How Do You Measure Gallons in a 5 Gallon Bucket?

Dec 8th 2021

Do the 5 gallon bucket dimensions mean that these containers hold precisely 5 gallons of liquid? How do you measure how many gallons are in your bucket? We’ve got these answers and more in this blog post—read on to learn the answers to these pressing 5 gallon bucket questions.

Does a 5 Gallon Bucket Hold Exactly 5 Gallons?

Surprisingly, the answer is no! Most 5 gallon buckets actually hold more than 5 gallons. Why? Well, think about it—what would happen if you had to fill a 5 gallon bucket all the way to the brim to fit all 5 gallons? It would be extremely difficult to transport a filled bucket without spilling, as well as impossible to secure a lid without losing some of the contents.

These buckets have some wiggle room at the top—referred to as “head space”—that gives a little extra allowance for carrying and storage convenience. However, this can cause some confusion about how much liquid is actually in your bucket. Lucky for you, we’ve got the answers!

How Do You Measure Gallons in a 5 Gallon Bucket?

How Do You Measure Gallons in a 5 Gallon Bucket?

Some 5 gallon buckets will have measurement marks on the inside or outside of the bucket to help you determine how much liquid is in the bucket. Where is the 5 gallon mark on a 5 gallon bucket? It’s the mark that is closest to the top of the bucket.

If your bucket does not have measurement marks, the place where the handle connects to the bucket is approximately 5 gallons. If you would like to know where the 5 gallon spot is precisely, you can make your own mark.

How Do You Mark a 5 Gallon Bucket?

First, find a one gallon jug, like a milk jug or similar. Fill it with water, and pour one gallon into your bucket. Using a permanent marker, draw a line on the outside of the bucket at the waterline once it has settled. Repeat until you have five marks.

How Do You Measure the Volume of a Bucket?

Wondering how to calculate the volume of water in a bucket? Here’s a simple volume of a bucket formula that you can use to get an approximate volume.

Area x Height = Volume

To find the area of the bucket, you need to remember some of your high school math. The formula for area is:

pi x the radius squared = Area

Get out a ruler and measure the bottom of the bucket. The radius is half of the diameter. So, if the bottom of the bucket is 10 inches, then the radius of the bucket is 5 inches. That would give us:

3.14 x 25 = 78.54 (rounded to two decimal places for simplicity)

Going back to our original formula, let’s plug this number in and pretend that you’ve measured your bucket and found that it is 15 inches tall.

78.54 (Area) x 15 (Height) = 1,178.1 (Volume)

This means that your bucket has a volume of 1,178.1 cubic inches. There are 231 cubic inches in a gallon, so converting this result to gallons, your bucket holds 5.1 gallons of liquid.

One thing to account for in your calculations is that many 5 gallon buckets have a slight taper to them. This is because of the way they are manufactured to stack inside each other nicely. This formula does not take that taper into account, so it is an approximation of the volume. If you really enjoy doing math, here is a complicated formula that you can use to get a more exact number.

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