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What makes a bucket food-grade?

One of the staple tools of the prepping community is food-grade buckets. Use them to store rice, wheat, and other staple foods or to pickle and ferment. One of the first questions I had when storing rice was what kind of bucket to use for storage. The answer is to use food-grade buckets only.

Buckets made from food-grade plastic are safe for food contact because poisonous chemicals, solvents, and dyes are not present. Also, food-grade pails don’t contain recycled plastics that contain toxic chemical residues like pesticides.

There are two toxic chemicals in non-food grade pails that are not safe for direct contact with food. The first chemical is a mold-release compound to get the bucket out of the mold, and the second is non-food-grade dyes. Also, some buckets contain recycled plastics with toxic chemicals such as pesticides.

Even if you are using Mylar bags with your buckets and I suggest that you do. There are other reasons to use food-grade plastic for your prepping.

Food Grade Bucket

How Can You Tell if a Bucket is Food Grade?

A food-grade bucket will indicate “food-grade” right on the bucket. If it isn’t marked food-grade, then proceed as if it is not. In the past, it was said that all HDPE containers are food-grade. They are not because many are manufactured in plants that use heavy chemicals or recycled plastics.

A good example of a non-food grade bucket is the orange Home Depot bucket (Homer bucket) made from HDPE plastic.

If you find white pails from bakeries or other businesses that use them to store food, you can be fairly certain they are food-grade.

Fact: Most food-grade buckets are made from white HDPE Plastic which is marked on the bottom with a #2 recycling symbol. A bucket with the #2 symbol (HDPE plastic) does mean it is food-grade.

Fact: New Food Grade Buckets sold retail are marked as food-grade.

Avoid Non-food Grade Plastic When Prepping

You can use non-food grade pales if you use Mylar, but they aren’t the best option. They have limited usefulness in food prepping. Remember that you want all of your prepping supplies to provide as many uses as possible in an SHTF scenario.

Non-food grade buckets reduce flexibility and food storage options. When the bucket is empty, you may want to carry water from a stream, ferment garden vegetables, or make mead, wine, or cider. If the bucket isn’t food grade, you lose the option. Without Mylar, there aren’t any food-related uses.

Use Buckets and Mylar Bags To Store Food

Used together, Mylar bags and sealed plastic buckets are one of the best storage options for dry goods like wheat, dried beans, and white rice because they provide the best shelf-life and protection for dry goods.

Mylar bags and sealed buckets provide a reliable storage solution for dry goods, providing 30 years of shelf-life. Mylar bags are an excellent Oxygen barrier, but pests and rough handling easily damage them. Buckets are not good at keeping out oxygen, but they are tough and protect the Mylar bags.

Fact: Some preppers swear by storing dry goods in just food-grade buckets without Mylar. There are also examples of buckets not keeping a seal and heading south.

For a little added expense, you can use buckets and Mylar together for peace of mind. You don’t want to find out 15 years from now that half your buckets didn’t keep a seal, especially if you are in the middle of an SHTF situation.

Mylar bag to use in a food-grade bucket 

When I first started prepping, I figured the best size of Mylar bag to use for a given container was one that matched the size of that container. That isn’t always the best option.

Use a 5-gallon Mylar bag to store dry goods in a 5-gallon bucket if you use the food within one year. If you aren’t using much of the food product, consider using multiple small Mylar bags to limit the amount of food exposed to oxygen when opened. Once opened, food goes bad at a quicker rate.

Storing Food-Grade Buckets

Store Food-grade buckets the same way you store the rest of your emergency food. The storage location should be

  • Cool
  • Dry
  • Clean
  • Up off the floor and away from the wall for ventilation
  • Not stacked to keep the lids from buckling.
  • Free from pests
  • Do not place buckets directly on concrete, or there may be chemical leaching and moisture issues.
  • For Long-term storage, use the correct number of Oxygen absorbers and combine properly sealed Mylar bags and buckets for the highest level of protection

Where Can I Find Food Grade Buckets?

There are so many places that can provide you with free buckets. I had a neighbor who owned a bakery. He had so many buckets left-over from premade frosting, flour, and other baking ingredients he didn’t know what to do with them.

7 Places You Can Get Free Buckets

  • Grocery Store Bakeries and Delis
  • Walmart Bakery
  • Restaurants
  • Mom-and-pop bakeries and delis
  • Ice Cream Shops
  • Cake and Confectionery Shops
  • Coffee Shops
  • Donut Shops
  • Fast Food Restaurants
  • Chick-Fil-A
  • McDonald’s
  • Burger King

8 Places You Can Buy 5-gallon Buckets

You may want to purchase your food buckets if you don’t have the time to travel around looking for free ones. The eight stores below sell buckets locally and on-line.

  1. Uline
  2. Walmart
  3. Home Depot
  4. Lowes
  5. Tractor Supply
  6. Home Brew Stores
  7. Amazon
  8. Yankee Containers

If you don’t mind asking around, you are pretty much guaranteed to find food-grade buckets for free. Good luck, and see you next time.

Thanks for stopping by Ready Squirrel! If you have any questions please let us know in the comments.

Keep on prepping.

Kind Regards, Scott

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