If you live in a dry climate, food-grade buckets can be an option for longer-term storage. They are NOT, however, recommended for use in humid climates because the moisture can permeate the plastic. Storing long-term in buckets is only effective when you use dry foods with less than 10% moisture content. Because the buckets are not air-tight, oxygen absorbers are ineffective. Instead, it is recommended that you do a dry ice treatment to eliminate any insects.

Buckets are available in many different sizes and are typically white. Some buckets are transparent white -- it is actually better that they be opaque in order to reduce light. It is important that the lid have a gasket. The lids that seem to be readily available with these buckets often do NOT have a gasket. You might have to pay a little more (maybe $2 to $3 per lid) for a gasket.

Don't store these buckets directly on cement because they leach chemicals and moisture from the cement. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recommends that you store these buckets at least 1/2 inch off of the floor to allow air flow under the buckets. You can do this by storing the buckets on wire shelves or by placing strips of wood underneath. They also recommend that you only stack buckets three high, rotating regularly to prevent cracking.

1. Use 1 oz. of dry ice per gallon of storage.
2. Wear gloves.
3. Wipe ice crystals off of ice with a dry towel.
4. Place dry ice in the bottom of the bucket.
5. Pour grain or beans on top of the dry ice.
6. Partially seal the lid.
7. When the dry ice is gone (feel the bottom), completely seal the bucket.
8. Watch for several minutes after sealing the lid for bulging of the bucket or lid. If you see bulging, lift the lid to let off the pressure.
9. It is normal for the dry ice to create a vacuum and pull the lid down a little bit.
I also recommend that you store a bucket opener ($4 - shown above) with your longer-term storage because these buckets can be difficult to open.

I estimate that 50% of my food storage is in 5 and 6-gallon buckets. I live in a VERY dry climate and moisture is not an issue in our storage room at all. I've purchased some of my storage already cleaned and in buckets (eliminating the need to do a dry-ice treatment). I've also purchased some -- my oats and beans -- in buckets that are lined with foil pouches for double protection.

I also use these buckets to store other items such as packages of pasta, brown sugar and powdered sugar for my three-month supply. Because these foods are intended for short-term storage and I open the buckets often, I don't do dry-ice treatments in those buckets.


JennVan said...

So what are we supposed to use when we live in a very humid area if the plastic buckets are not recommended?

Wendy said...

JennVan - I don't think the buckets are a problem for short-term storage. But in order for your food to last up to 30 years in long-term storage, you should line the buckets with a Mylar bag or foil pouch (some places sell these as "super pails"). You can also use #10 cans, foil pouches or PETE bottles alone for 30 year long-term storage.

Wendy said...

I should have clarified. My comments above specifically deal with very humid climates or moist storage areas.

JennVan said...

Thanks for your thoughts. We are having a hard time with the #10 cans because of the very humid air we live in, it causes them to rust within a few years. I have cans from the cannery that I've only had 4 years already starting to get rust on them. Any suggestions other than aluminum cans?
I'll try doing the mylar bag lined buckets.

Wendy said...

JennVan - What about PETE bottles? The only disadvantage of using the PETE bottles is that they let the light in. But all you would have to do is set those bottles into a box -- or just make sure the room is completely dark. Other than that, they're cheap (just empty your juice or food from the store) and readily available. You would need to get some oxygen absorbers to drop into the bottles.

I did an in-depth post on PETE bottles several days ago. You can find more information there.

I took your question and wrote a post for next week, exploring this question a little more.