Have You Ever Used Gamma Seal Lids?

Frank and I have long bought things in bulk. We discovered shortly after we were married and began teaching school that we could buy green beans by the case at Sam’s Club for less per can than buying them separately at the grocery store or even Wal-Mart. Frank assured me when we got married that I would never have to worry about money, and he was right. He has kept that promise for over 30 years now. We’ve always joked that he is one of those men that could get blood out of a turnip.

So, what does that have to do with Gamma Seal Lids? Well, prior to going back to Alaska in 2000, we had many dry goods stored in #10 cans. It worked great, but it took up a lot of room, and necessitated a lot of

packaging – the cans, a plastic lid to use after can was opened, boxes to organize the cans and make them easier to stack. We had seen many items stored in six gallon buckets with mylar liners and regular bucket lids, but that type of purchasing was out of our price range. We just weren’t willing to pay that much extra for the contents of the bucket. The only thing we stored in buckets at that time was wheat. We had some five gallon buckets of wheat with standard snap down lids.

When we returned from Alaska the summer of 2008, we quickly started stocking up our food storage. We knew the markets were on shaky ground and the housing market was quickly sliding into collapse territory. The need to have as many things on hand in case of a catastrophic collapse was very great. Within a few months of our arrival, we were able to accumulate a decent amount of food that could hold us over until we could, hopefully, produce more. By January we had chickens, goats and plenty of seeds for the new garden spot.

Somewhere along the way, we ran across some Gamma Seal lids. I don’t remember where or why, but we did. We debated storing our dry goods like flour, wheat, beans, rice, etc., in #10 cans again, but the logistics and timing just didn’t fit our current situation. We decided to try five gallon buckets with Gamma Seal lids. Our research indicated that plastic buckets with a food grade rating topped by a Gamma Seal lid should keep our food fresh and free from insects. Since we had not tried this technique before, we were a little skeptical at first. If you want to try something like this do your research, and make sure the buckets you use are food grade plastic.

Now, six and a half years later, I have absolutely no qualms about using this technique. At first we added a few oxygen packets to the buckets. But then we realized that after opening the buckets a few times to fill up our canisters, the oxygen packets would no longer be viable, so we quit using them. We still add a few bay leaves to each bucket of flour, rice or corn meal, but that is the only addition we make.

It is fairly easy to add a Gamma Seal to a bucket. First we wash everything well in soap and water, the bucket, the rim and the lid. It takes a while for all of the sections of the lid to dry completely before use. Then we attach the rim of the seal to the bucket using a towel and a hammer. If you are much younger and invincible, you may just be able to push down hard enough to snap these rings in place. We use a hammer. That’s it, your buckets are ready to fill. We buy our buckets from Atwood’s because they have the best price around. Every so often they put them on sale which is the best time to buy. We have friends that reuse buckets from bakeries or other places they have found them.

There is one little flaw we ran across, and it’s not actually a flaw with the Gamma Seal lids. I’ll do my best to explain this. When you stack one bucket on top of another with the Gamma Seal lids on top, it has a nice fit and it seats well. We stack them three or four high, and put the heavier items, like sugar, on the bottom. What we found is, if you tilt the three buckets on top of the bottom one forward, instead of the weight being equally distributed on the bottom bucket, then all of the weight of the top three buckets is focused in one small location causing the screw on lid to crack. This is not a fault of the Gamma Seal, it is operator error. Too much weight in one focal point, instead of being equally distributed. It took us a while to figure out what was happening. To alleviate this, just don’t tilt the buckets forward, lift them straight up.

The best prices I have found for Gamma Seal lids are from the Ohio-Pierce Companies at freckleface.com. They have a number of ways you can buy. I usually get them by the dozen. One thing I have learned is to check and see if each rim has a gasket included. If not, Freckle Face will be happy to send a replacement. Just make sure you check them when they come in and not six months later, like I did one time, which was too late to get a free replacement. 

Also, food for thought. Once you put the rim on a bucket, we have not been able to figure out a way to get it off without destroying it. We use these lids on almost all of our buckets. And to identify the contents, we use duct tape. If you change the contents, change the duct tape. We put the contents and the date on the outside of the bucket and then stack them with the label out. These are little things we have learned from experience. Put the heavier stuff on the bottom, don’t tilt the upper buckets forward, and put the labels where you can see them. This system works exceptionally well. We have yet to have any problem with any of our food stored this way. Some of it is in the house and some of it is out in the garage. Storing foods in an out building where temperatures fluctuate in the summer and winter does impact the longevity of the food. But sometimes you have to make due with the space you have. I figure it would be better to have the food and not need that much, than to not have it and need it.

Until next time – Fern

29 thoughts on “Have You Ever Used Gamma Seal Lids?

  1. Home Depot has them in the paint department, single lids only for $7.25, black only or can be ordered at 6 for $39.94, black only, free shipping to your local store.

  2. Katie,We had the same problem. Cracks right in the middle of the lids. 8 red lids total and five were unused in a closet. I contacted Gamma2 and they've told me they won't replace them because I bought them at Costco. I bought a 24 pack; 8 each of red, blue, and white. They expect me to pry all the lids off and empty out all the buckets so I can return them. It's clearly a manufacturing defect because all the other lids are fine and they've all been stored the same way and in the same location.They do make it hard to contact them, but I found the number, 760-734-4003 choose opinion 2 and you'll reach a guy named Casey. He supposedly spoke with the owner who refused to replace their faulty lids. I'm going to speak with Costco next.I found your comment because I've been trying to find out if this is a common occurrence. I can tell you it is. I've found quite a few other bad reviews. Same exact problem. I think Gamma2 seems to be a sleazy company from what I can tell.

  3. Hi Katie, I'm very sorry for your loss, and these are not inexpensive items, either. We also ordered some Gamma Seal lids, not from Emergency Essentials, and months later we found the rubber gaskets were missing from two of them. And, like you, it was months past the original date. After that incident, when we order items that we're going to stock extras for, we always check when they come in to make sure everything is okee-dokee. Over the years we have probably purchased close to 100 Gamma Seal lids. Two or three came without the rubber gaskets, and we have had none damaged. I'm sorry for your misfortune. Take care.Frank

  4. I ordered a lot of Gamma Lids from Emergency Essentials. Because I still had some unused, when they arrived, I put the box in the entry hall closet, unopened, where it stayed for about 10 months until I needed some lids. When I opened them, 21 had cracked lids. Some had one crack in the center and some had a \”Y\” shaped crack right in the middle. I called EE, but of course it was too late to return them after that long. I tried to call the Gamma2 Lid company, but two of their numbers are no longer in service. The other number has no one to answer, but just asks the caller to leave a message, which so far has not been returned. Since the lids were unused and were not stored where there were any temperature extremes, I feel this is a manufacturing defect. I suspect that the Gamma2 Lid company makes it hard to contact them because of the high failure rate of their product.

  5. The FedEx driver brought us an order from Emergency Essentials just this morning. We have used and enjoyed Emergency Essentials for a number of years. I have been ordering from them since before Y2K, and I will order from them again. I bought my 55 gallon water barrels from them and a whole bunch of other stuff. Thank you for the comment.Frank

  6. Hello. Your comment is very well received in our house. Fern and I were just talking about how the Gamma Seal lids make life so much easier, especially for aging hands and aging muscles. We are very happy with them and have a couple of extra cases. I wonder if anybody out there stores ammunition in a five gallon bucket with a Gamma Seal lid? Thank you for your excellent comment.Frank

  7. Fiona, I have ripped my fingernails off more than once trying to remove stubborn bucket lids. I think for Christmas this year, I'll give some of those lid remover gizmo thingys. We don't have any bakeries near my house. I guess there is one doughnut shop. So if I save money by buying pre-used buckets from a bakery, will I then be rolling in the dough? Food for thought…… It's been a long day. Take care.Frank

  8. Hello. You're probably not missing anything, no. It's just one of those things that makes getting into your stored food a little bit more convenient. We have found that it does make a difference when you're dealing with processed foods like flour or cornmeal. It seems to help minimize the weevil problem. And remember, always pick the lesser of two weevils. Thank you for the comment.Frank

  9. Jan, thank you for the comment. We have a couple of those gizmos you're talking about, and they work excellent on the regular type bucket lids. But they won't work on the Gamma Seal lids because they're built just a little bit different. But you're right about one thing, I can't ever find that tool when I need it. Thank you.Frank

  10. Vickie, you're more than welcome. We've been using these things for a number of years and really like them. They do make a little tool, that fits across the center to help turn the lid, because sometimes I, Frank, close the lid and she, Fern, can't get it open. Some of the hazards of life. But, it is a handy tool, seriously. Thank you for reading.Frank

  11. I love Gamma Lids, we've been using them for 7-8 years with no issues but I don't stack my 5 gal buckets over 2 high, because I am vertically challenged. I only use the Gamma's on stock that is currently in use, I have a few of the lid openers http://www.lowes.com/pd_336037-995-34556_0__?productId=3367170, that are indispensable, when I need to open other containers. I agree as we age and the dexterity/strength in our hands diminishes having the tool(s) can make all the difference. As far as obtaining buckets, we found a small bakery that uses 4 gal pails, they sell them for $1 each, had to inquire at many places before we found that gem. I also color code my lids, and am glad I'm not the only 'weird' one!! Glad you are both on the mend, I enjoy your blog immensely.

  12. Wonderful post…we had not heard of these Gamma lids but have carefully got the lids with the food grade buckets Ralph gets from the bakery, They seal on very well even if they have been used once. [ I found this out when I closed the lids on several buckets then could not get the lids unsealed] Our neighbor needed buckets and had an extra lid plier so he got pails we got the lid plier. I add a moisture packet to a bucket and keep my canning lid rings in one of the two gallon buckets. I have a very good Gardening marker to write on the lids and the sides of each bucket as to whats in them and the date of the contents.

  13. Fern: Home Depot (and I'm sure any paint place) sells a plastic tool that levers open those pesky lids for you. I don't think it was even $5. I got mine last year while remodeling and if you go around a few times, like on a regular paint can, they come off with no damage. It looks a little like a C clamp but with no screws and a long handle. I love mine and hate when I misplace it! Need another one. Jan in NWGA

  14. Wow. I had no idea these things even existed! I got so excited I went on-line and found that Lowe's also carries them at $7.25 each. Although that is a bit more than the on-line deal, when I figured in shipping ($18.00 at Pierce-Ohio), it's pretty much a wash for me. So, I will probably go down to Lowes and buy a few tomorrow! Thank you so much for writing the post! I love reading your blog and learning all you have to share!

  15. Marivene, good idea. We use the clear plastic food containers from Sam's Club that come in 8 quart and 6 quart sizes for canisters. They are rectangular and all use the same size lid. What you're talking about is an excellent idea also. Where do you purchase your Gamma Seal lids products? Thank you very much.Frank

  16. Tewshooz, thank you for the comment. When we need to move more than just a couple of buckets, we use a 2 wheeler, sometimes called a dolly. But, then we use that dolly for quite a few items. We just keep air in the tires and it sure saves us a lot of back work. We have had no bug problems since starting to use the Gamma Seal lids. That might be a good item to stock up on. Thanks, again.Frank

  17. You're welcome, Kathi. I have a friend that stores her rings that way, then saw on someone's blog that they did the same thing. So, I started doing it that way, and it works great. I am doing much better, thank you for asking.Fern

  18. We have also used the smaller white Gamma lids for the 2 pound pantry pails. I stack them 3 high in the pantry closet off the kitchen, for easy access to oats, dry beans, etc. & refill as needed from the larger pails. They are a nice size that does not have to be refilled constantly, but that is also not too heavy to move around easily. I have also used the smaller size to store dried apples, when we have a bumper crop.

  19. Good stuff to know, thank you, Fern. I noticed in one photo how you store your canning rings; I use the same method. I hope you're recovering well.

  20. We have used Gamma lids for years. Regular Gammas fit on 3.5 gallon buckets, too. That is a nice size for me now that I am getting older. It is what I use for my intermediate pantry. Yellow for flour and pasta, etc. White for rice. Blue for water, etc. I work out of smaller buckets all the time so don't stack those. My DH is going to make a bucket trolly with wheels so I can move the 5 & 6 gallon buckets around the house with ease. I store 50 lbs of flour all the time so these Gamma lids are wonderful for keeping out the little bugs. They also have these lids for 2 gal buckets. Very handy. Our bug out bucket is red with a red lid. Can't miss that!

  21. All the shelving that we put up has enough space for the buckets with the lids, and we also store our Rubbermaid totes on the floor under the shelves as well. If you know of a site that has a better price than the one we posted in the article, would you please share it with us? We are always looking for a good deal, or a better deal. We discovered that some companies are very proud of their products. Thank you for the comment.Frank

  22. Marivene, it is a hard learning experience to lose food. It's a hard learning experience to lose anything that you didn't intend on losing. I never gave thought to using different colors for different food products. I'll look into it. Thank you for both of the comments.Frank

  23. Have I used gamma lids? Yes I have and they worked great! We used them for flour, rice, sometimes noodles we got a good deal on. We even had a 5 gal bucket of Krusteaz pancake mix! I built the pantry so I could use the floor & the 1st shelf for the 5 gal buckets with the gamma lids on them.Shopping around for them on the internet saved some money when I bought them.

  24. Sorry about two comments, operator error. These lids are so much easier to use to open and close, and as we age that becomes important. Not all of our lids are Gamma lids tho. They are expensive, and I only use 1bucket of oats at a time, so in theory only one bucket of oats has a Gamma lid. In actual practice, we probably have 2 or 3 for each item. Black hold wheat, yellow holds corn, or cornmeal, red is beans blue is oats, and orange is gluten free pasta or rice items.Our oldest daughter had to store some buckets outside in the weather one year, and we were all surprised that the Gamma lids did not keep out water! She lost a lot of rice and pastas due to that, but we all learned.

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