by Randal Carr, Greenville
It is a common practice to obtain a honey gate and install it in a 5-gallon plastic bucket for honey storage and bottling. The money savings alone can make the extra effort worth your time. However, not all buckets you find in hardware stores are food-safe. Two of the most important considerations that affect safety are whether the bucket contains recycled materials and which type of chemical used to assist in releasing the bucket from its mold. These types of buckets are all made from HDPE plastic , but whether each is food-safe depends on the manufacturing process.
Following is a list of possible sources of buckets and a note about their FDA approval status (always check with the manufacturer of a bucket to see if a particular model is safe):
Ace Hardware: 5-gallon buckets manufactured by Leaktite are not food-safe. This was confirmed by the Leaktite company in an email response to my inquiry.
Home Depot: Orange buckets are not food-safe because the orange dye could possibly leach into the contents.
Walmart: Blue utility buckets are not food-safe because of the dye. White buckets manufactured by Encore Plastics are considered safe.
Lowes: White buckets by Encore Plastics are food-safe, and the Lowes.com website states “food grade” in the title of the item (#356492; $3.97/each; photo above). This is the bucket I’ve chosen for my shop.