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Proper way to clean a Blue food barrel to store water in.

Discussion in 'Preparedness & Survival' started by Mark W., Feb 21, 2012.

  1. Mark W.

    Mark W. Silverton, OR Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    I see a number of Craigslist ad for Blue 50+ gallon food barrels. Now these would fit into my plans for some water storage. The cost is very reasonable at 20 bucks each. And while a round barrel isn't the most compact thing to store I can work with it.

    The Question I have is. Is there a prescribed way to clean a barrel like this for long term water storage?

    I plan on using filtered tap water with the addition of a few additional drops of Chlorine and to switch out the water at least every Summer.

    Thoughts or suggestions
     
  2. Burt Gummer

    Burt Gummer Portland Completely Out of Ammo

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    Get yourself some Purogene instead of using bleach. Both will do the job though. Purodene will enhance storage life and the water will taste better. If you use bleach make sure it has no additives - no special ingredients. Tap water has enough chlorine in it already to be stored for up to a year.

    Use 20-gal barrels instead of 50. 50 are far too heavy to move around. 20 is hard enough and normally requires two people.

    Clean/rinse them out with straight bleach, that will work.

    Get a charcoal garden hose in-line filter ($20) and use it to fill the barrel with; might as well start with as clean as possible.
     
  3. kenno

    kenno eastern WA Active Member

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    I use ones that have held grain alcahol so I don't need to clean them.
    Since most blue barrels only have a bung hole they are a bit difficult to clean. You will need a "mop" that will fit through the hole as well as one of those garden sprayers so you can spray cleaner around the inside of the barrel, use citrus based cleaner and Baking Soda as cleaning agents, rinse with pressure nozzel on hose. Steer clear of barrels that are not clean, heavy stains, smell funny. Try to get the cleanest possible.
    Some are used for syrup, pickle juice etc. They take more cleaning.
     
  4. slingshot1943

    slingshot1943 salem or Well-Known Member

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    I have done the final cleaning on a city water tank after we built it.We used cholorine bleach from the super market. We far exceeded the inspector's requirements and we just used a few gallons on a very large concrete tank 120' diameter and 30' tall. Put a little in a new garbage can full of water and applied it with a preassure washer.
     
  5. kenno

    kenno eastern WA Active Member

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    keep it out of the sun and the water should be good for years, even with some of the black alge in the tank I have drank it with no ill effects, you can always boil it or filter through BBQ charcoal.
    I had a friend that stored 60,000 gallons underground and used it for years no problems
     
  6. Mark W.

    Mark W. Silverton, OR Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Well underground is out of the question here since my water table is only a little over a foot down half the year. I have dug a post hole here in August and had water come into the hole at 24"

    I think I'm going to ask one of the guys at work. We do underground pipe including city water supplies and I know they have a process they put each section of pipe through to clean it and make it ready for use. I have seen the special jugs of chemicals they use.

    I can also ask down at the Brewery 5 blocks from here if they have any suitable barrels. I know the partners there might be able to find a deal.

    Thanks guys.
     
  7. Longshot34

    Longshot34 Moses Lake Member

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    Puregene, oxine...any Chlorine dioxide product is great for sanitizing your barrels.
     
  8. Nwcid

    Nwcid Yakima and N of Spokane Well-Known Member

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    Why are you storing water?
     
  9. Mark W.

    Mark W. Silverton, OR Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    I live in Town and do not want the hassle of trying to get a permit for a well. Nor the expense of a well etc. I do have sources of fresh water within 6 blocks of home (a LARGE naturally fed pond) and Abiqua Creek just a mile away (which is the citys source of water also) But I think it a good idea to have a reasonable store of drinking water on hand. I am looking at putting up 300 gallons to start. Once I get the Greenhouse finished that will increase.
     
  10. Colt Carbine

    Colt Carbine Oregon Gears-N-Guns

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    I do not think you would be able to get a permit from the city anyway. Most people that live inside city limits that had wells were forced by the government to abandon their wells and pay the city for water, same thing with septic tanks. Gotta love government taking away peoples ability to be somewhat reliant upon the resources they already had.

    Keep in mind as mentioned 55 gals. of water is heavy. Water weighs 8.34 lbs. per gallon, so you will have 458.70 lbs. of water not including the container.
     
  11. blk04specv

    blk04specv Hillsboro Member

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    Does anyone know where I can find a manual pump that fits into a 55 gallon drum bung?
     
  12. Mark W.

    Mark W. Silverton, OR Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    WILCO farm stores

    Coastal Farm Stores.
     
  13. OFADAN

    OFADAN Brownsville, OR Well-Known Member

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    FWIW...for the survival/prep program we teach at OFA I've been working with two different Microbiologists both with Master's Degree in this discipline. One of these two women is tops in her profession and is highly regarded in her community. Anyway, she in particular has helped me personally and helped OFA in developing the most reliable and effective clean water and stored water recommendations to pass along to students. As I've read through some of the advise I can hear and see her cringe with some of the misinformation or misunderstandings of this subject.

    So what I'm sharing comes from her research and recommendations. First, there are two types of bacteria we must concern ourselves with - pathogenic and non-pathogenic. Pathogenic means cause disease and non-pathogenic non-disease. (Patho and non-Patho for short from here on out).

    Clean water coming from a clean source (such as a municipal for example most likely do not have pathgens in their system - but you cannot always assume this. There are many horror stories!)

    Anyway, water that is clean and saved in a clean container is fine for a few days depending upon a number variables. There are just too many variables to say it is good for "x" number days. Temperature, UV, type and quality of the vessel etc all contribute to the duration of the stored water. Just too many variables to say with conviction this is good for x or y days. So the general principle is to always filter or purify any water coming out of the container prior to drinking regardless if it was recently stored or not. A filter generally removes pathogenic and non-pathogenic critters. Filters remove bacteria, and microorganisms such as giardia and cryptosporidium for example. Purifiers do both plus eliminate viruses.

    Once clean water is stored in a clean container and it is stored away from UV and in a moderate/controlled temp she still recommends changing water every three months and using bleach that is no older than 90 days to cleanse the storage vessel. Bleach looses its strength and integrity very quickly. In her work they change the bleach solution for their work counters daily. She is more paranoid than I am...she says every 3 months...I know others who do it every 6 months and then those who do it annually. Regardless, it must be filtered prior to use or one risks being sick from non-patho's! She is just more conservative than many folks - but consider this...this is what she does for a living and she knows exactly what the risks/consequences are!


    The problem is regardless of the storage vessel, there is going to be after a while growth of non-pathogenic bacteria. This bacteria will eventually metabolize from eating the nutrients in the water or residual from the interior of the vessel which wasn't removed when cleaned. Eventually you'll have a soup full of alive and dead non-patho bacteria which your body cannot handle. The cramps and diarreha are going to be extremely painful and it will incapacitate you hard! In a survival situation it could mean serious, very serious problems.

    So you need at least a highly reliable filter to remove this bacteria. Find out what will work as there are a lot on the market. The backpacker type systems are fine but they can break after heavy use and will often need replacement after extensive use. And unfortunately chemicals have a very short shelf life. Also in a long term survival situation you're not going to want to use non-NSF or non-food grade chemicals as it could effect you negatively - potentially anyway.

    We at OFA did extensive research and found Sawyer makes a highly reliable and reputable line of filters that are used all over the world during times of disasters. We wanted something beyond an REI type backpacker filter as an option for us during prolonged emergencies other than a 10 day backpacking type or short-term emergency scenario. You need a filter that can produce a large volume of water with the least amount of caloric output. Pumping on a backpacker filter is time consuming, has low water volume, and burns up precious calories during a survival situation.

    This is not a sales pitch but rather the rationale of what we did...we chose to become a Sawyer Water Filter dealer so we could have access to their highly efficient water filter or water purifier system. You just hook the filter up to a 5 gallon bucket and pour the water from the stored container in at the top. When you need water you just unhook the hose that has the filter or purifier attached and fill up your pots, pans, or Nalgene bottle. No muss, no fuss, no chemicals, no pumping no nothing! Sawyer's filter removes up to 7 log (99.99999% or .01 micron) of all bacteria which exceeds the EPA requirement of 6 log. There are no replacement filters because if it gets plugged you just back flush it which only takes a few seconds and are good to go.

    If you're concerned about virus then you can go with their 0.02 Micron portable Filter/Purifier (5.5 Log on Virus). But the volume is reduced slowing down throughput. It still works but is slower in filling up your bottles/pans.

    We thought this system will provide more than adequate water for a large family or small micro community for an extended period of time. No pumping or replacement cartridges. No need to buy more chemicals or worry about measuremetn. With ceramic filters the general cleaning ratio is usually 20:1 depending upon the water source. Eventually bleach loses its effectiveness after about three months of storage.

    To to be on the very prudent side I'd filter any water stored for more than a few weeks or if it is past the expiration date of the bottled water. Again, this is up to you...but we have no measurable way to see or to test the water to see if non-pathogenic bacteria has started to grow. So if you have one of this 5 gallon filter systems it won't hurt a thing to run your stored water (all of it) through this filter. That is what it is for!

    The nice thing about the Sawyer is it cannot wear out. As long as the water is clear (no dirt, silt, mud etc) then there is nothing to plug this filter. If you do plug it or you see a reduction in output, you just back-flush it with clean water for a few seconds using the provided syringe and you're back in business. This bucket system does all the work for you! No pumping, no measuring of chemicals and waiting, no expiration date on chemicals - nothing!

    Also - The question comes up "why do you need to filter the water if it was originally clean to begin with and the vessel was sanitized prior to filling?". This is a good question and one addressed to our Microbiologist. She said that every vessel is composed of some material (metal, plastic, whatever) and these materials have pores in them. Even though you're cleaning/sterilizing the vessel prior to clean water storage it is impossible to completely clean every nook 'n cranny in this vessel. So there is some possible residual bacteria still resident in the vessel even after cleaning.

    So there is a chance over a period of time the bacteria that wasn't killed during the sanitation process could become active and begin to propagate.

    Getting a severe case of diarrhea during a catastrophic emergency isn't on most folks "to-do" list. So the most prudent and safest insurance policy is to filter all water coming out of storage containers.

    UV is a very effective way to clean water...but in Western Oregon we have a lot of dark "low-UV" days particularly in the fall/winter and we're around the 45th Parallel. 0 Degrees or the Equator passes almost directly through the center of Africa so they have more access to higher doses of reliable UV and sunshine than us Web Foots! Also we have no reliable means to measure if the water is clean after treatment. Protecting your family with the most effective, affordable, and reliable means should be something to consider.

    Keep in mind, your home water is only going to last for so long - eventually you'll have to venture out and find water or have it provided by others - so you need a system that is flexible for multi-sourced water eventually.

    By the way, we're a dealer but we do not stock or actually sell these filters - there are other sources on the Internet or even at Wally World. So this isn't a sales pitch - just one example of a simple, affordable, and flexible/adaptable system which can serve in many situations.

    Something to consider at least...

    sawyer.gif
     
  14. blk04specv

    blk04specv Hillsboro Member

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    Thank you both skydiver and Mark W.
     
  15. Vantage

    Vantage Pacific Standard Time Active Member

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    Get a hand truck at harbor freight.
     
  16. Mark W.

    Mark W. Silverton, OR Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    As to the weight of water DUH. As to that weight in a 55 gallon barrel yep I can do the math. In my plans I will fill the barrels in place and leave them there cycling the water every so often. I have a place to hold 6 barrels.
     
  17. Colt Carbine

    Colt Carbine Oregon Gears-N-Guns

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    I was not trying to offend you, sorry if you took it that way.
     
  18. Mark W.

    Mark W. Silverton, OR Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Your funny this is an INTERNETdiscussion forum how on earth could anything here be important enough to get upset over?
     
  19. billcoe

    billcoe PDX Platinum Supporter Platinum Supporter

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  20. billcoe

    billcoe PDX Platinum Supporter Platinum Supporter

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    Whoh, I just checked out the Sawyer much closer. Double thanks for that recommendation, it clearly looks superior to anything I've seen. I own a couple of MSR's, great filter. I've had to pull water out of giardia creek in some real 3rd world bubblegumholes, but it looks like it will be staying home now. Highwater filters has the .2 micron in stock and on sale, I'm picking it up. Clearly any rainbarrel should have some alternative treatment method, and this looks like it will clear up the Zinc issue I brought up above.