Plastic buckets and other food containers need to be food grade containers. I often see people storing food in all type of containers. Recently I saw someone store food in new 1-gallon paint cans. This made absolutely no sense to me, first they probably are not food grade, second they cost about $3 a can. Third you don’t know what chemicals the cans were treated with, maybe a rust preventative, or who knows what else.
Military ammo cans are something else, I have seen people store food in. If you decide to do it realize that they are not food grade containers and may have had hazardous materials stored in them. Any food that you put in them needs to be correctly packaged. Plastic bags will not work. Plastic of all types breathes. Plastic is porous. Do not store food in plastic bags or buckets near gasoline, kerosene or other chemicals – they will pick up the taste and odor.
Plastic buckets, are another area in which I see a lot of confusion. The first issue is what makes a bucket food grade. There seems to be a story going around that if a bucket has a recycling number of 2 in the small triangle on the bottom that this means the bucket is food grade. This is incorrect; it just refers to how the bucket needs to be recycled. Most food grade buckets will have a recycling number of 2, but so will many others that are not food grade.
What are the hazards of using a plastic non-food grade container?
Non-food grade plastics can be made from recycled plastic that could have contained anything including insecticide, chemical, poisons etc. Food grade is made from virgin plastic. The dyes and the mold release compounds used in the manufacture of food grade plastic buckets can be different from that used in non-food grade buckets. Most food grade buckets are white for this reason. These chemicals can leach into your food.
How do you know if a bucket is a food grade container? If you get it from your local baker or supermarket and it has only contained food and nothing else, you are reasonably safe. Some new buckets will be marked as food grade. When in doubt you can verify by contacting the factory, which is always the best way.
People say to me if you’re using Mylar bags it’s a non issue since they keep the food from coming into contact with the container. This will work since Mylar does not breathe. But I still prefer a food grade container, you never know what you may use the bucket for in the future, anything from carrying water to brining food.
Me, I like food grade #10 metal cans with oxygen absorbers or five gallon food grade buckets with Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers. Here is a link to a post on Sealing Food in 5 Gallon Buckets and another on seal food in number #10 cans, How to Seal a #10 Can.