Collecting rainwater in barrels is nothing new, but perhaps it is new to you? You are probably wondering how to get started and what type of rain barrels to get and if they need to be food grade.
Rain barrels do not have to be food grade, but it is the preferred choice among many. You preferably want your rain barrel to tick three boxes: BPA-free, UV-protected, and food grade. The importance of these three depend on what you plan to use your collected water for, but if you are planning to get a new rain barrel anyway – you might as well get one that meets the general requirements.
In this article, we are going to cover the basics of why food-grade rain barrels are preferable, where to purchase a good rain barrel and how to get started!
Characteristics to Look For in a Rain Barrel
There are a few different things other than being food grade that you want your new rain barrel to have. This will make sure it lasts for many years, while also being as safe as possible as well as easy to use. The barrel should be reasonably safe for children and pets, for example, and you want to look for one that won’t tip over easily.
A product that is considered food grade is one that is free from toxins and considered safe to eat, eat from or eat out of. You might not exactly plan to drink the water out of your rain barrel, but storing water in a non-toxic container allows you to use the water safely in additional ways compared to water stored in non-food grade barrels.
It is not hard to see if a rain barrel is made with food-grade materials, as it will most likely be announced on the packaging or in the advertisement.
Companies take a lot of pride in offering food-grade products, and if they have one – they are going to let you know. Check the product specifications for details.
We recommend using a rain barrel that is leak-proof and has a high capacity if you utilize rainwater for many daily chores. This collapsible rain barrel by Vingli is high-quality, portable, and reusable. It comes in 50, 66, and 100 gallon tanks.
You might be wondering why your rain barrel should have UV protection? Many people associate UV protection with sunblock, skincare products, and sunglasses, but UV protection is also important for items that are going to be left outside in the sun.
One thing you want to avoid is for sunlight to break down the materials and essentially shorten the product’s lifespan, as this will lead to you having to purchase a new product much sooner than you intended – a very unnecessary expense.
If you want to reinforce or touch up an old barrel, you can usually paint it with a coat of paint with UV protection, to prevent the plastic (or other material) from deteriorating.
Bisphenol A, or BPA as it is commonly known as is a strong chemical found in some types of plastic. It has been used to make plastic products since the 1960s, but awareness has since been raised when it comes to the potential health hazards that come with it, and many products are sold BPA-free today.
When you are shopping for your rain barrel, this is another one of those things you really want to look for, other than a barrel marked as food grade. Keep an eye out for the mentioning of BPA-free plastic, as this will help keep this harmful chemical away from your family and from your home.
Some rain barrels even come with a flat side, something that allows you to attach the barrel to the wall of your house or another surface for additional safety.
Tip number two is to look for barrels with a well-designed overflow valve. An overflow valve on a rain barrel becomes useful when it has rained enough for the barrel to fill up, and it regulates the rainwater flow inside the barrel.
Mesh filters are also great, as they prevent dirt and debris from getting into the barrel. Not only could this make the water dirty and unsanitary to use, but it could potentially cause significant damage to the inside of the tank or hoses. If possible – always choose rain barrels with mesh screen filters installed.
Rain barrels are designed to stand outside in rain and stormy weather, and you need a barrel made with durable materials that will preferably last for years. When you hear the word “barrel” you might automatically think of wood, but a molded plastic material tends to be a lot more durable. A good example are resin barrels.
Repurposed Barrels vs. Recycled Barrels
It is very possible that you will hear about both recycled barrels and repurposed barrels when on the hunt for your new rainwater collector unit, and the question is – which of the two is the better choice?
While somewhat different – a repurposed barrel is actually considered more environmentally friendly, and if you are planning to collect water in an effort to be more environmentally conscious and kind to mother earth, then a repurposed barrel is the better choice.
Linking Barrels Together
The average-sized rain barrel holds 50, 55, or 60 gallons of water, which means this is how much rain you can collect before it becomes full. If you wish to collect more, you should aim at purchasing barrels that can be linked together, and that way you decide the capacity you want your rain barrel(s) to have.
There is a lot to think about when you set out to purchase your first rain barrel, but the most important thing to strive for is to make sure the barrel is as safe as possible.
With safety in mind, you do want your rain barrels to be food grade – meaning made with food-grade materials, as this minimizes the toxins and chemicals you will be bringing into your home life. Drinking rainwater isn’t recommendable, but the cleaner you can keep the water, the more you can use it around the house.
Food grade rain barrels will have this mentioned in the product specifications, and they can be found online and in stores all over the world.