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Resurrecting a Blue Barrel

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I had a chance to buy a used 30L blue barrel for $10. Yes please.

The barrel appeared to be in very good condition, despite a half dozen shipping labels in various states of decay. It had been repurposed a couple times, but, again, yes please.

Cool barrel, a design I had not seen before. The lid actually snaps tightly in place before the ring goes on, and has a couple extended grip lips to help pull it off. When I leak tested it a few drops of water came out; I may leave it that tiny bit leaky, lest it become impossible to open when it pulls a vacuum in elevation changes.

However, I had not thought to open it for a sniff before the leak test. WOOWEE, that is one stanky barrel. It was so stinky that I couldn’t leave it in the shop with the lid off. Then I discovered that leaving just the lid in shop to stunk to high heavens.

I suspect it once contained urea or fertilizer or some foul pee-u chemical; my oatmeal, grits and tortilla shells ain’t going in that stank.

I’ll just wash it out. A hose, some Dawn and some vigorous scrubbie action. Nope #1, stanky as ever.

Ok, I dumped a half gallon of vinegar inside, filled it with water, sealed it closed and let it sit for a day. Nope #2, stanky as ever.

Time to pull out the big guns; I made DougD’s magic solution of 50/50 Dawn and white vinegar, no water, and used a fresh Scotchbrite pad to elbow grease scrub the bejeepers on the inside. The water I poured out was a little discolored, but, nope #3, almost as stanky as ever, maybe a teeny bit better at best.

(I should note that DougD’s magic mix removed 90% of the old shipping labels and adhesive residue when scrubbed on the outside)

Ok, I’ll let it sit open in the hot sun for a few days to air out. Nope #4, the stench was gag-me worse when the barrel was warm. No desert tripping with that puppy.

I have some packs of activated charcoal. Inside the closed barrel they go for a day. Nope #5, I had activated charcoal packs that smelled faintly of fertilizer for a while.

Dammit, this far in I am not giving up. I Googled “Removing odors from plastic containers”. I tried what I had on hand, a box of baking soda dissolved in a bucket of warm water, poured that into the half filled barrel and add a half gallon of vinegar. The fizzy volcano was impressive. Then filled to the brim with the hose. I let it sit for 2+ days.

Mostly nope #6, it was maybe 50% less stanky when I emptied it. Still bad enough I’m not storing my noodles and oatmeal inside. Peaches and Cream with a hint of fertilizer anyone?

Dang it, I am not a give-up guy, not at this stage. Attempt #7 currently underway; two boxes of baking soda, again dissolved in a bucket of warm water, poured in a barrel half full of cold hose water, a full gallon of vinegar volcanically foamy added, water filled the rest of the way to the brim.

I’m going to let that solution sit in the stanky barrel for a week this time.

I have hopes that after a week the stench will be gone. Albeit, at this point, minor hopes.

Still a few things yet to try. Sealed with coffee beans or dry grounds inside. Rubbed inside with a halved lemon.

If neither of those efforts work I may pffffstt some clear enamel spray paint or Krylon Fusion on the inside and hope to seal the stench inside the plastic. I’m not quitting yet.

Worst case scenario I could use that barrel for bird seed storage, but I have now accepted this as a challenge, and as an ongoing experiment.

If there is a moral to the story it is to sniff-test used barrels.
 
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Early this spring I was bushwhacking through the 5 ponds wilderness. Came across some old bear scat with blue bits of plastic in it. A quarter mile later found a piece of the blue plastic (about a square foot is all that was left) all chewed with bear teeth marks. I guess someone's blue barrel smelled a bit more appetizing.
 
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Mike what so far is the dollar investment in cleaning solutions?
That bargain ain't looking so much like a bargain anymore.

Cleaning vinegar (not cooking vinegar) is a couple bucks a gallon. I always have a gallon, or part of a gallon in the shop, so thus far maybe $3 in vinegar. The boxes of baking soda were 99 cents each.

With the squirts of Dawn and an old scrubbie I’m up to maybe $6.

A new 30L from Harmony runs, yikes, $70. I have never purchased a new barrel. But I have never purchased a used one with such a power stank. Or any stank.

We shall see the results of attempt #7 in a week. If nothing else I will continue learning about removing stench from plastic.

The K.O.E Foxyotter suggested is $13, but enough to make 64 gallons. Might happen , I’m on a mission.

https://www.amazon.com/Thornell-KOEF...s%2C179&sr=8-2
 
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I don’t know if this is helpful or not: to remove the mildew smell from old books, photos, etc. you put them into a plastic bin that can be tightly sealed. Add 4 pounds dry baking soda in open boxes. Seal tightly. Wait 4 weeks. Mildew is gone.
 
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Id be really tempted to try filling it up with a STRONG bleach solution. Like 2 gallons worth and letting that soak for a couple of days
 
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I feel like a little kid waiting for Christmas morning. I really want to check the barrel stink, but I said I was gonna give it a week, so I’ll wait.

If – when, I will succeed - the stench is gone I can move on to outfitting the barrel.

Yes, of course, no surprise, I do some outfitting on my barrels.
 
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Now what kind of a low slug would sell you a stanky barrel anyway. Oh, wait. I sold it to you.

The only thing I can offer in defense is that I did suggest that you smell it first.....:rolleyes: I never did get back to the other ones after leak checking them and fixing any leaks so I haven't tried to get rid of the smell in any of them.

I just put a strong solution of Oxyclean in a twin to the one you got. We're about to head out on a camping/hiking trip to the Mount Rogers area of Virginia in a few minutes so I'll check it after we return and report back this weekend. Hopefully, a 5-6 day soak will do the trick.

Best regard s to all,


Lance
 
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Lance, if I can rid the stench for $6, or even $16, it will still be a bargain. And, as is my wont, has turned into an experimental challenge. I will prevail. I really do like the barrel’s snap lid feature.

Let me know how the Oxyclean trial goes, I’ll keep you posted on the week long soak in household vinegar and baking soda results.

It did have a lot of old shipping labels on it

P6060001 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

But 90% of the lablels came off with DougD’s magic mix of straight 50/50 Dawn and vinegar. The remaining residue should scrub off easily with an adhesive remover, or just alcohol and elbow grease.

The volcanic baking soda and vinegar action was oddly delightful. The barrel here was only ¾ full of baking soda water when I added the vinegar.

P6060003 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Lid too; I tried to keep the solution away from the already slightly leaky lid gasket.

P6060004 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

I am hopeful, and looking forward to doing the usual outfitting on this barrel.
 
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This experiment better conclude quickly....I bet a half plate of my wife's legendary chocolate brownies* on whether Mike's concoction (and patience) or LanceR oxy solution....would kill the STANK in these darn barrels. I wrote down the name of who I am betting is going to win on a paper napkin... oops, I think that used to have the other half of the brownies on it... either way, there was already a 'winner'!.... Go TEAM!

*Coldfeet giving props on those treats
 
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Somebody is trying to tell you that you need a big blue groover.

Groover? I didn't think that was common expression. I know it as the grooves imprinted on your behind from large ammo can used for portable toilet. Lucky for me I worked the season after they upgraded to a much better option. The expression going grooving, headed to grove etc and the usual speculator views of canyons on the Green and Colorado rivers sparked fond memories. I worked with a women from Maine.
 
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Barrel Stank Update

OK, I cheated a bit. A couple days ago I opened the barrel, dumped out a gallon of water, vigorously scrubbed the bottom, sides and lid with a virgin Scotch-brite pad, added another 99 cent box of baking soda and a splash more household vinegar. Scrubbed inside the fizzy volcano some more and re-filled it with water.

Kim, I’m up to maybe $8 and counting now.

I open the barrel earlier today, drained it, hosed it out and let it sit in the sun. It is now far less stinky, but still has a faint fertilizer odor. Oddly the lid now smells a touch perfumey, provided Channel makes “Hint of floral with cow shit” as a scent.

Mike PM me your address I will send you sufficient volume to de-stink your barrel.

Foxyotter, I tried to send you a PM, but am only able to send “Visitor Messages”. If it helps my Gmail address is mccreapaddler
(followed by the usual @ g-mail suffix)
 
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Someone mentioned use as a groover. Take the bottom out. The thunderboxes in La Verendrye are indeed green barrels Same as the 60 l blue but green and with a cutout on the lid for deposit. The rim hurts though. No need for the metal ring.

Now as to that $8 investment. Is there a minty cat litter? We use cat litter sometimes in garbage bags to carry poop off. It does seem to reduce smell
 

Glenn MacGrady

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It would be simpler to have a $70 collection for Mike. What's that -- four large pizzas?

I've never had a barrel and know nothing about them. I do know that some compounds can chemically bond with plastics, not just coat the surface. And I bet some of those compounds are malodorous. It would be hard to scrub them off; you'd have to actually remove the bonded plastic.

All in all, from a theory stand point, I recommend stainless steel barrels. Or titanium. I don't think ursa could chew them up, either. Ebay has inexpensive used ones from Chernobyl.
 
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As a last and desperate measure you might paint the interior with an odour blocker used for food safe areas.
 
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As a last and desperate measure you might paint the interior with an odour blocker used for food safe areas.

I am saving that as a last resort, probably using Krylon Fusion to trap any remaining stink in the plastic. But I think I can rid the remaining stank with less drastic measures; with most of the smell gone from the barrel I am convinced that I will overcome the remaining barrel stank. I have a couple tricks yet to try.

Time to adapt and improvise. Outfitting time. Our other barrels have circles of exercise flooring contact cemented to the inset lids.

P6180002 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

That foamed lid serves a couple purposes; it makes the barrel lid level, without the circular relief bumps, and makes it less slippery when used as a side table. The cushioned lid is also more comfortable when I use the barrel as an ottoman to elevate my feet away from the ground-hugging ankle biter flies.

The 60L is tall as a foot elevation ottoman when seated in a real chair, the 45L a little better, the 30L should be just about right.

And, who knows, that foam insert may help the barrel float lid-up in an escape. A little contact cement, little heat gun, good to go. I ran a bead of E-6000 in the gap between the exercise flooring circle and barrel lid to occlude rainwater infiltration.

P6180004 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

I want a few pieces of High-Intensity reflective tape on the barrel, so it is easier to find at night or pre-dawn with a flashlight. Three little pieces spaced around the perimeter, so at least one piece will be oriented to wink back under a flashlight beam.

The barrel is poly, so alcohol wipe first and then “flame treat” the area where the reflective tape goes, just touching it a lick with the blue tongue of a propane torch. And of course round off the edges of the tape so there are no right angles to begin to peel.

While I have the torch out and I’m doing the reflective tape I might as well go sticker happy on the barrel. I don’t have use for most stickers on the truck, just a Canoe Tripping, Trucker Man and Duckhead sticker are enough.

P6180006 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

But I do like stickering up my barrels, and have a bunch of stickers yet unused.

P6180007 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

And, finally, the all important question – does the 45L blue barrel folding tabletop fit the lid of the 30L?

P6180009 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Of course it does, I designed it that way.

P6180010 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Barrels, 60L, 45L, 30L

P6180012 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr
 
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