Food grade Versus Non-food Grade Buckets

I see a lot of discussion about storing food in plastic five-gallon buckets that are not food-grade.  Many people feel that if they store them in Mylar Bags inside the buckets the food will be unaffected.  To the best of my knowledge, this is correct, but I still feel there is an advantage to using food-grade buckets.

The difference between food-grade and non-food grade is the types of dyes used for coloring and the type of chemicals used to release the buckets from the molds.  The problem I have with non-food grade is that in the future you have no idea what it will be used for.  Buckets will be required for such things as storing food, pickling, brining, or making olives.  I don’t know what affect the chemicals and dyes might have on my family or me.  I just prefer not to take the chance.

Food-grade buckets are easy to find and often can be obtained for free.  Check with your local bakeries and supermarkets, they often will save them  and give them to you for nothing.  They are often not marked as food-grade.  The store you purchase them from should tell you if there are food-grade or if they contained food products.  Most food-grade are white.  The same type of plastic is used in the manufacture of both.

This post will help explain more in-depth why you need food-grade buckets.

Here’s a link that will help with the storing part of food-grade buckets.

Updated July, 2020

11 thoughts on “Food grade Versus Non-food Grade Buckets”

  1. I think the only use for non-food grade buckets would be for something like tools or maybe for use as a temporary toilet. I think in these cases food grade types will never be needed, but be sure to label them well!

  2. Can you post a picture of one that is stamped from the factory as “Food Grade”? It’s kinda like a unicorn, it sounds real pretty but i’ve never seen one!

    1. Matt
      You are right, I have never seen one that says food grade. I have purchased ones in some stores that are sold as food grade. The ones used in the bakery and super markets that have contained food are required to be food grade.
      when in doubt I have call the manufactures and asked. They have always been helpful to me.

  3. food grade buckets, and non food grade buckets, 50 gal. drums etc..are very hard to find in the isolated county i live in..believe me, i got everyone scratching their heads over this and thinking i am out of my mind. soooo, until such a time as these things actually find their way to this part of the country i am making do. canning jars, of all sizes including those bit glass pickle jars are being used here…every shed in the county has them laying around just waiting for a use. i use those big ones for things like flour, rice, oats, sugar etc… and of course even qt and pt jars have their uses in the kitchen and for regular canning needs to stock pantry. but i also use those cookie tins and metal breadboxes-and i use and recycle old large coffee cans. the important thing about using any of these items for food storage is to pack them properly and seal them well, keeping them in the pantry where it is dark and not too cold, but not hot either. everything is a “useable size” and can be rotated easily. should you need to give to local food banks or food charity, this makes things easy too…with no need to open up a humongous bucket to divide and then repack.

  4. I found the comments helpful so I’ll add to them. I buy white 5 gal. buckets from Lowes home improvement store, a national chain. This link will show you the bucket.
    I have some with and w/o the Lowes name on them but they have a yellow circle on the side with black print that says, Food Grade Heavy Duty BPA Free. Be careful as they have cheaper ones that are not Food Grade. I also got cheaper blue 5 gal’s to put mylar bags in. The lids are sold seperate and the cheaper one has a rubber seal inside the rim. The more expensive one has the seal plus a pull out pour spout that can be pushed back into the lid. If you sealed it using dry ice method to displace the air with CO2, you can pour some grain out w/o opening the lid. What you pour out gets displaced with air but not as much as if you open the lid. Don’t break that seal until your ready to start using that bucket. I hope this link works in this reply.

  5. Sorry, I have to add that Food Grade, BPA free and NON Food Grade are BOTH Type 2 plastic and can be made by the same plastic co. often Encore or Letica so you can’t go by that. Go by, if a used one had food in it, or a new one says it is BPA free.

  6. If i use food grade buckets with gasket lids do i still need to use mylar bags? If so, where can i purchade said bags?

  7. I plan to use these BPA Free Food Grade Bucket for my tomatoes and other vegetables. Thanks for this information.

  8. Can non-food-grade buckets be used for maple sap? Just thinking that stuff that leaches out of the plastic will probably be the first to off-gas when you’re boiling it down.

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