Advice? A different slant on storage than the typical 5gal bucket. : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Looking for advice.

Though I asked, none of the posters talking about the 55gal blue plastic barrels found at Kroegers and other places could provide a brand name, number, etc. I went to a semi-local Kroegers and the manager had no clue what I was talking about. Sigh.

To store the food I have purchased and am purchasing, I would need approximately 400 5-gallon pails. Maybe more. That doesn't count storage for supplies, for food we grow between now and then, etc. That doesn't count any space lost for bagging etc.

When I asked people about storage the most common answer I got was, "if you have good mylar bags, the food-grade or absolutely-air-tight issues of the buckets are not such a big deal." Of course this comes with major caveats about HOW non-airtight it is (not absolutely but mostly, vs. not at all) and how much humidity there is (how well do oxy absorbers or dessicants work in the bucket) etc. etc.

I would like some ideas for how to take a potentially non-airtight container -- for an example, imagine one of the plastic/rubber 33gal trash barrels you can get at walmart, with the lid, which closes tightly but is probably not totally airtight -- and make it more airtight in some way. A sheet of rubber material across the top prior to putting the lid on over that?.

I should point out that I am preparing food for what will probably only be a few months (like 6), depending on the neighbor-feeding situation, but want to store it for up to a year -- I'm not planning to store it longer than that, it will be eaten by then or given away depending on the situation. So I am not trying to store anything for 10 years as most people talk about, good grief. Great idea, but I have a hard enough time planning even for this much, mostly $-wise.

I have been pricing buckets. Other than a local guy selling square, nicely stackable and better arrangeable 4.5'gal buckets (you have to clean 'em) for about $2-$2.50, most of them frankly are pricey. Found non-food-grade 5 gal buckets for about $2.65 at both hardware and Wal-mart.

Still. We are talking about some real bucks here when you get into large quantities, and for food grade buckets, even more, averages out to about $1/gal which considering my storage plans of about 2000+gals is a lot of money.

I'm in WalMart last night buying a toy for a neighbor kid's birthday. And I'm looking at planting pots and plastic containers. And I'm pricing them. The best buy I found was a 28-gallon rectangular bucket with lid -- same kind of thick plastic-rubber as say, an outdoor trashcan -- for $4.97. This thing will live millennia longer than I will. Now that is a pretty good price, comparatively. And they'd stack beautifully.

Somebody told me that with the mylar bags (which you can buy really big), since heat creates 'seams' in them, you can actually make whatever seams you want and if necessary cut on the seam for a separate bag.

So I'm thinking, imagine a rectangle bag of mylar (left open at one edge for now). Imagine I put a seam in the bag about every 3" or 6" so it's kind of like a bunch of bags all connected together. I fill each new bag-part with stuff, toss a dessicant in each bag-part, seal it up. These are kind of flat, long pieces but you can just open portions at a time rather than opening a big bag all at once. I stack these flat bag-things to the top of the bucket, toss in a few (calculated by space) dessicants and oxy absorbers (?), put the lid on and snap it, and stack them up.

It is ridiculous for me to spend an extra $1200 on buckets that'll be a bitch to store if I could spend that money on some high-volume staples like beans and rice instead, especially since I'll likely be food-supporting quite a few neighbors.

I would appreciate anybody being a sanity check on this and telling me if my logic is faulty here, since screwing this up could be potentially very hazardous to my family's health. Thanks.

PJ in TX

-- PJ Gaenir (, April 12, 1999



Nothing wrong with your thinking. Except I'd add one further step. Since the "pleated: mylar bags will be a mess to open, you might wnat to try individual bags (5 gallon, or even 2 gallon), each filled with food, each with 02 absorbers, and then all packed into a large trash can. The trash can doesn't even have to be air tight (don't worry, it won't be air tight!!!)

Mark each bag with the contents, using a permanant marker. Then, only open the one you want, the rest stay fresh.

The only drawback -- the large trash cans aren't as rodent resistant as the buckets.

5 gallon buckets got their start long before mylar bags came on the scene. Turns out the mylar bags are more airtight than the buckets (which will permit some air to infiltrate throught the plastic), but they don't provide the hard shell protection. I think that future storage plans will use a lot of mylar bags and very few buckets.

-- de (, April 12, 1999.

PJ 400 buckets seems like a high number. You can fit about 35-45 lbs. in a 5-gal. bucket. I have prepared for my family of six and have 150 5-gal. buckets, of which about 95% of them were free from my local bakeries! I did have to buy some lids, but that was still the cheapest way for me.

I see several problems with storing food in the rubber trash cans. First off, you are going to try and make it air tight by adding something around the top. If you succeed at that and then throw in some ox. abs. I think your trash can will collapse itself because it will not be strong enough to take the suction of the ox. abs. I have several heavy food grade buckets that have collapsed somewhat because of this! The other problem is that I did use the mylar bags, ox. abs, and dessicants. I did cut some bags smaller like you mentioned, but as far as I know, each individual mylar bag must have the ox. abs. and desiccant in it to protect the contents. They won't work just sitting on the outside of the mylar bags. Once you open the container, the ox. abs. won't reactivate, so now you have a 33 gal. can of food to use up! Maybe someone else knows something more on this subject.

I know that I have stored stuff unprotected right in my cupboards for long stretches of time and never had a single bug problem. Maybe all these y2k preps have gone overboard, but we just didn't think we could afford a mistake next year! I know I would not have spent all my money on new buckets. Check everywhere for buckets. Also, bay leaves are supposed to be good for keeping bugs away. Won't kill them, but keeps them at bay (pun intended :o) )

Also, it is not easy to iron those seams into mylar bags like you mentioned trying to make more cubicles out of them. The best I could do was cut them in quarters and iron three and four seams on them, but there again, I had to use more ox. ab. and des. to do this. I only did it for things I felt we would only use small amounts of at one time, like powdered eggs.

Not sure if I was any help, but good luck to you. Mary

-- Mary Howe (, April 12, 1999.


I really can't see a problem with what you're describing. As long as you can keep the plastic containers closed and the vermin out it should work.

Maybe also think smaller. That is a tube only 4-6" in dia. Loosly fill about ten feet or so with the same product, then shift it around so you can seal every so many inches. Remember those RedHots we used to eat that were purchased in a long cellophane wrapper but each candy was individually sealed? Same idea. Then just cut apart as needed. I think US_Plastic sells this kind of continous 'form'.

Good thinking.


-- x (, April 12, 1999.

X, the 'continuous separate-but-attached' bags were what I had in mind for storing in the tubs, so that I could cut one small bag off and close the bucket and not need to go back until I needed another bag, rather than having a few big bags.

The rubber for sealing was only if I really HAD to have it airtight. If Mylar bags really are airtight enough, then I am not going to worry about it (and thanks for the advice above, I'd heard about buckets collapsing when oxyabsorbers were used). I will use either DEarth or a bay leaf or both within the bags themselves, and a dessicant in the bucket, only to minimize humidity in the environment the bags are stored in (it's humid here in summer).

I'm sorry I misled everybody by using the comparison to trashcans. :-) I was not talking about using trashcans (though it's not a bad idea). I just wanted to explain that the bins I saw are that kind of thick-rubbery stuff. The bins I mentioned, the 28gal ones, look just like those rectangular tubs you might buy to put in your sink for dishes -- except, of course, much larger, thicker, and with a lid.

However, x's post was a good idea. You know you can buy pretty wide PVC tubing. If people wanted to hide food, they could use his create-really-long thin-mylar-bags idea, put the stuff in PVC, and put the PVC tubing anywhere... in the attic for example, in the garage, etc. In fact, anchored properly against the ceiling in the garage or workshop it would probably not be suspected by the average inquisitor to your food supply.

PJ in TX

-- PJ Gaenir (, April 12, 1999.


I'm with you. I don't get this incessant need of some to throw away gobs of money on fancy storage systems. My mom used new galvanized trash cans for storage for years. She would put grain products, flour, salt, beans etc. in sealed, dated, plastic bags with a couple bay leaves (inhibit insect eggs in the stuff from hatching) and put on the tight fitting covers. Worked fine for her, and will work fine for me. This was her working pantry. Oldest stuff came out for use, new stuff went in. She had a mini grocery store down there too. Shelves with on sale canned good. Rotate and replace. If you're worried about declining nutritional value of stored foods, get some vitamins and plan to supplement with fresh grown veggies from a sping Y2K garden.

No need to let common sense be the first Y2K failure.

Good Luck jh

-- (, April 12, 1999.

Hi PJ,

Keep it simple! Unless the food is really vulnerable to moisture/air (like powdered milk, eggs, etc) I see no need to spend lots on individual dessicants or absolute air tightness...just my opinion. This is also based on your statement that you don't plan on storing form more than one year.

I would suspect that duct tape around the seal of lid to can would dramatically reduce the moisture/o2 problem - it seems to me the biggest focus should be on protection from rodents and heat. Good luck!


-- Kristi (securx@Succeed.Net), April 12, 1999.

See, this is what I thought all along, but being a typical California girl, anything farmish beyond orange trees is a new concept to me, and I've had to learn even stupid things everybody should know from the age of 8. Thanks for the advice. I agree -- it seems to me the rodents, bugs and heat (and some degree of moisture) are the biggest worries, and air isn't THAT big a deal unless you gotta store it for eons. So, the $4.96 for 28-gallon w/lid bucket at WalMart, and the mylar bags sealed to size, it is.

Mary, I think you're right, now that I've recalculated. Whew. I was really panicking. Never do simple math when you're sleep deprived. I've been working graveyard shift and it sure is making me both an airhead and a grouch!

PJ in TX

-- PJ Gaenir (, April 12, 1999.

PJ, I agree with jthebert(sp?)...was going crazy on which buckets,which chemicals,which lids,etc.,and was griping over the phone to my mother in New Jersey over the mom grew up in inner city Detroit during the depression,one of 8 girls in a cold water flat with no central heat,and rats...they carried groceries home in a wagon,all the staples,sugar,flour,beans,all that came in paper wrappers,no plastic back then...certainly no dessicants...they too stored everything in metal garbage type cans with lids,and also those big old fashioned tins with lids...well,they're old fashioned now,I suppose it was yesterdays equivalent of Tupperware back then...apparently my Grandmother just made little date notations on the bags with a pencil,and used the older stuff up first. Since my mom and her 7 sisters never got food poisoning,and are all still alive and well,I have to assume storing food that way is reasonably safe...mothers are great for reality checks,I find...Cynthia

-- Cynthia Yanicko (, April 12, 1999.

The 5 gallon buckets sold in the paint department at Walmart are food grade. The company listed on the bottom of the bucket is Contico. They have been contacted and have told us that they are indeed food grade even though they are sold in the paint department. About $2.67 is what we paid. Depending on how long you are storing your food, most of it will be OK if stored in cool, dark, dry place. I have heard of some using the garbage cans, but I have also heard that they are treated with a pesticide as are garbage bags, so not good for food. Rubbermaid containers have been discussed sealed with duck tape. This is OK for the short term. Hope this is helpful, Diane

-- Diane (, April 12, 1999.

Just wanted to let you know if your talking about storing beans, do not take out all the oxygen, or they take about five hrs to cook, and are still tough. We tested some that were kryovacked(sp) for many ys. Wasn't sure what had gone wrong, since the beans looked good still. Got a call this morn from a Portugeese auntie that ran across an article saying not to take all the oxygen out of beans. Also they(and seeds) will not sprout.Good luck in your preps!God bless

-- Justin Case (justin, April 12, 1999.

Am just getting ready to try my hand at putting the stuff I've been collecting into 6 gal. buckets. Have mylar bags. Have oxygen absorbers. Any advice from those who have already done it?

-- Libby Alexander (, June 10, 1999.

I started storing food almost two years ago when I learned about Y2K. Some of my food is stored in large metal trash cans in a very dry environment. (dehumidifier runs constantly). I have no oxygen absorbers, no mylar bags, and just put the flour, sugar, pasta, powdered milk, beans, etc in the cans and put the lids on.

I've checked the food regularly with no problmes. Also have food stored in large plastic containers from Wal-mart.

No problems. It's not as difficult as some people make it out to be.

-- GeeGee (, June 10, 1999.

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