PVC Pipe Information

What is the difference between PVC and UPVC?

It's all a matter of abbreviations;

There is often a great deal of confusion over the term "PVC" when it comes to piping, with UPVC and PVCU both coming into the mix to stir up trouble, so let's start with the basics;

PVC is a plastic made from about 57 percent chlorine and 43 percent carbon (derived chiefly from oil or gas via ethylene). As a side benefit, the chlorine gives PVC a very good fire resistance. PVC is commonly available in two forms:  plasticized and unplasticized. The plasticized pvc contains additive which adds flexibility and makes a plastic suitable for items such as tarpaulins, flexible hoses, clothing accessories such as belts etc. The type of PVC without plasticizers is called, rather unoriginally, "Unplasticized PVC" or UPVC. The omission of plasticizers results in a rigid plastic used for items such as boxes, sheets and also rigid PVC pipe. So, technically rigid PVC pipe should be called UPVC pipe, but in many cases such as on this company's website www.plasticpipeshop.co.uk it is just referred to as "PVC".

So, if a what you have is a rigid piece of PVC (like rigid PVC pipe) at room temperature then it is actually “UPVC” and not “PVC”.

Is PVC pipe safe for food?

"Safe for food" or "food safe" is an often misunderstood (and misrepresented term). The word "food" can be used to describe anything from strong acids to strong alkalis, from oils to abrasive powders and slurries, from well below freezing to boiling and can include a whole variety of chemicals. As a result there is no "food safe" accreditation as such. There are some more specific accreditations such as WRAS (Water Regulations Advisory Scheme) a UK scheme which tests products for their suitability for use with drinking water, and other countries have similar schemes. However, just because a plastic is tested as non-toxic and safe for use with drinking water, does not mean that it is "safe" for all foodstuffs as they may have a reaction with the plastic and gives a different result than water.

That having been said, unless the foodstuff is especially concentrated or aggressive, PVC pie is unlikely to create any toxins or have any deleterious effects.