Letter Re: Some Steel Canning Possibilities

Mr. Editor:

I read SurvivalBlog about once a week and thought you might enjoy this.

Someone commented on using their home canning machine for items other than food. I can a lot of different things up to the size of a spaghetti can. Above that takes a number #10 canner and I haven’t found one reasonably priced. If I have to I go down to a store and buy some new/never used paint cans and go that route.

Spare parts for firearms are heavily greased (sometimes placed in vacuum packed plastic, depending on size and function of items). Radio parts, electrical parts, portable survival kits, gold/silver coins, sewing kits, seeds, vitamins, medical supplies, small tools, copies of important documents/pictures/owners manuals, etc.

Call it overkill but some items will have 6+ barriers to insure that if I don’t dig it up for 20 years, it should still be intact. (Grease, plastic, (some times desiccant or O2 absorbers depending on the item), the can itself, a can coating (I have experimented with polyurethane, rubber car undercoating, shrink wrap, and wax (like you would wax a leg hold animal trap).

This is then placed in either a 5 gallon bucket or ammo can. Ammo cans are sprayed with rust neutralizer, sprayed with car undercoating and then the rubber gasket is sealed (often times with more desiccant or O2 absorbers inside). Ammo cans are then sometimes placed in a 5 gallon bucket. 5 gallon buckets are merely sealed with mastic or some kind of caulking. Most of the time I place the ammo can or 5 gallon bucket in a suitable industrial garbage bag and bury.

I label all the items on the outside of the can with either the original labels or something I printed out. If I use a permanent marker, and later wax or polyurethane the can, the labeling can sometimes run or dissolve.

On several larger items I have performed some of the barrier practices and placed them inside a 30 gallon plastic barrel and sealed it. One contains nothing but animal traps, another tools, and yet another full-sized cream separator with parts. Why go to all this trouble? Unfortunately, our getaway stands between the good old farming families and a few families that have made meth and marijuana their main sources of income. Things of value left around tend to walk off.

After all that, I “hope” that my caches or pantry will be around when I need it most. Let me know if you or your readers think I have left any other barrier method out of my system?

A.T. in Illinois (land of humidity and precipitation)

JWR Replies: Thanks for those suggestions. One important note: Seeds should never be vacuum-packed. They are living organisms, and they will die in a vacuum. Air canning or bag sealing is fine but don’t vacuum can or pack them!