5 Gallon Buckets & Pails

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5 gallon buckets are a common container that has a wide range of uses and applications. From an individual who needs a single food-grade bucket to make and store their own pickles to a commercial kitchen that uses 5 gallon buckets for their ingredients, these buckets are used in many different settings. We’re exploring commonly-asked questions about 5 gallon buckets in this comprehensive guide, including dimensions, materials, and more--even what to do if your buckets are sticking together!  

What are the dimensions of a 5 gallon bucket?

5 gallon bucket dimensions will vary slightly depending on the manufacturer, but they should all be fairly close. Here at ePackageSupply, our 5 gallon bucket dimensions are 12-15 inches tall without a lid, with a 10-12 inch diameter. How tall is a 5 gallon bucket with a lid? A 5 gallon bucket with lid will have a little extra height, usually 1-2 inches, when the lid is fastened, depending on the type of lid and how tightly it is secured.

How many inches are in a 5 gallon bucket?

Most 5 gallon buckets are 12-14 inches tall, holding approximately 1,387 cubic inches of liquid.

What is the size of a standard bucket? 

The 5 gallon bucket is the most common size of bucket that is in use today. While it may seem like that means a 5 gallon bucket should have a standard size, the fact is that different manufacturers have slightly different dimensions for their 5 gallon buckets. They are all around the same size, but will vary slightly. Here are some examples of other common bucket sizes to give you a general idea of the possible dimensions: 

  • 1 gallon bucket dimensions
    • 7.16" diameter x 7.58" height

  • 5 gallon bucket dimensions
    • 11.9" diameter x 13.38" height

  • 6 gallon bucket dimensions
    • 12.4” diameter x 17.5” height

  • 10 gallon bucket dimensions
    • 15.625” diameter x 17.125” height 

These will vary, depending on the manufacturer. If you are looking for specific dimensions, be sure to consult the product specifications before ordering to make sure you don’t end up with a bucket that you can’t use. 

Is a 5 gallon bucket actually 5 gallons? 

Most 5 gallon buckets do legitimately hold 5 gallons of water. However, it can be tricky to know where to fill the bucket to get to that 5 gallon mark. Does this mean filling up to the very top of the bucket? Or maybe it’s 5 gallons with a few inches to spare?

Some 5 gallon buckets will have a measurement on the inside, and the 5 gallon mark is the closest one to the top. 5 gallon buckets are usually designed to have a little bit of extra room at the top to account for spillage. If there aren’t any marks to indicate, typically the top of the bucket where the handle is shows approximately the five gallon mark. Fill to the top and leave some headspace (the distance between the surface of the content and the bottom of the lid). The amount of space will depend on the product, application, and whether you are securing the bucket with a lid.  

What material is a 5 gallon bucket made of?

Have you found yourself looking up, “What are 5 gallon plastic buckets made of?” Today is your lucky day! Most 5 gallon buckets are made out of plastic. What kind of plastic is a 5 gallon bucket? That depends on the manufacturer and the intended use of the bucket. An easy way to find out is to turn your bucket upside down and look for the recycling symbol on the bottom. Inside the triangle of arrows, you’ll see a number between 1 and 7, that will tell you what type of plastic your bucket is made out of. In general, food grade plastics are 1, 2, 4, and 5. 

The 7 types of plastics are:

  • 1 - Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET or PETE)

Items made from this plastic are usually transparent, benefiting from the lightweight and strong qualities of PETE.

  • 2 - High-density polyethylene (HDPE)

This is one of the most stable and inert forms of plastic that is suitable for long-term food storage. Most buckets that are marketed for food storage are made from this type of plastic.

  • 3 - Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC or Vinyl)

A hard and rigid plastic used in a variety of settings, particularly for building and construction. This plastic is not considered food-safe.

  • 4 - Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)

LDPE is actually a type of HDPE, just a thinner and more flexible version.

  • 5 - Polypropylene (PP)

Polypropylene is heat resistant and flexible, lending itself well to applications like drinking straws or hot food containers.

  • 6 - Polystyrene (PS or Styrofoam)

You should be very familiar with this plastic, especially if you like takeout food. The classic styrofoam takeout container is made from polystyrene. It’s a pretty safe bet that your 5 gallon bucket won’t be made out of this plastic!

  • 7 - Other

You need to be careful with this code, since most #7s are not recyclable. This is because it is a “catch-all” code, where any plastic that doesn’t fit into any other category gets assigned to be a #7. It may be a bio-plastic, that is made from plant-based materials like corn, and actually be food-safe, but there isn’t a sure way to tell from the recycling code alone.

Are 5 gallon buckets HDPE? If you’re purchasing an ePackageSupply bucket or if they are marked with a #2 code, then they are! Many 5 gallon buckets are, but it’s always best to check to make sure, especially if you are planning on using them for food storage. Looks can be deceiving as well—while many food-grade storage containers are a white 5 gallon bucket with a lid, that doesn’t mean that all HDPE buckets look the same. It’s best to look for the manufacturer information or look at the code on the bottom of the bucket. When in doubt, consider purchasing a specifically-marked food-grade bucket instead of guessing.

Another important note with food grade plastics is the discussion around BPA. BPA stands for bisphenol A, a chemical that has been in use since the 1960s in the manufacturing of certain plastics and resins. Polycarbonate plastics, like water bottles, often contain BPA, as well as some other consumer products like baby bottles or dental sealants. Due to the potential health effects of BPA, there has been a push to eliminate this compound from the manufacturing process. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated that BPA is safe at a very low level, though many people are concerned about their exposure since this chemical has been used for so many different products for so many years. If you are concerned about BPA, you should seek out food storage products that are marked “BPA-free,” like the 5 gallon buckets you’ll find at ePackagesupply.com.

What is the difference between food grade buckets and regular buckets?

Simply put, the difference between a food grade bucket and a regular bucket is the material it is made of. As discussed above, food grade buckets are made from plastics that will not cause chemicals to seep into food that touches the container. Regular buckets are made from plastics that may contaminate food and make it unsafe for human consumption. Another difference is the thickness and the lid. Since food grade buckets are meant to keep food safe, the buckets are made of thick plastic with secure lids that keep out air and pests. Regular buckets do not have to meet such a high standard since food storage is not a known concern.


Are all 5 gallon bucket lids the same? 

No, they are not. There are several different types of lids that fit a 5 gallon bucket. These include: 

L40GTS - BPA Free Food Grade 5 Gallon White Bucket Lid

This lid includes a gasketed tear strip and is made of LLDPE resin, a food-grade material. The gasket provides a tighter seal of the lid to the bucket, for those who may be storing liquids or using an application where more security is wanted. These lids can be a bit tricky to apply, which is why we include detailed instructions to help you put a lid on your buckets. Dimensions: 12" diameter x 1.41" height.


L40GTSU - BPA Free Food Grade 5 Gallon White Non-gasketed Bucket Lid

These non-gasketed lids include a tear strip and are made of HDPE resin, a food-grade material. This is a good choice for applications where a tighter seal isn’t as necessary. Non-gasketed lids are also easier to apply than gasketed lids. Dimensions: 12.28" diameter x 1.41" height.


L40GTSRS - BPA Free Food Grade 5 Gallon White Bucket Lid with Pour Spout

Lids with a Reike Sr spout are perfect for applications where you want to easily pour from your bucket. Made of LLDPE resin, this bucket lid includes a gasketed tear strip. Dimensions: 12.48" x 1.41"



Gamma Seal Lid - BPA Free Food Grade 5 Gallon Lid

If you’ve been searching for a 5 gallon bucket with a screw on lid, the gamma seal lid can help. This lid turns any 5 gallon bucket into an easy to open resealable storage container. While you can technically re-use any of our lids, the gamma seal lid is the easiest and most practical lid for buckets that you will be opening and closing multiple times. Made of HDPE resin, the gamma seal lid is perfect for dry food storage and more.


You may find it useful to purchase a lid opener to help you open 5 gallon bucket lids. This is a plastic tool that helps you open tightly sealed bucket lids quickly and easily. This tool is usually under $5, and makes a world of difference, especially if you have to open 5 gallon buckets often.


How large is a 5 gallon bucket lid?

As you can see from the above lids, the dimensions vary slightly depending on the lid type. The dimensions for most 5 gallon bucket lids will be close to a 12" diameter x 1.41" height, but this will depend on the type of lid and the manufacturer.

Will a 5 gallon bucket lid fit a 3 gallon bucket?

Typically, yes. All of our 5 gallon bucket lids fit our 3.5 gallon buckets as well. Most 3 gallon buckets will have the same diameter as a 5 gallon bucket, and lids can be used interchangeably. However, you may have a slight variety of diameters between manufacturers, so to make sure that the lids will fit, you may want to get your 5 gallon buckets and 3 gallon buckets from the same supplier.


How many pounds can you put in a 5 gallon bucket?

Ever wondered how many pounds you can put into a 5 gallon bucket? Let’s pretend you’ve got a whole lot of quarters in a bucket… most 5 gallon buckets can support up to 125 pounds of weight, which is about 22,680 quarters (or $5,669). The weight limit on most buckets is a product of the strength of the handle. If you turn the bucket upside down to use it as a stool, it can generally support more than the 125 pound limit. Curious about how much a 5 gallon bucket can support of other items? Here are some commonly asked questions about weight and how much of a particular substance can fit into a 5 gallon bucket.

  • How many pounds is a 5 gallon bucket of paint?

A 5 gallon bucket of paint is generally between 40 and 60 pounds, although this will vary depending on the brand of paint. The different materials that paint is made out of (like latex vs oil-based) will affect the weight.

  • How many pounds of rice fit in a 5 gallon bucket?

30-35 pounds of rice will fit inside these buckets, depending on the rice variety. Whenever you are storing food, you want to make sure to use a food grade bucket with a secure lid, like a gamma seal lid, in order to keep your food safe.

  • How much chicken feed will fit in a 5 gallon bucket?

Depending on the type of chicken feed, you should be able to fit 20-25 pounds of pellets in a 5 gallon bucket. You may want to store less food in the bucket to accommodate a scoop to easily distribute the pellets to your flock.

  • How many pounds of dog food will fit in a 5 gallon bucket?

Your pup will be happy to hear that 19-21 pounds of dog food can fit inside!

  • How many pounds of sugar in a 5 gallon bucket?

35 pounds of white sugar will fit in a 5 gallon bucket, while only 33 pounds of brown sugar will fit nicely. Why the difference? Primarily because brown sugar has a higher moisture content due to the molasses that gives it the distinctive taste and color.

Why do 5 gallon buckets stick together?

Mostly because they’re friends with each other… no, we’re just kidding. There are a few different reasons why 5 gallon buckets stick together so tightly. First of all, the way buckets are made gives them a slight taper to the sides, and the outside taper angle matches the inside taper angle exactly. When you put one 5 gallon bucket inside another, they fit together quite snugly. The elasticity of the bucket material causes the inside bucket to contract slightly and the outside bucket to stretch a little bit. This creates a good deal of friction, making it more difficult to pull them apart.

The second reason is that in order to pull the buckets apart, air needs to find a way in between the two buckets. Because of the snug fit, there is essentially no gap between the buckets, making it fairly impossible to get air flow between the buckets. This prevents you from easily pulling the buckets apart.

How to unstick 5 gallon buckets

Don’t despair! There are a few tricks you can try if your buckets are jammed together. 

First of all, try to manually separate them by using the handle.

Step 1: Turn the buckets upside down.

Step 2: Put your foot through the handle closest to the ground.

Step 3: Hold on to just the top bucket by the rim and pull up, using your back muscles.

Be careful not to injure yourself—stop if you feel that you are straining any muscles.

Secondly, you can try using hot water.

Step 1: Take your buckets into the bathroom.

Step 2: Run hot water over the outer bucket for about a minute.

Step 3: Rotate the bucket so the hot water covers the entire outside.

Step 4: After heating up the outer bucket, try to pull the two buckets apart. 

The hot water helps expand the air pocket between the buckets so the pressure inside becomes closer to the pressure outside. It also weakens the suction that is keeping the buckets together, making them much easier to pull apart.

If hot water isn’t available, you can also try using a hair dryer to achieve the same effect. Whenever you are applying heat to plastic, be careful not to overheat the plastic to avoid burns or compromising the integrity of the bucket.

How to keep 5 gallon buckets from sticking together

The best way to keep buckets from sticking together is to avoid stacking them. When storing your buckets in a stack, consider putting a short piece of wood or strong cardboard in the bottom of the bucket that will increase the space between the buckets and keep them from sticking together so fiercely.  

Where can I get a 5 gallon bucket for free?

Some places will occasionally give 5 gallon buckets away for free. However, it is not a guarantee that you will be able to collect free buckets from an establishment. Another thing to keep in mind is that you get what you pay for. If you’re looking for a bucket to carry dirt or to turn into a DIY project, free or cheap 5 gallon buckets may be the right fit. However, if you need a food grade 5 gallon bucket with a lid for long-term food storage, it’s best to purchase one so you know its specifications and condition. Free buckets may be degraded in quality or contaminated with unknown substances. 

Where can I purchase a 5 gallon bucket?

Still reading about buckets? You must be a bucket enthusiast or have a big need for buckets—lucky for you, here at ePackageSupply.com, we’ve got buckets of...well...buckets! Our 5 gallon white bucket is made with FDA-approved HDPE plastic and is BPA free. The quality food grade plastic is 90 mil thick, meaning you can transport just about any solid or liquid safely. The all-metal handle is encased in a plastic-molded grip to protect your hands when moving heavy loads. As you read about in the lid section, we also sell a variety of food-safe lids to fit our all-purpose, heavy-duty 5 gallon buckets. 

You can easily order 5 gallon bucket bulk through our website. No matter what 5 gallon bucket volume you need, you can purchase through us since we have no minimums and are happy to work with you to provide the quantity of buckets you need. Contact us today with any questions!

ePackageSupply: your source for custom containers, buckets, cups, and more! 

Here at ePackageSupply.com, our promise is that you will never be disappointed with your experience. From buckets, containers, lids, jars, cups, and more, we have you covered for all your prepping, serving, and storage needs. All of our packaging is food grade, ranging from 2 ounce portion cups to 5 gallon plastic buckets. ePackageSupply also offers custom labeling to make your products stand out.

ePacakgeSupply.com is a United States veteran-owned-and-operated company based in Evansville, Indiana. Our many hours of hard work and determination, as well as a little luck, have helped us to become one of the internet’s most trusted and successful providers of quality food service products and exceptional customer service.

In 1806, Webster’s first dictionary defined success as being “generous, prosperous, and kind.” While that definition has since been updated to “getting or achieving wealth, respect, and fame,” we are honored to do business based on the 1806 definition of success. Our community involvement is focused on education, our military service members, and 501(c)3 non-profit organizations that provide comprehensive services to children and adults with developmental disabilities.

When you shop at ePackageSupply.com, you can feel good about your purchases. From excellent customer service to no minimums on quantities to our community involvement, we are here to help. Explore our website today to see the many products we offer.

*ePackage exclusively sells official Gamma Lid® products.

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