Properly cleaning re-usable water jugs?

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Properly cleaning re-usable water jugs?

Postby Dork » Tue Jan 02, 2007 12:43 pm

I have a few 7-gallon water jugs I impulse bought at a yard sale last year. They don't smell or show any obvious signs of problems, but I'm paranoid about reusing containers with unknown history.

What's the proper way to sanitize them? I'd like to keep them full year-round as part of my emergency supplies, and bring a couple to BM.
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Postby MikeVDS » Tue Jan 02, 2007 2:11 pm

I'd probably just pour boiling water in if they look clean. If it looks like there are any solids in there then you might want to use a brush and soapy water to scrub the insides. And if you're really paranoid you can use iodine tablets to kill any bacteria that the hot water doesn't. If they can take heat you can boil water in them, but if they are plastic that's probably not an option.
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Postby chup » Tue Jan 02, 2007 2:55 pm

Use bleach and let it sit for a day or two. Rinse and then let them dry out completely. Do not put the lids on and seal them when empty. That causes them to get rank
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Postby MrMullen » Tue Jan 02, 2007 3:08 pm

I am no expert but here is my idea.

1) Put in a mild bleach water solution, just enough to sanitize.
2) Put on the lid and shake all around the solution to try to clean the insides of the containers.
3) Drain and leave upside down until dry.
4) Rinse.
5) Drain and leave upside down until dry.
6) Then fill with water and let sit a couple of days and see if the water smells at all.

That is my idea to check to make sure they are good enough to use for water storage.
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Postby phil » Tue Jan 02, 2007 4:07 pm

Here are instructions from the Alameda (California) County Water District:
How do I sterilize the containers before storing my emergency drinking water?
Follow the steps below to properly sterilize your containers before you fill them with the tap water you are storing.
Wash the containers with soapy water.
Rinse thoroughly.
Fill the container half full with water and add 1 cup of chlorine bleach for each gallon the container holds. NOTE: do not use scented laundry bleach, powdered bleach, or swimming pool chlorine - these contain additional chemicals that are poisonous. Finish filling the container with water (all the way to the top). Put the cap on and lay the bottle on its side for about 3 minutes. This allows you to check if the container leaks while the bleach-water disinfects the cap. If the container leaks, do not use it.
Pour the bleach-water into the next container to be sterilized. The same disinfecting bleach-water can be used for several containers - simply "top off" the new container with water as needed.


*** REMEMBER - this is not drinking water - pour the bleach solution down drain when finished ***


http://www.acwd.org/faq.php5?category_id=57
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Postby unjonharley » Tue Jan 02, 2007 7:34 pm

Make sure to fill and empty 3-4 times after bleach. Then let them dry out and store lose caped. I store 3, 3gal. jugs in the frig. I add a eye dropper of bleach.
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Postby falk » Wed Jan 03, 2007 11:16 pm

phil wrote:Here are instructions from the Alameda (California) County Water District:
... Fill the container half full with water and add 1 cup of chlorine bleach for each gallon the container holds.


http://www.acwd.org/faq.php5?category_id=57


Are they insane? That's an incredible amount of bleach. Use teaspoons at most.
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Postby MrMullen » Thu Jan 04, 2007 2:33 pm

falk wrote:
phil wrote:Are they insane? That's an incredible amount of bleach. Use teaspoons at most.


That is what I thought I read that.

People don't know this, but it takes very little straight bleach to sanitize. When I home brewed beer, I think the how-to books said a tablespoon of bleach per gallon is all you need to sanitize. Any bleach in the cups is waaaaay to much.
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Postby phil » Thu Jan 04, 2007 4:37 pm

I've sent them an email to ask.

I note that we are using the bleach here to sterilize the _container_, in accordance with the original post, not the water. A subsequent paragraph recommends 8 drops of bleach per gallon of water to sterilize the water.

We'll see if I get an answer, but I would follow those cup/gallon directions to sterilze the container until I hear otherwise from the water department.
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Postby Bob » Fri Jan 05, 2007 12:09 am

I am so shocked and disillusioned that it takes an entire cup of bleach to sanitize a putrid old plastic water jug.

Can't we use Green Algae? Isn't this the Green Age? Waaaaaaauuuuuuuuugggggggghhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!
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Postby Lassen Forge » Fri Jan 05, 2007 3:52 am

My question is what nastiness was in these jugs before you bought them used? There's a lot of stuff that looks like nothing, or that leaves no visible residue, but can make you sicker than Pandora's Plauge, or Kill you to Death pretty seriously (kinda like the Playa, but that's not important here...)

Me - I'd get bricks and know they were safe. I have old water cooler jugs, but that's for washwater, showers, etc. All potable is either 1/2 liter bottle flats or 2.5 gallon bricks, and rotated if used for emergency stuff.

Remember the rule of thumb - you can always wash with drinking water, but you can't always drink the washwater.

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Postby skygod » Fri Jan 05, 2007 9:52 am

I started learning how to make my own beer this week, and you have to really sterilize the little barrel first, to avoid anything growing in there, (except for the yeast that you add.)
So they say to use 1/4 cup of bleach to 6 quarts of water to sterilize the container. Just slosh the bleach solution around, empty and then rinse with chlorinated tap water.
"It will seem difficult in the beginning. But everything seems difficult in the beginning."- Musashi
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Postby unjonharley » Fri Jan 05, 2007 10:11 am

Yo skydog, If that tank is stainless steel, I would let it stand out in moving air for a few hours.. Stainless is porous like any other metal..It can retain partical of bleach.. Make your beer taste like shit.. Bleach is a very light gas and will dissipate into the air.. Much faster in sunlight.
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Postby MrMullen » Fri Jan 05, 2007 12:18 pm

skygod wrote:I started learning how to make my own beer this week, and you have to really sterilize the little barrel first, to avoid anything growing in there, (except for the yeast that you add.)
So they say to use 1/4 cup of bleach to 6 quarts of water to sterilize the container. Just slosh the bleach solution around, empty and then rinse with chlorinated tap water.


First thing you need to learn is that you are never going to sterilize without an autoclave, the best you are going to get is sanitize. There is a big difference between the two.
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Postby skygod » Fri Jan 05, 2007 12:31 pm

Well, Mr. Dork, you'd better not try brewing any beer in those 7 gallon water jugs
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Postby timburly » Sat Jan 06, 2007 4:54 pm

I brew beer and use a tablespoon of bleach per gallon of water to sanatize everything. Doesn't take much.
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Postby Bob » Sun Jan 07, 2007 12:00 am

An eyedropper? Tablepoons? Cups? Plain boiling water? Why don't you just use Christian Science?
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Postby mdmf007 » Sun Jan 07, 2007 12:24 am

A brewer buddy of mine uses UV lights to sterilize stuff. Not your run of the mill blacklight - a 3500 Watt model that kills anything it its including bacteria and viruses.

He works at a water treatment plant. This si the only method other than filtration f particulate they use for their water. Costs more than chemicals, but is eco friendly.

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Postby Bob » Sun Jan 07, 2007 1:24 am

mdmf007 wrote:A brewer buddy of mine uses UV lights to sterilize stuff. Not your run of the mill blacklight - a 3500 Watt model that kills anything it its including bacteria and viruses.


What exposure time would you recommend for "water" containers you got from a backyard meth lab?
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Postby mdmf007 » Sun Jan 07, 2007 12:05 pm

Hell your fine - the shit used to make meth is way more potent than chlorine!!!

Charles (the home brewer) is staying with me, and says that for a 5 gallon jug it shuoldnt take but a few seconds at 3500 watts to destroy everything in there. The bulbs are about 88 bucks. Also you willget blisters or cancer if your involved with the bulbs too much directly. shield yourself from the deathrays.

- id probably stick to chlorine - UV sounds eco friendly though, cheap as the bulb will last decades with intermittent use, and easy.

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Update on Alameda County Water District Web site

Postby phil » Wed Jan 10, 2007 11:53 am

I got an answer from a guy at the ACWD; here's part of the answer:
The information on the website appears to have been adapted from an industry standard which is used for disinfecting pipe after installation. It is far more than would be necessary for a freshly washed container.


He suggests washing the container in hot soapy water. I've sent a follow up query regarding whether containers we buy from garage sales, etc. need any additional treatment. I still read the quoted paragraph as applying to the containers only - it says that the water is not for drinking and should be poured out before using the container for storage.

He says the Web page will be updated.
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Postby unjonharley » Wed Jan 10, 2007 1:15 pm

Garage sale?? Man I don't buy second anything that go's in/on this body..
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Postby dragonfly Jafe » Thu Jan 11, 2007 5:36 pm

polyethylene (the plastic used to make these containers) is like a sponge chemically - anything ever stored in that plastic jug will still be there to some small degree...then leach out again when filled w/ water. Even water can pass through (on the molecular scale). Given enough time, the water vapor will outgas through the plastic leaving nothing....although this would take years or decades.

I agree w/ the posters who advocate bricks of water for drinking, and the big jugs for bathing and emergencies. Why take a chance? Maybe not Eco-friendly, but much safer biologically. But then, the PVC used in water bottles can leach out chlorine radicals and....

Best not to drink any water at all when at BM.
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Postby Dork » Thu Jan 11, 2007 5:53 pm

I had no idea this would be such a controversial subject!

I agree on using the disposables for drinking water and wouldn't even suggest people buy these things new, but in this case they were practically free and would have probably gone to the dump otherwise. I'm hoping to never have to actually drink from them (only in a household emergency bigger than the 2.5 gallon BM leftover I have sitting around can handle) but don't want any surprises if I did.

Disposables actually seem fairly eco-friendly to me - the reusable ones are much thicker - like 4x or more plastic is used to make them, yet they rarely seem to get used more than 4 times unless you do a lot of car camping or something.
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Second follow up on containers.

Postby phil » Fri Jan 12, 2007 4:28 pm

I received a very helpful reply to my follow up question.

If the plastic containers once held harmful chemicals (pesticides, petroleum products, among many other examples), it is unlikely that the plastic can ever be made safe for holding drinking water. The plastic can be made sterile, but it still will have contaminant residues in or on the plastic and which will leach back out into the water.

If it is known that the containers never held toxic substances, they can be washed in hot soapy water and rinsed three times, according to the person at the ACWD and made safe for storing water treated with household bleach (8 drops per gallon) for up to a year. (The reason is that after a year, plastics leach into the water; this makes it less than tasty and the effects of consuming the plastics over some period of time is unknown - for most of us, my guess is that we'll never drink enough of the plastic to be harmed, but better safe than sorry.)

Store-bought bricks of water raise the same concern regarding consumption if they're more than a year old.
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Postby gyre » Sat Jan 13, 2007 11:30 am

Philips makes a special bulb for a fixture by luminaire.
It can be purchased directly and kills more than a standard uv bulb.
I think you can get them for standard fixtures.
You should not expose yourself directly to these bulbs.
Only filtered blue-black bulbs should be used for fluorescent effects and then your eyes should not be directly exposed to the light.
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Postby wildearth » Fri Feb 09, 2007 5:32 pm

some stuff i was reading said that iodine works for sanitizing. not quite so harsh as bleach..
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Postby phil » Fri Feb 09, 2007 8:18 pm

> some stuff i was reading said that iodine works for sanitizing.
> not quite so harsh as bleach..

There's a controversy on that, I'm sorry to say. Some sites say chlorine works better
In general, iodine has the disadvantage (compared to chlorine) in that it is not as effective over a wide range of pathogens and it imparts taste and a brown tint to the water.
http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/FS131[/quote
some say iodine works better:
Iodine is the preferred chemical treatment for water.
http://www.artoftravel.com/10water.htm

There are suggestions that long term use of iodine can cause thyroid issues and that it's a problem for fetuses.

My hope is that I never have to use either.
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Postby timburly » Fri Feb 09, 2007 10:07 pm

I use an Iodine solution call iphodor to sanatize my stainless steel brew equipment. Bleach will damage stainless..

Just rinse it off good and doesn't impart any flavors. It will stain like a bitch though on some things. Not sure what it would do to plastic.
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Postby BAS » Sat Feb 10, 2007 8:51 pm

Well, it probably would depend upon the plastic. The more porous the plastic, the more like it would be to stain the plastic, would be my guess.


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