Properly Sourcing Your IBC Totes in a Country Without Amazon Prime
If you're fortunate enough to live in a country that has a vendor that can deliver cheap, sparkling new IBC totes, congratulations you just finished sourcing and cleaning them. For the rest of us, this is just the beginning. Read on.
IBC Totes have some serious stories to tell. I have seen IBC totes come from all over the place. They travel on barges, trucks, wagons, cars, and get dumped, thrown, melted, burned, and who knows what else. That IBC tote, and its wonderful secrets, could probably sitting in your Aquaponics system.
With this in mind, you should absolutely consider the source and contents of an IBC tote. Cleaning it won't solve all the issues. The contents of an IBC tote could be something like:
- Chemicals harmful to fish, humans or the surrounding ecosystem
- Chemicals that cause your pH to either rise or fall uncontrollably for the duration of the system.
- Chemicals that are toxic in nature
A Use Case in Jordan
One of our recent projects in Madaba, Jordan required that we use IBC totes to setup the system. We love IBC totes as they are, usually, widely available and standardized. We also hate IBC totes because they are keeping dirty little secrets from us in terms of what they were carrying and where they have been. Here is a little glimpse of what IBC tote acquisition looks like in a world that doesn't have Amazon Prime.
Finding The IBC Totes
This was easier said than done. There are various factories around the country from which we wanted to source. Each factory has two to three vendors that they sell through (no direct sales). The rest of the vendors offer quite nasty-looking used IBC totes.
Getting the History
Fortunately these factories usually specialize in some form of product. The factory we used specializes in caulking which in most forms is harmless to fish. It could be harmful if it has additives like color changing die or hardening chemicals.
Cleaning it Like a Beast
Cleaning it is tricky. You have to ensure that you're using eco-friendly products that won't affect the fish or plants later on. We used simple eco-friendly dish soap to clean the tanks. Some people have had some success with bleach, but we don't recommend it.
You'll have to have someone willing to get dirty and brush the tops, sides and bottom of the tanks as well.
TIP: If you have an option for tanks, get the thicker tanks as they are less transparent and the contents most likely haven't hardened on the inside of the walls.
The last step was a good power wash. Getting inside the closed tanks is quite difficult, and requires a brush, but then the power-washing should remove the contents of the tank.
Once they have a chance to dry, you can stick them in the system. If there are some reminants (hopefully safe) they will make their way to the swirl filters and exit the system.
If you have some tips on sourcing IBC totes in other countries, we would love to hear from you in the comments below.