Workout Equipment

We live in the era of gyms, where it’s common to make fun of people for driving ten blocks to spend an hour running in place.

5 gallon bucket bench pressWhether you get your physical activity from working out, walking to the grocery store, or running for your life from a grizzly bear – physicians agree that exercise has enormous benefit to your health.

There’s many ways to use 5 gallon buckets to maintin physical fitness. A full 5 gallon bucket weighs a burly 70 pounds or more so when rigged up right you can be use them for weight training. Some folks build indoor bench presses and squat stands using 5 gallon buckets as a base.

In the Spartan Race in Texas, contestants heave a 5 gallon bucket of gravel up a slope. This photo by Dallas professional photographer Alex Cena shows a woman concentrating intensely on not collapsing into an exhausted heap.
spartan race with a 5 gallon bucket Continue reading

Ice Blocks

Blocks of ice can last a shocking long time if stored correctly. In the 19th century, Fredric Tutor made his fortune shipping ice from frozen American ponds all the way to Cuba.

With the convenience of electricity, we don’t need to harvest ice from ponds anymore. But sometimes electricity stops working, such as during Hurricane Sandy. To prepare for such a scenario where business as usual comes to a sudden grind, you may want to make an emergency bucket, full of supplies that can come in handy during such circumstances.

These bucket-shaped ice blocks were made by the National Aquarium in Washington DC in preparation for Hurricane Sandy. If they had lost power these would be instrumental in regulating water temperatures for their aquariums.

5 gallon bucket ice

If any readers know how long this ice would stay frozen, please share in the comments!

Toilet Stool

Most of us don’t spend a lot of time thinking about our bowel movements – but how you position yourself while you eliminate makes a big difference in your health. Better yet, you can regularly achieve the elusive one-wiper! Proper pooping is done in a “squat” position, which isn’t possible on an unmodified modern toilet. You will need a “poop box” or “poop stool.” The most succinct and entertaining explanation I’ve seen on this subject is the following video by Underground Wellness.

I personally (of course) use a five gallon bucket as a poop stool. Standard five gallon buckets are a little tall, so I use a shorter, wider model. (The exact unit pictured here in my bathroom is the Sterilite five gallon tote.) Not only does it help our bowel eliminations go smoother, but it stores our toilet paper and other bathroom accessories as well!

5 gallon bucket toilet stoolAs part of my proper pooping evangelism, I post this simple “correct position for opening your bowels” infographic prominently in front of the toilet. I’ve had about half a dozen people use my bathroom, see this sign, laugh out loud, try it anyway, then adopt the method in their own bathroom.

At the bottom of this article, I’ve placed a download link so you can print out your own copy of this important chart!

Update: A colon-conscious entrepreneur has invented the Squatty Potty” – a more aesthetically pleasing version of the poop stool. Their website has links to a number of testimonials and medical research on proper pooping.

fancy bamboo poop stool

Update 2: I’ve been sent a free Squatty Potty as a gift from the company for mentioning them on this website. I’ve found that it has two main advantages over my bucket stool:

  1. It stows away right under the toilet, taking up less floor space.
  2. It’s strong enough to put your weight on, which helps you achieve a better squat.

You can read more about their stool on their website.


Free download:
Get the elimination diagram that I use in my bathroom to change the bathroom habits of my guests. This one printout could improve the lifespan of your entire family!

Water Filtration System

Five gallon buckets are already being used all over the third world in water filtration applications. A cheap, simple system that can be put together with local materials is the biosand filter. This type of filter has been shown to remove 90-99.9% of disease spreading contaminants and a large proportion of heavy metals from the water processed through the system.

Other third world water filtration systems such as chlorination and solar disinfection are more expensive and less effective.

bio sand filter



You can build your own five gallon bucket bio sand filtration system with a few five gallon buckets and some PVC pipe. Detailed instructions on a five gallon bucket based bio sand filtration unit are found on this ten page bucket filter pdf. For more information about the bio sand filtration process, read the BioSand Filter Wikipedia page or this extremely detailed 130 page biofiltration manual put out by the Center of Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology.

If you don’t mind spending a little bit more on an easier to build and better filtration system, you can build your own Berkey-style filter out of five gallon buckets, which will save you over 100$ over buying the full Berkey unit. (see price for the full berkey unit vs price for just the filter set.) With the ceramic add-on to the Berkey filter, you can even filter flouride out of your tap water.

Here’s a video from a guy who used the Berkey replacement filters mentioned above to make a home made water filter that works just as well as the expensive version!
Update: For an easy example of a water filter built using five gallon buckets, please see our guide here.