When I started researching, one of the things I found is that using FOOD Grade plastic buckets are very important. I have said this before, and I will say this again, the way you store your food is just as important, if not more important than the money that you spend on the food itself.

The reason that I say that is that many of the foods you buy, you will buy a bulk of it in the first couple of years while you are gathering your greatest amounts of food and then after that you will only be purchasing to rotate. So in essence, the way you store your food may be around 10-30 years for the long term staples. Its okay to save money though if its at all possible.

D uses pickle buckets for his work, what he does is take things apart to work on them and while they are in pieces he will place those pieces into a 5 gallon bucket so that they stay with the rest of that particular machine. One of his customers brings them by occasionally, he manages a place where they make sandwiches.

So I know they are food grade, but I didn’t know how to get rid of the god awful smell. I did some research and some of what I have found works and others totally didn’t. So I will give you a running tally of what I found, what I tried and whats worked for me. There is only one method that I found that I haven’t tried and I would give credit but I found it on a forum and it was only a 3 line paragraph by “anon”

I digress.

So plastic food grade 5 gallon tubs CAN be purchased. But they really are rather expensive, and like I said D has a friend who gives them to us for free. Which is totally worth putting a little bit of effort into them.

I found this basic list with a few ideas on on how to implement (on most) on various forums, not in the same place, sometimes only one idea on a page. It probably took me 2 hours of searching for all of these ideas. I am not complaining, I just want to paint a picture. Its easy to find one or two of these answers everywhere but the biggest one I have found is to use vinegar on copious amounts or bleach.

Ideas Found:

  • used coffee grounds mixed with warm water
  • oxy clean with water left in the sun
  • a bowl of charcoal briquettes and leave the lids on (5-10 days)
  • lemon juice
  • dish washing liquid
  • tomato juice watered down
  • news paper

I’ve always started with dish washing liquid and hot water, this does not remove the smell at all, but it is always good to start with a blank canvas albeit smelly.

The coffee grounds were just a mess. I saved coffee grounds for a week (we are a pot of coffee a day family) in the fridge.  Then added them to warm water, then set it out in the sun from about 9am till about 6-7pm (I don’t remember exactly, but it was dusk) It helped some, but not much, after a few days the pickle smell was back.

When I tried the Oxy Clean it made a difference in the smell, but I am not comfortable with the result. I took 1 cup of Oxy Clean in warm water, out in the sun for the day. It did make a difference smell wise but I don’t like leaving chemicals that are not food safe in a food safe container for long periods of time. So that bucket became a bucket that D uses now. It also still smelled of pickles but it did work better than the coffee grounds.

In a forum I found, this lady was talking about how she had defrosted a chicken in the microwave and then ended up going out for dinner or something and completely forgot about it for several days. She said it smelled horrible and after cleaning it out and it still smelled she placed several charcoal briquettes in the microwave for a few days and it removed the smell. I can see this working, I tried it for almost 10 days. First I filled the bucket about 2/3 of the way with the hottest water the tap would give me and then I boiled a large pot of water and dumped it in there. I let it sit for 5-10 minutes, and then dumped it out, then dried it completely with a towel and placed a bowl of 10 charcoal briquettes in the bottom of the bucket and sealed it. I think it made a difference, but not enough.

I’ve tried vinegar but since pickle juice is mostly made with vinegar (and maybe its mental) I could still smell it. ugh.

I tried tomato juice, only because it works for everything else, including skunks, why not pickle smell right? yeah, that didn’t work so much either. Nice idea though.

Another site said to crumple a newspaper and loosely fill the bucket, cover with lid, leave alone for 48 hours, remove the news paper and fill it again with crumpled news paper and replace lid, wait 2 more days and  follow the first two steps again. This may take 6-10 days. I haven’t tried this method, its also very reminiscent of the charcoal idea.

What I tried second and what I will continue using is Baking soda and lemon juice. 1 cup baking soda (I buy the big bags at Costco, we have pets and use it sometimes in laundry too) 1 cup lemon juice, hot tap water, and I set it out in the sun for the day. Afterward, wash it out with dish soap and warm water and let air out for a week without the lid on it, I really recommend that you leave the lids off until you are ready to use. Sometimes its the pickle smell is uber strong and it lingers after letting it air out completely, I will repeat the process.

I do NOT recommend bleach. If you are going to rinse with bleach and hot water, or let it sit for 5-10 minutes, that’s one thing,  but don’t let it sit like that all day, I wouldn’t put food in it after that. Read the side of a bleach bottle. You shouldn’t store anything in them after they are empty, so why would you use it and allow it to soak into your food safe PLASTIC buckets?

Why you get these uber cheap buckets and take the time to clean them out, consider buying new lids, or at the least if they are in great shape but have rubber seals, replace those. Even if you will be storing the food inside in an added layer of mylar protection…. Why not take every possible precaution.

There was also someone else who mentioned that if you go to grocery stores that have bakeries, ask them if they get icing in 5 gallon buckets, often they will give them to you for sell them to you for a couple of dollars each. You may have to clean them out, but why not, plus there is NO pickle smell. I don’t go this route, I haven’t found a grocery store in my area that using 5 gallon buckets for icing, they use one gallon tubs. But its worth asking. Also I get the pickle ones, for free.

I would like to mention that buying pails/buckets new can cost between 9 and 22 dollars with the lids. So finding used food grade pails may be very worth it.

I’m just trying to give you options. Just because I choose not to use some of these options, doesn’t mean that they won’t be perfect for you, AND maybe you have some of thee products on hard pr prefer one over another and then you won’t have to run out to spend anything on something like getting rid of pickle smell.

Let me know if you have any other awesome ideas on ridding yourself of that awful pickle smell. :)

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