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Thread: Barrels from a car wash. How to dispose chemicals?

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    Mochi is offline
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    Barrels from a car wash. How to dispose chemicals?

    I have some 55 gal barrels from a car wash i got for free, but how do i clean it out? it's not just soap.

    One is rain x online protectant, another foam clear coat protectant. Do carwashes just spray this on cars and let it drain to the gutters?

    I know they dilute it maybe I can use some of the extra for my own car? it's like 2 gals water to 1 oz of stuff, and I have like maybe a pint left in each barrel.

    Or can i just dilute them and dump it in teh gutter? or collect as much of it and bring it somewhere?

    -_- i hate chemicals i get paranoid haha, don't wanna ruin the environment, or myself =]

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    I would imagine a potassium permanganate dosing neutralized with hydrogen peroxide would be fine. It would clean them out and not be an issue for the environment after the hydrogen peroxide was added.
    An airstone in each barrel while doing the treatment or stir them. Don't get the PP on you. Wear gloves and eye protection.

    Here is a link to figure out how much PP. It's not going to take that much.

    http://cnykoi.com/calculators/calcpp.asp

    Once the PP was spent or I wanted to neutralize the treatment I'd add the hydrogen peroxide until the water was clear.
    Still learning as I go but y'all can call me Marilyn

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    where do you get pp from? so i just mix pp with hydrogen peroxide? what does that make?

    here are the warning labels. teh last picture is from the floro foam
    Attached Images Attached Images     

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    If you are on a sewage system (vs. a septic system), then I would first pour ~5 gallons of water into each barrel, shake it up as best you can and then recover and send it down the toilet. Water treatment plants have bugs that do just fine with relatively simple compounds like the ones you have. Pouring it down the gutter is much less responsible - there's often no active treatment of these.

    Car washes generally collect all of their aqueous waste (the stuff you have in drums, heavily diluted and mixed with "dirt and oil") and send it to... the water treatment plant.

    At that point, I would just rinse out the barrels onto your lawn. The most efficient approach would be to suspend the barrels (maybe on sawhorses?) so that the opening is facing down. Then spray up into it with the spray head of your garden hose. It would be more efficient if you could do it with hot water, but cold water would be fine. The industry standard for chemical reagents is a "triple rinse with water." Do it five times if it makes you feel better!

    As a practicing organic chemist, I wouldn't recommend using potassium permanganate for this sort of cleaning. It would be too easy to splash it on yourself. And besides, most of these compounds are not going to be particularly prone to oxidation, so its unlikely to make them rinse any better. Keep it simple.

    -t

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    I'll defer to Ted on this. It sounds a lot simpler than what I proposed.
    Still learning as I go but y'all can call me Marilyn

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    so it's ok to just dump them onto my own lawn? would that be safe? what about the rain-x i looked at the msds and it says not to let it spill onto soil or waterway systems. would it affect drinking water at my home? i read about dumping it in the toilet so it goes to a treatment plant. I took gen chem last summer, and know i can't just dump things anywhere,but i was also bad at chem so i'm not so sure what's safe and what's not, and what to do about it. thats why i'm double checking =]

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    The soap barrels should not a problem at all to rinse out on the lawn. In fact some soap is good for a lawn. Golf courses use a surfactant called a wetting agent, which in essence is nothing more than soap. I say should as some soaps might have some sort of additive to it that might harm your lawn. As for the Rain-x I am pretty sure it is a surfactant as well and should be safe on the lawn.....maybe Ted will know better.
    Last edited by ThisIsMe; 08-12-2010 at 12:21 AM.

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    Hi Mochi:

    Just to be clear, FIRST rinse each tank out with 5 gallons, and send it to the wastewater plant, via the toilet. In fact, even before that, drain out the last little bit you can get, and use it for your car! As you saw, a little goes a long ways, so collecting a pint or two should keep your car squeaky clean for a while. I guess. The last time I washed my truck was about three years ago...

    At that point we're just talking about a little residual surfactant (exactly as ThisIsMe pointed out). Because these are surfactants, that initial rinse will probably do a pretty good job. I actually think that Rain-X contains a large silicone oil component (because back in the days before Rain-X was widely used, I remember that biochemists used silicone oil to prevent streaking on their gel electrophoresis plates, and some of them found it was great to use on your car windshield...). The last bit will be fine on your lawn. For trace levels of organics, soil is a pretty good "metabolizer" - when you think about it, that's what septic systems are doing.

    Remember, they're spraying down cars with this stuff at the rate of tens of thousands per day, and a lot of it is dripping off as they head down the road. It's pretty benign overall. Just don't drink it...

    -t

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    oh ok thanks for the help everyone!

    webted, this is more of a general question. When most warning labels on products say like "do not ingest, maybe be harmful/fatal" is that usually refer to like somone like having a sip of a substance? as oppose to accidentally getting a few drops into your mouth like if it splashed or whatever may happen?

    or like when things say, may cause cancer or birth defects. is that when someone is in pregnancy? or it will have affect regardless? warning labels seem kind of ambiguous -_-"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mochi View Post
    oh ok thanks for the help everyone!

    webted, this is more of a general question. When most warning labels on products say like "do not ingest, maybe be harmful/fatal" is that usually refer to like somone like having a sip of a substance? as oppose to accidentally getting a few drops into your mouth like if it splashed or whatever may happen?

    or like when things say, may cause cancer or birth defects. is that when someone is in pregnancy? or it will have affect regardless? warning labels seem kind of ambiguous -_-"
    Hi Mochi:

    There are warning labels for everything, now, and even more if you live in California...

    In general "do not ingest MAY BE harmful/fatal" is a classic CYA statement. That diamond shaped code (the NFPA 704) that you see on a lot of chemical formulations provides a pretty good clue. This is to give an emergency worker a quick, single glance idea of the Health, Flammability and Reactivity of a material on a scale from one to four. In your case, they rendered it as a short table. The "Health" threat on all of these barrels is a 1 - "Exposure would cause irritation with only minor residual injury." Don't sweat that one. Tabasco sauce would meet that definition.

    As for birth defects: this is naturally an ambiguous area. Think about it: to be certain, you'd need to find pregnant women, expose them to the chemical or a placebo and then compare the rate of birth defects in their offspring. That's about as unethical a study as I can imagine. So instead, we have to guess. Epidemiological data (studies of large numbers of potential subjects in an uncontrolled population) can give clues, animal studies can provide direct insight, and "chemical intuition" (e.g. Substance A has a similar structure to Substance B, therefore the unknown effects of B are likely to be the same as A) can help. But that's all pretty wishy-washy, and, unlike politics, it's best to be conservative, so you see a lot of "may cause" type warnings. Such is life.

    In general, I try to avoid exposure to everything (paint, gas, oil, pvc cement, etc...) that I can, and that way I don't have to sweat it too much when I do get exposed to something minor. Everything in moderation, right?

    Take it easy,

    -t

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    oh ok, so teh pregnancy thing is for somone who is pregnant, not that it would affect somone who would later on become pregnant... pvc cement is bad? i shud read warning labels more jus tin case. thanks for your help webted! glad there's a chemist that raises koi =]

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    I've taken all the barrels I've gotten from the milk plant to a self-service car wash and was them with their high pressure hose. They use the same chemicals-soap, as what is in the barrels.

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