Will any solvent remove this print?


#1

I want to use these natural color (translucent) 5-gallon buckets for a project. All print on
the buckets must be removed. I’ve tried acetone, paint thinner, paint stripper, carburetor
cleaner, gasoline, methanol, and Goof Off (dissolves latex paint, adhesives, etc). Nothing
works.


I’ve been told that heat and powerful chemicals etch or fuse the ink onto the plastic, so it’s
impossible to remove. If that’s true, how could I remove some of the print by scrapping with
my fingernail? The plastic itself seems indestructable. Solvents will not damage these buckets.

I could remove all the print with very fine sandpaper. The problem is I need these translucent
buckets in perfect condition for my project.

Is there any solvent I haven’t tried that will dissolve the ink on these buckets?


#2

Unless you already have these particular buckets or are getting them for free, I’m pretty sure you can get plain ones on amazon for a few bucks each, but I’m also pretty sure that all of them will have that little warning about children drowning in them. As far as removal, I’d try a razor blade and a heat gun.

Another option would be to sand it off


#3

I just did a little Googling. It seems someone on Pinterest had success removing the writing on a tub of Tidy Cat with Methyl Ethyl Ketone


#4

Correct. Sure you can scrape it off but no chemical is going to melt the printing. I think you need to find containers that aren’t printed on. In Minneapolis I used to order containers from Twin Cities Bottle. They were suppliers and also handled the printing. So I would look for a similar container supplier in your area to purchase print free containers. Menards sells green ones for about $3 but they are green and with printing but they aren’t very expensive.


#5

These buckets start out blank. Printing costs money. Now that we all understand the value of advertising everyone who can afford to buy 10K at a time exploits the opportunity. Small businesses that can’t afford printing use blank buckets or glue a paper label on. When I was in the natural foods business 40 years ago most of the stuff that came in buckets came in blank buckets. We returned most of them but there was some leakage. I have a blank bucket in my collection (from more recently). I’d search in the disposal area of a restaurant or grocery store that sells in bulk the sort of stuff that comes in buckets.

It sounds like you have an art project. There are 5-gallon buckets that lack handles; they may be aesthetically-suitable. They’re cheaper. I remember pickles and peanut butter (from a small local firm) in such buckets.


#6

One other solvent you could try is Xylene. That’s powerful stuff, so it might attack the plastic.

Instead of sandpaper, have you tried polishing compound or maybe rubbing compound? That should leave the finish in better shape, although it still might not be what you want.

I agree with the others who say it’ll probably be easiest to track down some unprinted buckets.


#7

Given what you’ve already tried, I don’t think you’re going to be able to get the writing off the bucket surface without damaging the appearance or melting the plastic in the process. If you absolutely had to do it, some kind of mechanical removal process – sand paper, grit blasting, etc – followed by a series of polishing’s from medium grit to fine grit to make it optically transparent again would probably work. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a translucent 5 gallon bucket without writing on it. You might visit the local hospital, ask if they have seen anything like that. Medical products sometimes use translucent plastics and they might make 5 gallon buckets out of the same material for use in hospitals.


#8

I appreciate all your replies. Thank you.

Methyl Ethyl Ketone damaged the plastic.

That warning label about children drowning is either a voluntary industry standard or a federal law.
I’ve searched a few dozen websites. Container manufacturers will not sell a large bucket without
the warning label.

A light source will be used inside the containers, that’s why the buckets must be translucent. Used
buckets are scratched and dinged. I need new containers with a clean, uniform surface.

A friend suggested fermentation containers. They are very nice and extremely expensive.

There are plenty of rugged small to medium size trash containers. Most are not translucent. I did
find one, but it’s kind of an odd shape.

At least for now, I can’t find what’s needed to complete this project.


#9

Magnet wire for rewinding electric motors comes on tapered spools that ship inside translucent polyethylene 5 gallon buckets that have a lid with a hole on top so you can unspool the wire like fishing line off a spinning reel while the spool is in the bucket. The labeling is usually shrunk on plastic that’s easy to remove.
If there are any industrial motor rewind shops near you, it doesn’t hurt to ask if they have any empties that they would be willing to sell. They might even give em to you.


#10

I dunno but maybe look around a little.

https://www.uline.com/Product/Detail/S-7914WS/Pails/Plastic-Pail-Skid-Lot-5-Gallon-White?pricode=WY706&gadtype=pla&id=S-7914WS&gclid=CJrC2sa6r9MCFREoaQodS9cCWQ&gclsrc=aw.ds

Who would have thought there is a whole world of 5 gallon bucket users out there. If you google free 5 gallon buckets, you’ll get some links to survivalists using them to store whatever for the coming storm. Who knew but one guy had 10,000 free buckets to get rid of. It seems like the printing is a “UN” spec so if you want plain look for food grade and non UN I guess.


#11

The surface of that bucket has been plasma treated prior to printing. The ink is bonded to the plastic at a molecular level. Likely, no solvent will liberate the ink without harming the plastic. You may be able to reduce the effort required to separate them if you freeze the bucket, but that is a LOT of printing to remove.


#12

Paint the bucket white.

The reason the manufacturers put the drowning warning on the buckets is that undoubtedly children have drowned in a 5 gallon bucket of water. The idea is to alert the parents not to leave a bucket of water unattended while young children are around. We can be sure that the bucket manufacturer than made they bucket the kid died in paid a huge sum for not having that warning label.


#13

I’m still wondering about the UN standard. If that is a United Nations standard or what. At any rate I’d be more concerned about a bucket of water hatching disease carrying mosquitoes than drowning.


#14

You might think people would know how to place a ladder so that they don’t hurt themselves either: just use common sense. Still, people sued ladder manufacturers until they put a long list of don’ts on their product.


#15

Toddler deaths in 5 gallon pails are not as rare as you might think. It’s about 10 deaths per year.


#16

Maybe some glossy spray paint would be an option


#17

The OP needs the bucket to be uniformly transparent.


#18

Speed read fail. belt sander with high grit and clearcoat?


#19

Or buy a new bucket for $4 from Uline. Or if you google the free buckets there is a list of places to look for free food grade buckets from bakeries, school services, etc. that might be clean.


#20

Yes, it is a U.N. (U.N. Economic and Social Council) standard, for labels describing hazardous materials.