Continuing our series, we may have a slight recap of O2 absorbers and mylar bags. Be warned.

The #1 rule for buckets is to only use food-grade plastic. “Isn’t that the ‘2’ inside the recycle-triangle?” Kind-of… While that happens to be on every HDPE plastic bucket, it isn’t safe to assume it is food grade. For example, the colored buckets from the big hardware stores (leading photo) have a dye in them that makes them unsafe for use for food storage. Also, if the bucket mentions being made of recycled plastic, then it is unsafe. If you don’t see a dye, or a mention of recycling, the only other issue you will realistically encounter is if it has ever held a toxic substance in it. You can’t get those clean enough, because the bucket’s pores absorb the substance.

Washing out 3-gallon buckets from the bakery

Now, if you’ve perused the various prepper-supply websites lately, then you’ve noticed these things have skyrocketed in price. Fear not—there are plenty of locations to find them for free. The most common is darn-near every bakery in the country. Just walk-in and ask. They’ll usually provide lids, too. Sometimes they are only 3-gallons in size, though, which affects your ability to use a gamma lid. Here are some stores that are known to give them away:

  • Chick-fil-A
  • Dunkin Donuts
  • Wendy’s
  • Safeway
  • Sam’s Club
  • Again, most bakeries

We mentioned in the prior articles that plastic buckets can slowly let air leech through. Very slowly. When using with O2 absorbers, but without mylar bags, you will initially have a vacuum issue that can weaken the bucket. This should not affect one bucket, but if you stack 3 or more, there can be a collective issue. All that aside, the bucket/O2 absorber combo should keep the food air-free for close to 5 years. If you’re a food-rotater, this is a good way to go. If you want that food to sit untouched longer than that—potentially up to 25 years—then use the mylar bag, too. Don’t forget—you can also use dry-ice (1 ounce per gallon of bucket) to displace the oxygen a couple of minutes before you seal the lid.

All of this assumes dry, non-oily, non-sugary food.

Gamma lid (come in 7 colors, for organizing) and NO mylar bag

Remember, buckets don’t have to be used just for food. Many people make kits with them. Live somewhere where the power goes out a few times per winter? Have the “power-outage” bucket ready, loaded with batteries, flashlights, radios, LED lanterns, matches, candles, blanket, deck of cards, maybe a little food and small camp-stove. You get the idea.

A good way to lid buckets you’re going to get into on a regular basis is to use “gamma lids.” Once the entire unit has been pounded onto the bucket, the center-piece can be unscrewed at will for easy access. It also has an O-ring for water and air control. Use a rubber mallet to pound so as to not damage it.

The pre-packaged buckets from the prepper stores sometimes come in 6-gallon “super-pails.”

All of this becomes cost effective if you have a restaurant-supplier nearby where you can buy large bags of oats, grains and pastas for cheap. Lastly, don’t forget to buy a couple of the simple “pry-tools” for getting factory sealed lids off easily.