5 Tips For Bug Free Food Storage Of Dry Goods In 5-Gallon Buckets


The following are a few tips for bug-free food storage in 5-gallon buckets. In no particular order or preference. Add your own ideas in the comments below…

Diatomaceous Earth (DE)

Use Food Grade diatomaceous earth (best choice on amzn) for grains, flour, legumes, rice, corn, and other dry foods stored in a 5-gallon bucket.

Eggs of insects are in most all grains – it’s just the natural way it is. When they hatch out, the diatomaceous earth dries up their soft skin – eliminating them. Food-grade DE is a safe, non-toxic way to treat your grains from insect infestation.

Use 1/2-cup Diatomaceous Earth for a 5-gallon bucket of grain. Rule of thumb is about 1/2 cup per 25 pounds of dry food. Or 1 teaspoon per pound. It’s not critical, so don’t be too concerned about the exact amount.

Half-fill the bucket (or Mylar bag within). Sprinkle in half the DE. Then mix it around. Fill the bucket (or Mylar bag within) and add the rest of the diatomaceous earth. Mix again. Seal bag / container. Done.

Gamma lids spin on/off for easy access. In my opinion, they’re worth it.

[ Read: Gamma Seal Lids | Are They Worth It? ]

[ Read: How to Seal a Mylar Bag in a 5-gallon Bucket ]

Dry Ice

I’ve not tried this before. I don’t have a local means of acquiring dry ice. However the concept is sound.

Add a small piece of dry ice to the top of the food pile in a 5 gallon bucket (and/or Mylar bag within). Let the lid rest on top while the dry ice sublimates into gaseous carbon dioxide and displaces bug-breathable air. Then seal tightly.

Freeze First

Freeze your grains first, before sealing them into 5-gallon buckets. This will help eliminate insect problems.

There are different opinions about how long to freeze the grains. However in my view, 3 days will certainly be adequate for deep freeze temperatures. 24 hours is probably enough too – but who’s in a hurry? ;)

Important! After freezing you do need to wait a certain time for the item to thaw or to make sure there’s no moisture from thawing before sealing. I wait several days. Your environment will affect the speed at which it dries out.

The process kills the eggs that may be in the grain. You can do this for just about any dry goods including rice, flour, wheat, etc.

[ Read: How to Know If Your Freezer Lost Power While You Were Away ]

[ Read: Best Foods For Chest Freezer Preparedness ]

Oxygen Absorbers

Use oxygen absorbers! No oxygen = no living things. No oxidation of the contents or the container. It is advisable to use Mylar bags to hold your food and oxygen absorbers. Then seal the bag and store in a 5 gallon bucket.

[ Read: Oxygen Absorbers for 5-gallon Food Storage ]

Vacuum Seal

Vacuum sealing removes the oxygen!

We also do this for most foods kept in our chest freezers.

Additionally we vacuum seal some dry goods such as beans. Actually we have two methods for our beans. One is bulk quantity storage – all beans of a given variety dumped into a Mylar bag set inside 5-gallon bucket(s) with O2 absorbers. The other method is vacuum sealing individual 1-pound bags of dry beans. We keep them in a plastic (tote).

[ Read: Things You Can Seal With A Vacuum Sealer ]

What are your ideas and experiences for bug-free food storage?


  1. I do the freeze, let acclimate, then seal in a mylar bag with oxy absorbers in a new 5gallon bucket with new seal lid.
    so far so good, no bugs, no spoilage. Its simple and effective. Way cheaper than pre packaged plus then you can use brands you like.

  2. dunno if it was a good idea or not.
    I baked 1/2″ thick layer of rice on low about 250* for 30 to 45 minutes to kill ant pests.
    Put it in ziplock freezer bags when still warm, pushed the air out and sealed they kind of shrunk in the final cooling.
    It seems to have worked, I did that over 10 years ago, rice is still fine.

    was just a test, feel free to make your own successes and mistakes : )

  3. I vacuum seal the portion sizes that I will need, then store in the buckets. Buy a 25 pound bag of flour and then scoop out what I will need for a single loaf to be able to grab and go. I also buy bread machine mixes to allow me to make dark rye, or pumpernickel, or various wheat breads from grains I don’t store in bulk and open those sealed bags to vacuum myself since they have a header space of air when originally packaged.

    Then in a bread mix storage bucket I will also place pre-portioned ingredients to make soup blends. Different bean combinations vacuumed with their spices ready to go into a pot in serving size I’ll need, plus how much water to add written on the bag so there’s no searching for a recipe to verify. Helps me keep an accurate inventory of how many actual meals are on hand, plus allows me to add other items to the bucket like a Ziplock for the bread loaf when cooked or can of ham to add to navy bean soup.

  4. I don’t have enough freezer space to put bulk grains in nor do I want to put grains tray by tray in the oven,so I use the DE and O2 absorbers. When I lived in Portugal, my neighbors taught me to use bay leaves and eucalyptus leaves when storing grains.

    1. farmmom, I only leave my dry goods in freezer according to the space and time i have..a minimum of 3 full days, to 2 weeks. i did leave some for 2 months once in a near empty freezer..
      i take big containers..(a pc of freezer tape with date it goes in works- to help me keep up with dates.(… kitty litter jugs and set in freezer as space allows.. dog food, rice, corn in these mostly.. I do flour by the 10 lb bag, rice, beans. all in smaller units tucked n various corners… For grains i also want to have ability to sprout- so do not heat anything in oven.. that is just me.

    2. Could you please give more details on the use of bay and eucalyptus leaves? Thanks in advance!

  5. We store wheat berries mixed with DE. In 1999 we half buried three 2,500 gallon water tanks, covered them with a metal carport awning and then ordered a semi load of DE treated wheat from Montana. After 20+ years the wheat is just as good and insect and critter free as the day we put it in. Wheat stored as berries does not go rancid. After milling, the homemade 100% whole wheat bread is awesome. I’m hoping we got the wheat before all this GMO nonsense.
    We used the dry ice method to preserve 5 gallon buckets of pinto beans. Old beans taste fine, but they take longer to cook. We solved that problem with an InstantPot. From dry beans to soft and steamy in less than 2 hours!

  6. I have welding equipment that use argon and argon/CO2 mixed gas to shield the welding process. A modest number of DIY folks have small MIG welding set-ups these days as modern technology has driven cost way down. Of you have it or know someone who does, you’re all set.

    I attach an 18” metal tube to the gas line that would normally feed the welder and plunge it to the bottom of the bag in the bucket, turn on some gas and displace most of the air from the bottom up. Then toss in absorbers, seal the bag and pound the lid on. How to you know when the air is mostly out? Easy, the first few times set a small votive candle on top of the grain and purge until a bit after it goes out due to oxygen starvation. Once you know about how long that takes, just rinse and repeat with subsequent pails using about the same duration each time.

    1. Bill
      Do you think nitrogen gas would work? I’ve always wanted to try it.

      1. Yes, it is reasonably inert at room temp in a bucket. Helium would work too but keeping it in the bucket while filling might be… interesting.

        Other than some tire shops still promoting the nitrogen hoax for filling tires, you don’t encounter compressed N2 very often outside industrial places and university labs.

      2. Dry Ice Works, If you can get it. have to allow the oxygen to be displaced , and then seal bucket .

  7. I’m a big Mylar bag with oxygen absorbers fan. Then I seal up in buckets. As Ken states in his last article just important to remember to use the appropriate size O2 absorber for the right size bag, otherwise your wasting time and money

  8. Ok so maybe it’s just me ( never found any bugs in my long term storage ) but wouldn’t just rinsing your beans ,rice ECT after taking them out of storage for use get rid of the bugs? I know to some the thoughts of bugs being in their food is scary but in a lot of country’s bugs are eaten on a daily basis for protein so am I just missing something?

    1. poorman,
      Sounds like you have been doing a good job with your storage methods.. as for me. If i want rice, I want rice with no added protein… Nor do i want extra bug protein in my beans. I want to add my own choice.
      The issue with infested dry goods is stopping the bugs once they go into full hatch. and have eaten and left their excrement in your food.. Of course, commercial foods have those things “figured” or “regulated” in such things as peanut butter, chocolate bars, processed meats….

Comments are closed.