Can You Store Food In Non Food Grade Buckets?

Can You Store Food In Non Food Grade Buckets

As a homeowner or a prepper, you may have heard that using non-food grade buckets for food storage is a way to save money. After all, why spend money on food-grade containers when you can just use what you have lying around? However, the question remains: can you store food in non-food grade buckets without compromising its safety and quality?

The answer is not as straightforward as you may think. While it may be tempting to use any container available for food storage, non-food grade buckets are not designed to be in contact with consumable items. In this article, we’ll delve into what makes a bucket food grade, the risks associated with using non-food grade containers for food storage, and some alternatives to consider. So, let’s get started!

What are food grade buckets?

Food grade buckets are containers specifically designed and manufactured to meet the safety and quality standards necessary for storing food. These buckets are made from materials that are deemed safe for food contact, typically high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic, which is free from harmful chemicals that could leach into the stored food.

The key difference between food grade and non-food grade buckets lies in the materials used in their construction. Food grade buckets adhere to strict regulations to ensure they don’t introduce any toxins or contaminants to the stored contents. Non-food grade buckets, on the other hand, may be made from materials that could potentially transfer harmful substances to the food.

Using food grade buckets for storing food is crucial for maintaining the safety and quality of the stored items. Non-food grade buckets may contain additives or chemicals that can leach into the food, posing health risks. Food grade buckets are also designed to resist absorbing odors or flavors, preventing cross-contamination between different stored items.

Examples of food grade buckets include those specifically labeled as such by manufacturers. You can find them in various sizes, often with airtight lids to help preserve the freshness of the contents. Many home improvement stores, kitchen supply shops, or online retailers specializing in food storage containers offer food grade buckets for purchase.

When looking to buy food grade buckets, it’s essential to check product labels or descriptions to ensure they meet relevant food safety standards. This diligence helps guarantee that your food storage containers are suitable for keeping your edibles safe and untainted.

Risks of using non-food grade buckets for food storage

Can You Store Food In Non Food Grade Buckets?

Using non-food grade buckets for storing food poses several potential risks to your health and the quality of the stored items. These risks primarily stem from the materials and chemicals present in non-food grade containers.

  1. Chemical Leaching: Non-food grade buckets may contain chemicals that can leach into the stored food over time. This leaching can be accelerated when the containers are exposed to heat or acidic foods. Harmful substances from the bucket’s material can migrate into the food, leading to contamination.
  2. Toxic Additives: Some non-food grade plastics may include additives such as plasticizers, colorants, or stabilizers that are not safe for human consumption. These additives can break down or leach into the food, introducing potentially harmful substances.
  3. Odor and Flavor Absorption: Non-food grade buckets are more likely to absorb and retain odors and flavors from previously stored items. This can result in cross-contamination, affecting the taste and quality of the stored food.
  4. Microbial Growth: The porous nature of some non-food grade materials can harbor bacteria and other microorganisms. These can proliferate and contaminate the stored food, leading to foodborne illnesses.

Examples of harmful chemicals that can be found in non-food grade buckets include:

  • Bisphenol A (BPA): A chemical used in the production of certain plastics, including some non-food grade varieties. BPA has been linked to hormonal disruptions and other health issues.
  • Phthalates: Plasticizers added to plastics for flexibility. They are known to be endocrine disruptors and have been associated with adverse health effects.
  • Lead: Some non-food grade containers may contain lead, which can leach into food and cause lead poisoning, leading to severe health problems.

To avoid these risks, it is essential to use containers specifically designated as food grade for storing food. These containers are manufactured with materials that comply with stringent safety standards, minimizing the chances of chemical leaching and ensuring the safety and quality of the stored food.

Alternatives to non-food grade buckets

If you’re unable to obtain food grade buckets, there are alternative storage options available. Here are a couple of alternatives along with their pros and cons:

  1. Glass Jars:
    • Pros: Glass is non-reactive and does not leach harmful chemicals into food. It is also resistant to odors and stains.
    • Cons: Glass is more fragile and heavier than plastic, making it more prone to breakage. It may also be more expensive.
  2. Mylar Bags:
    • Pros: Mylar bags are lightweight, and flexible, and provide an excellent barrier against light, oxygen, and moisture. They are often used for long-term food storage.
    • Cons: Mylar bags alone may not provide sufficient physical protection against punctures or tears. They are best used in combination with rigid containers.

Tips for Properly Storing Food in Alternative Containers:

  1. Clean and Dry: Ensure that your chosen containers are thoroughly cleaned and dried before storing food. This helps prevent the growth of bacteria and mold.
  2. Avoid Reactive Materials: Choose containers made of non-reactive materials to prevent the transfer of unwanted odors, flavors, or chemicals to your food.
  3. Airtight Seals: Ensure that the storage containers have airtight seals to prevent the entry of air, which can lead to food spoilage.
  4. Avoid Light Exposure: Store containers in a cool, dark place to minimize light exposure, which can degrade the quality of certain foods.
  5. Rotate Stock: If you’re storing items for an extended period, practice a first-in, first-out (FIFO) approach to use older items before newer ones.
  6. Consider Double Packaging: If using mylar bags, consider placing them inside a sturdy, non-reactive container to provide additional protection against physical damage.

While food grade buckets are designed specifically for food storage, these alternatives can be viable options if used with care and consideration. Always be mindful of the specific needs of the food you are storing and the potential risks associated with the chosen container.


  1. Is it safe to store food in non-food grade buckets?
    • While it’s not recommended, some people do use non-food grade buckets for food storage. However, it comes with risks as these buckets may contain harmful chemicals that can leach into the food.
  2. What are the potential dangers of using non-food grade buckets for food storage?
    • Non-food grade buckets may contain substances like BPA or other harmful chemicals, which can contaminate the stored food and pose health risks upon consumption.
  3. Can I make non-food grade buckets safe for food storage?
    • It’s challenging to make non-food grade buckets completely safe. Even with thorough cleaning, there’s a risk of residual chemicals. It’s generally better to invest in food-grade containers for storing edibles.
  4. How can I identify food-grade buckets?
    • Food-grade buckets are typically labeled with a “food grade” or similar designation. Look for symbols like “HDPE” (high-density polyethylene) with a number 2 inside the recycling symbol, indicating they are safe for food storage.
  5. What are the alternatives if I don’t have food-grade buckets?
    • If food-grade buckets are not available, consider using glass jars, mylar bags, or other containers specifically designed for food storage. These alternatives reduce the risk of chemical contamination compared to non-food grade buckets.

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