Cleaning diesel fuel tank for water use : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) Preparation Forum : One Thread

We are thinking of purchasing a 1000gal diesel fuel tank to use as a cistern to collect rainwater for our barn (to feed chickens, garden, etc). There's no large entrance into the tank to clean it out well, just the regular 2" openings in the top.

Can anyone suggest a way of cleaning it to remove [most] traces of fuel? Does it even *need* to be thoroughly cleaned?

We won't be drinking from it, we just dont want to kill our birds or contaminate our garden.


-- lou (, December 01, 1999


Remember the adage that "you are what you eat?" Well..if you eat the eggs of the chickens, you are consumming the diesel. I have no idea how you would get it clean. You can buy plastic or fiberglass tanks that large that are for water. They aren't that expensive. Personally I would take my chances with swamp water before your tank. Taz

-- Taz (, December 01, 1999.

You cannot clean out a used fuel tank so that it will not contaminate potable water. Do not waste your time and effort trying. You CAN use a well-cleaned diesel tank (local laws permitting) for fire-supression water or some such use, providing it doesn't have a bunch of sludge in the bottom like many do. I repeat, do not use such a tank for any consumable water EVER,even for animals. Cleaning a used fuel tank without cutting a large hole in it requires quite a bit of effort, ingenuity, and specialized equipment. It is not rocket science, but it takes a little thought. By the way, the rinse water/detergent that is left over from your cleaning project can usually be considered as a hazardous waste. Dispose of it sensibly.

-- L. A. Perreault (, December 01, 1999.

well, it looks like its back to the drawing boards. thanks everyone.


-- lou (, December 02, 1999.

Have you checked out the poly tanks at TSC (Tractor Supply Corp)? Very reasonable and brand new.

-- Ken Seger (, December 02, 1999.

Some local people have gotten good deals on large new septic tanks they now use as cisterns.

-- marsh (, December 02, 1999.

TSC's URL is but the tanks that I'm thinking of are not in the catalog, just something the local dealers usually have. They are poly tanks, usually white or green that have a molded bottem that makes them fit right into the bed of a pickup (ie. inset at the sides for wheel well clearance. Usually also available in flat (full circle) bottems too. 2" outlet in front, 10" access port in top. Smaller ones are less than $300.

-- Ken Seger (, December 02, 1999.

If you live in or near a dairy farming area, especially an area where the smaller dairies are going out of business, sometimes you can get a bulk tank cheap at a farm sale or from a farmer. These are the stainless steel tanks that are used to store and cool the milk before it is picked up by the dairy's truck. Often smaller tanks (250 to 500 gallon) are cheap, especially if there was a refrigeration problem with them, or the farmer expanded his operation and needs a larger tank. We got ours free, and the farmer even loaded it on a trailer for us. These tanks are food grade stainless steel inside, and come in a number of different styles and many sizes. I have seen 150 gallon to over 1000 gallon.

-- Jim (, December 02, 1999.

My friends cleaned out a used fuel tank (maybe 10-20k gallons?) It was from a gas station, and was large enough that they could cut a hole in it, crawl in and steam clean it. They claim steam cleaning made it safe. They have been using it to store water in for many years. Only a little of the weird side. I've drunk their tap water on many occasions, and it tastes fine, for what it's worth.


-- Al K. Lloyd (, December 05, 1999.

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