Here’s a common Minecraft scenario: after much terrain scouting, you’ve found the perfect scenic landscape for a new home. You build a house, transport over all your possessions (perhaps with the help of a donkey or mule), and settle in. Then your stomach starts rumbling, and you realise you’re out of food. It’s time to build a farm, but – oh no! – there’s no water nearby.
BUCKET TO THE RESCUE! Three iron ingots and a crafting table later, and you’ve got yourself the perfect vessel for transporting any liquid or wet fish that your heart desires. And I know how much your heart desires wet fish.
Buckets were added to Minecraft surprisingly early – in June 2010, during the game’s Infdev phase. To begin with, the only thing they could do was pick up water and lava, but much more functionality has been added over time.
For starters, you can milk cows. Go up to a cow and right-click it, and you’ll get a bucket of milk, which can be used to cure you of any status effects or make to cake. I recommend cake. You can also use buckets of lava as fuel, and fill empty buckets with water by putting them into a furnace with a wet sponge.
Finally, in the Update Aquatic, we added FISH BUCKETS. This lets you carry fish around, which is just about the best thing ever. Not only will a fish in a bucket keep you company on your long explorations, but any tropical fish will keep their colours and patterns when you transport them, allowing you to construct an impressive aquarium to relax in front of after a long day’s mining.
In the real world, open-ended containers with flat bottoms have existed since ancient times, and the earliest buckets were probably made of animal organs. That theory is backed up by the fact that the word “bucket”, which first showed up in the 13th century, comes from the Old English “buc”, which means “belly”.
The bucket, in the shape and form we know and love today, was a medieval invention. People called “Coopers” fitted wooden sticks inside metal rings to make them. In colonial America, buckets made of leather were also popular – they were light and easy to transport. The threat of rust meant that metal buckets didn’t become common until galvanization – the process of coating iron or steel with a layer of zinc – was invented in 1837.
You might think that carrying lava in a bucket, which you can do in Minecraft, is unrealistic. You’d be wrong. Silly you. Most lava comes out of the ground at temperatures of 700 to 1200C, while the melting point of iron and steel is above 1300C, so it’s entirely possible to carry lava in a bucket. You probably shouldn’t try that at home, though. But if your home is full of lava then, er, maybe it’s about time you moved?