The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

LifeLatch grain bucket - help please?

MontBaybaker's picture

LifeLatch grain bucket - help please?

I've been unable to reach anybody at the manufacturer or the container company I bought my buckets from last year.  Maybe you smart people can help.  I have a never-used bucket that spent a couple of weeks in my car trunk in the early summer (70s).  The full bucket made it to the house, this one didn't.  Discovered it, put it in the cool garage, and forgot about it until recently.  Now the lid won't budge (it was fine on delivery).  Normally you press the lever and gently twist the lid; it ratchets back on to close.  Even my strong husband can't open it and offered power tools.  My arthritic thumbs love these lids, and I hate to damage one to use the bucket.  Thank you!  

DanAyo's picture

I own some Life Latch buckets, but never had that problem.

Does it look like a vacuum has formed?

If no vacuum, it may be the seal is frozen. If you, can get a young boy from the neighborhood, he may be ale to get it open.

I have rec’d great phone help concerning Life Latch containers at Bay Tech Containers (1-888-460-3786).

idaveindy's picture

After many many years (at least 45 in your situation, right?) especially many temperature cycles, soft plastic gaskets "melt" and turn to glue, then turn brittle. 

Perhaps try several sharp hits/blows around the circumference where the gasket is. Attempt to open, then another series of hits, and keep repeating. It might be enough to knock loose the "weld" that the degraded/"melted" gasket has made.

If replacement gaskets are available, carefully scrape off the melted old gasket, trying not to gouge the two surfaces that it seals.

If it's a two-part lid (three counting the gasket), and you end up needing to replace the whole lid, there is possibly another "gasket," even if it's a type of glue/sealant, between the bucket and the part of the lid that semi-permanently seals to the bucket. The remnants of that old gasket/glue/sealant will also need to be cleaned off before a new lid is attached.


Story time:  I learned the hard way about this.

I once bought several pails of various grain whole berries sealed in buckets with 1-piece semi-permanent lids.  By the looks of it, on one pail of spelt berries, some grain fell on the rim of the bucket as they filled it, and got stuck there when they placed the lid on.  When I opened it 8 years later (to rotate stock), I found several grains stuck in the thin layer of sticky sealant in the groove of the lid.  

I was too ignorant then to listen for the in-rushing "whoosh" of air upon opening, which would have indicated that the seal was still good. (Sealed buckets of grain have an oxygen absorber packet added for long term storage, and that creates a vacuum as it sucks up the oxygen.)

Maybe spelt berries just don't store as well or as long as regular hard wheat. But I found the spelt berries noticeably softer than the other pail of hard wheat, and the spelt had a lot of blackpoint damage, which required hand sorting them out.


Net:  I learned not to buy grain berries that are long-term sealed by others -- you don't know the quality of the grain, and you don't know the quality of the seal.


MontBaybaker's picture

Dan, based on your note I tried phoning again (bought them from BayTech).  Today I reached a human.  Hadn't tried phone or e-mail for a couple of months, when many places had limited customer service.  They've never heard of this happening, and asked me to send an email which they'll forward to the manufacturer.  Now I need the bucket.  I've been stocking up for winter.  I anticipate shopping may become a challenge again like spring.    

Ida, thanks for the help on gaskets.  We have some Gamma style and pop top buckets with thick gaskets for other uses.  The lever still works fine.  There is a thin gasket near the top of the deep lid, maybe it got warm and melted.  I've used the other five for 2 years with no problems, stored in a cool area inside.  Lids are sold separately, so I can get another one if we have to cut this off.   I highly recommend LifeLatch for anyone who has hands that don't work as well as they should.  I'll post any response I get from the company.


This Plastic Lid has a unique trigger mechanism that automatically locks the lid when closing, and has a simple finger-activated release to allow the lid to be opened.  



idaveindy's picture

Just to clarify, I did not mean "melt" in terms of high heat.  Plastics can melt all on their own as part of their natural deterioration process.  It can happen at a steady room temperature in the case of cheap rubber bands in about 7 years. (wrap a rubber band around something and come back to it in 7 years.)

Given even mild temp swings, and some pressure/compression from the lids being screwed on, I'm guessing there was enough surface decomposition to create a layer of glue.

It's just the nature of refined petrochemical products to decompose, depending on their composition (ie, plastic milk jugs and 1/2 liter water bottles decompose quickly, and PET 2-liter soda bottles slower.)  The soft squishy nature of a gasket is a hint, though not a guarantee, that decomposition will happen faster.

In your case where the ages of the good ones and bad ones are the same, it must have been storage conditions:  temps and maybe the constant compression.

clazar123's picture

You still may need someone with stronger hands but after looking at a picture of what you have I do have an idea.

Make sure the bucket is relatively cool (not cold), first of all.

Add a few inched of warm/hot water into a sink or tub big enough to accommodate just the lid of the bucket which you invert- lid-side down- into the warm/hot water for ONLY 15 sec. 

Immediately remove from the water, give a couple sharp raps to the rim of the lid with a wooden spoon and immediately have someone's strong hands attempt to open the lid.

Repeat 2 or 3 times. After that you need new ideas.

Plastic expands slightly on heating. The idea is to allow the plastic lid to expand a tiny amount larger than the colder bucket threads and in that moment it may open. You only want the lid to get warm-not the threaded bucket part. That is why you submerge the lid for ONLY a short period of time. I have used this technique on MANY stubborn containers.

My only alternate idea is to reheat the whole thing to soften all the plastic (put it back in a hot trunk for a few hours) and try to open it then. I'm ot sure it will till be usable as it may warp the threads or lid. If the threads deformed in the heat, nothing will work.

Good luck!