How can I make a water butt/rain barrel using recycled stuff?

water-buttLast week’s Reverse This question – about how to make a rain chain using recycled materials – has kicked up another question: how to make a water butt/rain barrel using recycled, reclaimed and repurposed stuff.

If you’ve got a rainwater barrel, it means the rain chain doesn’t need to end up in an ugly drain and, of course, it also saves the precious rainwater for use around the garden or in grey water systems.

The specific requirements for the butt depend on what the water is being used for but most I’ve seen tend to be reasonably opaque (to reduce algae growth) and many, particularly commercially produced ones, include a tap or a hinged lid to make it easy to access the water.

Any suggestions? What have you seen being used by creative allotmenteers? Has anyone got any experience of making an old-fashioned barrel like the one in the picture?

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4 Responses to “How can I make a water butt/rain barrel using recycled stuff?”

  1. Cipollina says:

    I live in a textile mill area in Italy (there are literally hundreds of mills along the river and in the nearby cities and villages, most work wool imported from Britain), and they get their various dyes and soaps in 1000 litre tanks. I believe they are to be returned and refilled, but many here take them home and reuse them to collect rainwater for the garden. We got two that the mill cleaned out for us – I think we paid around 10 euros each, which is next to nothing. Properly insulated against frost and protected from too much sun, they should last a good many years.

  2. Bobbie says:

    It seems that old wooden ones could be reused because I think they are like whiskey barrels in that they must have liquid in them to prevent the boards from shrinking and leaking. If they are not rotten a good soaking in water should make them good as new .

  3. Ričardas says:

    I guess the former chemicals containers would not pass food quality test if the rainwater is used for anything more than gray water.

  4. Christine says:

    We have a huge old concentrated orange juice transport container in our garden. We got it from stuff the local lorry yard were chucking out. It’s black, plastic, 6 foot tall – we siphon the water out of that to a smaller waterbutt further down the garden which is nearer the vegetables but further from our roof. Or you can siphon it with a hose direct onto the beds or into a watering can ( you won’t get any pressure though, the water just flows out quite gently.

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