Uses for a gamma seal lid

Gamma Lid for 5 Gallon Bucket Seal – Uses and How to..

What is a Gamma Lid

Gamma Seal Lids (UPDATED – color choices shown below), also known simply as “gamma lids“. They will effectively create an airtight seal for a typical 5 gallon plastic bucket with the convenience of a screw-on lid.

Also, 5 gallon gamma lids fit UN Standard 3.5 Gallon, 5 Gallon, 6 Gallon, and 7 Gallon Buckets with a 12″ Diameter.

Once installed, Gamma seal lids enable easy-on, easy-off because they simply screw-on and screw-off (spin).

Gamma seal lids convert 5 gallon plastic buckets into airtight storage containers with easy access – of which the benefits and uses are numerous.

what is a gamma seal lid

Note, in the context of prepping and preparedness (using buckets for storing dry foods long term).. It is recommended to store these foods within a sealed Mylar bag fitted inside the 5 gallon bucket, along with a 2000 cc oxygen absorber in the bag.

In other words, don’t solely rely on the gamma lid seal for long term storage (e.g. wheat, rice, etc..). Rather, the gamma seal lid provides excellent easy access for AFTER you’ve opened the Mylar bag. It will keep everything dry and free from further oxygen accumulation as you begin to consume what’s inside.

Keep reading for other common uses..

Gamma Lids come in various colors

Colors may assist in quickly identifying contents.

Popular Gamma Lids:
(view on amzn)

Gamma lid colors
  1. Black
  2. White
  3. Orange
  4. Red
  5. Green

The following looks to be the best price as of this post for a set of six 5 gallon food grade buckets.
Durable 90 Mil thickness:

Food Grade 5-gallon Buckets

How To Install & Use Gamma Seal Lids

The outer ring “snaps” to the top of the bucket with the help of a rubber mallet.

First remove the inner threaded lid from the ring (the two pieces come screwed together).

Place the bucket on a solid surface. Tap the portion of the gamma lid with the O-ring – hard enough to seat it all the way around the bucket’s diameter.

Work your way around the ring until it all ‘snaps’ in place.

Tip: It will be easier with a warm bucket and lid rather than cold.

Then, simply spin on the detachable lid portion.

Tip: Before installing the snap-on ring, be sure there’s a gasket (O-ring) seated inside. This is what provides the main bucket-to-lid air-tight seal. Also be sure there actually is an O-ring around the perimeter of the spin on/off lid (in case it fell out). This provides the air-tight seal of the removable lid.

Gamma Seal Lids - O Ring

Gamma Seal Lid Features

  • Air tight to a reasonable extent (due to the rubber gaskets)
  • Easy and Fast to open (spin on/off)
  • Variety of colors may assist inventory control
  • Stack-able to an extent
  • Re-sealed over and over again
  • Protects contents while providing easy access
  • Keeps dry foods fresher longer (eg dog food)
  • Leak proof (two gaskets, one on each part)
  • Keeps insects and moisture out
  • BPA free and Food Grade safe

The Many Uses For A Gamma Seal Lid

  • Dry pet food storage
  • ‘Working’ inventory storage of dry foods (rice, wheat, beans, oatmeal, sugar, salt etc..)
  • Very handy when accessing every day items
  • Emergency supplies
  • Camping and Fishing gear
  • Bulk Laundry Detergents (larger sizes save you money)
  • Potting/Planting Soil Mix
  • Boating (keep towels dry, part spares, etc.)
  • Pesticides, Chemicals
  • Chicken Feed
  • 100’s of other uses!

Tip regarding sugar storage: Some time ago I had purchased a big bag of sugar and dumped it in a 5-gallon bucket for long term storage. Eventually it turned into a brick. Maybe because that bucket was on a cold concrete floor – possibly creating condensation to some extent (enough to brick the sugar). Nowadays I just buy the small bags (4 pounders?) and set them in the bucket without dumping. Set bucket on piece of wood resting on concrete floor.

A Few More Tips

STACKING Gamma Lid Buckets: With Gamma Seal Lids, avoid stacking buckets too high if the contents are heavy. This puts additional stress on the threaded lids. A typical 5 gallon pail of rice or wheat weighs about 30 pounds. If you stack them more than two high I would simply place a board between each one so the weight is transferred to the bucket’s edge (no problem).

LABELS: While color coded gamma lids help, we label each and every bucket. It’s easy if you use “white artist tape” because it will peel off readily later on, and a Sharpie writes on it quite well.

LUBRICATE GASKETS: To extend longevity and pliability of the rubber O-ring gaskets, DO NOT use petroleum jelly or petroleum based lubricants because this will eventually ruin (eat) the rubber. Instead use a silicone lube such as silicone plumbers grease:

Silicone Grease

Are Gamma Seal Lids Worth It?

Are they worth the money? Yes, I believe they are worth it.

In my opinion there are uses where it’s so convenient that it is worth the money.

If you seal a bucket with the standard snap-on lid, it becomes very difficult to remove and is certainly NOT convenient for accessing its contents from time to time.

Tip: For standard lids, you need a special tool (bucket lid wrench / pail opener). This one is a better one because it’s metal (aluminum). Whereas the plastic one’s aren’t as good:

Winco Pail Opener

What about you? Do any of you use Gamma Lids?

[ Read:

Foods that will last ‘forever’

Diatomaceous Earth For Long Term Storage Of Grains

Oxygen Absorbers For 5-Gallon Bucket Food Storage


  1. No complaints about the gamma seal. Only had 2 problems. I cracked one by using it as a step stool. The other one I made a small crack by using a rubber mallet as an opener because I over tightened it. My bad on both. So I made an opener out of a 1×2 with wood block cleets that fit toward the out side of the inner rim. And the handle sticks out about 6 inches wider on each side of the bucket. Like a (redneck) spanner

  2. you should keep a mixed color assort of Gamma lids to create a bucket “pantry” for SHTF times – you’ll be cracking open the buckets of long term dry gods foods and they’ll need protection against contamination & pests …

  3. I use regular lids for long term, and gamma lids for the stuff I need to access regularly.

  4. Yep, white for Rice, yellow for Corn, red for Beans, blue for Oats, and Black for non-food items.

  5. I have had one on my outside chicken feeder for a couple of year now. It works great but it does leak water when it rains a lot, So I have a cover over the top of it with the gamma lid to keep the food dry. It stays outside in the winter and summer. I use then for food storage like the others also.

    1. Matt in OK
      Gamma lids are used for accessibility to pull food out of the buckets, any time you need that item from the container. They are designed to keep bugs and other vermin out of your food source.

      As “air tight” to a degree, they are not Mylar bags which are designed for long term food viability.

      Mylar 5 mil(or greater) for long term storage, used with the oxygen absorbing packets. You can use a iron or curling iron after you have squeezed what oxygen out to seal the bag.

      Is this what you are wanting to know?

      1. Not so much as what I was wanting to know but what I knew.
        I appreciate it. It’s better received from elsewhere than me.

  6. We use Gamma lids for our easy access-everyday items such a flour,rice,pasta,etc. For our long term storage ( years) items we use the solid lids .When we stack buckets we always put a 14″ x 14″ plywood piece between buckets to avoid any cracking and to distribute the weight a little better. Our outer labels are masking tape with magic marker writing.

    1. We use them the exactly like you. Very handy when accessing every day items.

  7. Well I HOPE SO! Guess we will all find out in the long run. When I purchase grain I always check the inside then add more absorbers and a gamma. The grain inside is sealed in mylar but some times in haste the supplier tears the mylar when putting on the regular seal lid.

  8. Now if they would only start making then for the 4 gallon square pails. Easier to move, more storage per shelf space. I do like the 5 gallon ones and use a number of them.

    1. If you have had back problems, the 2 or 3 gallon are ideal.
      I haven’t had any issues with food stored in these and I’ve used them for many years…….from Sam’s Club bakery dept for free.

  9. Before you place the gamma ring on your bucket know there is absolutely NO way it is coming off that bucket unless you have broken it.
    Ask me how I know…LOL.

    Put the ring on the wrong bucket ooohhh well live & learn rowl

  10. We use them, for the bulk food items we access on a regular basis such as beans, wheat, rice and oatmeal. Have done so since 2007. They are awesome. Keeps the bugs and other critters out, and the food fresh. With a practiced flick of the wrist you can spin them all the way shut! They are a bit spendy when you first buy them, but last so long they are a real bargain……

  11. Yeppers
    I use the heck out of these things.
    Go to the local Bakery and get some “Usually” free 3.5 gallon buckets,
    a perfect size for most commodities.

  12. We use them like everyone else. Have couple dozen full. Pasta left in original boxes two years or so, beans rice grains vac sealed. Keep couple on hand empty for whatever. Gamma lids are great, I can usually snap lid on with a knee and hands no mallet needed.

  13. I had 2 Gama rings break on me during storage. I guess the Lowes buckets are slightly bigger in diameter. Luckily everything was in Mylar bags.

  14. I have to share this in regard to storing long term…funny?? Not so much. I don’t check my shelves every day..obviously for a few days….I discovered an entire case of green beans leaking onto the shelf and into another case or two. I just discarded the cans, cleaned the mess, left the fan on for a few hours. It dried fast and no smell.
    So, I decided to check all cases (lots of cases!!) on all shelves. This is a Goody’s storage warehouse shelf bought at a yard sale and I love it. 8′ tall(had to cut metal to get inside doorway)4 ‘ wide and 2’ deep(X2). The shelves are 1″ thick and adjustable…a really nice shelf.
    Well, it took a while but I checked the dates inside the cases, rearranged by year date, and found a BB date of 2009 on a can of corn!! Yep!! I don’t even recognize the brand–so I used it with a zucchini dish I like and it was fine, taste just as fresh as any can of corn.
    So, don’t throw out those cans until you are sure they are bad. 11 years is a long time, but that can was fine.

  15. A friend cut a hole on the top of a gamma seal (be still my heart) and put the pole end of a close washer thru and attached it to the washer bottom. You can wash your clothes in the 5 gallon bucket and close the top with the gamma seal, the top pole sticking out and nothing splashes out. Hope I explained this right.

  16. We originally bought ours to use on our Super Pails in storage, since once you remove the flat top they come with you’re left to pry up and pound down each time you get into the bucket. Wound up using every single one of the gamma seals on other buckets in the meantime though because they are so convenient when adding staples as they’re procured. I always use a Mylar or vacuum seal for items as double protection. And the colored lids help identify which bucket to pull out from the stack.

    The seals can get tight. As a result we southern engineered a “wrench” to give leverage out of two U shaped pieces of metal that fit over the ridge section and fastened those to a handle with screws. It works like a charm and makes getting in so much easier.

  17. Some of the Gamma Seal lids have a manufacture fin from the plastic press process used to create the lids. To improve the seal, trim up the fin so that the gasket seal is not partially defeated as it rides over the fin. A few seconds with a pocket knife will drastically improve the air seal capability of new lids.

  18. I didn’t read all the other comments.
    My bit here is when putting the main ring onto the bucket try not to do it when the plastic is very cold.
    When I put several together I let the sun warm them up.
    Cold plastic under extreme stress(hitting it with a rubber mallet) will crack.

    Just a suggestion.

  19. I use for long term storage as well. Though I’ll admit I tend to go a little overboard, rice/beans/etc get sealed in Mylar and then put into 5 gallon buckets with gamma sealed lids. I like them for there easy access more than anything else

    1. That’s exactly how I do it. Mylar with O2 absorbers (and some DE), and then into the bucket (with Gamma seal lid).

  20. Yes, I use a lot of these gamma lids regularly on 5 gallon buckets. Dog food, cat food, Sugar, all my different grains that are used regularly (buy in 50# bag, put #20 away for long term storage in Mylar bags and the remaining 30# in the color band that references that particular grain). Also use them for quick grab and go kits- each bucket packed with 10 day food & necessaries.

    I find them at Tractor splay for $6.99 here and there. Buckets could be purchased for $2.99 but seem to have gone up lately. Lowe’s has gammas for under $8.

  21. The wife bought some containers that came with gamma lids. Some are 14x14x20″ tall.Some are 14x20x20″ tall with a sloped top. They are a hard plastic off white. Pretty sure the containers are made by Gamma too.I think she got them at a feed store. We keep bulk dogfood,cat food, and rice in the others. The wife used to just pour the food/rice loose in the containers. Now she puts it all in food grade 2 gallon bags with twist ties and then places them in the containers.
    I’ve had sugar harden up in 5 gallon buckets. Broke it up and ran it through a hand grinder.Pain in the neck.So I put it in 5 gallon food grade bags and oxygen absorbers now in buckets. They have gotten pricey though.

    1. I have a few buckets of sugar and only one hardened. It was only at the top of the bucket and I just took a long kitchen spoon/spatula and hacked the middle and it fell apart in lumps but I’m still using it–it is fine and I just hack it….it isn’t really a brick, just lumps.

    2. Long time reader, first time posting. I’ve gathered much information from you all and appreciate the wisdom in so many of your posts.

      Winco has 2 gallon buckets and Gamma Seal lids to fit them. They fit on lower cupboard shelves and are handy for using daily. When large buckets don’t fit in your kitchen these are a nice alternative.
      About 10 bucks for the set.

      1. For those who have a Winco near them, that’s a decent price. Thanks for the tip..

  22. I wish food grade buckets manufacturers would attach the gasket ring on the bucket so when we order the gamma seal is already attach. I’m willing to pay a little more. Right now I have no one to help me withit and having trouble attaching to gasket on the bucket.

    1. Mary:
      From an old fart, about attaching the Gama lids.
      Dont know the recomended way, but i just remove the screw lid from the ring that fits the bucket.
      Place the ring on the bucket, than use a rubber mallet to beat the heck out of the ring till it snaps on.
      Have never had one fail or break…..

  23. Is 75 mil good enough for long-term food storage or should I get something higher like 90 mil?

    1. As far as the storage goes, it should not make much difference. I use Mylar bags in all my grain buckets. The bags provide protection and the bucket protects the bag from critters..

      When I’ve needed buckets, I didn’t seem to have a choice of thickness at that time.

  24. At the risk of repeating myself from 3 years ago.

    Go to the local Grocery Store, get to know the Bakery Dept. They go through all sorts of Food Grade Buckets, by the hundreds (or more) a year.
    2 gallon, 3.5 gallon and 5 gallon with the lids are “usually” there for the asking.
    BTW a 3.5 gallon holds 25 pounds of Rice, Flour, etc quite well.
    The lids are not the best, but good for sealing non food stuff (once removed the seal is not so good) just get new lids.

    As far as Gamma Lids. I love the heck out of em. Unfortunately reather expensive.
    So, use a Gamma Lid for the buck of XYX ypur currently using, use regular lids on the rest, when the Gamma Bucket is empty, simply wash the heck out of the Gamma one. Dry the heck out of it, than fill it back up with the other bucket…
    DO NOT try to remove the Gamma Lid, or you will be buying a new one.

    Basically, why buy 15 Gamma Lids for yhe 15 buckets of Rice ???
    Simply Economics my dear Watson.

  25. I have a short 2×4 to use with the rubber mallet when seating lids as sometimes I don’t know my own strength! LoL.

    RE: Buckets vs. Buckets and Bags

    I have had two unused 5 gal buckets split open at the bottom. I guess it was just age and or cheap buckets. If I had no bag and grain only in them, I would have lost it all and created a huge mess.

    Now all my grain buckets have Mylar bags. The bags protect the grain and the buckets protect the bags. YMMV.

    I gave up on the colored lids to ID the contents – to many buckets and not enough colors!. I now just label the bucket, and I have a clipboard with each bucket listed with the items and BB dates so I can find the oldest items first to help rotate stock.

    I also found pet food containers with Gama-Seal lids. They make them in different sizes. COSTCO sells the small ones, but I have a couple 50 lb. They even make 100 lb. I got mine from a pet food store. Lots of storage space if you don’t need to move them, as would be the case on a bottom shelf.

    1. Good tip regarding the 2×4 and rubber mallet. Also, I too label my buckets (sharpie written on white artist tape for each bucket).

    2. I thought the same thing with the 5 colors–I have waaaaay more than 5 things in buckets.

  26. Hey interesting article Ken. Thanks for your tips everyone else.
    I got to know a body-builder whom uses lots of Musashi Protein Powder. The protein powder come in black 5 liter screw top containers. They are thick flexible plastic that bounce when dropped, even their lids. So far they are great. Bodybuilders and their families usually throw them out without a care. They told me this when I asked what they do when they are empty. Luckily for me they did not care to ask me why I wanted them. If they did I was going to say for home brewing hobby or general use in the garage. Another thing I use is the extra large white screw-top containers of Wild Salmon Fish Oil capsules to store seeds in. These are only 1 liter in volume. Pays to know who’s “trash” is thrown out in new condition as its still another man’s treasure!

  27. You know, I don’t use these special buckets.
    I have used walmart and lowes buckets and a few I won’t mention where they came from.
    But, I have not ever opened one of these $4 buckets and found bad food.
    I just yesterday gave away 10 buckets to one and 3 to another…one mennonite and one amish. I converted some of large to small 2/3 gallon buckets and empties lots of buckets of water since I have 30 gallon drums now for water.
    I just want those on a budget to know, it has been many years when I started storing food and so far, I have enjoyed the food I stored.
    May not be same for others, but I keep these buckets in a pleasant temp. and even have a fan on really hot days WITH the a/c on.

  28. I thought the GS tops were the best thing, I do like them.
    After putting them on 25 of my buckets I thought..
    that’s over $300 I spent on just the gamma seal lids.
    It was over a few years but still, so the rest get the cheap $2.70 snap-on lids.

    Some things just don’t need the gs lids, originally I used them for everything like the soap bucket that also has plastic and metal scrubbies and?? ivory hand soap inside.
    The one with lighters, matches.. butane.
    One with cooking spray, soy sauce, gotta have something simple for all that horrible rice.

    1. Horse:
      I’m with you just love those GS lids…. for the right porpoise.
      The buckets that get opened regularly.
      For the other 50+ buckets, use the $2.xx snap on lids. Chances are we’ll never open them anyways, at least I hope not.

  29. All of my rice and bean buckets have the gs tops.
    If I did it all again only 1/3 would have them.
    It is what it is.
    Chances are? one can hope but then there’s the war machine and reality.

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