101 Survival Uses for a Plastic Bucket

By CTD Suzanne published on in Gear Guides, How To, Preparedness, Reviews, Survival

A huge part of being successful at surviving during a disaster, zombie apocalypse or any SHTF scenario is to improvise, adapt and overcome. When supplies are limited, it will be imperative for you to think outside the box and think of alternative uses for the gear you have. Simple things like garbage bags become ponchos, shelters and water-catchers.

Many preppers already utilize food-grade plastic buckets for their food supply; however, these five-gallon buckets provide a lot more uses than just food storage. The 0.900 mil HDPE-approved resin white has a wire bail handle with plastic grip. It is impact-resistant and is good at keeping out moisture. Paired with a gamma lid, you have an airtight seal for anything you want to store in the bucket. Measuring 11.89 inches in diameter and 14.46 inches tall, the bucket can withstand temperatures from 160 degrees to -100 degrees Fahrenheit. Each bucket only weighs 2.08 pounds without the lid.

Stock up on some sturdy and tough buckets that are perfect for every day use, but come in 101 ways handy for survival.

Bucket Stool

If you’re too short, you may not get that dumpster sandwich!

  1. Food storage
  2. Water storage
  3. Keep caught fish in it (For easier survival fishing, use the automatic fishing reel.)
  4. Emergency toilet (Use waste bags to stay sanitary.)
  5. Store handguns
  6. Store ammunition
  7. Ferment beer
  8. Distill liquor
  9. Back-up BOB
  10. Store batteries
  11. Water filtration system
  12. Store rice and other grains
  13. Store flour
  14. Use as a planter
  15. Collect rainwater
  16. Resting stool
  17. Trash can
  18. Hold bait
  19. Store sugar
  20. Store potatoes
  21. bucket trap

    Not really sure what you would catch with a coke can. Only one way to find out!

  22. Use as a cooler
  23. Livestock feeder
  24. Hold pet/livestock food
  25. Wash clothes
  26. Wash dishes
  27. Churn butter
  28. Use it to milk a cow
  29. Store coffee
  30. Gathering
  31. Hold first aid supplies
  32. Coal/charcoal storage
  33. Store wood for a fire
  34. Hold sterno or MRE heater fuel
  35. Hold seeds
  36. Fill it with sand as an alternative to sand bags
  37. Animal trap
  38. Pull off wire handle and use it as a tool
  39. Hold gear and back-up supplies
  40. bucket storage

    Keep those last few cans of warm beer away from unwanted hands.

  41. Game collector
  42. Floatation device
  43. Weapon
  44. Bury things
  45. Solar still
  46. Bang on it for a distress call or relieve stress
  47. Game feeder
  48. Step stool
  49. Store used oil
  50. Store beans
  51. Hold a 72-hour food kit
  52. Make dough
  53. Keep paper products dry
  54. Bear and raccoon-proof storage
  55. Store kindling
  56. Collect clams
  57. Collect spent brass
  58. Hold reloading supplies
  59. bucket helmet

    Oh now we’re just getting ridiculous

  60. Fill with rocks or sand and use as an anchor
  61. Grow potatoes
  62. Solar heater
  63. Lobster or fish trap
  64. Buoy
  65. Water marker
  66. Use the lid to plug a hole
  67. Use multiple lids as wheels
  68. Store/hid barter items
  69. Start a fire inside it in bad weather
  70. Store salt
  71. Mix concrete
  72. Store tools
  73. Hold cold-weather and rain gear clothing
  74. Hold matches and other fire-starting tools
  75. bucket cow

    Why was this the first thing I thought of when coming up with uses for a bucket?

  76. Hide valuables
  77. Heat water
  78. Hold sanitation supplies and toiletries
  79. Use for bathing
  80. Cover plants or crops to prevent them from freezing
  81. Keep personal items, like copies of birth certificates and social security cards
  82. Catch minnows for bait or food
  83. Store plastic dining ware and cooking utensils
  84. Store medicines
  85. Store baby’s bug-out kit
  86. Keep ropes and paracord
  87. Use as a helmet
  88. Use the lid as a Frisbee for entertainment
  89. Use the rubber gasket seal from the gamma lid
  90. Fill with sand or dirt and use it as post hole
  91. bucket guns

    Bucket O’ Fun!

  92. Fill it up with dirt or sand and use as a weight for exercise
  93. Use as a dumbwaiter
  94. Remove the plastic grip and use as a tool or straw
  95. Bailing out a leaking boat
  96. Use it a sieve
  97. Catch and keep crawfish
  98. Shovel
  99. Emergency shower if you poke holes in the bottom
  100. Make a compass
  101. Use it as a fulcrum
  102. Break it and use the shards for weapons
  103. Water trap
  104. Cistern
  105. Use as a spotlight (with a light inside)
  106. Chicken roost

For an airtight seal to store food, purchase the gamma lid. If you want to use the bucket as an emergency toilet, you will need sanitary bags. As a water filtration system, you will need the ceramic water filtration system.

What uses can you think of? Tell us in the comment section.

To learn more about surviving and prepping, read the following blogs:


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Comments (31)

  • Ted


    Fire starting in a 5 gal bucket: Ahh, I think they expected us to be smart enough to remove the fire from the bucket after starting it in inclement weather.


  • Wylde


    No plastic bucket is proof against bears #52-don’t make that mistake if a bear wants into your bucket he’s getting in there, store foods up high or in heavy metal containers if in bear country.


  • Alan


    I made sauerkraut in one this year. I cut 3 inches off the bottom of a 2nd bucket, drilled a bunch of 1/8 in holes in the bottom of that. Filled the bucket with the cabbage and topped it with the perforated bottom piece and a clean 5 lb rock for weight. It was a perfect fit and kept the cabbage submerged. I also liked that I could just look and see if the water level was OK. Worked great! Price out a new traditional 5 Gallon crock, and the ceramic weight to fit inside it will set you back over $100.


  • Brad


    101 uses my ass, it’s a storage container, you guys are listing multiple items that can be stored in the storage container, that doesn’t count as a seperate use.


  • Jim D.


    The square plastic buckets can be cut open a bit, with a handle installed at the back and used as an industrial sized dust bin, or for raking leaves. It makes it easier than bending over with those home sized things you use with a broom.


  • Larry Scott


    I believe these buckets could withstand at least some vacuum. The walls and bottom would need some reinforcing (a wire cage perhaps or a plastic sleeve) and the valve stem installed thru the lid. Definitely worth some experimenting.


  • Thomas


    The comment made by Tommy re “starting a fire.” Noticed Tommy they said “starting” a fire, not letting it burn to melt the bottom. And yes, it can be used to distill. I’ve used 5 gal buckets for years to make wine and it always comes out great. Listing the uses may seem stupid, but some people have a hard time thinking outside the box. By listing multiple uses, you get folks brain thinking. Just saying…


  • alt0182


    I’ve grown mushrooms in a 5gal bucket. Kind of a giant version if pftech. Not so much for survival though, as you’d be hard pressed to maintain sanitary and temperature requirements in asuch a situation. Can grow big oyster and shiitake mushrooms in a blend of sawdust and rice flour (sterilized).


  • Bob the Gun Geezer


    IF the “Stuff” REALLY Hits The Fan and you are forced into a shootout with a gang of Zombies (or liberals), a row of buckets filled with dirt or gravel would make a good barricade behind which to shoot from. Stagger two rows of buckets so that the second row covers the spaces between buckets in the front row. Remember to keep your head down since some Zombies are known to be armed! OR, position your rifle barrel between two of the buckets — this will reduce your exposed area to a narrow slot. Rest your rifle on a bucket turned on its side (or something similarly solid) to further reduce the height of the exposure slot (wish I could draw a diagram of this but you should get the idea). Start stockpiling buckets and keep a shovel handy to fill them.
    Yeah, some of the uses were kinda dumb but I think were meant to be humorous (??). The picture of Suzanne with a bucket helmet was really funny!


  • Spencer


    Obviously, there are innumerable uses for plastic buckets.

    I would suggest that food grade buckets need to be marked as such, and deserve special handling, and treatment. The same goes for sealable buckets.

    Plastic buckets tend to harbor more germs, so, the buckets need to be cleaned, and food should be insulated from the sides, if possible, such as with a plastic bag.

    Be sure that the buckets have metal handles; the plastic one’s don’t last very long.

    And keep them out of the sun; the sun will destroy them.

    I think round buckets are great because they are just the right size to carry, however, they are somewhat inefficient for storage because of their shape; valuable storage space is lost along the sides, and inside. However, it seems like they are easy to come by in every day life.

    A square/rectangular shape is much more efficient.


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