Dry food Storage Using 2 and 3 ltr. Plastic Soda Bottles

Over the years I have tried several different methods of dry food storage with varying degrees of success and cost. I’ve tried buckets, Ziploc bags, and canning jars. What I finally stumbled upon almost by accident was 2 and 3 liter soda bottles.

I like sodas but hate to throw the bottles away! I had been making whirly-gigs out of them for the garden to keep the birds away but there are only so many whirly-gigs a garden needs and I had extra bottles and wanted to do something with them.

Looking at the bottles, I realized that they are durable, lightweight, water tight, and once the soda is gone, free. What more could you ask?

I had saved up about a dozen of the 2 ltr. bottles and had a few 3 ltr. ones as well. The 3 liters have wider openings and are good for large beans like limas, or for flour or meal.

To begin, I wanted a sterile container so I mixed about a tbs. bleach in a quart of water and rinsed and swished each bottle then rinsed with clean water and turned upside down in the dish drainer.

food-storage-in-soda-bottles1

Another way to dry thoroughly is sit them in the warm sun without their lids, or, if you have one of those big Excalibur food dehydrators like I do, take out the shelves and lay some bottles inside. Remember to remove the lids. You can dry them in there on low heat usually in a few hours or just let run overnight. The point is, you want your bottles bone dry.

Next, get your space ready. you’ll need your bottles of course, as well as a funnel or another bottle cut in half to use as a funnel, clean work space, marker and dry food for storage.

I like to pre-treat my beans, rice, grains, meal, flour etc. with a couple weeks in the deep freezer, take out and allow to come to room temp and then put back in for a week or two. This really helps kill off any mealy bug eggs that might be lurking in your food.  You’ll want to take your beans and flour treated in this way out of the freezer and allow to come to room temperature. Just sit on the counter overnight.

Now, all you have to do is, using your funnel or cut off bottle, fill your bottles with the rice, or beans or whatever you have, cap, use your marker to date and tell what’s inside and you’re done!

I have to say that this is one of the best storage containers I’ve come across yet.

Your food is safe, easy to move or store, won’t pop open, and is practically unbreakable.

You can also fold and insert oxygen absorbers if you like or desiccant packs for added protection and longer storage. Of course with things like sugar or salt, only the desiccant pack would be useful.

These are also excellent to store things like dried bean soup mix in for camping or for putting in your bug out bag (BOB). Being light weight and extremely durable, they are good to have in the BOB and once empty can serve other purposes like storing water.

You can also use 20 ounce bottles for smaller amounts of food that you want to store, or you can store seeds in them provided of course attention is paid to thorough drying.

I also leave the original labels on for the most part as I feel they offer some measure of added protection and aid in keeping out the light.

If you make your own dried soup mixes, or dried vegetables you can store them in the smaller bottles to take camping or in the event of a bug out situation. Dehydrated re-fried bean mix is delicious and easy to store in bottles like this, as well as ready to cook rice dishes.

Also, if you are able to get coke lugs, the heavy plastic bottle trays that the supplier uses, you can use those to put your bottles back in and stack them that way as well.

My husband was able to get a few of them from the coke man where he works and they are ideal for holding the bottles and stacking them. Otherwise, you can use cardboard boxes or just put your bottles in the cabinet if they are used often.

So, to recap. The pros of using these bottles.

1. they are cheap/free and easy to come by

2. they are durable, designed to withstand 200 lbs. of pressure, definitely tough

3. they hold foods in manageable amounts

4. water tight.

5. they are reusable

6. you can see the contents without opening to check for any problems before opening

(important if you worry about mealy bugs and the like)

7. fit easily into the BOB!

Cons

The 2 ltr bottles have a rather small mouth and so you are limited to what you can store in them, however, the 3 ltr bottles have a wider mouth and you can often use those for larger things like pasta or the big lima beans.

Other than that, I can’t really think of anymore cons.

Just one more thing.

It is important for everyone to have some food stocked up. Regardless of a person’s income of lack of it. Encourage your family and friends, neighbors and co-workers to put up at least a little food for the future. This is likely the single most important thing you can do to protect your own family because, if your neighbors and friends are provided for, you won’t have to worry about them being in need and perhaps turning to you for food. Many people are put off by all the recommended methods and supplies like Mylar bags or special drums or buckets. For those people that can’t afford those things try using what is freely available and perhaps even superior as a storage container. The ubiquitous soft drink bottle!

p.a. turner – http://endofempirenews.blogspot.com/


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25 Comments

  1. Pam! This is awesome! I’ve used plastic soda bottles, too, and they work like a charm. I’m glad someone else does it too! 🙂

  2. Oh that’s great Julia! Aren’t they the best things ever? Especially since they’d get thrown out in the trash otherwise.
    Oh, another use for them is in winemaking, but that’s another article! LOL

  3. I have been using the plastic 2 liter bottles for water storage for a while now and they work great. I have also been thinking about putting some of my wheat and rice in them so that I can have a smaller amount of both to use on a daily basis so that I don’t have to open my big buckets to get some out. Great post and great idea for reusing plastic bottles and not throwing them away.

  4. I’ve been using this method since the Y2k days and have even put the small oyster crackers into the 3liter soda bottles that have lasted about 4 years this way (the crackers). I also go one step further, I put a piece of electrical tape or duct tape around the cap to seal it better and as a anti-tamper device of sorts. I have also decided to utilize the 16oz,20 and liter soda bottles as ‘charity handouts’ if need be. These store nicely in milk crates. For these charity handouts, one soda bottle contains rice the other black beans and are taped together.

    If you need a way to store them, ask for the soda bottle carriers at carryouts that are usually thrown out back. Those store the bottles great, especially if using them for water storage.

    Heck, how about using unused paint cans to store items? I have about a half dozen gallon and pint metal cans put away full of refried dehydrated beans, soup mixes, ‘scotch broth soup’ mix and dehydrated vegetables using a couple O2 absorbers and rubber mallet. Six months of storage and so far they are looking good.

    • Jason –

      Good thoughts. I am going to start saving my 2-ltr bottles and follow the advice in the post. I would be a little concerned about the paint cans – just want to make certain that they are air tight.

      Thanks – Rourke

  5. This suggestion has the greatest value to me than anything I’ve seen in years. Yesterday I spent quite a bit of time searching for a good local supplier for storage resources. By reading this article, my need for outside supply has been dramatically altered. Thank you very much Pam. Seriously valuable article.

    JBA

  6. oyster crackers! Now that’s a great idea!
    and the electrical tape for bottles being stored longer is an added measure that I will be doing this year when I fill up bottles.
    I’ll put them next to the kidney beans that I use for chili! 😀

  7. I wonder what the shelf life for flour is if you’re using this method? Also, where do you get 3 liter soda bottles? I’ve never heard of them or seen them in the store. I live in Colorado.

  8. This is a fabulous idea! What a great way to recycle the bottle AND a free storage container for emergency food storage! I haven’t stored nearly as much flour or rice as I want because I was put off by having to buy a special bucket or mylar bags, so this solves that problem! Thanks so much for sharing this very practical idea; I am going to put it to use the very next time I go to the store (AND it’s a good excuse for buying more Pepsi, LOL!)

  9. After reading your post I went to look at how many of the 16.9 ounce water bottles we go through in a week. The plastic is light but they seal back up tight and are just right for a serving or two of rice or small amounts of grain. Great for charity. Great for pulling out a meal or two worth with out having to bust open the pails. Better to use them for storage than to send them off to the landfill.

  10. I am still dubious about using these bottles for food storage. They ARE porous. I like glass better. If you are worried about taking a jar camping, just empty the jar into a plastic storage bag or freezer bag. Bottles do make great funnels.

  11. I use large pretzel and other snack plastic jars to store oatmeal, beans, etc. The wide mouth opening is easier for me. I usually find these snacks around Christmas. Good junk food for the good times and storage later for the bad times.

  12. I started doing this last year and I am glad to see you don’t wash with soap first. It took forever to get the soap out and just seemed to be a waste. I’ve been doing the bleach method after that. My question – Have you had any leakage? I have used a few wraps of Teflon tape on my threads first. I figured better to be safe than sorry. I just wish they still used the old wide mouth plastic bottles. Great to store bulk ammo too.

  13. Sorry to see this type of packing being hi-lited again …. thought it had died off from people realizing the truth ….

    the plastic is only marginally thicker than the retail poly bags the dry goods are sold …. you aren’t gaining much of anything except a little durability ….

    totally forget about 02 absorbers – absolutely no resistance there against air penetration …. you’re wasting $$$$

    this is not any kind of long term packing of food …. don’t be fooled into thinking you’ll get anymore than the 2-3-5 years you’d normally get from the regular poly bags ….

  14. I was cleaning out an abandoned house earlier this year, and found many of the plastic bottles had been chewed through by rodents to get at the contents. I would suggest glass jars instead. I suppose you could put the plastic bottles in some kind of metal chest. Mice and rats are real chewers.

  15. My 2 liter bottles became dimpled like a golf ball after using O2 Absorbers when I first started storing salt, sugar, rice, and beans. I made every effort to pack, settle, vibrate, etc to condense the contents as much as possible. After 3 years, they still have the dimples. I was worried the vacuum would compromise the bottle but so far they’re still holding. We also packed the plastic bottles into clean food grade metal 55 gallon drums to keep potential pests away.

    Since then we have transitioned to using the much heavier plastic bottles used for cranberry juices. They are much sturdier and with their near rectangular profile, the hold more volume in a defined space such as a cabinet or shelf than the round 2 liter bottles. Cleaning them can be an issue though. After thoroughly washing them we rotate them as our water bottles in the fridge for a few weeks to help remove any remaining fruit juice smells. The wider mouth on these make filling and pouring the contents much easier when storing beans, rice, etc…

  16. While I agree with the comment above that this won’t work long-term, Mrs. Turner stressed that this is great for low-income preppers. I’ve been using these bottles for a while now, and we wind up rotating them about every 3 years. As long as the bottles are clean and dry when they’re packed, there’s been no issue. It’s also easier to store smaller containers when you don’t have a lot of storage space. I prefer glass jars when repackaging items we use frequently, but we use the pop bottles for extra rice, flour, sugar, and salt. I like articles like this because it lets people know that there are options for food storage that don’t involve spending a lot of money.

  17. But people – these soda bottles are barely more of an oxygen barrier than a freezer ziplock bag. No way these can be considered as “long term storage” containers. Do some research – if a thick 5 gallon bucket is not a true oxygen or moisture barrier, then these are even less of an oxygen barrier. If you think this is a good way to store precious food for long term storage, you are operating under a misconception. And you are spreading this misconception to others who are not doing any research on why using a soda bottle is good only for short term storage. These soda bottles are only better than the packaging you buy the food in because it will take a mouse a bit longer to chew thru the bottle (but they can chew thru pop bottles). I have been storing food since 1989 and I know my plastics, my Mylar and all the rest of the technical data. These soda bottles are OK if you are only using them for short term storage. But don’t confuse them with Mylar bags, which ARE true oxygen and moisture barriers as long as they are in the 3.5mil and thicker thickness and used with the appropriately sized oxygen absorbers. For low income preppers, they can get 3 -5 gallon buckets free from bakeries and donut shops or for about $4.30 from Home Depot or Lowes. And they can get one gallon mylar bags and oxygen absorbers for under $20. And they can use their clothing iron to seal the mylar bags. And mice don’t chew thru the buckets (bears can, mice can’t, so don’t leave the buckets where bears can get them). And forget using the oxygen absorbers – they are pretty much useless if you are using a soda bottle, which is only a titch better than a ziplock baggie (which in actual long term food storage terms is about as good as using a hairnet).

    • The 2 qt. juice bottles–cranberry, grape, and a lot of other juices–are sturdier than the soda bottles, and look on the bottom, and you will see a little triangle (1/2 to 1/4 inch in size) with a 1 in the center. This indicates it is food grade plastic. (Milk jugs, etc, are not usable for storage.) And the juice bottles will stack like bricks–no space lost like in the round bottles. I have stored beans, rice, etc, in them 2 or 3 years ago, and the food still seems fine. I read you can use bay leaves-2 or 3 to a bottle, and this will keep the bugs from coming out. So far, not a sign of a bug/weavil. I packed the rice, beans, etc, as tightly as I could, shaking and patting the bottle. They really settle tightly. And as far as mice, etc. I have mine on shelves in an old outside storage building, with no rodent problem. I sit a tray of mice/rat poison and if any come around, they eat this available “food” rather than trying to chew thru the bottles. You can monitor when you need to put out more poison. There is no other food in the building, and no food smells from the tightly sealed juice bottles, and I have never even had the poison eaten. Nothing there to draw rodents. I also store spaghetti, macaroni, salt, sugar, and the little cubes of bullion–chicken, beef, to give flavor to the rice, etc. They are in little glass jars, so are already “packed” if you don’t open the jars. Just some thoughts. Good Luck, everyone.

  18. Thanks for this article and the comments. I was thinking of using 2 litre water bottles plus oxygen absorbers for long term dry food storage. But I wondered if the plastic is permeable. From what I read in the comments it seems the bottles are permeable over a long time. I guess storage for 2-3 years would be fine using them, but my interest is in finding the best thing or 10 years or even more. I have to keep coming back to mylar for that, and double bagged with an ordinary ziplock food bag vacuum sealed inside the mylar, then oxy absorber then vac seal the mylar.

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