Rain Barrels: "Food-safe" vs…?

Any plastics experts out there?

Been taking advantage of our soggy Pacific Northwest weather the past couple years, running our downspouts into rain barrels for free water during the months-long droughts we usually get from August through October (contrary to what you’d think living here November through July, the drizzle is not constant!)

My barrel supplier had two kinds, “food-safe” white ones and “who knows?” blue ones. At first, since the blue ones seemed to be well scrubbed-out and about half as expensive, I bought and installed three of them. Thinking better of it, however, I now use the blues exclusively for ornamental plants, installing an additional three whiteys exclusively for the vegetable garden (needless to say, we don’t drink straight out of any of them).

Now, three or four years down the road, I’m fairly certain whatever gunk the blues originally contained has been pretty well washed out. I still don’t use them for watering the veggies, however, because I have no idea what kind of plastic non-food-safe barrels are made out of. But if, in fact, the plastic in the blue barrels was made with dicey chemicals, should I even be using it on my ornamentals? Is it possible the water that’s been stewing in it for months would soak down and contaminate the aquifer?

Or am I being eco-paranoid?

Yes, you’re being way paranoid. The garden hose you’re using also isn’t safe for drinking out of unless it specifically says so. There’s millions of miles of ‘non-food-safe’ stuff running under ground that water trickles past on it’s way to the aquifer. They’re just telling you not to drink out of it. Besides, you’re not really going to drink water that ran off your roof, through you’re gutters, are you?

I wouldn’t have a problem using the non food-safe ones to water vegetables with, BTW.

The rain contains a fresh mixture of the washed out pollutants and toxins we thrown megatons of into the atmosphere every day, and whatever crud was sticking to your roof and you’re worried about the effect of the plastic stabilizers in the rain barrel?

Yes you are being paranoid.

Bird shit :frowning: and micrometeorites :)!

CMC fnord!

Bird shit has vitamins and other nutritious organic compounds. Micrometeorites have all your essential minerals.

Purified, decontaminated, de-ionized, sterilized, oxygenated municipal water supplies have nothing but chlorine and/or fluorides, but even that is contaminated with DHMO :eek:

To your health! Live natural. Eat natural. Drink natural.

So…I shouldn’t be worried about possible carcinogens being added to an already questionable brew?

Just don’t drink out of it. FTR, your hose probably said the same thing.

Just to note - my findings in that article are in dispute - I really need to revisit the experiment using material collected from a different roof.

It would help to get more information about the brands or composition of the barrels. In searching online, the first three sites with blue rain barrels were the food-grade polyethylene in construction. So blue and white are not universal indicators for food safety in rain barrels and I just don’t know enough to identify what yours are made of.

If we can identify the plastic in question, then someone here can tell you whether it is safe or not.

However, I’m thinking that you’re probably being paranoid. As others have said, the food-grade issue is about you drinking the water directly, not about whether it is safe to use on your plants.

If your supplier is still in business, I’d start by asking there.

And to think as a kid I only thought it was safe to drink out of a garden hose was when it started to run cold.

We used regular ol’ plastic garbage cans for rain barrels for years (with a system of syphon hoses to fill four barrels from the one under the down spout – it was a thing of beauty). We used the water on our veggie garden and are alive to tell about it.