At Mann Lake you can buy two kinds of honey extractors:

  • Stainless steel

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  • Plastic

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The first is more expensive than the second, and the second is waaay more expensive than the third option:

  • Plastic garbage can

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I can add the necessary fittings to make the garbage can look and function like the plastic honey extractor, but would like to know whether there are any garbage cans to avoid? Note that the can won't be used for storage, just processing of honey during the extraction process. Does this make a difference?

Other beekeepers have done this.

A heavy assumption may be that plastic container manufacturers produce both food grade and non-food grade plastic products. The process of switching between these plastics may be expensive to produce the different products may be expensive. As such, it's typically just easier to make all plastics food-grade quality.

  • 2
    The following seems relevant: How to Identify Food Grade Buckets
    – Werner
    Jul 23, 2015 at 19:10
  • Wikihow is often dubious paid-for content!
    – TFD
    Jul 23, 2015 at 20:10
  • 1
    I'm not sure whether these would be large enough for your needs, but a large and most definitely 'food safe' plastic receptacle in a standard-ish size is a brewer's bucket or 'fermenting vessel'. They're a fairly generic product and usually are around 5 gallons with a bit to spare.
    – Tom W
    Jul 25, 2015 at 13:33
  • I recently filled a fresh clean new plastic garbage can with tap water, put a lid on it, and forgot about it for a month. When I looked at the water, there was a definite oily sheen on the surface. Likely plasticisers. That's not something I'd want to ingest without knowing exactly what the chemical composition was: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plasticizer Oct 16, 2015 at 21:09

2 Answers 2


What you want is something that is listed as NSF rated for food storage. I know both Huskie and Rubbermaid Brute containers (10 gal, 20 gal, 32 gal, 55 gal) that are gray, yellow or white have that rating. If you have a restaurant supply store in your area, you could go look around for "ingredient bins" and commercial garbage cans. Just remember, a white Brute bin with lid that slides open and is sold as an "Ingredient Bin" will probably run $85 while the same white Brute bin with a flat lid and sold as a "Garbage Can" will run you closer to $45.


All plastic is "food safe". The term "food safe" has been much abused in recent years because of a perceived risk of leeching of certain chemical from the plastic into acidic foods, or into hot foods

Actual studies have shown this problem to be below the recognised safe levels, and/or to happen at much higher heat than reported

What is really of concern, is re-usability. Many cheap plastic containers, like garbage containers, are not made to be reused or cleaned in a food safe way. Many are also made from recycled materials and may have containments within them?

The best source of food safe containers is the large drums used for mayonnaise and other sauces. Professional caterers and food outlets usually have stacks of these out the back looking for a good home. A few quick phone calls should locate some

  • 1
    Erm, this is most certainly not true. Even to take as an extreme, there are plastics that will dissolve in liquid at a high rate, and many will dissolve in oils (so if you stored your peanut oil in one, it would end up leaking, AND contaminating the peanut oil). There is also the concern about plastics that may have been made in ways that could end up with lead, mercury, heavy metals, etc., in the plastic (likely not intentionally, but with less care to avoid it, and less testing).
    – Joe M
    Oct 15, 2015 at 22:08
  • The types of plastics that dissolve in oils are used in disposable cups etc. I doubt the OP or anyone expect food to be stored long term in those. I already mentioned the risk of recycled materials being contaminated too?
    – TFD
    Oct 16, 2015 at 22:23
  • Other plastic types might be porous (hygiene issues), treated with inedible lubrication compounds, use toxic dyes or softeners, or indeed be contaminated recycled material... so "all plastic is food safe" is simply incorrect. Oct 12, 2016 at 9:09

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