Subscribe to our newsletter for weekly updates

Milkwood Blog

Water Tank comparisons for drinking water: defining clean and green

February 14, 2011 | Building, Natural Building, Permaculture, Resources, Water Harvesting + Reuse | 76 comments | Author:

All drinking water at Milkwood Farm comes from the sky. This means catchment and storage of drinking-quality water is a very big deal for us. And since we’ve got the opportunity to define the quality of our drinking water here (a luxury so many millions of people do not have), we’re determined to get it as healthy as we possibly can. Both for our family, and for this planet of ours.

Which led us to the seemingly mundane but actually quite complex task of selecting water tanks for drinking water. Which kind to go with? Plastic, aquaplate, cement or stainless steel?

Our criteria for selecting our drinking water tanks were thus; excellent water quality, relatively low embodied energy, and affordable. Which made our task of choosing trickier than we first thought.

But decide we did, and we thought we’d share the results of our research here in case they’re of use to others. This is not the final word on water tanks, but it’s the product of our 6 months of researching, talking and thinking about how to balance our criteria to give our farm the best drinking water system we can possibly devise:

A comparison of water tank materials for drinking water

Plastic tanks of all shapes and sizes. Image by Irrigation Direct.


Materials: food-grade polyethylene, the same stuff used to make plastic food containers like tupperware etc, and considered the safest form of plastic. Has added UV stabilizers to prevent the plastic breaking down outside, and plastic softeners to make it flexible. BPA softeners may be used (i never could get a clear answer on that from any manufacturer).

Toxicity: At the drinking end, I have problems with this option. Plastic softeners like BPA are not what you want in your child’s tummy as the tank materials go though their inevitable off-gassing process. Softened plastics are also heavily associated with endocrine disruptors.

Also, being outside, these tanks break down over time, regardless of the UV stabilizers (couldn’t find any info on the UV stabiliser off-gassing qualities, either. Hmm). When a substance breaks down, that means it goes somewhere else. Like into the various cycles of our farm. Double hmm.

Enviro-cred: Plastics are, as I’m sure you know, made from oil – which isn’t that great. Their embodied energy during production is pretty high too. A lifetime of 25 years means they don’t live forever, and at the end of that time, due to the UV degradation, they’re not considered recyclable in Australia. At all. Which again ups their embodied energy. Transport to site is necessary, unless you live next to a plastic tank factory.

Installation: dead easy. All that’s required really is a stabilized flat spot. Because plastic tanks have a small amount of flex in them, they’re a bit more forgiving than other materials when it comes to installing. These types of tanks come in a wide range of sizes and shapes, which may aid installation.

Price: Plastic tanks are a cheap option, at around the $2,600 mark for a 22,500L tank. Delivery extra.

Our verdict: the toxicity and embodied energy didn’t make this option attractive at all, despite it’s price tag. Would potentially also melt in a bushfire, causing us to have no water. Not good.

Aquaplate® tank. Image by h2Enviro


Materials: The modern version of the classic Aussie corrugated iron tank. Aquaplate® is the most common material used. Aquaplate® is corrugated steel on the outside with a spray-on plastic polymer lining.  As far as we know, all corrugated steel tanks (except stainless steel) are now sold with this plastic lining, to prevent rust and to prolong the life of the tank.

Toxicity: The main issue with these tanks to me is the spray-on polymer that forms the plastic lining of the tank. Not much info could we find on the polymer plastic lining, except that it doesn’t need the UV stabilizers in it because it’s not exposed to sunshine. But any way you look at it, it’s spray on plastic, directly in contact with your drinking water.

Softened plastic in constant contact with drinking water is not my idea of a healthy time. Again, see links to BPA, endocrine disruptors or do your own research.

Enviro-cred: Not too bad. The steel production has a lot of embodied energy (about 2/3 of a plastic tank), but this can, in theory anyway, be offset by recycling the product at the end of its 25 years warranty. How they get the bonded plastic lining off to re-use the steel, no-one can tell me yet. So that sounds a little theoretical to me.

There’s also the possibility that the steel made to use the tank may be recycled already, which would be great, but not a given, so it’s hard to count on it. Again, transport to site is needed.

Installation: Fairly easy – you need a good solid flat pad to put it on, but it’s pretty much a case of plonking it down and hooking it up to a down pipe. These types of tanks come in a wide range of sizes and shapes, which may aid installation.

Price: Around $2,800 for 22,500L, depending on shape and location. Delivery extra.

Our verdict: better than plastic (at least on the embodied energy front) but too many questions about toxicity of the polymer lining for this to be an option.

A concrete tank on a farm somewhere. Image by Edwards Concrete Tanks


There are two options for concrete tanks –  up to 15,000L tanks can be cast off-site and delivered, or for larger tanks the only option is to make them on-site. As we’re talking in the 22,500L range, we only investigated the cast-onsite option.

Materials: Made of concrete with steel reinforcing. All concrete sold in Australia now contains fly ash, which is the scrapings from within the chimney of coal-burning furnaces. It makes concrete stronger. Concrete’s other components are sand, gravel, lime and water.

Toxicity: Not bad at all, as far as we can tell. Concrete tanks have historically been considered to produce superior quality drinking water because the great thermal mass of the tank provides a stable water temperature. This means less warm spots, and therefore less algal blooms. It is also often commented that concrete tank water has a nicer taste. This might be because of the various minerals leaching from the cement tank into the water.  There are various reports about fly ash toxicity that made us wonder about it’s health effects when included in concrete, however.

Enviro-cred: Not so good. High embodied energy (about the same as a plastic tank for the same size). There’s also ethical questions about the sourcing of sand, as much sand mining happens in environmentally sensitive areas. Not recyclable, which means no chance of off-setting your guilt about the embodied energy. A well made concrete tank should last a very long time, however, which is a plus.

Installation: More complicated than a simple delivery. Requires a crew to come out, prep site and pour tank. Tank pad must be very well made and stable, or tank may crack. Some logistics to consider with access for concrete truck to tank site, weather, and so on.

Price: comparatively expensive – around $4,000 for a 22,500L tank installed.

Our verdict: better than the options containing plastics, but still some toxicity questions. The non-recycleability also made it hard to get excited about this option.

Unloading a stainless steel tank


Exploring this option seemed a bit dumb, initially – surely it would be incredibly expensive and no-one made them anyway?

Materials: Stainless steel, which is iron with added chromium and/or nickel.

Toxicity: Stainless steel is considered to be very safe and preferable for many applications, hence its use in surgical equipment, catering, drink bottles and so on. As far as we could tell, if you don’t heat it up or ingest shavings of it, it’s pretty much inert.

Enviro-cred: High embodied energy in production, but 100% recyclable. Completely and utterly. Because of its high value, the chances of the stainless steel having had multiple lives previous to its incarnation as a water tank are also high. Should last a lifetime if we don’t back a truck into it, which ups its cred further.

Installation: relatively easy, with good solid pad prepared. Like plastic and aquaplate, a simple operation of delivery and placement.

Price: fairly expensive – around $4,000 (delivered) for 22,500L

Our verdict: expensive upfront, but when its all said and done, worth it. Very low toxicity means excellent and safe drinking water, and in 70 years time our grandchildren can use the steel for something else (or cash it in).

Whew. So that’s the wash-up. We ended up getting two 22,500L stainless steel tanks, which, when full, will assure our family of plenty of drinking water all year round, even in the 100-year drought. The tanks cost us $8,000 delivered from Stainless Steel Water Tanks in Brisbane, but there are now quite a few stainless tank suppliers Australia wide.

Catching and storing water, by any means necessary. Image by Friends of Water.

A note: we made our choice based on our site’s constraints, and our time and money budgets. If our rocky ground could have confidently harbored an in-ground concrete cistern without us spending $20,000 digging around for a subterranean boulder-free spot, we might have taken this option.

Also, the info above is not intended to make anyone feel inadequate or worried about their existing rainwater tanks, we just thought we’d share what we learned in the process of making our choice. Hooray for rainwater, in all its contained forms. And to anyone already catching and storing this energy.

A house made out of a concrete tank in South Australia

Some water tank resources:

Now all we need to do is build a big shed roof up the top of our hill to catch the rain, to put in our shiny new stainless steel water tanks, so it can flow passively down to all the future drinking water taps at Milkwood Farm…

LIKE 155
+1 0


  • meme1997 February 14, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Reply

    Appreciate the analysis that you have put into this.

    Am not sure if you came across this link in your research:

    Definitely worth getting this from the source ;) From memory it is from quite a few years old now..

    Embodied energy / Life Cycle Analysis is fraught. Conflicting methodologies and difficulty in establishing standards due to the range of variables etc.

    I agree with a precautionary approach that says avoid all products with toxicity..

    A couple of other quick points:
    – It would also seem that high embodied energy materials such as stainless steel and aluminum are more often recycled because of their inherent value. In the case of a stainless steel tank it retains a value throughout its life.

    – You make the point that non-plastic tanks require a “good solid flat pad to put it on”. This would preferably be concrete. I don’t have the standards but can get back to you on this but am pretty sure that they will specify concrete – see earlier discussion on embodied energy.
    – Tank stands for steel tanks can also be made from steel posts and timber reducing embodied energy and improving sustainability / usability etc. This is obviously more applicable when installing a smaller tank!

    Excellent work! Thanks again for putting this out there.

    1. milkwoodkirsten February 14, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Reply

      Hey there – yep we reference that bluescope steel link in the article in the resources section… it’s a bit of a quagmire, isn’t it? Thanks for your thoughts :)

  • Michelle February 14, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Reply

    We came to the same conclusion when researching our water tanks about this time last year. We ended up getting a 3000L stainless steel tank for drinking & cooking water (with a single tap in the kitchen delivering this water) and two 24500L poly tanks for the rest of our water.

    The only thing we neglected to do was allow for gravity feed for this water tank – and as there was no way the water could get gravity fed, due to the design of the house and the location of the kitchen, we had to get an extra pump for the drinking water tank.

  • Zainil Zainuddin February 14, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Reply

    Thanks for the posting. I find it very useful.



  • rainwater tanks melbourne February 15, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Reply

    I like colorful, plastic water tanks as they are easily to set up and moving from one place to another. The metal one is worst as it is heave and ugly.Thanks

    1. milkwoodkirsten February 15, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Reply

      How surprising, livingwise, since you sell plastic tanks! ;)

  • Sharon February 15, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Reply

    I love the idea of the stainless steel tanks, they are definately the ‘best’ option. Unfortunately so far we have only one plastic tank, but when we get the roof on the house I want to put stainless tanks on. I totally agree about gravity feeding the water, such a better way to do it.

  • […] Milkwood: permaculture in practice simple living in abundance Skip to content HomeAboutContactPermaculture « Water Tank comparisons for drinking water: defining clean and green […]

  • Steve February 16, 2011 at 7:32 pm | Reply

    A simple water filtration set up can remove 100% of all impurities at a small cost. We are required by council to have 100,000L of tank capacity so stainless was not an option at double the cost of aquaplate, so a high end water filter cleans our water very well. I would suggest a filtration system (pre drinking tap) is a good idea even with stainless tanks as there are all manner of impurities that can contaminate the water pre and post tank.


    1. milkwoodkirsten February 17, 2011 at 11:26 am | Reply

      Hi Steve – yes we’ll definitely be putting in a filtration device between the tanks and the taps – just in case. Stay tuned for more on that as we get closer to having some taps!

      1. Pinar December 8, 2013 at 4:20 am | Reply

        Very helpful post. Thank you! I was just wondering if you have decided with the filtration system for your taps for drinking water.


  • Alan Burdon February 21, 2011 at 9:56 am | Reply

    Interesting analysis. We have 164000 litres in plastic, about which I have few qualms, but note the comments you make about them. We were considering a concrete underground tank for a final fire-fighting resource (given the potential vulnerability of the plastics)but stainless steel seems like a good alternative given our ground conditions. Do you know if they can be buried entirely or partially for additional protection / thermal stability?

    1. milkwoodkirsten February 21, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Reply

      Hi Alan, well, given that stainless steel doesn’t rust, I suppose the tanks could be buried in theory… I’d ask a stainless steel tank manufacturer what they thought…

  • DougF February 22, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Reply

    Love your website and this water tank study is very well done. I read the Earthbag one yesterday, also very good read. I am going to add your site to the bloglist on my own as your subject matter directly parallels what we espouse.

    1. milkwoodkirsten February 23, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Reply

      Thanks, Doug! your rural independent has some amazing stuff on it!

  • […] we needed something to store the water in. After a long-winded research period, as outlined in Water tank comparisons for drinking water: defining clean and green, we decided on stainless steel water tanks, as they gave us the highest quality drinking water and […]

  • Cas Smit March 1, 2011 at 10:21 am | Reply

    Thanks for taking the time to share your research on tanks. It’s a topic that is very important to me too – water quality is the foundation of our health, I reckon.

    In regard to concrete tanks, when I did some research into concrete, it seems that it can also have chemicals added (admixtures) depending on it’s application (please see link below – follow the list down to “Concrete” to read about all the possible chemicals that may be added). I didn’t manage to find out whether the concrete used to make water tanks would have any of these additives (which would quite possibly leach out over time) but I imagine that it is quite likely. Stainless steel seems like the safest bet to me too.

  • Peter H March 2, 2011 at 11:38 am | Reply

    a most interesting comparison and thanks for your efforts. Just a few thoughts and corrections.

    1) The lowest embodied energy by far is an old corrugated iron tank lined with mortar to patch the rust holes. This has all the benefits of the concrete tank, at much lower environmental cost and good long term durability. A good description of how to DIY appears in the Earth Garden Water Book (search for it on google). We have several of these tanks and water quality is exceptional.
    2) fly ash is the fine ash residue left over after you burn (black) coal. It is collected in a power station using ultra high efficiency filters a bit like a giant vacuum cleaner. It is used in much (but not all) Australian concrete but it is not toxic. Australian coals have much lower levels of trace elements than many overseas coals and those trace elements are present in extremely small quantities. So small in fact that the NSW DECCW has given approval for fly ash to be used as an additive to soils. This is based on years of collected data and lab tests. The trace elements (ie minerals) were in the soil when the original plants grew (and the plants subsequently died to form the coal that is eventually burned to make electricity). Because the fly ash is very fine (like talcum powder) it makes the concrete less permeable (by filling the gaps between the sand and cement particles) and improves the watertightness of the concrete. Even if there were any toxic elements, the reduced permeability means that water cannot “leach” anything out of the concrete. In fact fly ash concrete is so tight that it is recognised as a way to stabilise other toxic wastes by encapsulation.
    3) it is high risk to bury a lightweight tank as the pressure of the soil on the outside may crush it when empty. most soils exert a horizontal pressure (this is why retaining walls fall over) Concrete tanks are strong in compression and can withstand the forces, but plastic and steel are strong in tension which is why they are so light.
    my background – 28 years as an electrical and environmental engineer consulting to the power industry in Australia and overseas to improve its environmental performance.

    1. milkwoodkirsten March 2, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Reply

      Hi Peter – thanks for your comments! Good point about the renovated corrugated iron tanks – we did consider that early on but we thought our chances of finding two massive ones which would be suitable for repair would be slight… all the old corrugated iron tanks we’ve cone across have been in the 10-15,000L range…

  • Phil March 7, 2011 at 11:22 am | Reply

    Depending on the intended use for your captured water, ie drinking, showering, flushing (perhaps consider composting toilet to alleviate the need to flush) another cost effective option to consider maybe a smaller stainless steel tank specifically for drinking water and then poly liner or plastic tanks for showering, flushing, garden watering etc.

  • Simo March 10, 2011 at 9:48 am | Reply

    Well done, those tanks look great and the shed makes a great catchment and will be very useful in the future too. I Agree that stainless steel tanks would have to be the safest but they weren’t really an option for our two 150,000L tanks so we had to go for the steel sided food grade plastic sheeting lined ones that are built on site. This is a option you did not explore in your article and I have some useful information for other readers who maybe considering these tanks due to the large volumes they can accommodate. While all the polyethylene platic liners used in these types of tanks are “food grade” some are safer the others look for a surplier who uses EVA polyethylene as it contains no BPA, chlorine, phthalates or PVC, so far no studies have show any risks associated with EVA and as such it is even when used in baby bottle teets and alike. A big clue is if the manufacturer puts a whirllybird type of air extractor on top of the tank they are using the nasty liners as they are trying to get rid of the off gassed chemicals from the tank so they don’t taint the water.

    1. milkwoodkirsten March 10, 2011 at 9:51 am | Reply

      Cheers, Simo – good info!

  • joanne March 16, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Reply

    Does anyone have information on whether there would be harmful leaching into soil/plants of a vegetable garden if using a plastic tank?

  • Cas Smit March 24, 2011 at 10:15 am | Reply

    Good question, Joanne – I’d love to know that too. I’m also wondering about the plastic irrigation fittings that you use to get the water from your tank – even if you go for a stainless steel tank – to the vegie garden or to your drinking glass. You can get “blue stripe” drinking quality 40mm pipe but what about the joiners, tee pieces and risers and all the other fittings? I think all the standard ones are polyethylene but I don’t know if they’d be EVA – the kind that Simo said would be safer. Has anyone thought about or researched this issue?

  • Sarah Jane April 8, 2011 at 3:16 am | Reply

    thanks for all the info, I thought I’d share this:

    1. milkwoodkirsten April 8, 2011 at 8:12 am | Reply

      Nice one. Thanks, Sarah!

  • andriies johannesen May 15, 2011 at 11:43 pm | Reply

    thanks for this site
    steels sounds good
    reading one site aboout steel
    it says bluescope steel aquapalte with a polymer coating?
    on the inside helps corrosion ?
    do your tanks have this?

    1. milkwoodkirsten May 16, 2011 at 7:51 am | Reply

      Hi Andriies, if you have another look at this article you’ll see we’ve clearly defined the differences between aquaplate and stainless steel. Two very different tank solutions…

  • […] Water tank comparisons. Defining clean and green […]

  • Healthy Harvest Kitchen Gardens October 6, 2011 at 7:48 pm | Reply

    Thanks for that. I am in the market for tanks and I know that the water from plastic ones (even food grade) taste like utter poison.

  • marie October 6, 2011 at 8:23 pm | Reply

    Great research! We have a metal tank (probably lined with plastic unfortunately) and our copper pipes are corroding. It shows up as a green residue in our sinks. Have you come across this in your research?

    The only explanation I could find is that rain is a bit acid and corrodes the pipes. The fact that it is soft water make the pipes corrode as well. Apparently concrete tanks don’t get this problem as the lime from the concrete slowly leaches and neutralises the water. Would be interested to know if anyone else has experienced this and what they’ve done to solve it :)

  • […] home via a big shed at the top of our ridge. The very big shed roof is connected to two very big stainless steel water tanks, and hence all the drinking water we need for the farm is gravity fed. You can read more about it […]

  • Higher Vibrations December 27, 2011 at 10:20 pm | Reply

    Hi Kirsten, outstanding review. Thank you, you will for sure save a lot of people, a lot of time.

    We were looking at some “food grade plastic” poly tanks thinking they would be the safest solution until we recently have been researching more into BPA so that option was out. Thankfully we came across your site and you had done all the hard work already, much appreciated !

    A few questions for anyone whom cares to read them, is there anything much cheaper out there than $4200 for a 22,600 (or thereabouts) Stainless steel tank ? If you know any any companies around the S.E QLD area please share :)

    One other question is in regards to the BPA in PVC gutter downpipes, does anyone have any suggestions for a non toxic (or at least not as toxic) option ?

    Many thanks in advanced, it’s wonderful alot of people are now becoming more health concious and actually looking deeper into the apparently safe materials society in general has made available to us. Just try looking into all the numbers in the ingredients list of just about any processed or packaged food *pulls hair out* looks like natural, organic whole foods are the only way to go these days.

    Such is the days of modern society, as much as it is good and convenient it is laced with poison and authorities that seem to be actively allowing or at least covering up the many toxic chemicals that we are being exposed to.

    1. Catherine April 9, 2013 at 9:03 pm | Reply

      I know I’m coming in very late to this conversation (just started researching tanks for our new house and someone has done the work for me!) but I was wondering if you did find a less toxic option for the PVC downpipes?

      1. milkwoodkirsten April 9, 2013 at 9:22 pm | Reply

        No we didn’t find a cost effective alternative, but as the water is not stored there and only passes thru we figured it was a minimal problem….

  • Sue Carra February 26, 2012 at 8:36 am | Reply

    Hello there,
    Just thought I’d share my experience…in 2007 Black Saturday tore through our area and everyone’s water tanks performed in different ways. Plastic and metal buckled in the heat and ALL water therein was lost. We have 3 x 5,000 GALLON/22,500 litre? concrete tanks on our property – all amazingly survived the fire…HOWEVER, they are now failing and developing huge cracks from bottom to top and we are losing our precious water. It is thought that the intense heat had comprimised the integrity of the tank by superheating the reinforcing mesh in the tank walls. We are now facing the dilemma of what to do – the insurance company says it’s not their problem as the cracks would have been a ‘pre-existing fault’ – so are thinking we will have to go down the ‘plastic tank’ option, replacing one tank at a time, mainly as we can’t afford anything else. However, our major problem is…what on earth do we do with the 3 concrete tanks that we have? Is there a use for them out there? It seems shocking to just smash them up and send off to landfill – has anyone thought of a recycling idea where these structures can be used – apart from a fire refuge. (I can assure you that if another Black Saturday happens I won’t be staying to fight the fire but will ‘leave early’.) I’m thinking that a crane and truck delivers these tanks so the same would be needed to remove them…but for what use???? Any thoughts? SUE

    1. milkwoodkirsten February 29, 2012 at 10:14 am | Reply

      Hi Sue, bloody hell – thanks heaps for giving us your perspective on this! Hard won knowledge. My only immediate thought would be either cut out a door and use them as fire-proof storage (not for humans, but for other stuff you dont want melted), or repair them (this may be contrary to other advice, but I’ve heard many stories of folks jumping inside concrete tanks and executing DIY repair jobs which worked, the Earth Garden building book outlines a couple of examples from memory)… best of luck :)

    2. Peter H February 29, 2012 at 10:49 am | Reply

      Dear Sue,
      I think you should seek better advice on the liability of the insurer. Superheated reinforcement sounds like a cop out. The concrete would protect the steel from superheating, and no matter how good the tank was before the fires with such intense fires the concrete would be damaged. Surely the failure was caused by the fire, and thats why you are insured. Don’t give up on getting what they owe you, after all, you paid for the insurance premium. Even if you need one tank short term, keep fighting to get the others replaced.

  • Tim July 11, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Reply

    What about Fibreglass?

    1. milkwoodkirsten July 12, 2012 at 10:42 am | Reply

      In short, we couldnt find any suppliers so it wasn’t on our list of options?

  • Danielle JL September 21, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Reply

    I know this is a long shot, but does anyone here know of a way to get a stainless steel tank freighted across to WA? No one here sells them, and the Stainless Steel Water Tanks guys will sell us one but don’t do interstate delivery. All the freight companies I’ve spoken to won’t touch the job because the 22600L tank is 3.5m in diameter, which is too big for their standard trucks.

    1. milkwoodkirsten September 22, 2012 at 10:30 am | Reply

      Hmm, have you asked Ross Mars at ? He’s Perth based, and would know if anyone would…

    2. Phil September 22, 2012 at 11:00 am | Reply

      Hi Danielle,

      nice to see you going with the stainless option. you could try getting a quote from a towing company. sounds a bit weird, i know, however they do a lot of transporting of shipping containers, machinery, etc on their flat bed trucks and I personally know of them moving water tanks in the Brisbane region. I think it would be advisable to try and organise a backload for their return trip, could potentially half the cost.

      Blue Skies


    3. neil October 17, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Reply

      Have you found anyone yet, Colin from Northern territory Tank makers may help. He delivers all over the place, we recommend you buy Aquaplate tanks with the barrier as opposed to stainless steel. Are your tanks rivited ?
      Colin is looking at building Aquaplate Tanks in the NT soon.

  • Danielle JL October 17, 2012 at 11:19 pm | Reply

    I tried Ross Mars, and he said he doesnt think anyone will be able to/willing to help me with freighting tanks over. I’m talking to some fabricators here to see how much they’ll charge to make me a stainless steel tank.

    Thanks Phil, I may try calling up some towing companies to see what they say. Good idea :)

    Neil, do you have a URL or some contact details for Northern Territory Tanks? Google doesn’t have the answers for me. I don’t know that anyone in NT would be any more willing to freight tanks to Perth than east coast companies are, but it’s worth a try. I’m definitely interested in stainless steel, not aquaplate, though.

    1. tim October 19, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Reply

      hi dannielle, im in the same boat as you, i was wondering if you had gotten any quotes for WA based fabricators yet? i would be really interested to know. cheers

  • kevin lynch December 12, 2012 at 5:08 am | Reply

    if you had wanted a stainless tank there are quiet a few available old tanks from dairy supply factories quiet cheap
    just the freight

  • Alex Mateer January 5, 2013 at 4:41 pm | Reply

    hi Kevin – we’re just at the stage of sourcing a stainless tank for drinking water and would be very interested in the old dairy tanks – how do we find out more or who can we contact? We’re in Central West NSW.
    PS Thanks for posting this Kirsten, it is great info and very opportune!

    1. milkwoodkirsten January 6, 2013 at 6:16 am | Reply

      Good luck!

  • Nat & Dan - Fat Loving Foodies January 8, 2013 at 5:32 pm | Reply

    Great Article – thanks so much! We are investigating a small drinking water setup (trying to avoid the fluoride & chlorine) for our home and your research has really saved me some time. Cheers!

    1. milkwoodkirsten January 9, 2013 at 7:23 am | Reply

      no worries :)

  • seaviewzoo3 July 12, 2013 at 7:49 pm | Reply

    Hi I contacted a local tank manufacturer here in SA he said he had considered making SS tanks but researched and thinks that the grade of SS used to make corro tanks will be prone to corrosion and decided not to. He said to look for ex dairy/wine vats or stick with the cheaper heavy duty galv. The nearest supplier – of stainless tanks otherwise. – found by Darren Doherty is in Rochester Vic . Whaddya think?

    1. milkwoodkirsten July 13, 2013 at 7:35 am | Reply

      Yep we have friends that have done the dairy vats and they’re great, we couldn’t find any at the time. Heaps in vic tho..

  • kevin lynch July 13, 2013 at 7:53 am | Reply

    litres =$ / vats aren’t very good value best to use stainless for drinking water and large capacity use a plastic lines tank or large concrete for shower and wash water easy to split pluming these days
    i built 45,000litre tanks for $2500>

    1. milkwoodkirsten July 13, 2013 at 8:26 am | Reply

      Yes that’s what we’re talking about. – 2nd hand ss vats for drinking water. In our climate we need 44kl storage just in case for drought years…

  • gabs August 20, 2013 at 12:27 pm | Reply

    Thanks for this independent analysis of rainwater tank types. I came to a similar conclusion, however, living in Adelaide it appears that stainless steel tanks are difficult to come by here??? You mentioned many more suppliers now, which ones have you found?

    In terms of the PVC pipes, do you have a wet system? Wouldn’t the water be sitting in the pipes then? It seems that we can’t get away from one form of plastic or another, is mains water any better, you can’t see the pipes so you don’t worry about them…

    1. seaviewzoo3 (Nicole Brammy) August 25, 2013 at 9:32 pm | Reply

      Hi Gabs, i have wondrously found a bloke who hand makes gorgeous pottery water storage vessels that can be up to 1000 l -inspired by a Rudolf Steiner round design to keep the water moving and alive… and hand made from local clay, fired onsite in his studio in the city. Mark Heidenrich.
      Terra Villa pottery – right opposite Bliss cafe in Compton st near the central markets. At $1500, its all good. We will have a rain chain running into it from the gutter – no pvc. From the earth, supports local artisan, a thing of beauty that will endure forever, cools the water and part of a passive cooling system. Look me up and come and check it out when its in place in a couple of months if you like – Nicole Brammy

      1. gabs August 26, 2013 at 12:03 pm | Reply

        Hi Nicole, how do I look you up?

      2. seaviewzoo3 August 26, 2013 at 3:57 pm | Reply

        Lol I think in my mind one would google :)
        Facebook is good – or email nicnik at :)

      3. bpatetl May 21, 2014 at 9:30 pm | Reply

        Wow Nicole, That sounds amazing! I had a dream once of a fabulous system of water transfer from all natural materials. I hope one day to be able to build it.

  • Mark February 16, 2014 at 2:37 pm | Reply

    Good article…
    What grade is the stainless used to manufacture these tanks? I couldn’t find the info on the manufacturers website.
    Concrete not recyclable? They last a long time, so perhaps many haven’t expired yet. Have seen some with doors cut in them and converted for other uses. Have also demolished some, where the concrete went to the recyclers for use in roadbase etc…

    1. Alex Mateer February 24, 2014 at 1:21 pm | Reply

      Re quality – we are using the recycled dairy vats and the quality of the s
      tainless is amazing – my husband reckons better than 316 – really heavy duty. You can find them on ebay….

      1. Catherine February 25, 2014 at 9:27 am | Reply

        Hi Alex, I had a quick look on ebay for dairy vats and found nothing :( Do you have a link or something? Thanks!

        1. Alex Mateer February 25, 2014 at 2:28 pm | Reply

          email address for the supplier we used for milk vats: [email protected]

          1. Catherine February 26, 2014 at 10:18 am |

            Thank you!

  • Tony Dooley March 10, 2014 at 9:35 am | Reply

    The Tas Government has issued a warning relating to lead leaching into water from an incorrect solder used in manufacturing stainless steel tanks. The warning only relates to one maufacturer. It may be difficult to check the solder when buying a tank but worth considering and asking about. Here is the link:

    1. milkwoodkirsten March 11, 2014 at 8:11 am | Reply

      Yep, one very stupid manufacturer in Kingston Tasmania. No other instances of this happening in Australia have been recorded, thankfully :)

  • SallyA March 28, 2014 at 3:29 pm | Reply

    Hi Kristen,
    I came across this article recently whilst researching for my University thesis project which is looking at a new, alternative concrete tank material. Since my project looks into comparisons between tank materials in terms of durability, cost, health concerns, embodied energy, etc. I was just wondering if you could confirm how you came across the cost of each particular tank…were they based on quotes you received?
    Any info would greatly appreciated,

    1. Kirsten March 30, 2014 at 7:08 pm | Reply

      Hey Sally, er this was quite a while back now but yep they were based on our ringaround quotes at the time…

  • Bianca May 21, 2014 at 9:22 pm | Reply

    I was loving the idea of not having a plastic tank but just stumbled across this worrying health alert. Hopefully your tanks do not use this solder.

    1. Kirsten May 22, 2014 at 9:00 am | Reply

      Nope, there was only one (not very intelligent) tank company in Tasmania that used that solder. All the other stainless steel tank manufacturers I’ve spoken to were a bit aghast at that example!

  • Kirsten June 18, 2014 at 5:22 pm | Reply

    Hi! My family has been suffering rashes and itchy skin. I recently accelerated this when I took a powerful liver/parasite cleanse. Turns out that our combination plastic/fibreglass tank has burdened our livers and large intestines with whatever it puts in the water. (Diagnosed through kinesiologist muscle testing) So we are not drinking it now and am also thinking I don’t want to bathe in it either! Also wondering if it is ok to water the veges?! Thanks for your article.

    1. Kirsten June 19, 2014 at 5:49 am | Reply

      your veggies certainly won’t take up any fiberglass fibres in their roots. Personally I would leave the water in there, stop using it, and ensure (by deduction) that water was the source of your probs before re-assigning it from drinking water to veggie gardening water.

  • Peter Heffernan July 6, 2014 at 6:49 pm | Reply

    Hi Kirsten
    Thank you for the website and the research, which has not been superseded anywhere I can find. I wonder if you have any thoughts about polyurethane tanks for vegetable garden watering, implicitly the question of soil biodegradability of the polyurethane contaminants. Also, the standard stock trough these days is the poly trough, any thoughts?

    1. Kirsten July 7, 2014 at 7:36 am | Reply

      Well, there’s probably degrees of contamination possible, but unless you’re going to lay clay or metal pipes and water from the tap with animal intestine hose, there will be plastic in the system…

      In short, we’d use poly tanks to water food plants, yep :)

  • […] milkwood […]


Blog Categories

Related Courses

Intro to Permaculture

March 14th-15th, 2015

Byron Bay, The Farm

Join us for 2 days of permaculture design theory and action. You will leave this course with a solid grounding of how you can apply permaculture principles in your home, garden, apartment or farm. You’ll also be in an informed … Continued

Natural Building

March 26th-29th, 2015

Kangaroo Valley, Broger’s End

An intensive, hands-on four day workshop for anyone who is dreaming of building their own earth friendly home. Skill up with professionals and get set to design and build your own.

Permaculture Design Course

April 21st - May 4th, 2015

Otford, Govinda Valley Retreat

A Milkwood Permaculture Design Course teaches you the skills and knowledge to design and implement fundamental and life-changing resilience into your everyday home, community and beyond.

Intro to Permaculture

May 23rd-24th, 2015

Sydney, 107 Rooftop Garden

Join us for 2 days of permaculture design theory and action. You will leave this course with a solid grounding of how you can apply permaculture principles in your home, garden, apartment or farm.

Permaculture Design Course

July 12th-25th, 2015

Sydney, 107 Rooftop Garden

Lern Permaculture Design with us+ get inspired and skilled up for creating abundance in a world out of balance, with solid design skills and techniques.

Intro to Permaculture

October 10th-11th, 2015

Byron Bay, The Farm

Join us for 2 days of permaculture design theory and action. You will leave this course with a solid grounding of how you can apply permaculture principles in your home, garden, apartment or farm.