Choosing the Best Containers for Your Stockpile
The following post has been contributed by Dan F. Sullivan, the owner of the popular SurvivalSullivan survival and prepping blog.
So you spent time and money putting together a stockpile to last you weeks, maybe even months. You chose the foods with the longest shelf life, you made sure you only got things your family enjoys and you cached them in various places around the house, maybe even at your bug out location.
Only problem is, food and water have 5 ruthless enemies that could compromise your entire stash and, I don’t need to tell you that waking up with spoiled food after it hits is one of the biggest nightmares you could face.
They are moisture, heat, light, air and pests and you need to fight all of them. There’s only one way of doing that and that’s to choose the right containers for them in the first place. Your food, water and medicine, even your clothes and gear should be stored in buckets or bags that provide protection from the elements. Let’s take them one by one and see which ones are best under which circumstances.
The vast majority of preppers who store food for the long term use this proven combination to ensure the shelf life of their foods:
- Mylar bags
- oxygen absorbers
- and 5-gallon food-grade plastic buckets
The foods that can be stored of this manner include dried beans, white rice, pasta and whole grains.
Now, you’d think the above trio is enough but we’re not done yet. We still need to protect it from pests. You probably know that mice can easily chew their way through your buckets. This is why you need to put your food-grade buckets inside metal buckets. That’s it; the only thing you need to worry about now is temperature.
What about larger containers? They’ll work but they’re going to be tough to move. Say disaster is upon you and you need to load as much food as you can in your truck. You can carry two 5-gallon buckets at a time on your own but a 30 gallon bucket will require two people.
By the way, you can get free food-grade buckets from deli shops, bakeries, restaurants and fast food places. They’re throwing them out anyway, so why not?
This all sounds good but what about canned food? Whether you buy it from the supermarket or you make it yourself using a pressure cooker, you’re going to need Mason jars. The good news is they are reusable, meaning you can rely on them in a post-apocalyptic world to can the foods from your survival garden.
However, you’re also gonna need calling lids and, unfortunately, these are not reusable. You should stock up on as many as you can, given that they’re dirt-cheap and, before you use them, you need to make sure they don’t’ have any dents or cracks.
The alternative to lids is to use cellophane but that might be hard to find as well in a post-collapse world. They obviously work, people canned food long before lids became popular.
Though water doesn’t really expire, you need to be careful when you store it to avoid the growth of algae and bacteria.
The most basic container is the old plastic bottle that you can get at the supermarket. This would be your emergency water reserve that you’d keep in your survival bag or somewhere in your pantry, ready to load in your bug out vehicle at a moment’s notice.
Of course, the price per gallon would be pretty expensive to grow your stockpile this way. You can move on to bigger containers such as 5 gallon water jugs which you need to keep them in a cool dark place.
You should know that some water jugs have issues, though. Many people report leaks and the ones who prefer to use thicker, milk jugs, risk contaminating their water. You see, no matter how well your rinse milk and juice jugs, you’d still won’t be able to clean them 100%.
The best way to have a serious water stockpile is to keep it in bigger containers such as 55-gallon BPA-free water barrels. These will truly allow you to build a long-term emergency supply of clean, drinkable water.
Most preppers only use plastic water bottles and these 55-gallon barrels but not all of them stop here. You can store water inside larger 300-gallon or 500-gallon tanks or even your pool.
Truth be told, every container in your home can be re-purposed to store water. When you hear the news that something bad is happening and you determine that you need to bug in, one of the first things you should do is turn on every faucet in your house and gather as much water as you can in things like bath tubs, sinks, pots, jars, pans and even glasses.
Containers for Your Medicine
Small disclaimer: I’m not a doctor so please only use my advice for information purposes only. That being said, the first thing I’d like to point out is that you shouldn’t take the pills out of the blister packs they are sealed in. This way, when you’ll need to take one, you’ll leave the others intact.
As far as the container of all these containers, the medicine cabinet, it should definitely not be stored inside your bathroom. Moisture will decrease the shelf life of all your meds. You can just store them in a plastic tote that you should keep in a cool, dark, ventilated room.
As far as containers, go there are other options. For example, if you don’t want your kids finding your medicine, you can get lockable plastic boxes. If kids aren’t a problem, you can simply use those 5-gallon buckets we talked about.
What about the Other Preps?
If you have various other things that need to be waterproofed (such as thermometers, batteries and so on), I strongly recommend using Ziploc bags. One thing, you should put each battery in a separate bag as you don’t want them to be touching. Other than that, you should waterproof most of your bug out bag items.
There’re many mistakes to be made when it comes to food storage. After all, if you don’t get it right, you could face serious health issues so you should never compromise when it comes to containers. The other thing you can do is buy more containers that you need. Right now they cost pennies but post-collapse… they might be impossible to find.
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