One of the most utilized ways to preserve food is to seal it in bags and store them in food grade buckets. With this method you can store a lot of food in a small space, your food will have a very long shelf life, and you can reuse the buckets as many times as you want. But there’s another bonus to using buckets that many people forget: In a long-term disaster you can use them for all sorts of other things. Although most of the uses for buckets listed below will work with any type of bucket, you still need to know how to tell the difference between food-grade and non-food-grade so you don’t mix them up. First, look at the recycling symbol on the bottom. There should be a number between 1 and 7 inside a triangle made of arrows. The numbers that indicate food-grade are 1, 2, 4, and 5, but the best is 2 because it means the bucket is made of high-density polyethylene, one of the most stable forms of plastic. If there isn’t a number on the bottom of the bucket, check for other symbols such as a cup and fork (food-safe), radiating waves (microwave-safe), or a snowflake (freezer-safe). All these indicate the bucket was designed to contain food. If none of those symbols are there, look for a price tag or manufacturer’s label for information.
1. Build A Rocket Stove
Large metal buckets are great for making rocket stoves. In case you don’t know, rocket stoves are cheap to make and incredibly efficient. They heat up food and water very quickly and run on small branches and twigs. The principle behind a rocket stove is simple–rather than cooking on an open fire, you burn wood in an insulated chimney. Rocket stoves are highly efficient and easy to make. They run on twigs, so you can avoid cutting down a whole tree just to cook dinner.
2. Build A Water Filter
A few buckets and some PVC pipe can be used to build a biosand filter. With these, the water filters through gravel, sand, and charcoal and comes out free of heavy metals, bacteria, and viruses. It only takes a few pounds of charcoal and lasts several months before you have to replace the charcoal.
3. Carry Water
If there is no running water, you might have the carry it from the nearest source. Buckets are the best thing for this. Even if you have a wagon or something, you’ll still need buckets. Jars and pails are usually too small. Another thought: If there is a flood, you can use large buckets to bail water.
4. Crush Your Trash
If garbage collection companies become unreliable or cease altogether, your trash will pile up quickly. To save space until you can properly dispose of it, use two 5-gallon buckets as a trash compactor. Simply put the trash in one bucket, then put the other bucket in the first one and push it down with your foot. This will halve the space taken up by your trash.
5. Heat Up Water
Get two black 5-gallon buckets, put one inside the other, fill 2/3 of it with water, put the lid on, and place it in direct sunlight. After an hour or two (depending on the temperature outside), you will have a bucket of nice, hot water. It might even be a little too hot, in which case you can add some cold water (this is why it is recommended not to fill it all the way). Don’t drink this water or use it for cooking unless the buckets are food grade.