have used them all the time after pumping well water in them …

I add the usual 12 drops of Clorox per gallon when filling them just to insure it stays safe from pathogens ….now or later…I change it all once a year..

Tastes and smells great…

Never had any trouble from anything except when I drank to much beer…

But the beer didn’t come from the well so I guess I could say I didn’t have any problems at all..

Why buy used tanks? What’s the incentive..? …a few bucks saving for the second most valuable need one has in life…… water..

If using roof water then simply run it through a 300 dollar water purifier filter
( pro-pur- berkey or Alexipur ) and you will have zero problems with whatever was on the roof…

Life is simple. We usually are the ones that make it complicated…

J.
 
With proper PPE (protection) you could use a pump-up garden sprayer with a weak phosphoric acid solution on the inside surfaces. Note: phosphoric acid is real acid and can hurt you severely, but it is food grade as it is commonly used as ice machine cleaner. Just rinse well to neutralize after using. Another would be citric acid but that would be less effective. Both, if very very dilute are ok to put down drain.
 
Sounds like government rules.
Unlike the US government, ours is concerned with the health and safety of its citizens- and we like it that way....

(its rather ironic that so many US posters here are against drinking fresh rainwater (one of the best water sources there is imho) and drink water from wells (which can be contaminated with all sorts of pollutants from ground water) quite happily...)
I have drunken bore water, and even after treatment, it has a distinct taste (not nice) where the water from my tanks is fresh and tastes good (better than the town water lol, which is treated bore water...) many locals in town have 'three taps' in the kitchen sink- ones hot water, ones cold water, and the third is 'tank water' for drinking...
 
Man made contaminates are not the only things that can make water unpotable- here we have extensive coal and gas deposits under us that stretch for hundreds of thousands of square kilometres, and unless you go down at least 700-1000m (2100-3000ft) the water is that toxic that it can't even be used for agricultural use (it literally kills the plants) and even the deep water has to be filtered and cleaned before use before it is drinkable....

It means you also have to have a fully sealed bore going down to that depth, or the toxic upper level water will contaminate your bore...

All of which makes bore water very $$$
 
Unlike the US government, ours is concerned with the health and safety of its citizens- and we like it that way....

(its rather ironic that so many US posters here are against drinking fresh rainwater (one of the best water sources there is imho) and drink water from wells (which can be contaminated with all sorts of pollutants from ground water) quite happily...)
I have drunken bore water, and even after treatment, it has a distinct taste (not nice) where the water from my tanks is fresh and tastes good (better than the town water lol, which is treated bore water...) many locals in town have 'three taps' in the kitchen sink- ones hot water, ones cold water, and the third is 'tank water' for drinking...
Mythology around water is rampant. Taking to extreme is the basis for quack cures. Or $1 per pint bottled fresh water (with a hint of fruit*).

*This fruit essences seems to be an acceptable contaminate to add to water to make it taste better.
 
A general observation, IBC tanks are not rated for UV and will eventually degrade in the sun (get brittle). Its best to shade them from direct sunshine.
 
Well water in southern Iowa is all contaminated unless you go really deep ( I think 1000ft+) so they actually ran water lines out to even fairly rural areas. Farmers there use lot of chemicals and is common for people to dump all their garbage in waterways/ditches and burn it.
Not the reason.

High in nitrates, most of it naturally occurring. High nitrates cause many health problems and blue baby syndrome which is fatal.
 
Don't believe everything you read on the internet.

Take Minnesota water for example, many streams and lakes are contaminated with e coli, mining run off (nice red water scum) and a host of other pathogens. The e coli gets so bad there are advisories about swimming in a lake experiencing the red tide.

Many towns and cities will pump water out of sewer mains into the lakes to prevent household flooding during heavy rains. And they wonder why the lake has high e coli. There are certain lakes I refuse to fish simply due to the history of the red tide.

Iowa has some of that too, don't get me wrong.
 
Hi all. Consider that it is really tough to keep drinkable water in any of these containers. The tank itself is not usually under pressure, and out of the elements like a residential well pressure tank. The pressurized side is only after the pump in this case. I use a tote like those at an off-grid cabin myself, for shower, toilets, etc. but not for drinking. Very easy for things to grow in the tanks.

Not trying to be one of those negative on ideas people, but just throwing it out there.
You don’t have a reservoir for your well? We have 2-2000 gallon tanks. I would say the premise between them and IBC totes is similar.
one should properly disinfect their well water regardless of storage type
 
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