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Old 07-01-2008, 21:59   #1
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Cleaning Water Tank

A friend has an old wooden boat with a copper water tank and the fresh water has a strong iodine smell.
what is the best sterilizer to use.?
Any advise??

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Old 07-01-2008, 22:23   #2
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Originally Posted by beau View Post
A friend has an old wooden boat with a copper water tank and the fresh water has a strong iodine smell.
what is the best sterilizer to use.?
Any advise??
I'll assume its same for tanks as for cleaning copper pipes. For copper pipes used to transport drinking water, one method is to soak in chlorine for approximately 24 hours, then rinse, rinse, rinse, rinse.


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Old 08-01-2008, 02:02   #3
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Iodine is often applied to purify* (disinfect) potable water.
Iodine may be removed from water by means of active carbon (filtration) and dilution (rinsing).

I’m not certain I would recommend the use of Chlorine in conjunction with Copper & Iodine (reactions?).

* Tests show that 20 minutes exposure to 8.0 ppm of iodine is adequate to render a potable water. While such test results are encouraging, not enough is yet known about the physiological effects of iodine treated water on the human system. For this reason its use must be considered only on an emergency basis.
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Old 08-01-2008, 03:54   #4
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A friend has an old wooden boat with a copper water tank and the fresh water has a strong iodine smell.
Smelling like iodine is not the same thing as containing iodine. If you drain and refill the tank iodine would mostly be gone. After a couple cycles it should not be noticeable. If it is just as strong a smell after filling and draining then there is just something once alive now dead in the tank and is in some form of sludge. In the instance where some idiot dumped a bottle of iodine in the tank the water would be toxic. Elemental Iodine is extremely toxic. For a water tank it would measured in drops needed to purify water. The smell is still strong even at that level but rinses out easily.

I would create an inspection port and try to examine the interior of the tank to get a better idea of what it really is inside instead of just what it smells like. When treating with chlorine you are not using very much. Just enough to smell once diluted is all that is required to kill organic tiny critters living in the tank. Cleaning them out is not the same process if it's loaded with sludge. Pouring large amounts of bleach into a tank would not be a method for cleaning it out. I'm not aware of any process that you can dump in a few gallons of stuff and end up with a totally clean tank that you can then drink out of.

You may just have a lot of dead critters in the tank along with other assorted sludge. Cleaning that out is not so easy a job. Without an inspection port you won't get the job done. Using strong chemicals would not be a good idea either. Copper is a soft metal and does not like acids or bases well.

I might guess the old wooden boat was built with the tank made from bulkheads in the frame and covered over with sheet copper pounded into shape. This would mean it's not really a tank you can remove. It's possible this can't be fixed. At this point I surely would not drink the water even with a filter without a serious cleaning.
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Old 08-01-2008, 08:49   #5
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Well, lets look at it like this...its a copper tank and it smells like iodine.
What does anyone know that smells like iodine other than iodine?
I would therefore suspect someone put iodine in the tank.
What is iodine used for in a fresh water tank?
Purifying drinking water
Well if someone put iodine in the water, it was probably in an effort to purify the water.
If they were trying to purify the water, must have thought that the tank needed purifying...
Now, what would make you think a tank needed purifying?
Probably either visual, smell, or taste of something in the water that didn't seem like it should be there.
If there was something in the tank that someone thought shouldn't be there,
then the solution is to clean the tank.
How do you clean a copper tank ? (the op's original question)
The answer is you soak it in chlorine and then rinse rinse rinse...,
Rinse rinse rinse rinse is equivalent to flush flush flush flush.
If u can visually inspect the inside of the tank, then by all means take a look and see if some kind of sediment is in there, if it is, get it out. If you have a small port, use a flexible pressure washer wand to break whatever is in there loose, then rinse, rinse, rinse, flush flush flush. Then probably do the chlorine thing again. That's probably as good as you're going to do without calling in a pro who better know what he's doing as some of the caustic solutions they use will screw your copper tank up bad.

Most people would probably throw up if they got a good look inside their water tanks. You'd be amazed what accumulates in there, and what was left inside by the builders. Fuel tanks are worse.

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Old 31-01-2010, 09:23   #6
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Cleaning water tanks

Cleaning the fresh water tanks and system is a perennial problem. Even after cleaning the water can quickly stagnate, giving it an unpleasant smell.

Iodine, which I understand can be used to purify water, may have been use to chemically clean and disinfect the tanks. The alternative is a non-chemical answer, which is silver colloid

A friend who uses a this technique for his home's rainwater harvesting tanks suggested I try it. That is a series of ceramic balls coated in colloidal silver, which are immersed in the water. They are called Plation Floats. They apparently are designed to keep water clear of bacterial pollution, which creates the smell and stale taste and they claim these will last for up to two years.

I first flushed out the system several times with a pressure hose. The tank has a fairly wide inspection hatch so cleaning out the tank was fairly easy. Then used a dilute solution of bleach as advised for the whole system, flushing it through several times to make sure it was as clear as possible of any chemical content. I filled the system with clean water and introduced the Plation float to the tanks over 6 months ago and the water tastes and smells as clean as it did, despite not having been used for nearly three months. We will see how it is in a few months time but it does seem to work and hopefully I will not have the pain of having to clean out the tank again for some time.

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