Food Storage Mistake: Never Stack Buckets On Buckets

You see this? This my friends is an expensive mistake:

yellow broken bucket lid
yellow broken bucket lid

A bucket of wheat with a broken six dollar gamma seal lid.

It was such an innocent mistake, really. We had stacked buckets of food in the closet, three buckets tall. I didn’t realize these lids weren’t meant to stack. Maybe if you put one super light bucket on top of another it would be fine, but evidently we added too much weight.

And the lid caved. Exposing all of our wheat to deterioration and bug infestation. It’s a really good thing we noticed this before it was ruined! Had this bucket stayed damaged like this for long we would have surely lost all of the wheat inside.

There are a couple of lessons to be learned here. Obviously the first one is NOT to stack buckets directly on top of each other.

If we had a basement, or a cool garage, or even a big enough closet to put them in, these bucket shelves would be so nice to have! It’s such a pain heaving bucket after bucket trying to get to something in the back of the pile. Shelving would be awesome.

Just an FYI, since we’re on the subject, these bucket shelving systems are on sale for 47% off retail value with my consultant discount through Shelf Reliance through the end of July (I know, that’s only like two more days, I wish I’d known sooner!) If any of you want to get in on this deal while it’s still good, shoot me an email ( and I’ll get you hooked up.

Until we build a root cellar with room for nice shelving like this, we’re still using the stacking method. Now that we’ve learned this unfortunate lesson, we’ve spent some time today re-stacking our buckets with sheets of plywood between them. At least this way the buckets aren’t resting directly on top of each other.

The second lesson we can learn from this is the importance of sealing your food in mylar bags before placing in buckets. If the bucket is ever damaged, at least your food will still be safe from moisture and bugs. In the beginning, we went the cheap route and just poured everything directly into the buckets before adding an oxygen absorber and sealing. I figured, what’s the point in sealing it in bags if it’s safe in the buckets?

But I’ve come to see the importance of protecting our investment in food as much as possible. What’s a couple more dollars to ensure that my lifeline in safe? Now, before I put my food into buckets, I seal them in mylar bags with O2 absorbers. ‘Cause you never know what might happen to your buckets.

At least only one was ruined. It could have been much worse. This could have happened to all of the lids on the bottom layer of buckets! Learn from my mistake… if you’ve stacked as we did, you better go check your lids. And then make sure you store them properly.

11 thoughts on “Food Storage Mistake: Never Stack Buckets On Buckets”

  1. Great article. We use clean Kitty litter buckets (big yellow square buckets) that are made to be stacked. No problem with caving, we label and date them to help rotate. They were free from a customer, and work for us. I cleaned them well with vinegar first.

    I have read not to store everything in one place, hide some around the house and even in a vehicle in case you need to get out quick.

  2. New to all of this and trying to learn as much as I can as quick as I can. If we seal our items in seal a meal bags, will that be the same as the mylar bags? Then put them in the buckets?
    Thanks for your posting I will find a way to not stack my buckets:-)

    • Seal-a-meal bags, like FoodSaver bags, are great for removing air, for both freezer and dry storage. However, plastic is not a perfect vapor barrier, and eventually the vacuum-packed (Seal-a-meal, Foodsaver) plastic will fail, slowly over time. Also, though you didn’t say it, I assume you would be using the mylar bag with an oxygen absorber. The mylar bag is vapor proof through combining metal with plastic, and combining mylar with vacuum packing and an oxygen absorber might be overkill, but thorough! Using mylar + the oxygen absorber in a bucket allows you to use a non-food grade bucket, too (the mylar is a full vapor barrier).

  3. You can put a board a tad wider than the diameter of the lid then stack. I do that with mine and I also use a bucket with gamma lid as a stool, which gets to hold my 160lbs for 4 hours a day. Been a year and never had one break yet.

  4. I am really glad I found your blog.
    Now if we can just find money to start buying and storing all this stuff while working on making the farmhouse livable.
    Thanks for this informative post!

  5. The thing that you could do to stack buckets with gammaseal lids would be to put a board across the lid that would go to the edge so that the weight of the next bucket isn’t on the screw top of the lower lid. If you lined your buckets up in a row, you could lay one larger board across several and then put another layer on top.

  6. My thinking was, use the full seal non-reusable lids on all the buckets, and use the gamma seal lids only on the buckets that had been opened.

    Saves money, and only uses the reusable openable lid on the opened bucket that I’m using.

    • JBB,

      That’s pretty much what we’ve been doing. But I’ve learned that even the regular lids that come with the buckets can cave a little, and break the seal. If the food is in mylar bags, though, it’s not as big of a deal. Unless water gets in somehow. Thanks for your thoughts!


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