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How Many Pounds of Rice in a 5 Gallon Bucket?

If you’re building a survival pantry, one of the best foods that you can have is rice, as it lasts a very long time, is cheap, and is easy to prepare. One of the most common methods to store survival rice is a five-gallon bucket. For planning purposes, knowing how much it can hold is important.

A five-gallon bucket can hold about 36 pounds of rice. However, this can vary depending on what method you use to store it inside. To maximize shelf life, you will want to vacuum seal mylar bags of rice before putting them in the bucket. The portion sizes will depend on your specific needs.

Overall, rice is the perfect survival food. If you’re stocking up your pantry, then it’s a good idea to have at least one full bucket, depending on the size of your family. Everything you need to know is in the article below, so keep reading to learn more!

Illustration of 5 Gallon Bucket With a Bag of Spilled Rice Nearby

Can I Store Rice in a 5 Gallon Bucket?

You can store rice in a 5-gallon bucket, as they are great for storing a lot of rice at once. You’ll first need to obtain a food-grade bucket, a Mylar bag for vacuum sealing, and a 2000 cc oxygen absorber packet, which are essential to keeping the food fresh for long periods.

Rice lasts a long time on its own, and you can easily purchase it in bulk. 

When you store rice properly, you can trust it’ll be there for you when you need it. The best way to keep dry, uncooked rice is to add a Mylar bag to the bucket before pouring in your rice.

A Mylar bag consists of food-grade materials, including aluminum. You can trust that any food you want to store won’t react negatively with the bag. Overall, a Mylar bag is there to keep out moisture, air, and light, which protects your food.

You’ll want to get a reliable Mylar bag for vacuum sealing to store rice, as it should protect the rice for up to 30 years if you do. 

I recommend portion-sized bags like these from Amazon. That way, you can be precise when you cook them for you or a number of other persons. You might also invest in some of these gallon-sized bags and/or 5-gallon bags as well, for overkill or larger portions.

In short, you can easily store rice safely in a five-gallon bucket. You just need to have a few additional items to keep the food fresh. You won’t want to keep the rice in the bucket alone if you’re planning on saving it in the long term for emergencies.

To maximize the shelf life, you’ll first want to use one of three methods. The easiest way is to line the bucket with an 18 x 28-inch Mylar bag, then pour the rice inside. Then, add an oxygen absorber to keep your rice fresh. Finally, write the date on the outside of the bucket.

For details on three ways to store rice long term, I wrote an article titled How to Store Rice and Beans Long Term: Tried and Tested Methods. While it’s about rice and beans, the methodology applies to any dried good and would work well for just rice. Be sure to check it out.

How Long Will a 5-Gallon Bucket of Rice Last?

A 5-gallon bucket of rice will last at least 30 years If you use a Mylar bag and properly vacuum seal them, and use a plastic bucket with a gamma seal lid. Rice is a dehydrated food, so it naturally already can last several years. You’ll want to store white rice since it has a longer shelf-life than brown rice.

Since rice can store for so long and works in many recipes, it’s a survival pantry staple

While the Mylar bag is the best way to keep the rice, you have a few other options. You can have it as a side or a main dish or even on its own. Plus, it takes a short amount of time to cook.

You can also store rice in Tupperware and store it in your pantry or even in your freezer. 

Freezing white rice in an air-tight container can make it last up to 30 years as well. However, many people don’t prefer to freeze their rice since they need to defrost it before cooking. Plus, you may not have access to a lot of storage space or even electricity in emergencies.

That’s why it’s best to store your rice in the pantry. 

You can store up to 36 pounds of it in a single bucket, which is enough to feed you and your household for a long time. It even lasts over 30 years this way, so you know it’ll still be safe to eat when you need it.

Finally, you’ll want to make sure the place where you store the rice is dry and cool. Excessive moisture and heat can cause bacteria to go. If you use an oxygen absorber like this type, you can prevent this from happening, but you’ll still want to have the rice in the proper location. 

Otherwise, it won’t last you as long as it could.

How To Tell if White Rice Went Bad

While white rice can last an extremely long time, you’ll still want to know what it looks like when it goes bad. Mold can appear as green, black, or dark blue spots on the rice. It may also have a slimy texture.

You’ll also want to throw it away if you notice bugs or water in your storage bag. These issues can also indicate holes in the bag, meaning air and water could spoil the rice. 

It’s better not to risk eating spoiled food and getting sick!

It’s infrequent that white rice spoils, but you should always do your best to package it properly before storing it. That way, you know for sure it will stay safe to eat.

How Many Pounds of Rice Can Fit in a 5 Gallon Mylar Bag?

You can fit 33 pounds of white rice in a five-gallon Mylar bag. Depending on how much the rice settles will allow you to add more. It helps to shake the rice and even out the top as you add more into the bag.

Since a five-gallon bucket can hold 36 pounds of rice, you have enough room to put a full Mylar bag inside. This method is still the best, and you can still hold the maximum amount of rice in the bucket.

How To Seal Mylar Bags

Next, you’ll want to know exactly how to seal the Mylar bag, or it could go bad. These bags seal with heat, keeping them extremely air-tight. There are multiple ways for you to close them as long as you can reach about 375℉ (190.55℃).

These are all of the ways that you could seal the bag. The instructions can vary depending on where you buy the Mylar bag, so make sure to read any instructions that come with them first.

Here are three ways you can seal your mylar bag:

  • A clamshell heat sealer
  • A hair straightener 
  • A typical iron

You apply the heat to the last two inches of the bag, trapping the rice inside. 

The clamshell and straightener are straightforward to use, as you simply clamp down on the end of the bag with the item set to high heat.

However, you’ll need to leave the whole bag sitting upright with the iron. This process can be a bit tricky to do. I recommend ironing against a scrap piece of wood or other material to form the seal. 

The easiest method is using a clamshell heat sealer, although it can be pricey.

How Much Rice You Need For Your Family

Depending on the size of your family and the duration of the emergency, you could need more or less rice. It’s always better to have more rice than not enough. 

In general, you’ll want to have at least a five-gallon bucket of white rice per person.

However, that would be for situations that aren’t ongoing. If you want to have enough rice to last everyone in your family for a year, it’d be better to have a lot more than that.

In general, you should store about 50 pounds of rice for every person in your family. So, as an example, if you have a family of six, you’d need to have 300 pounds of white rice. Luckily, this food item is highly low-cost and easy to buy in bulk.

So, you’ll want to think about how long the emergency could be and how much everyone in your family will eat. If 50 pounds of rice sounds like way too much for a person to eat in a year, you always want to have more than you think you need.

Closeup of Serving of White Rice Dry and Cooked
Make sure you are precise when you measure your servings.

Is It Better To Store It Myself or Pay a Survival Food Supplier?

It’s better to buy rice yourself, and you can buy the food in bulk from various stores online. On average, white rice only costs $0.71 per pound. That means to fill a five-gallon bucket, you’d only need to spend $25.56 on average.

Even if you’re looking to supply rice for a family of six for a year, you’d need 300 pounds of grain to do so. The cool thing is that you can get crazy deals by shopping at restaurant suppliers. Many places offer large 50-pound bags of white rice for incredibly cheap.

When you buy from a survival food supplier, you’ll end up spending more to get the same amount of rice since they tend to sell in much smaller bags. However, you’ll have access to food kits and other types of foods. 

Many also sell emergency blankets and other supplies.

You’ll want to think about what you want. How much do you want to spend on rice, and how much do you need to feed everyone?

If you do decide to just outsource your survival food supplies, I recommend My Patriot Supply. They are reasonably priced, well-respected, and best of all, known to taste better than their competitors.

Why Rice is the Best Survival Food

Rice is the best survival food, so many people consider it the main staple in their survival pantry. It’s a reliable source of carbohydrates, which give your body the energy it needs. In popularity, it’s second only to dry beans.

White rice is also very calorie-dense, meaning you can survive on small amounts of it for a very long time. Of course, you’ll need more nutrients in your diet, but white rice is a great place to start for calories and feeling full.

Plus, there are plenty of benefits you can enjoy too. White rice is gluten-free, rich in carbs, easy to digest, and very healthy for your gut.

Finally, one cup of uncooked rice makes about three cups of cooked rice, which is a large amount of food. It takes a while to get through an entire five-gallon bucket of rice, so you can rely on it during an emergency when you don’t have access to other food sources.

Why Choose White Rice

White rice is a favorite among survivalists, with good reason. This dry food has an extremely long shelf life and expands a lot during cooking. 

That means you can store a ton of food in a more compact space.

Plus, all you need to do is cook the rice in a pot and water. The preparation of this food is straightforward too, and you can add more ingredients to it to make a more satisfying meal. Finally, rice can leave you feeling fuller for longer, so it’s perfect for emergencies when you have to stretch out your stored food.

White rice gives you a lot of bang for your buck.

Are There Downsides?

There are very few downsides to white rice. The most significant is that it does require water to cook since you have to boil it. Because of this, you’ll want to make sure you have other dry options in your survival pantry. 

However, you will need to have access to water during any emergency, so many people continue to choose rice as their primary storage food.

Additionally, you’ll want to add vegetables to the rice if you have access to them. Rice doesn’t have many nutrients, and you’ll want to add some vegetables to provide more fiber and vitamins. 

Overall, rice is very filling and lasts a long time, so you won’t have to worry much about eating enough when you fill a five-gallon bucket.

Final Thoughts

Overall, you can store a lot of white rice in a five-gallon bucket. If you’re looking for a way to keep rice for an emergency, rice is usually the best option. 

You can store up to 36 pounds of rice for decades when you seal it in a Mylar bag.

Rice is perfect for survival pantries, as it lasts years, expands when you cook it, and is cost-efficient. You can even add toppings and other ingredients to increase the flavor; rice goes great with everything. For all of these benefits, many people choose it for survival prepping.

For more, check out How to Store Rice and Beans Long Term: Tried and Tested Methods.


Tuesday 5th of July 2022

Hi Jim! In order to store white rice long-term, is it necessary to open the bags of rice and pour them into the 5 gal buckets before storing them... Or as an added measure of protection, can the rice remain in the bags they were originally packaged in and then stored in the 5 gal buckets?

Jim James

Tuesday 12th of July 2022

You definitely want some added protection inside the buckets. The original packaging is fine, but even better is to transfer it in portions into mylar bags and vacuum seal them. It all depends on how long you plan to store them before using. If you want ultra long-term storage you need to remove air and mitigate moisture as much as possible. Thanks for the question and good luck!