Knowing all the raw materials that are used in your hydroponic system is hard for everyone. Plastic is used to make pipes for transporting water and nutrients in the Hydroponic farming system. But Do you know that using PVC is not safe for hydroponics?
Yes, you heard right. PVC pipes or plastic with type 3 are not the safest options available for hydroponics. PVC plastic leaks toxic substances into the water that is flowing inside the container. You still have many alternatives to PVC.
No matter whether you use DWC or nutrient firm technology, 90% of the system will be made of PVC plastic.
The primary problem here is PVC shows a direct impact on plants due to its unstable chemicals which release toxins inside the water. You can avoid it by just flushing nutrient reservoirs regularly.
Why is PVC harmful for Hydroponics?
PVC plastic pipes contain many chemicals which are toxic if the level exceeds. There are many reasons for the chemicals to leak into the water, one of them can be exposure to sunlight.
This problem is mainly found in home gardeners when they build their own Hydroponic system. When they heat the pipe for molding it, it becomes non-food safe. Few of the harmful chemicals include
These chemicals can cause extreme health issues. For Instance, high levels of Phthalates can lead to severe liver damage, badly impacting the human reproductive system.
As few growers do, you can regularly flush the nutrient system. But the main issue here is the pipe will be clear but the chemical toxins will be accumulated in the plant roots. You can imagine what happens next! It enters the plant vascular system. Then it is too late to stop it from its negative effects.
Which Plastic can be used for hydroponics?
So from the previous paragraph, it is clear that type 3 or PVC plastic is not suitable for hydroponic farming. So we have few alternatives that can do better than harmful PV pipes.
- Polyester (Type 1)
- High-Density Polyethylene (Type 2)
- PVC (Type 3)
- Low-Density Polyethylene (Type 4)
- Polypropylene (Type 5)
- Polystyrene (Type 6)
- Other Plastics (Type 7)
The most unsafe plastic that can be used in hydroponics whether it can be NFT or DWC is from plastic types 1,3,6 and 7.
Advantages of PVC Hydroponic system
- Undoubtedly we can say that PVC is affordable when compared to metal or plastic pipes which are really costly.
- PVC is very easy to put up as well, due to low price material. Youwill have enough space for errors and tryouts.
- The PVC pipes are efficient and light in weight than other hydroponics materials like steel.
- It is non-toxic and soluble.
- Hydroponics made of PVC pipes do well outdoors withstanding different weather conditions. Even after constant exposure to rain it stays durable and strong enough.
Disadvantages of PVC Hydroponic system
There is no material or thing that comes without disadvantages so as PVC pipes, so few are given below
- It tends to cause contamination, plants roots can also go inside the pipe. However, this problem can be controlled easily by coating inside the pipe with a permeable fabric.
- PVC pipes are thermoplastic which can melt when exposed to high temperature. This is a very rare case and can only happen if your room is on fire!
How To Choose The Right Plastic Hydroponic System?
When you are building your own hydroponic system or buying it, you have to make the right decisions. There are many things you should look at before buying it.
Choose the right plastic.
As we have seen previously, the plastic-type you use for your hydroponic system is very important for your plants. Plastic Type 2,4 and 5 are the best and safest options that you can use for your system. Whereas, 1, 3, 6, and 7 are harmful to your plant growth.
Color of the Hydroponic system.
The color of the Hydroponics system is one of the most underrated things. But many of you don’t know that it is an important part in setting up the hydroponic system.
If you are going to set your hydroponics outdoors, then you have to be cautious of which color you choose. But if you are going to set it up indoors, need not worry much.
One of the most common colors available in the market is white. Definitely, we do not recommend that to you, the reason is the formation of biofilms. White color pipes or containers tend to allow light rays to pass through when exposed to sunlight. These light rays will stimulate the growth of biofilms that boosts and spread several infections in the system.
On the contrary, Black color pipes are opposite to white pipes. They absorb a lot of heat from sunlight hence increasing the nutrient solution temperature. So we recommend you to get grey color pipes or containers for your hydroponic system. It has neutral reactions unlike black and white-colored pipes.
In the end, when it comes to building your own hydroponic system, it is better not to use PVC pipes. However, you can use the food-safe PVC that passed the standards of NSF. You can use any other material which will benefit you and your plants.
Hope our article solves all your answers to the question ” is PVC safe for hydroponics? “. Now as you learned a little about hydroponics, go ahead and know more about this in our previous articles.!
Frequently Asked Questions.
1. Is PVC safe for growing food?
Similar to aquaponics, PVC is safe to use in gardening when it is food safe (uPVC). It can be used for water lines as well as for growing food directly in large diameter pipes.
2. Which plastic is safe for hydroponics?
The two types of plastic that are safe for use in hydroponic systems are Type 2 (high-density polyethylene) and Type 5 (polypropylene). Both are approved for indoor and greenhouse use, where UV light and weather damages are minimal.
3. Is PVC pipe bad for plants?
The problem with growing plants using PVC pipes is quite simple; they don’t stay dry for very long, and they do not stay hydrated for very long. This is why it is not safe to grow plants in PVC pipes, as you can end up with damaged roots and mushy vegetables in less time.
4. Is it safe to grow strawberries in a PVC pipe?
PVC pipes are convenient planters for multiple strawberry plants. Strawberries require moist, warm soils for maximum growth, factors controlled most easily in a container. However, container-grown strawberries can tangle and overgrow themselves, causing rot and an unevenly ripe crop.