I have recently received several email inquires about how to get hold of inexpensive or free five-gallon buckets. Now I have a lot of five gallon buckets, some I have paid for, but many that I have gotten for free.
Let’s talk about good sources for purchasing five-gallon buckets first. Both Home Depot and Lowes have good quality buckets on sale for a reasonable price. But they are not all food grade. Unless they are specifically labeled as food grade, assume that they are not. If they are food grade they will normally have a sticker that says food grade. Home Depots orange buckets are not food grade. I even talked to the manufacture to be sure.
In our area, a good place to purchase food grade buckets is the local Winco. They often stock Mylar bags, oxygen absorbers and Gamma lids as well.
But let’s talk about free five-gallon buckets.
Both the nearest Sam’s Clubs and Costco have been good sources for buckets. Go back to their cake baking areas. Ask and they will often give you a bucket or two. When I was in need of free five-buckets, I used to ask whenever I went to the supermarket. The bakery and deli departments are the best places to get them. Not every store would give them to us, some recycle their buckets, but it was surprising how many would give them to you. Sometimes the buckets would be in various sizes running from about one gallon up to six gallons.
Here is a list of locations in which we found free five-gallon buckets.
- Construction sites
- Coffee Shops
- Farm Stores
- School Cafeterias
- Car Washes
We had our best luck at deli’s and bakeries. Once people found out we wanted them they often saved them for us. If you have friends that work in any of the above listed businesses, they are often good sources. You can think of an excuse for needing them to protect your operational security.
The one thing we always do with our buckets is mark them to show whether or not they are food grade. Most of the time it is pretty easy to tell when you first get the free five-gallon buckets, the ones from the stores that held food normally need to be cleaned out.
If you are in doubt, mark them as non food grade. Here is a link to another post that tells you why you need food grade buckets. Food Grade Buckets and Why You Need Them
Have fun collecting your free five-gallon buckets.