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Yikes! My galvanized waterer is rusting! - Page 2

post #11 of 16

Yikes! Please don't use Rustoleum in chicken waterers and birdbaths! Aside from the fact that Rustoleum and other anti-rust paints are not intended for use in food/water containers, and may leach toxic chemicals, these paints contain high levels of zinc, which can cause zinc poisoning in birds. Here is a link on heavy metal poisoning in birds , which cites two instances of poisoning in macaws/parrots after being exposed to anti-rust paints.

The same is true of deteriorating galvanized coatings on metal containers -- they can leach zinc and other heavy metals into the water, particularly if exposed to acids and strong chemicals, such as vinegar and bleach. When rust forms in a galvanized waterer, this indicates that the galvanized coating is unstable and is wearing off, and it may be exposing your birds to chronic levels of zinc that may not be healthy, so it would be best to replace that waterer.  As a rule, it's best to not used caustic or acidic chemicals in either plastic or metal containers, as these will cause the containers to leach estrogenic-active chemicals and/or heavy metals, including zinc, lead, chromium and cadmium, all of which accumulate in the body tissues and can be passed into the eggs in trace amounts. For serving vinegar supplements, the ideal is to offer this separately, in a ceramic container with a lead-free glaze.

On a related note, old timers used to add rusty old horseshoes to their hen's drinking water. From the February 1908 Farm Journal: "If you have a scrap of rusty iron, put it into the drinking vessel. There is no better tonic than iron water."

This advice was echoed in the Hagerstown Town & Country Almanack of 1910: "Rusty iron placed in the chickens drinking water vessel acts as a valuable tonic."

Whether or not adding a rusty old horseshoe to a chickens' drinking water is good advice, we can at least rest easy knowing that small amounts of rust in a chicken's water are safe.


Edited by Katzooks - 6/9/11 at 6:29am
post #12 of 16

Unless you're using stainless steel or aluminum chances are ALL metal waterers are covered in zinc.  In fact if you have metal water pipes that are not copper chances are they are covered in zinc as well.  That's what "galvanized metal" is.  Ordinary exposure to galvanized metal in contact with water is not going to make it unsafe to drink.  It's been in common use for over a hundred years now.

This changes however when you change the pH of the water from neutral or mildly alkaline (most drinking water in the U.S.) to acidic.  THEN you might have a leaching problem because acidic water - such as water you've added vinegar to - speeds up the corrosion of the zinc so that it dissolves into the water at a much faster rate than it ordinarily would.  If there are any scratches or thin spots in the zinc covering those will be the first places to begin rusting once the zinc has corroded away.

If it's not clear yet NEVER put vinegar in metal waterers.  Save that for plastic, rubber, or glass.  Not metal of any kind except for maybe stainless steel.

You can reclaim the metal waterers by thoroughly cleaning the rusty places then giving them a thin coat of Naval Jelly which is a gelled phosphoric acid compound you can get at most hardware stores.  Allow it to thoroughly dry.  Usually I'll then wipe it off well with a cloth (not a scrubby) and apply again.  Let dry well once more, then wipe it with a cloth again then fill with water.  It'll have to be repeated every so often depending on handling and your local water pH.  For mine I end up doing it about every eight to ten months or until the zinc has worn away enough to be more trouble than it's worth.  A few spots OK, half the water or more I toss it.

Can't say about the Rustoleum paint.  I'd be inclined not to unless I knew it would be OK for long-term drinking water exposure.

Chance favors the prepared mind.
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Chance favors the prepared mind.
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post #13 of 16

I avoid using galvenized waterers because for a project I had, we used galvenized water pans for 24 hr, all the birds that had the waterers had very elevated zinc levels in the brain when compared with birds that weren't using galvenized waterers.

Clint

post #14 of 16

I'm having the same problem with my fount (also because of adding vinegar... DOH!)... but instead of looking up solutions here first, as I normally do for everything-chicken... I went ahead a painted it with Rustoleum Primer.

THEN I looked here.
Well, I can't really undo the paint... and began to wonder more about whether I will regret it. I haven't made up my mind yet, but did find a few other links that don't seem to be anti-paint. Of course, I'm no expert... but thought I would post the link.

I would be interested to see other references from people who have used paint in the past... any ill effects?

http://www.birdwatching-bliss.com/bird-baths.html

"Q: Is It Safe to Spray Paint My Bird Bath?
A: Yes, you can spray paint your birdbath. But do not use any spray paints that are oil or petroleum based. Make sure the bird bath is completely dry before painting. You should apply at least 2 coats, allowing each application to dry before applying another. Krylon-brand spray paints, among others, are non-toxic when dry. Use a clear coat spray paint as the final coat to act as a sealer."

post #15 of 16

A.T. Hagan :

You can reclaim the metal waterers by thoroughly cleaning the rusty places then giving them a thin coat of Naval Jelly which is a gelled phosphoric acid compound you can get at most hardware stores.  Allow it to thoroughly dry.  Usually I'll then wipe it off well with a cloth (not a scrubby) and apply again.  Let dry well once more, then wipe it with a cloth again then fill with water.


That's what I would do. There are other brands, of phosphoric acid products, but the result is the same -- the rust (iron oxide) is converted to iron phosphate, which is pretty non-reactive stuff.

post #16 of 16

Hum.  I just dug out my 25 year old galvanized waterer this summer when the chicks moved into their new coop.  It, too, had several rusting spots. 

I sanded the spots a bit and coated them with clear fingernail polish, feathering out well past the rust spot.  I did this on both the inside and bottom of the 'pail'.  Then I covered the whole (well dried) bottom with two light coats of spar varnish.

It seems to have worked out well.  I'm not using it for the winter, but expect to use it again next summer.

Love, Linn B   (aka Smart Red)  Gardening zone 5a - 4b in south-est, central-est Wisconsin

Love, Linn B * * * Nesting with my perfect DH, Cee Cee (choc. lab), Belle (orange tabby), Rusty (fertilizer rabbit), 5 Australorp hens, 4 Lt. Brahma hens and The Count of Monte Cristo, (Monte) my roo. And new, this May nine girls -- a Cochin, a Cuckoo Maran, an Easter Egger, 2 Buckeyes, 3 black sex-link (but Brownie isn't black), and Nesco, my Roaster Oven hatchling. Sigh! Victim of Chicken Math!

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Love, Linn B * * * Nesting with my perfect DH, Cee Cee (choc. lab), Belle (orange tabby), Rusty (fertilizer rabbit), 5 Australorp hens, 4 Lt. Brahma hens and The Count of Monte Cristo, (Monte) my roo. And new, this May nine girls -- a Cochin, a Cuckoo Maran, an Easter Egger, 2 Buckeyes, 3 black sex-link (but Brownie isn't black), and Nesco, my Roaster Oven hatchling. Sigh! Victim of Chicken Math!

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