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What's the best way to store large quantities of commercially canned foods (metal containers) in a non climate controlled, off grid wilderness location?

The goal would be to store several thousand metal canned food products in a bug out location but not in a cabin or home as I would not be living there and a visible structure would invite theft in a remote/deserted setting.

I don't see how a root cellar would work as these are underground, and if there is the slightest fault in one's attempt to waterproof such an underground storage area, after SHTF it would be a disaster to arrive at bug out location with your your entire food supply submerged in water and rusting out.

I am thinking the best and only way is to store metal canned food products in a cave that has been checked out on a day of pouring rain to see if it stays completely dry, or to bore a large hole into the side of a dirt hill and create some shelving inside and make a door on the outside.

Either way, I see challenges with rust from humidity. What is solution for rust? Has anyone tried mass coating cans with a varnish type product?

And in a cold climate area, potential areas for freezing and thawing cycles of metal canned goods can cause cans to burst or perhaps contents of food to be spoiled by freeze/thaw cycles.

Either of these scenarios could also cause entire loss of canned foods one would be dependent on if SHTF.

Plan would be to have these metal canned goods stored for possibly many years or a decade or more unattended in non climate controlled non grid wilderness setting, ready to be eaten in SHTF situation.

Does anyone have experience (successes and failures) with the above scenario using metal canned foods? If not, I am still interested in your thoughts on this.
 

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Storyteller
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Take a tour of the yachting sites for "long range crusing"
Sailors have been storing canned chow for lifetimes and there are just a few well-tested means to keep canned Chow usable.

There are YT vids on this was well. Be perpetrated to spend some real time at coating your cans if you go this route. Unless you are certain the food will never freeze, you may just be wasting your time.

Some examples


 

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Is freezing an issue in your location? If so, underground is probably your only option that won't require energy input.

A root cellar built into a side hill with plenty of drainage would be what I would try to build. Along with a bit of airflow in the summer to try and keep the humidity down.

To protect against humidity and rust can you put the cans in food sealer bags with moisture absorbents? Or paint them or wax them somehow?

Do you intend to store this canned food and never look at it again until you need it? Or can you make weekly/monthly/yearly trips to check on it and make changes or rotate the stocks as necessary? If you intend to leave it and forget about it until needed it becomes a much harder problem to solve. If you are checking it every week and rotating stock and can notice and fix problems as soon as they arise you are much more likely to have success.

I have some cans of ravioli that no one likes, so they have been sitting around for about 3 years. At some point they must have gotten wet and began to rust, that rust is despite being stored upstairs in our kitchen, not in our basement.

Also keep in mind, some canned foods just don't store well long term. High acid fruits tend to eat through the can and cause leaks.
 

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Come and Take Them!
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You need to consider protection against bears, if any are in the area. They seem to be able to figure out that cans contain food. Don't ask me how I know!!🐻
 

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Buried deep freezer with 3” of closed cell foam board all around and 2’ of foam board above with a large sheet of steel roofing/siding overtop will keep it warm and dry. Lockable with desiccants would be a good thing too.
 

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The core problem with root cellars is as the OP pointed out, water.
But if you know how to drain it out, the problem then becomes simply putting the cans on pallets.

And ALOT of descant.

The core is to have a downward slope to draint he water and put in a french drain inside.
 

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Beer Truck Door Gunner
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No magic tricks out there for your special need. Those cans need to be kept dry on a nonreactive surface between 35F and 75F. Without climate control then you need thermal mass in a low temp setting. That means underground. You have to build from gravel, stone, poured concrete, or various brick options and then seal it well enough to exclude moisture. You'll have to build, test long term for moisture and be prepared to remediate. You cannot let those cans freeze either. For true long term stability the 35F to 75F are the extreme end numbers. You need to shoot for 40F to 70F. High acid fruits and tomatoes are out. You can store tomato powder or glass canned tomatoes there instead. A shellac spray would be fine on the cans to reduce reactivity. Steel cans even react with each other if they touch, due to galvanic action. So stacking cans is out. This means purpose building nonreactive shelving that doesn't waste space.

Consider hardieplank lining and shelving. Hand mix and pour a the floor slab, build the walls with cinderblock, add a few trusses to support a hardieplank roof, fillcover the the roof with dirt, install a good vapor barrier and sheet foam insulation inside, then line the interior with more hardieplank and seal it well. By then you'll have the comfort of working with the hardieplank to build a shelving system inside with it. If it takes multiple trips to build then the cinderblock and hardieplank are relatively stable to store outdoors. Only cement and mortar bags will need elemental protection between trips. Of course, if you can get a cement truck in there, is going with ICF forms and a monolithic pour is your nicest option.

The other comments about local drainage are spot on. It's so much harder to keep a space dry if there is water pooling in the immediate area. Hilly terrain you build at an angle into will solve a lot of drainage issues.
 

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Stick with dry goods and water in containers with room for expansion. These were stored in insulated coolers in a dugout cave. We are a lot of mush that winter. Chef boy r d mush, fruit mush, mush stew......

What was good? Canned meats, dry goods, water, broth and juices

Also I had some metal drums packed with supplies and random canned goods packed in the center of dry goods and cloth supplies did NOT freeze.

349544
 

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Our cabin is at 5500' elevation. There is a foot of snow on the ground and it will be there until April. In the summer it hits the 90's. I just put food in the pantry. Now acid foods like tomato and pineapple produce do eat through the cans. rodents tend to eat food stored in paper or cardboard containers. I put out a lot of Rat bait but still. Last summer I started putting food in 5 gallon buckets with gamma lids
. the food is still in its original container. Next spring I'll check it out. Most food is in metal containers, some #10 freeze dry stuff. I have home canned jellies, wine and some canadian whisky (emergency medical). AS a rule the food there Has a 10 rotation. If not eaten in 10 years, I bring it down the mountain. No problem except with acid foods
 

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I keep a lot of food in a unheated basement.
i stored a bunch of dried beans rice caned meats ham chicken beef fish the dreaded spam
Veggies , carrots , corn, Lima beans in cans pasta rice .
I Put every thing in gray cheep plastic tubs with lids
I stacked the cans in tight with cardboard on the bottom and slide cardboard down the sides on most of them , the cans where a inch from the top with cardboard over them
dry goods where jest dropped in big ziplock bags .
The tubs with lids where duck taped closed and the buckets where stacked 4 high 64” total .
Some tubs where put there before y2k some in 07 the food dosent freeze because it’s stored in a mass with air circulating .
i Started peeking at the food last year and I had some 20 year old beans and caned chicken with rice .
the chicken was 12 years out of date ?
The can looked good in side and out the chicken was very tasty corn was soft with not much taste but it was edible The rice was good allso
i boiled the beans and let them sit 24 hours then changed the water and cooked for 2 hours and they where soft. They tasted a little flat but ok
So 20 years later and nothing really looked bad .
unfortunately my wife through most of it away but it was a good 20 year experiment .
The basement is damp
 

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Any ideas on how an underground plastic septic tank would work in regards to temperature and moisture? And estimated longevity/lifespan?

Something underground seems ideal to me especially if it is off site and not monitored constantly.
 

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Any ideas on how an underground plastic septic tank would work in regards to temperature and moisture? And estimated longevity/lifespan?

Something underground seems ideal to me especially if it is off site and not monitored constantly.
Septic tanks are designed for shallow burial. You don't get the thermal insulation needed. Plastic is also semipermeable and basically zero at insulating factor.

I don't think a buried septic tank for food storage is a useful idea.

Root cellars need to be deep and concrete sturdy.
 

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You could use a concrete tank .
Dig your hole level the bottom with gravel the tank drops in the hole off the back of a truck .
You could add risers 12” at a time so 36” should be good .
I read some where ? that 1” of Dowboard = 12” of dirt .
2” of Dow over the tank and run 1” down the sides .
But the tanks are small 6 tall 5’ wide 8’ long not much space for all the trouble .
 

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Has the OP said where they want to do this?

What you have to do to protect from freezing is very location dependent. It is very easy to do in Georgia, A bit harder in northern Minnesota and way harder in the Arctic with permafrost.
 

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You could use a concrete tank .
Theoretically, any precast concrete shape would work, but you have to face the practicality of it. Getting below the frost line is essential but might not be enough. The goal is to get enough thermal mass around to maintain a consistent temp, and that may mean even more below the frost line. So then you have the practicality of digging. Small diameter deep holes are unstable. You have to put the precast concrete shape in without collapse and keep it open while you seal itall around. Then you have to add a stable access for yourself to go fetch or place contents. Depending on depth this could be hard or unsafe. If you are not a professional with earth moving equipment or a soil engineer, you are likely to need one. You need enough caution and experience to avoid a premature permanent burial.
 
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It’s easy Peezy , im thinking 3’ of dirt 2” of Dow board = 5’ of depth you could add more Dow board of course , if you are in Alaska it my freeze .
i would make the hole 12” larger then the tank 10 ‘ deep level the bottom with3/4 stone .
The tank guys set the tanks , the truck is backed up to the hole and a boom is extended out the back .
The tank rides on the rail off the back and they lower it in the hole, or I can get one on a 80 ‘ boom .
The guys set the risers and they are gone in 30mins
the tanks are water proofed before they go in the ground
a ladder would be needed in side , and some type of top , they come with a concrete lid , I mite use a aluminum plate so it’s easy to move .
Of course I’m a builder and I’ve been digging holes in the ground for 40 years.
Any one can rent a excavator and dig a hole , if you don’t go in the hole you cant get buried .
zeke , of course I would just built a cellar like you stated above just because of the size .
I would like one 10x 14 with a walk in door but my place is on solid rock and I’m lucky to find 3’ o dirt .
 

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There you go a 1000 gallon tank going in, the guy on the right broke out a foot of rock with a 20lb hammer , there’s 2” of sand and pee gravel on solid rock. It was the only place to sink the tank
 

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Awfully shallow there. You likely won't get constant temps that are needed for food storage. Digging that hole twice or three times as deep requires more care to avoid collapse. Don't forget manhole access as well.
 
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Alone among sheeple
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What's the best way to store large quantities of commercially canned foods (metal containers) in a non climate controlled, off grid wilderness location?

The goal would be to store several thousand metal canned food products in a bug out location but not in a cabin or home as I would not be living there and a visible structure would invite theft in a remote/deserted setting.

I don't see how a root cellar would work as these are underground, and if there is the slightest fault in one's attempt to waterproof such an underground storage area, after SHTF it would be a disaster to arrive at bug out location with your your entire food supply submerged in water and rusting out.

I am thinking the best and only way is to store metal canned food products in a cave that has been checked out on a day of pouring rain to see if it stays completely dry, or to bore a large hole into the side of a dirt hill and create some shelving inside and make a door on the outside.

Either way, I see challenges with rust from humidity. What is solution for rust? Has anyone tried mass coating cans with a varnish type product?

And in a cold climate area, potential areas for freezing and thawing cycles of metal canned goods can cause cans to burst or perhaps contents of food to be spoiled by freeze/thaw cycles.

Either of these scenarios could also cause entire loss of canned foods one would be dependent on if SHTF.

Plan would be to have these metal canned goods stored for possibly many years or a decade or more unattended in non climate controlled non grid wilderness setting, ready to be eaten in SHTF situation.

Does anyone have experience (successes and failures) with the above scenario using metal canned foods? If not, I am still interested in your thoughts on this.
We have two 72 hour caches so not loads of stock.
But, both with cans, plus 2x1kg zip lock and gaffer taped bags of rice, plus a few more bits and pieces of essentials.

Both buried, in 12 inches by 36 inches capped off plastic pipes. Vertically bored, 8 inches under the grass. Thing is, apart from the rubber on the drain caps, we did nothing special, and they have been out in the woods for 3 years now and NO corrosion.

I checked with another cache(r) and he's buried over 100 cans in four blue plastic marine barrels. Again the same depth down and again no corrosion.

Way we figure it is provided you don't get too clever with desiccants (because they attract moisture and need changing), and temperature swings aren't too rapid or extreme (the UK doesn't do extreme), condensation doesn't form.

Hope that helps! Keep Safe.
 
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