Homemade Bokashi Bucket

Spring 2016
A Gamma Seal bucket Holes drilled in the bottom of the top Gamma Seal bucket
Italian Bottling Spigot with nut and two washers Drain stopcock installed in the bottom bucket

By Adam Tomash
Photos by the author

My last article on bokashi (the Japanese word for “fermented organic matter” and a way to compost; see the winter 2015 issue of The MOF&G) described a commercially available bucket with a drain and perforated platform. These commercial buckets are somewhat pricey, and the lids are difficult to remove and replace and are prone to breakage. I decided to see if I could improve on the design and lower the cost by using readily available tools and materials. This is what I came up with.

The goal is to have an upper chamber for the organic waste and EM-1 (Effective Microorganisms)-treated bran, with drainage and a lower chamber to catch the drainage and a stopcock or spigot to remove the “bokashi juice” as needed. I also wanted to have an airtight lid that was easily removable, preferably with one hand. This design achieves those goals using the following readily available components.

Materials

1. Two 5-gallon plastic, food-grade buckets with wire handles. Lids are not needed.

2. One Gamma Seal lid, which is even more airtight than a normal lid for such buckets and can be opened and closed with one hand.

3. One Italian Bottling Spigot or stopcock with a threaded, 1-inch-diameter stem and two washers and a nut as an assembly.

4. An electric or hand drill, small 1/8-inch drill, 25.4 mm (1-inch) wood spade bit, 1-inch Forstner bit OR 1-inch hole saw.

The seal and spigot are available through Amazon. Search for “Gamma Seal lid” and “Italian Bottling Spigot.” If you prefer to source the spigot and buckets locally, try a local brewing supply store. Maniac Brewing and Supply in Gardiner at 325 Water St. has both. If you need one closer to you, use the “Find a Retailer” tab at https://www.bsghandcraft.com. The Home Depot has the Gamma Seal lid. Fedco Organic Growers Supply has rice bran and EM-1. Agway has wheat bran, an acceptable substitute for rice bran.

Assembly

In one bucket drill 20 or so 1/8-inch holes in the bottom, spaced evenly around. Precision is not important. Take the inside portion of the Gamma Seal lid out by unscrewing it. Place the outer ring on this same bucket and gently push it onto the bucket. Use a rubber or wooden mallet to tap it completely home and ensure an airtight seal. Reinstall the threaded inner part of the Gamma lid. This is the top bucket.

Both buckets assembled and ready to use

The second, bottom bucket will contain the spigot. The Italian Bottling Spigot has several iterations. Some allow you to twist the spigot so that the tip does not hang below the bottom of the bucket. This type usually has a blue or red tip. These are the best kinds to use. Some variations are all white and do not allow reorientation. Either will work.

Mark a spot near the bottom of the bucket where you will drill a 1-inch hole. To make the mark, measure up from the bottom of the bucket so that you have enough clearance for the washers and nut that screw onto the threaded portion of the spigot. On my spigots, that distance is about 9 mm or about 1/3 to 1/2 inch. Using one of the 1-inch drill bits/hole saw (Forstner is the best but also the most expensive), drill a hole centered at the mark you just made. Double check that you will have enough clearance before you drill. After the hole is drilled, see if the threaded spigot pipe fits. It should be slightly undersized such that you will actually have to twist or thread the spigot into the hole. If it is too small, file it carefully until it reaches the proper diameter. Put one washer on, thread it into the bucket hole and then put the other washer on and then the nut. Tighten to get a leak-proof seal.

Put the first bucket with the lid into the bottom bucket with the spigot, and you are ready to use the bucket if you already have some bran and EM-1. Build at least two so that the first one can “condition” while you fill the second.

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