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45 Gallon barrel that was used for automotive soap

I've been looking for a while for some large barrels to make a compost tumbler, rain barrel, and flow thru. They're really hard to come by around here and I've found a source but they once contained automotive soap. What are peoples thoughts on using them for the purposes I've mentioned? Can they be cleaned and is there a way to test if they are safe for use? 


Thanks to all for any advice and opinions on the subject!

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I don't know that they would be safe but they should be clean ;-)  

Sorry it was too easy.

I've had luck on Craigslist with food grade barrels.

If you have some food or beverage factories near by, you could probably get one free/cheap.  A quick google search will give you a list of dealers if you don't mind buying one retail.
I found 55 food grade barrels on craigs list for $25 each. i e-mail them and they said that they had chicken broth in them. would the worms get protein posioning from that????
Not likely
I would be more worried about the sodium in the broth, a good rinse will be all you need.
what would the salt do to the worms???
it would just shorten their lifespan, you don't want a whole lot of salty foods in the bin, I've heard issues mainly with coir but it would apply to most foods. Just go easy on the salts

Thanks for the laugh Keith. Too true!


Jason, I'll try that. Thanks for the suggestion.

You could use the barrel that had automotive soap for a non worm compost bin first.  IMO it would season it? 

Then use it as a worm bin. 

That's a thought Paula... however the seller has not responded to my interest.

I think I've found source of food grade barrels from the local dairy producer. I've yet to speak with them directly, but it looks promising. I'll not find out until Tuesday. Monday is a holiday here.


Thanks to all for your suggestions!



I found this explaination at 

"The "food grade" designation is determined by plastic purity by and what mold release compound is used in the injection molding process--not by the plastic itself, since all virgin HDPE raw material is safe for food. For paint and other utility buckets, manufacturers sometimes use a less expensive (and toxic) mold release compound. For food grade they must use a more expensive formulation that is non-toxic. Unless the buckets that you bought are are actually marked "food grade", (or, marked "NSF", "FDA", or "USDA" approved), then you will have to check with the manufacturer's web site to see if they make all food grade buckets."


I'm not sure what effects non food grade plastics have on worms but I fairly certain that automotive soap containers do not have to be food grade certified. 

Hope this helps

I'm in Vegas and have had a tough time finding food grade barrels. I have read about some people using barrels from car washes -- that used to have soap in 'em -- and some people have said their fine and some people not.
Of course you would want to clean them with something -- most recommend a castille or natural soap be used after emptying out the other soap. Once it's completely rinsed out the water's not potable, but people have said it's fine for watering plants.
Well, others have said that since soap residue is still inside this barrel -- whether from the original contents or the soap you use to clean it with. Since soap is normally an ingredient in any home made insect repellent -- to keep it sticking to wherever it's sprayed -- I'm personally nervous that the soap still inert in there will stick to plants and causes problems.
In short, I wouldn't use them from car washes.
I personally lucked out and found a cheap one made from a food-grade barrel that was online.
Before finding this I also found a local grain supply store that had 55 gallon watering drums for animals -- they were barrel-shaped -- but they wanted me to drill the holes to make it a rain barrel myself. It'd be easier for you if you just want it for a compost tumbler.
Long story short, I wouldn't use a barrel from the car wash because of the crud that might still be in the barrel when you get it/wash it.




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