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Breaking down choline w/ household chemicals

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Posted (edited)


I'm creating a rain water collecting system under our deck out of three daisy chained 1000 liter IBC tote cubes that previously held aqueous 70% choline chloride used by the animal feed industry and I'm trying to neutralize the unexpectedly strong odor of the HDPE containers.


My plan is to thoroughly rinse them with water and then spray down the interior with either a strong baking soda or household bleach solution with my one gallon hand sprayer and I'm wondering if anyone can provided some guidance on which of the two, both or what else would be most effective breaking down the smelly organic choline cations?

The main use of the system will be to water the garden in the summer but they'll be linked with flexible piping to withstand earthquakes (we're in the pacific northwest where those are a factor), in which case they may need to serve as an emergency source of drinking water and though I'll be adding controlled amounts of household bleach (for a free chlorine residual between 0.2 ppm to 2.0 ppm as per cistern maintenance guidelines) to discourage bacterial growth and run it through a UV filter prior to potentially drinking, I don't want to add anything toxic, thus me considering backing soda and bleach first.





Edited by bushrat

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Just went and checked things out, the surface of the giant HDPE #2 containers seems fine which is what I expected but to be honest, the interior didn't smell too bad when I opened up the top 6" screw caps of all three and smelled them again.

I'm now thinking a good part of it could very well be just general farm grime on the outside which should be easy to deal with via an exterior pressure wash but I'll still need to deal with the remaining residual product on the inside and thought getting an opinion from an organic chemist on how best to deal with it would be a wise choice as my undergrad studies in that were long ago and I'm now in tech.

Incidentally, my suspicion the smell was choline related is because a) the smell is a fishy one and b) fishy body odour is a symptom of too much choline intake.  Note that choline is a benign naturally occurring essential nutrient, most of which we get from our diet.

My general plan is to rinse the interior two or three times with a long handled watering wand, followed by one or two treatments of baking soda (each followed by a rinse) and then bleach followed by two or three final rinses.  I didn't think vinegar would do any harm if used in separate step(s) but didn't think it'd help much.











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Choline doesn't smell. But bacteria will convert it to trimethylamine which smells fishy.

Rinse the containers with water.


A bit of choline isn't going to cause much problem (even if you end up drinking it). As you note...

5 hours ago, bushrat said:

70% choline chloride used by the animal feed industry

It's hardly toxic.

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