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topic 37601

Can you safely cook or store food in galvanized trash cans?




Boiling corn in garbage cans

2005

Q. I have a concern with the way our company cooks corn at our parties. They are using galvanized trash cans with water in them bringing the water to a boil over heat and cooking corn in them do you think this is wise. Please give me your thoughts or information

Thanks,

Raymond G Backers
dealership - Macomb, Michigan


2005

Galvanized Trash Can

A. It's usually not a good idea to use things for purposes they weren't designed for. One reason is that the designer had no intention for you to cook corn in the device which he tried to optimize for another purpose. Another reason is that medical studies are almost never conducted on such things, and even if they were, the garbage can designer might change his specifications and manufacturing methods at any time. So nobody can actually offer you a methodical answer, only a guess.

Garbage cans aren't designed to have food boiled in them. The boiling water might leach out whatever it reaches, and deposit onto the corn. The coating might or might not be only zinc; it may also include hexavalent chromates, and there may be weld or seam areas that can leach out additional contaminants. Plus, if they were used for garbage at any time, who knows what else might leach out? I am NOT saying that I think it is a likely safety issue or that people have actually been harmed by it; rather I think it is unlikely to have done anyone any harm. But I don't think the practice should be continued.

Ted Mooney, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey



"Trashcan turkey" and BBQ meats

December 30, 2009

Q. Have anyone ever tried to BBQ in galvanize trash can, then tested the meats for hazardous chemicals?

Where can I find the chemical testing kits?

I greatly appreciate any answers.

Thanks,

Henry Dinh
student - San Jose, California



A. Hi Henry. I haven't heard of anyone doing it. I suppose it's theoretically possible to check for zinc and chrome and lead, but how would you check for everything else in the world that might possibly be there, especially in a used trash can?

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey


November 21, 2012

Q. Have you seen the Trashcan Turkey posting? Do you think they are a good idea? If yes, do you think the trash can should be pre-fired? Thanks in advance. Tom

Tom Klahr
- Wellington, Colorado, USA


November 21, 2012

A. Hi, Tom. The fact is, nobody knows or will soon know. Because when we use items in food preparation that were not intended for food preparation, we don't acquire any history, any real data ... at best we acquire an anecdote or two.

It would not surprise me if these trash cans had a tiny amount of hexavalent chromate on them, and such surfaces really shouldn't be used in food preparation. Only an opinion.

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey



Storing bagged food in galvanized cans

May 17, 2010 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. Is it chemically safe to store food that is wrapped in other material, such as a bag of sugar or flour, in a new galvanized trash can?

Ann Meade
hobbyist - Midlothian, Texas


May 18, 2010

A. Hi, Ann. As you see, we appended your inquiry to another thread. I personally doubt that there is any safety issue involved here, but that is an opinion that isn't really based on science.

I think you'll find few studies on such matters; but sometimes organizations like WHO do sponsor research into common 3rd-world practices of using everyday items in such ways, so maybe if you search hard you actually will find a report. Also, you might look into whether "bear-safe" food storage containers in parks, etc., are galvanized (I'll bet they are). Good luck.

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey



Storing dried foods directly in trash cans

November 9, 2010

Q. For years I have stored dried beans, split peas, legumes, sugar and wheat in galvanized trash cans. Now I'm being told to throw everything out because of possible lead and zinc contamination. I'm looking at hundreds of pounds of food and thousands of dollars in losses.

THANK YOU

MARIE CHRISTENSEN
HOME OWNER - ANNABELLA, UTAH USA


November 11, 2010

Galvanized feeding / watering trough

A. Hi, Marie. If you are selling this food, I agree. But if it's for personal use, who is asking you to do that?

I don't think it's a great idea to plan on storing food in galvanized garbage cans because there are certain acidy foods like tomatoes that probably shouldn't be stored in metal. And, because garbage cans are not designed for the purpose, nobody is accumulating and tabulating information about it. But I wouldn't think that it would condemn the food for personal use, especially since you've been doing the same for years. Edible plants are grown in galvanized pots; livestock of all sorts eat and drink directly out of galvanized troughs every day; rural peoples gather rainwater from galvanized roofs for drinking. For many years galvanized piping was used for water service. So who told you to throw all your food away?

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey


November 13, 2010

Q. The Utah Extension Service recommended I dispose of all food being stored in galvanized cans.
Marie

Marie Christensen
- Annabella, Utah USA

November 13, 2010

A. Hi, again.

Well, you can throw it away, or you can ask for their justification for this recommendation. Whether you get one or not, you apparently are free to decide what you want to do about it. Good luck with it. Personally, I wouldn't throw it out, but I'd line the cans with plastic bags next year. Good luck.

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey



Composting in galvanized cans

February 23, 2013

Q. We are starting a compost pile for a home garden. My mother read we could collect compost in a garbage can and simply roll the can to turn it over every week. But, we're working very hard to remove as much of the poisonous plastics from our lives and do not wish to add plastic to the compost we will be using for gardening. Do you believe a galvanized steel trash can is safe for this purpose? Are there poisons in a galvanized steel trash can that can leech into the compost, and then our food?

Michele King
- New Port Richey, Florida, USA

February 25, 2013

A. Hi Michele. Everything is a matter of degree. I personally don't think it's a good idea to cook or store food directly in galvanized cans, but I think it's absolutely fine to make/store compost in it.

Galvanizing is a coating of zinc, and zinc is an essential nutrient, but not a food-safe material because of possible overdose. The galvanizing sometimes has a very very dilute coating of chromate on it, which again is not food-safe but surely can't be significant in compost. Good luck.

I am just the website administrator, and I certainly don't claim to be a world expert in the safety of galvanized containers :-)
... readers are welcome to chime in, but so far it's not happening on this particular topic.

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey



Making charcoal in trash cans

June 28, 2013

Q. Concerning the Galvanized Garbage Can. I want to make my own lump charcoal for cooking/smoking/BBQ. I will need to fill the can with hardwood and burn. Not sure if the fire will be too hot for galvanized. Can I safely do this in a store bought can, rather than a non-galvanized 55 gallon drum with unknown previous contents.

Tom Britton
- Toledo, Ohio USA


June 2013

A. Hi Tom. Again, zinc is an essential nutrient, not a toxin, and the only potential problem is overdose.

Considering the highly poisonous carbon monoxide that is inherently produced in making charcoal, it seems to me that if you deal with the poison prudently, it will be nearly impossible to have any realistic worries regarding the essential nutrient.

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey



Can a galvanized pot be safely used to cook (boil) foods

May 29, 2014 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I want to use a galvanized pot to boil food in. is it safe to do so?

alfred hope
- London

June 2014

A. Hi Alfred. In my opinion, no.

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey



Using EMT Conduit as Steam Piping

November 29, 2014

Q. Is it safe to use galvanized EMT conduit to pipe steam through a house as a heat source? I tried running some steam through it and noticed a strange odor coming from the conduit. From everything I've read it seems like temperatures of 212-220 °F should be fine. Is it possible that there is a coating inside the conduit causing this?

Zack S [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Hanover, Pennsylvania, USA


November 2014

A. Hi Zack. No it's not safe, and yes it's possible that the EMT conduit (which is designed to facilitate snaking wires through), has an interior coating that is incompatible with steam. I can't believe any building inspector would let you pump steam through a system designed only to prevent wires from mechanical damage.

The primary danger doesn't seem to be contaminants, but running scalding pressurized steam through tubing never intended for that purpose. For steam I think you need Schedule 40 B.I. pipe -- please check the building codes. Good luck.

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey



Storing a bag of potatoes in a galvanized bucket

July 3, 2015

Q. Just wondering about putting a bag of store bought potatoes in a galvanized bucket inside the house for 'storage'. This is not a long term storage for any of the potatoes, possible two weeks maximum for a bag depending on the size.
What is your opinion of this?

Debbie Kelley
- Hughes Springs, Texas USA


July 2015

A. Hi Debbie. I think there's a very good chance they were sitting in a galvanized silo before they got to you :-)

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"


July 23, 2016

A. Trash can cooking in a galvanized cans have been going on for years in Kansas City Bar-B-Q joints for years. Even uses the lids to serve from. Take a breath. Its's OK!

D. Cash
- Belleville, Illinois



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