Category Archives: Reduce

The Wonder and Many Uses of the 5 Gallon Bucket

I have many loves when it comes to natural living and the 3 R’s. One of my most thrifty loves is the Chick-Fil-A pickle bucket. If you didn’t know we used them post pickle you would probably think we have a serious pickle obsession, because our house is FULL of green buckets!

My love for the 5 gallon buckets prompted me to write. I love sharing information that has helped my family in hopes that it can help yours! In this post, I will explain some great around the house uses for the bucket and how to tell if it’s regular or food grade!

What is so great about the bucket??

I’m so glad you asked, imaginary audience member. There are a ton of reasons to have one in every color! Here are a few of the ways we use them:

1. Cloth diaper pail: When we were getting ready for babies and looked into a diaper pail for their diapers, we felt like we DSCN1119got punched in the gut by the price of those things! 40 dollars is way too much to be spending on something so basic. The thing that was supposed to be so special was the fact that the lid kept odors out, yet all the reviews talked about how the lid DIDN’T keep the odors out. So began our love affair. My husband brought home our first bucket with a lid and to our surprise, it worked amazing! The lid is wonderful for keeping the smell at bay! We keep it in a very small bathroom and nobody even notices until they get curious about the random pickle bucket and open the lid!

2. Laundry detergent pail: We make our own detergent in extremely large amounts. Like “only make it twice a year” amounts. This is a perfect container to fit it all in and it has a handle which makes it easier to move around.

Boo Boo Chicken has the darker colored comb.

3. Chicken feed pail: First of all, meet our sweet pet chickens Boo Boo Chicken and Mickey.

We buy our chicken feed in bulk and ferment it. For that reason we have to take the feed out of the bag it came in. This pail is perfect because I can put the lid on and leave it beside the chicken fence. Very convenient.

4. Rain water collector: We don’t have one of those really nice $100 rain barrels. We have the very handy bucket with a screen on top to keep out leaves, nuts, etc. It can collect 5 gallons at a time and we’re able to use it to wash the car, give the animals water, and (when I’m feeling adventurous) wash my hair.

5. Compost bin: This is something fairly new to use, since we have just started small gardening. This is nice and big to hold great compost materials. And if you get good worms you won’t have to worry about not being able to spin it (so I’ve read).

6. Actual food storage (shocker): We actually don’t participate in #6. We just aren’t to that point where we want to buy 5 gallons worth of oats. Maybe one day. But if that’s you, that’s great! These cheap and sometimes free (depending on the store or restaurant) buckets are perfect for someone trying to stock up for emergency preparedness if it is indeed food grade. Which helps me segway into…

How can you tell if it is food grade??

It’s important when using a 5 gallon bucket for actual food storage to make sure it is food grade. Not all plastics are safe for food. Some can even be toxic. You need to learn how to tell the difference before you start using them.

1. The easiest way to know if it is food grade is to look at the bottom of the bucket.DSCN1126 If the recycle symbol has a 1, 2, 4, or 5 it is safe for food. Your even safer bet is to make sure it has a 2. This type of plastic if made specifically for storing foods called high density polyethylene.

2. Another way to make sure your bucket is food grade is to make sure you get a bucket previously used in a food store. Some bakeries that get large amounts of icing or flour will be willing to donate or sell to anyone asking. Plenty of restaurants usually end up throwing theirs away and wouldn’t mind donating or selling. Firehouse subs has been known to sell their 5 gallon buckets for $2 and donate the money to their public safety foundation.

There are other uses for the bucket I’m sure. The secure lid would make it good for smelly laundry. Great toy storage. It could be used as a trash can. The possibilities are limitless!!

Got any other ideas for uses? Tell me in the comments below!!