Ask Our Experts

Answers to your questions about gardening, energy, homesteading and other sustainable living topics.

Add to My MSN

Is Galvanized Wire a Safe Material to Grow Food Plants on?

9/4/2009 12:00:00 AM

Tags: tomatoes, garden, wire

Using galvanized wire mesh for supporting tomatoes is suggested on your website. I know that working with galvanized wire entails risks — one roll of standard galvanized wire I bought recommended washing hands before eating and avoiding repeated exposure — so why would this material be safe for growing food, especially if the food comes in contact with the wire? 

People have been drinking water from galvanized steel pipes, galvanized “tinware,” etc., for years. Galvanized steel isn’t appropriate for preparing acidic foods or beverages (especially brewing), and it isn’t the best material for vessels designed to serve up your favorite drinks. 

From the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics: “Zinc poisoning is mostly accidental from the intake of pesticides, inadvertent therapeutic use of heavy doses of zinc salts (oral supplements), or drinking of acidic juices or brews made in galvanized iron utensils.” 

The only real risk with galvanized steel fencing is from breathing fumes while cutting, burning or welding, or from breathing dust from grinding, etc. The warning label on the wire is the brainchild of some litigation department. Zinc toxicity is most generally caused by inhalation, not ingestion. And in the case of the wire fencing, the only risk is in the small amount of zinc dust that might be present. I would be much more worried about taking a zinc supplement than handling wire on a weekly basis. 

So, I cannot think of any reason to worry about handling galvanized wire fencing of any kind, or from swimming in galvanized steel stock tanks, or from drinking Ogallala Aquifer water from galvanized steel pipes emanating from windmill-powered galvanized reciprocating pumps, all while leaning on a galvanized steel windmill tower. But, if that galvanized metal is burning, I will definitely avoid the yellowish-white, zinc-laden smoke. And if that galvanized steel is sitting in a pickling acid, I will definitely avoid drinking or swimming in the effluent. 

I most definitely wouldn’t worry about galvanized wire for my tomato cages. 

 Oscar H. Will III Editor, GRIT magazine 


Got questions? Get answers from experts. Our experts can give you answers and resources on all kinds of wiser living topics. E-mail your questions to AskOurExperts@MotherEarthNews.com.


Related Content

New High Power Wireless EZ-Bridge™ System

E-zy.net is pleased to announce the release of their new high power wireless EZ-Bridge™ system with ...

California Takes Aim on Lead Ammunition

California condors are on the verge of extinction, and lead ammunition has something to do with it. ...

Is It Safe to Plant a Garden in Galvanized Stock Tanks?

A reader wonders whether it is safe to use a galvanized stock tank as a garden planter.

Contaminated Compost: Coming Soon to a Store Near You

Two powerfully toxic herbicides, clopyralid and its close cousin, aminopyralid, persist in compost a...

Content Tools




Post a comment below.

 







Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.