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Old 20-02-2011, 04:19   #1
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How to Clean Plastic Water Container

Anyone out there with knowledge of plastic.
I have a large hard plastic container, 25 gal, that was once used for gas. I happened to find it floating in the water. We saw a cigarette boat load up with gas and pitch these things into the water near St. Vincent. Anyway, I am making a water collection system and am thinking about cleaning this to put water into. I will then pump it out through a screen filter to a pump, then through a 20 micron filter to my tanks. I am currently filling it with water and Clorox, letting it stand for 12 hours, draining and doing the process again. Will this work? Is there anything else I should do? Can it even be used?
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Old 20-02-2011, 05:03   #2
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I'm no chemical engineer but it would seem that simple water and Clorox would not do the trick. Gas and plastic are oil based and tend to stick well to each other while repelling water. I would think a good dose of non toxic degrease, scrub pads and elbow grease would do the trick. But then certain plastics, even cleaned well, give of toxins into water that some find unsuitable for consumption.
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Old 20-02-2011, 05:20   #3
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This is a container that I can not my hand into. Maybe a degreaser and vibrate.
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Old 20-02-2011, 05:29   #4
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As a tight budget sailor even I would not contemplate using a former fuel container for water... not unless your addicted to the taste of fuel from a syphoning period in your past..
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Old 20-02-2011, 05:31   #5
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Maybe try acetone/water mix. It is quite powerful solvent, frequently used to clean car engines from oil/fuel spills. Depending on plastic type might harm it, though.
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Old 20-02-2011, 05:50   #6
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I use powered dishwasher detergent on containers as it is easy to rinse out. Haven't had to deal w/ gas remnents though. Maybe before that try simple green or one of those "orange" cleaners.
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Old 20-02-2011, 06:19   #7
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Dishwash may not work.

Maybe some sort of acetone / toluene (not mix, just two options).

The material may be porous and 'hold' some amt of gas making the smell / taste come back.

Not possible to get similar containers that were used for something not smelly / toxic?

In our area the best containers / cans come with distilled water. They are roughly 1 gallon, very easy to handle and cheap. The only issue - how to convince half the marina that they need the water because I need the containers?

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Old 20-02-2011, 08:27   #8
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Tellie is correct. While you presume gas was the only storage(which is toxic enough), you cannot know for sure. There are literally thousands of available chemicals in the Parts Per Million range, which will never come out by cleaning. They will however leech out into your drinking water with terrible long term consequences.

If you were in a SAR situation, that may be different - but so would many other things. Recycle it and get something you know - anyone using your water will appreciate it.
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Old 20-02-2011, 08:55   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kefaa View Post
Tellie is correct. While you presume gas was the only storage(which is toxic enough), you cannot know for sure. There are literally thousands of available chemicals in the Parts Per Million range, which will never come out by cleaning. They will however leech out into your drinking water with terrible long term consequences.

If you were in a SAR situation, that may be different - but so would many other things. Recycle it and get something you know - anyone using your water will appreciate it.

ditto.,finding a vegetable oil container is best.a little dish liquid and its like new.
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Old 20-02-2011, 13:46   #10
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OK, so I will buy a new container that is clean and use this one for fuel if i need to. Thanks Dave
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Old 20-02-2011, 14:09   #11
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Dave, you could probably use a detergent that removes oils and petrochemicals, like liquid Tide laundry detergent. An extended soak and repeat (maybe soak 24 hours, empty, repeat several times) followed by a water test from a municipal agency, to find out if the plastic really did or didn't have contaminants still in it.

Unless it was food-grade plastic to begin with, it may never be safe for drinking water in any case. Probably cheaper and simpler to do as you are doing, use it for fuel only.

Tossing the containers overboard would be a MARPOL violation. Sounds like you met druggies or other smugglers and were lucky to be ignored by them.
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Old 20-02-2011, 14:12   #12
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We used to collect acid rain in white plastic buckets. Commonly referred to as `pickle' buckets, but I have seen them used for many purposes. The reason we used these white buckets was that they were made form inert food-grade polyethelene. So any rainwater we collected, and analyzed in a very high teck lab, could not be contaminated from the chemicals that leached out of the plastic.

Unless you know what plastic you are using I would not recommend using it for drinking water. The white poly buckets were only a few dollars to buy them new from the plastic shop. Easier to clean and can be used as a backup head.

BTW bacteria and virus particles are 1.5 to 3 microns in size so a 10 micron filter would not clear them from the water. It is also common to use an activated charcoal filter to sweeten the water if it is for drinking use

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Old 21-02-2011, 16:00   #13
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Re: How to Clean Plastic Water Container

I filled the continers with clorox and water three times and let them stand for 24 hours. After the third the still smell of gas. So it is good to buy new. I did not try dish detergent, I think by the smell it too would not work. Thanks for all of the comments. Dave
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Old 21-02-2011, 17:15   #14
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Re: How to Clean Plastic Water Container

Quote:
Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
As a tight budget sailor even I would not contemplate using a former fuel container for water... not unless your addicted to the taste of fuel from a syphoning period in your past..

No, No No. Spend the money and get a water container if you are wanting to drink from it.

Then again I have heard of people using rinced out plastic agricultural pestercide containers for water.

Don't.
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Old 21-02-2011, 17:17   #15
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Re: How to Clean Plastic Water Container

NOOOOO!

Love your body!

Your body is more important than any amount of money. Would you sell a kidney? No. Then why would you poison yourself to save a few bucks?

Water containers are cheap. 30 gallons for $100 (quick google search.)

Sell the tank to someone who will use it for fuel or garden rainwater collection or growing a water garden or something. Do not drink from it.
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