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Old 12-19-2010, 06:02 PM
jake Male jake is offline
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 82
Default Cat Litter Plastic Containers for Food Storage

Hi everyone,

I have a question for the food storage experts here...

I thought I found a clever solution to my need for food storage containers, when I started storing rice and other dry goods in empty cat litter containers that you get at the grocery store. I am using two different types, and both say they are 2 hdpe on the bottom, which I understand is a food safe type of plastic. But then I read that not all 2 hdpe plastics are really the same, and some might not be the best to store food in. What do you think, did I hit on a good idea in using these containers, or is this a dumb idea? I don't want to open one up in ten years and to find out that I have poisoned my rice somehow...

Here are the two types of cat litter containers I am talking about. (they are cleaned from the new cat litter dust before I added any food btw).

This first type is easy to stack btw.

This second type you can't stack, but it has a handy handle.

Note: I am putting these dry goods (flour, rice, sugar, oats) directly in the bucket, as I am not using mylar bags.

Last edited by jake; 12-19-2010 at 06:10 PM.
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Old 12-19-2010, 06:37 PM
goldengate goldengate is offline
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: in a mountain valley
Posts: 150

2hdpe plastic is the type of plastic that will be food grade. However, it is the type of chemical used to release the plastic from the mold that determines if the plastic will be food grade or not. The chemical that is not harmful to us is, of course, more expensive. You can know if a bucket is food grade or not if it is stamped so on the bottom. You can also contact the manufacturer to get that information. The other thing that determines if you want to use a plastic container for food is : what the previous contents were. Don't put food into anything that held non-food type contents that would potentially contaminate the food.
On all these counts, I would not use a kitty litter bucket for food. There is not much of a chance that the manufacturer used the more expensive chemical to release the bucket from the mold, given the projected use of the bucket. And, at least, I, would not want the chemicals from the litter in my food...even residual fumes that the bucket might have absorbed.
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Old 12-20-2010, 06:19 AM
NCLee NCLee is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 5,174

I agree. I wouldn't use any plastic container that didn't originally hold food to store food that's in direct contact with the plastic container. We don't have cats, so I don't know what's in "modern" cat litter. But, from what I see with TV commercials, there's no telling what's being used for clumping, killing odor, filler, etc. And, if it's coming in from China, these days, ??????

Even some of the previously deemed to be safe plastics turned out not to be so. Google: Plastics BPA

We don't know what the next research report will turn up that's being leached from plastics that'll do us in over time. While we can't get away from plastics these days, IMHO, we should take as many precautions, as we can. ie only re-use containers that previously held food.

To that end, for dry foods that'll fit, I've been using 2 liter soda bottles. And, glass canning jars for things that won't fit the soda bottles.

You can still use those cat litter containers for non-food storage self-reliant items that you store in bulk. For example: Age and dry bars of laundry soap by removing from the wrapper. Put in a basket or other container where air can circulate. After a couple of months, return to the wrappers and store in your bucket. Or, store boxes of canning lids in them. Extra socks. Shop supplies such as plumbing fittings, boxes of screws, or things like gardening hand tools.

I have one filled with various sizes of cord, rope, bungie cords, etc. To go with that is one with tent stakes of various types and landscaping timber nails. With that combo a tarp can be turned into a temporary home or cover a wood pile. With all the ropes/cords in one place is easy to find what's needed for whatever the need may be.

Back to storing food, check to see if you can find food grade 5 gallon buckets from places that sell prepared foods. Bakery section at your supermarket may have icing buckets for free or a small cost. If you have to use the cat litter buckets, put the DRY food in ziplock plastic bags. Bag in meal sized portions for things like beans. Don't know for sure, but beleive that lining the buckets with waxed paper, aluminum foil, freezer paper, and even paper grocery bags will help provide some further protection.

Hope these thoughts are helpful.


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Old 12-20-2010, 06:22 PM
jake Male jake is offline
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 82

Your comments are all very useful, thank you for responding every one...

Arraghh...I had a feeling I knew what the answer would I have to go back and find new containers for all that food!

Maybe I can put some of these dry goods in dry plastic water bottles...the big clear kind....that is drinking water safe, so it must be safe to store rice, etc.

BTW, another useful container that I have found are those plastic "whey protein" power containers. I pick a bunch up from people's recycling boxes each garbage day. Pretty sure that is food safe, as it had dry powder in it before hand.
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Old 12-27-2010, 05:40 PM
silvergramma silvergramma is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 446
Default litter buckets

yah I've used a few but have since switched over to bakery buckets with gasket lids..and then just use the litter buckets for feeding the livestock or carrying fencing tools and supplies..otherwise yah they stack great hinged lids and all.
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Old 12-31-2010, 07:04 PM
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CountryGuy CountryGuy is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Central PA
Posts: 335

SilverGramma -

HDPE is High Density Polyethylene this can be both general grade and food grade. Your cat litter will be general and I would not recommend storing food directly in it. I have no clue what nasties might be in the litter itself that might leach into the plastic. Possibly putting your food in a mylar bag and then inside the container should be ok. I'd leave the container open for a while until the smell from the litter is gone. Personally I wouldn't chance it either way given the ease of getting food grade containers from bakeries and delis and the like. Soda bottles and the like are ok to use.

It is not the mold release that determines whether plastic is food grade, though there is also food grade mold release (main ingredient is beef sterate). Food grade specified material comes from the material manufacturer and has to test to certain USDA & FDA requirements and requires the resin manufacturer to do additional steps during the polymerization process to ensure impurities are removed.

Last edited by CountryGuy; 12-31-2010 at 07:10 PM.
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Old 01-21-2011, 09:35 PM
Illini Warrior Male Illini Warrior is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 4
Default Just Use Common Sense

Food grade buckets cost three times the price of a similiar non-food bucket ....... just use some commmon sense and ask yourself "Why would a cat litter company pay triple for their buckets? .......

same thing for the commonly sold Home Depot, Lowes, Menards ect 5 gallon buckets ....... $2.50 a piece ...... check that against the supply houses that verify food grade buckets ...... $6-7 a piece ......

Besides, you will never see a colored food grade bucket ....... the dye pigment used is toxic and not FDA approved ......
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