Ibc totes for garden rain water collection

It’s past time we do a detailed topic about using ibc totes to collect rainwater. Up front I should tell you if you don’t want algae in your water make sure you paint the tank black. Why do I care you might ask and the reason is blue green algae can be very toxic. OK before I go on I should say if your buying used make sure they are food grade plastic and the tanks are pressure washed out before use. You never know what was in that tank. All that said here is an ibc tote from this website IBC Tote Specifications: Understanding Costs, Sizes and Dimensions
I like them for several reasons like you can stack them and they are square. They are commonly 330 gallons or 275 gallons. Now what makes them so good is the price. A used tank or two are around $75 each. You can learn more here IBC Tote Specifications: Understanding Costs, Sizes and Dimensions . I would recommend an adaptor like this which sets you back $15
This type is around $9
If you get them at Walmart or Amazon or whatever is available in your area it will be a similar attachment to adapt to a common garden hose. These photos are not mine they are from Walmart and amazon

Back to the part where I said they are stackable this video explains that

The standard poly composite tote tank dimensions are a 40" x 48" base, with 275-gallon containers having an overall height of 46". Caged, poly IBC totes in 275 – 330 gallon capacities, are acceptable for stacking 4 high if the IBCs are empty and in a storage-type environment; caged totes are recommended for 2 high stacking if filled to max cargo weight. Let’s say hypothetically you want the totes inside a building in the winter you keep warm dimensions can be very important. Transportation can also be important so more about that here IBC Tote Specifications: Understanding Costs, Sizes and Dimensions

These tanks as mentioned are 40 inches across so if you are putting them inside a barn that’s 40 feet wide I convert to inches first 40 feet x 12 inches in a foot = 480 inches across. Which that 480 inches /40 inches in a tote = 12 totes across stacked 2 deep = 24 totes. If you have poles in your pole barn you better figure on 20 or 22 totes instead depending on your layout. 24 totes x 275 gallons = 6600 gallons. Let’s say you have a 1000 square feet barn. One inch of rain on a 1000 square foot roof will yield around 600 gallons of rainwater. So in your situation 600 gallons x 11 inches of rain = 6600 gallons to fill your system. OK so let’s say you are hypothetically using it in your home before you use it in your garden so gray water goes to plants from the kitchen, laundry and shower and brown water from the toilet goes to lagoon or septic system. You now need to know how much water people use. The estimates vary, but, on average, each person uses about 80-100 gallons of water per day, for indoor home uses. So 6600 gallons / 100 gallons per day means you have 66 days of water per person after an 11 inch rain. So calculate yearly average rainfall , roof size , size of family, number of totes needed,amount of space they take up.

Then do not forget if you use the water for a pool, household , garden or whatever you need to setup filters and screens. If you want to use it for your home consider how the peppers do it The 7 Layers of Filters You Need for Potable Rainwater - Practical Preppers


I’ve seen people wrapping them with black plastic. What paint are you using that seems to stick ok?

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There are several things you can use such as flexible parts additive to your paint or adhesion promoter. Use a spray gun on your totes. They use flexible parts additive to paint plastic car parts.



Here is the flexible paint additive https://www.amazon.com/SEM-39728-Super-Flex-Pint/dp/B000K27IIU/ref=asc_df_B000K27IIU/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=312094794632&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=5133470870436311781&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=m&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9057861&hvtargid=pla-569479145174&psc=1&tag=&ref=&adgrpid=60223452937&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvadid=312094794632&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=5133470870436311781&hvqmt=&hvdev=m&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9057861&hvtargid=pla-569479145174

Here is adhesion promoter as an example https://www.amazon.com/TRANSTAR-1031-Mul-Tie-Adhesion-Promoter/dp/B000RI91A0/ref=mp_s_a_1_6?adgrpid=61516287252&gclid=Cj0KCQiA2NaNBhDvARIsAEw55hgwpzdsjwx4rB8BsxShWx7OpFL33BXMpH0P5MnrPEYsML13-H_cAcYaAllBEALw_wcB&hvadid=274674858909&hvdev=m&hvlocphy=9057861&hvnetw=g&hvqmt=e&hvrand=1815013517374335230&hvtargid=kwd-301240006544&hydadcr=18761_9708046&keywords=paint+adhesion+promoter&qid=1639326632&sr=8-6

If the containers are inside paint like what’s in the link below should last a really long time https://www.amazon.com/Majic-Paints-8-4994-1-Diamond-1-Gallon/dp/B00TSJW4RG/ref=mp_s_a_1_3?crid=1O0R6QMMV4XAW&keywords=acrylic+enamel+paint+1+gallon&qid=1639326847&sprefix=acrylic+enamel+paint+1+gallon%2Caps%2C324&sr=8-3

Use respirators on all this stuff it’s nasty stuff to spray.


This is a good water filter system for remote areas or for people on a budget. This is a very good system.

That type of rock filter which I’ve discussed many times can filter most water in a pinch.


Totes are 2 for $50 pretty often on my FB marketplace. Usually there is a hustler on there that sells them and other food grade storage bins. I need to get me some more. I used mine to store diesel fuel when i had my trucking company. I would buy up fuel when it was cheap. Paid for themselves many times over. I sold them for more than i paid for them…people used them for trash bins and recycle bins.

I probably wont paint mine. I will probably go with the 80 gauge wrap. Seems easier and maybe cheaper. Not sure if the UV will wear it out though.

I have a shallow well and plan on filling the totes from my well…then every time it rains the well fills up and do it again.




Those are cheap in your area. Never considered fuel storage but it makes a lot of sense. They would be great for waste oil if you were mak8ng diesel as well.

@clarkinks at my heavy truck shop i did all of my fueling from the totes. I figured it was cheaper than paying the drivers to drive to certain stations and paying them to fuel the trucks. So for sure they will hold diesel fuel for 5 years at least. Fuel has went up 5X as much since then $1 per gallon to now $5.

Also i had one tote that i used for waste oil from the oil changes etc. I sold it yearly to a recycler.

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If a plastic or metal tank is leaking at a seam etc. See this instructional



It sounds like since you have some experience with these you know the value of the totes.


Anyone using totes?

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I am. I use two totes to catch the rain of a 24x26 foot garage. I inch of rain will fill them. I have them on the north side to minimize uv damage. I believe in time the uv will destroy them.
I have the bottom ports connected together and go through a strainer and then to a 3/4 hp pump. It will run two impulse type sprinklers. I also have the pump connected to a remote control. The remote works great when you want to walk around the yard watering plants.


i wonder if you painted them with white or light colored krylon fusion paint, it would prolong their life? i would think it would take a long time in indirect light to break down that paint.

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I think that would help a lot. The paint would have to be flexible.

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its acrylic so i think it would be.

I have about 10 totes I use to collect rainwater off an outbuilding. Some of them are wrapped in vinyl pool liner, from when our pool sprung a leak. You can cover quite a few totes with a 20x40’ pool liner - I take out the plastic ‘bottle’, wrap it, and then shove it back in the cage. That keeps the vinyl in place, more or less. It’s not 100% opaque, but I only use the totes to water plants, and the liner seems to be opaque enough that algae growth is minimal. Pool liner is UV resistant, obviously. My outbuilding has a forklift, so I probably use my totes different that most people, in that I fill them directly at the downspouts, and then forklift them to where i want them.

In addition to pool liner, which you can get used for free, if the person is also getting rid of the pool itself, you can probably use the rigid side paneling, which is solid metal. Use self tapping screws to screw it to the outside of the cage. I haven’t gotten around to that yet. Other possible free sources I’ve considered are old worn out tarps, and used billboard vinyls. All of which should be UV treated. I’ve never trusted paint to stay on well, and I don’t want thousands of paint chips spread all over my property by wind.

One thing I’d point out, is that last I looked, all the pre-made hose adapters you can buy online use a severely necked down nozzle, like Clarke showed above in the OP. So you’re getting like 25% of the flow rate of the garden hose itself. I recommend (and use) the American Valve M71QTM. I used it to directly replace the hose bibs that my adapters came with. In general, search for “full flow” fittings. They’re annoyingly few.


We would not ever want all this dirt entering our storage so filtering before hand is necessary if you use the water inside. In my instance im watering plants so i dont care but thought i would show you.

I have left over black weed barrier landscaping fabric, do you all think that would be adequate to wrap and tape around the totes to block light? I would like to use what I have before investing in pond liner which from what I’ve read is the longest lasting…

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If you don’t care about looks, you could do a tarp, or go to goodwill and grab some blankets, or check Facebook marketplace or a local buy nothing interest group.

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If you’ll just be using them for watering plants, I would think it would be enough. I use pool liner (like from and above-ground pool) which is translucent, and it keeps the algae much lower than with no liner. Basically it just gets a little bit of algae stuck to the walls, but not enough to clog up the nozzle or pipes. If you’ll be drinking it though, I don’t know.

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@39thparallel was able to find me a couple of these 275 gallon food grade ibc totes today.