rain barrel safe ?

nbreauMarch 3, 2009

I have a few 45 gallon plastic barrels that I obtained from a car wash that were used to store windshield washer fluid and I'm wondering if they would be safe for rainwater collection to water my veggie garden if they are properly rinsed out.

I've done some googling to try and find out but so far no luck.

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I wouldn't use them unless it says that the windshield washing fluid is safe for drinking. You could use them to water non edibles, but I wouldn't use them for veggies.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 1:52PM
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Dan Staley

I wouldn't.


    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 3:56PM
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I think you got good answers to this on the veggie forum. I'd listen to them.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 4:41PM
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engineeredgarden(7, nw Alabama)

Nick - I would see if there was anything that would neutralize the residual chemical. Kinda like the way baking soda does battery acid...


    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 6:19PM
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Dan Staley

I agree with EG, altho unless there is an ingredients label, you are talking about the safety of your family & you have no idea what the constituents of the chemical are. I wouldn't risk it for my family. Not even the MIL.


    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 6:54PM
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garycinchicago(Z5 Chicago IL.)

Windshield washer fluid is made with isopropyl alcohol. It evaporates.

A 10% chlorine bleach solution will fix any residual.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 7:29PM
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I can't imagine that if you cleaned the barrell that there would be any ill effects. It seems that windshield washing fluid is basically soap and alcohol mix. I'm no scientist but wouldn't that just wash away and leave no trace? Even if there was a tiny bit of residual, it's probably no worse than what we get in straight rainwater.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 7:38PM
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engineeredgarden(7, nw Alabama)

There ya have it.....gary's the man!


    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 7:55PM
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Dan Staley

OK then. A new place to dumpster dive freecycle!

Oh, wait: what color are they? Will I get approval from the better half?!


    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 9:17PM
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sinfonian(U8b A2 S5 SeaWA)

Dan, paint 'em. That's what I'll have to do no matter what color I get, hehe.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 1:10AM
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floodthelast(5 N. OH)

Ha I am the better half and my hubby is putting mine together for my birthday. I happen to like that shade of blue. Of course my lilac will hide it from the street and neighbors come spring so I did take some of that into consideration.
He did suggest I paint the rain diverter we bought. I have some blue paint on hand :) My spouts are dark brown so the blue will be a bit better.
I am also going to add some decorative river rocks to the top for the sound and ascetics.

Impressive info Gary, this post was very informative.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 7:55AM
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I still wouldn't do it. Windshield washer fluids have additives to them and are not just alcohol. Most contain MONOETHANOLAMINE which is toxic and in the amine family (same as ammonia).

Like I said, if it says do not ingest on the label, then I would stay away. At the least, try to find the MSDS on what was in the barrel and see what it rates the health effects as.

Is it really worth your life or a family members life to save a few bucks?

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 8:01AM
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I just picked up some of these barrels today, I will be bottom watering plants out of these barrels. Has anyone else used these kind of barrels and what all did you use to clean them out with?

Much appreciated.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 1:37PM
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"you are what you eat"

Obnoxious (but true) slogans aside, those barrels could have contained ANYTHING. From Medline: "Windshield washer fluid is a brightly colored liquid made of methanol, a poisonous alcohol. Sometimes small amounts of other toxic alcohols such as ethylene glycol are added to the mixture...Some young children may mistake the fluid for juice, which can lead to accidental poisoning. Even small amounts can cause significant damage."

The barrels will not be poisonous at all, as long as you believe that there is an exposure threshold you're not exceeding. However, we are exposed to toxic chemicals constantly day after day and I believe that it's not a good idea to deliberately add more crap to that (very thin but real) toxic assault. You gotta draw a line somewhere, and using a castoff from the chemical industry to saturate food plant roots is just asking for trouble.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 11:11PM
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Why risk it when the point of gardening is to eat healthy?

Did you know you could make your own inexpensive rain barrels out of new garbage cans? Family Handyman had an article on how to do it. It showed you how to cut a hole out of the top to allow your gutter to flow into it and cut one at the bottom to install a faucet. It was very easy.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 11:28AM
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