Selecting Plastic Buckets
Selecting Buckets for Your Water Station
Buckets are Required.Our gravity-drip water filtration system requires two same-size plastic buckets to create a water station. In an emergency, any two same-size buckets are acceptable to create a safe water station.Buckets are Buckets; Right?Plastic buckets are not created equally. The plastics-manufacturing industry uses resin identification codes which identify which of seven types of petrochemical resins were used in the manufacturing of the product. Although the resin code was created for the purpose of recycling, it is helpful to the public in determining which plastic containers and bottles may be associated with health risks. The identification code is currently a single digit number, usually located on the bottom of the vessel.What Grade of Plastic Should I Choose?For purposes of pre-planning, food grade buckets are the best option. Unlike some plastics, certified food grade buckets will not allow toxins from the plastic resins to leach into the finished water.Food grade plastics have a resin code indicated as #2 HDPE . It is argued that not all # 2 HDPE ratings qualify as food grade. To be sure, select a bucket that is stamped or labeled as “food grade” or that is marked with a NSF, FDA or USDA approval. A true food grade container is manufactured using non-toxic plastic in the mold release compound.Can I Buy Pre-used Food Grade Buckets?It you are re-purposing approved food-grade buckets, make sure they were not previously used to store non-food items such as chemicals, detergent, cleaning solutions, paint or similar products. Once a container has been used for this purpose, it can no longer be considered food grade. Though the buckets may be useful for storing dried goods they will be not be suitable for water storage.What Size Buckets Should I Choose?5-gallon buckets are the most popular size for single water stations. Water is heavy, thus 5-gallon is a practical size for the system. Our single-filter system has a flow rate of approximately 14 gallons per day. If you need a higher yield per day, one option is to increase the number of water stations. Another option that works well if you need more filtered water in one place -- for example, a kitchen -- is to use multiple filters in a larger bucket. This filtration system can be used with 30-gallon plastic drums.Preparing Buckets for Use:If possible, clean your buckets before assembling your filter. A diluted bleach solution of 1 teaspoon of bleach to a gallon of water should be used for wiping down the exterior and interior of the buckets and lids. Afterwards, allow the buckets and lids to air for three to five minutes. Wipe dry with a paper towel or clean cloth and proceed with the assembly of your filter system.How Do I Clean a Pre-used Bucket?Pre-used food grade buckets should not be among those used to store acidic, caustic, or toxic contents. These buckets can no longer be considered food grade -- even after cleaning. It is important to note that the ceramic shell used to filter your water should never have contact with detergents, solvents, or chemical residue. For this reason, be well informed about the use of the bucket as well as the method of cleaning, if applicable. Restaurants and bakeries that re-sell or throw away these containers sometimes clean them, if only superficially.If you must re-purpose a used bucket, use the following method of cleaning or consider using a new upper bucket for housing your filter(s).
- Food grade buckets may be porous enough to retain stains and odors. Wash the inside and outside of your buckets and lids with a warm-water bleach solution to remove any film or residue. Avoid detergents –especially for the buckets that will be used to house the filters. ( the top bucket)
- Next, fill the buckets to the rim with warm water. Add one cup or more of baking soda per each five gallons of water. Use a paint paddle or clean utensil to stir the solution until the soda dissolves. Top off again with warm water if necessary and put the lids in place. Baking soda will aid in absorbing odors and lifting residual film. Allow the solution to sit overnight, or a day or two if possible.
- Pour off the solution and rinse with clean water.
- If odors persist, this step may be repeated and / or you may allow the containers to sit outdoors in full sun for several days.
- When smells and residual film is removed, refill your buckets with warm water and a strong bleach solution consisting of one cup of bleach to each five-gallon capacity. Use only plain bleach with no scents or additives.
- Replace the lids and let sit overnight.
- Rinse and dry or, if possible, let your buckets sit in the sun again to air.