Firehouse Subs has a great deal on food grade storage buckets. They sell the buckets for two dollars and that money goes to a local fire station. This is really a great deal considering these buckets run anywhere between $6.00 to $20.00 online plus shipping. Yeah, I know you can get a five-gallon bucket from a home improvement store but they are not food grade. If I’m going to go through the trouble and expense of storing food I want the buckets to be food grade even if I use a Mylar bag.
When I first started looking around for buckets I thought I hit the lottery when I went to my local grocery store and found that they gave two gallon and one-gallon buckets away for free in the bakery. The only catch is that I had to clean out the leftover frosting. No biggie! I hauled my treasure home and promptly cleaned out the frosting. However, when I started to load food into these buckets I found they were just too small for most of the stuff I wanted to store. I have five people in my family, four of them boys, so we consume a large amount of food. I found I was really stuffing these smaller buckets and then when I was ready to store them I found the lids didn’t work properly – either the store had given me the wrong top, the top was warped or the top just didn’t fit right after the seal had been broken. After all, they really weren’t meant for long term food storage without the seal.
Then I found Firehouse Subs were practically giving their nice big five-gallon food grade buckets, with great fitting tops, away. I quickly went and acquired six buckets! When I opened the buckets to clean them I was overwhelmed with the pickle smell. I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed and then figured out I needed more than soap to get the smell out. So I started doing some research and came across four methods that I thought had great potential. Here’s what worked and what didn’t work!
Method One: Baking Soda and Newspaper
Here I used some old newspaper and a little over a cup of baking soda.
Baking soda is well known for getting the smell of clothes and various other things. This method required me to place baking soda and newspaper (to absorb the smell) in the bucket.
Fill up the bucket with both baking soda and newspaper. Close the lid and let sit for a week or more.
Method Two: Baking Soda mixed with Hydrogen Peroxide
This method was the one I thought had the greatest potential since it’s often used to get the skunk smell off of dogs.
Pour a few cups of hydrogen peroxide in the bucket and mix with baking soda. Shake the bucket every day for a week or more.
Method Three: Un-brewed Coffee
This one I thought would not work. Simply place un-brewed coffee into the bucket.
I poured about half a pound. It was all I could afford. Coffee is not cheap!
Method Four: Natural Charcoal
I did research and everyone raved about how well charcoal got the smell out of anything.
I tried to break it up so we’d have more surface area to absorb the smell but it was really harder than I expected to break up. I could have broken it into bits but then the plastic would have broken and the charcoal would have been everywhere. Clearly, if breaking up the charcoal made that much difference it was more effort than I wanted to put into this project.
So I left it whole and let it sit for a week or so.
Well, I was shocked but the method that worked the best (and I mean way above the rest) was the un-brewed coffee. None of the other methods really made a dent on the vinegary pickle smell in the buckets. You could say that the coffee simply covered the smell of the pickles and maybe to a very small degree that is true. However, I think it absorbed the smell more than anything because to further this experiment (and yeah, save a couple of bucks) I reused the coffee. I did not have the same results. The coffee did not take away the pickle smell after I had already used it in another bucket. This also leads me to believe that if it does not work the first time you can always pour new coffee in and wait a bit longer if you’re willing to part with that much coffee. I ran out to a warehouse store and purchased cheap coffee in bulk for the purpose of getting the smell out of the buckets. I figure this adds about one dollar to my total cost of one bucket. Still a bargain! I will take a moment to mention that none of the above methods probably works as well as leaving the buckets out in the hot sun for a few weeks or even months. However, not everyone has that kind of weather or time.