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My husband does HVAC and he has access to a lot of plastic barrels that used to house nitrates. They use the chemical to keep water from going hard through boilers . Does anyone have any idea whether or not these could be cleaned to store water at home? The barrel sizes range from 15 to 55 gal. He is not for sure, but if they can be, heck they would be free for us to use.
 

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I'd never want to store drinking water in a chemical drum. You can't get the chemicals out of the plastic and it will always leach into the water. And the barrel itself may not even be food grade. Stick to food grade barrels that held food grade ingredients. They're available if you look around a bit.
 

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Check the ingredients on the manufacturing labels. I have barrels that are similar. they are 55 gallon white barrels and they held a form of diesel exaust soap. The ingredients were 65% distilled water 35% uria (synthetic) which is probably the nitrates you are talking about. using my barrels as an example, with proper research and cleaning of these barrels I should at least be able to use these for rain collecting for use as non-potable water holders. I also fell into a bunch of these barrels as well, hence the research. Get one with a label, look up the ingredients, check for the safety symbol (usally 3 diamonds connected together in the form of a triangle red, yellow, blue). that safety symbol is called the NFPA hazard rating diamond and each number in each diamond has a corosponding health, flamability, and reactivity warning
Check out this site http://www.webworldinc.com/wes-con/nfpasign.htm
for more info.

example: My barrels say 1 for health/ 0 for flamable/ 0 for reactivity with the original substance that came in it. in SHTF i would have no problem drinking out of a properly cleaned barrel, even with the prospects of leaching that Mike K made mention of. 2 or higher i would not use. if health had a 1 yet flamability and reactivity also had 1, i would also not use for water storage but it might be ok for holding other things (fuel and what not). Research your barrels specifically and please note I am not a hazardous chemical professional. Hope that helped.
 
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