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NYECOGunsmith 11-15-2011 11:37 PM

Cheap Gun Safe Dehumidifier
A buddy was complaining today about the cost of buying those Silica Gel canisters to keep the humidity out of his gun safe.

I couldn't figure out at first why he was complaining, he only has one safe, and one of the $30 900 gram canisters (about 2 pounds of Silica Gel Crystals) will protect 60+ cubic feet of space, and they last for years.

You just have to put them in the oven periodically to dry them out and then you put them back in the safe.

Turns out he didn't read the directions that came with it completely, thought that when the little indicator on the canister turned blue you were supposed to throw it away and buy another!

No wonder he was unhappy about the cost.

Anyway, after straightening him out on this, he asked which brand of the canister I used.

I told him "Pet Pride".

That got me a strange look, naturally.

So I explained to him that I don't make use of those expensive canisters.

I buy an 8 pound bag of Pet Pride cat litter, which is one hundred percent Silica Gel crystals, and then I pour some into a cheap disposable plastic dish with a snap on lid. The lid has holes punched in it so that the crystals can absorb what little moisture is in the air around here.

When the crystals in the plastic container get soggy, I put them on a disposable tin cookie sheet and stuff it in the oven for a couple of hours at 200 degrees, then pour them back into the plastic dish.

You lose some in the process, but an 8 pound bag, currently about 8 bucks at Smiths or $6 at Wally World, lasts for nearly ever. I'm still working on a bag I brought with me from CA when I retired 7 years ago.

There are other brands out there as well that are 100% silica gel crystals as well, like Amazing brand Cat litter, and I think there is at least one other brand as well.

Pictures in case the above makes no sense.

ampersand 11-15-2011 11:43 PM

Thanks! I just bought a new and larger safe and was thinking about de-humidifiers. I have no knowledge of cat litter so I'd have never thought to check it out.

You just saved me some money.


NYECOGunsmith 11-15-2011 11:54 PM


Originally Posted by ampersand (Post 229040)
Thanks! I just bought a new and larger safe and was thinking about de-humidifiers. I have no knowledge of cat litter so I'd have never thought to check it out.

You just saved me some money.


You're welcome.

As for your lack of knowledge of cat litter, I can only chalk that up to your having guns, and a safe, and no cat. Therefore, what you lack is a cat to complete your world and knowledge data base.

Cats are endowed at birth with "Total Universal Knowledge", much like humans are when they turn 13 years of age.

Teenagers know everything, just ask them.

Unlike humans, cats don't lose that Total Universal Knowledge upon becoming an adult cat.

Don't believe me, just ask a cat!

JimBianchi 11-16-2011 12:23 AM

I've read about using strips of drywall, about 4x10inches, laying against the back of the safe. Change it once a year.

(I use silica packets from electronics boxes. Been saving them for years and have enough to last a bit. Got a few the size a of a baseball last year, I think from a an airgun purchase)

teRRy702 11-16-2011 12:56 AM

GREAT info! Thanks Steve!

jjcapurro 11-16-2011 01:02 AM

I didn't realize we actually needed to use dehumidifiers in our safes in Vegas... We're dry as a bone here, so I just assumed...

Yes yes, I know what they say...

Crap. Off I go to buy cat litter, stat!!!

shim1313 11-16-2011 02:08 AM

I have never has an issue with moisture in mine for the past 10 years. A dehumidifier came with the safe but I have never used it

NYECOGunsmith 11-16-2011 02:44 AM

When it rains here, and we know it does do that from time to time, the temperature and humidity change on the outside of the safe are pretty rapid.

Same can be said for the inside of the safe, particularly if it's in a non environment controlled garage for example.

Unless the safe is completely air tight, some of that moisture from the rain is going to get inside the safe.

And with the temperature change that goes along with it, there is a chance that some of it will condense to some degree on the cooler metal inside the safe.

So there is the potential for rust to form even here in the desert.

With eliminating it so cheap and easy to do, why take the chance I figure.

In addition to the Silica Gel tubs, I also keep a small kerosene lantern bottom (no globe, just the base and the wick) in the safe. I fill the base well with Camphor Oil and WD40 in a 50-50 mixture. Run the wick up a good ways and set it where it won't get knocked over.

This is an old machinists trick for protecting tools in an enclosed tool crib/cabinet.

The WD-40 and Camphor oil mix and the WD 40's Stoddard Solvent (pretty close to kerosene in it's makeup, Stoddard solvent is also known as White Spirits, or Mineral Spirits) component will evaporate, acting as the carrier.

When that happens the Camphor oil and the mineral oil (WD-40 is basically just the solvent and a light mineral oil, plus some inert ingredients which I believe are mostly aromatic components) will get dispersed this way, and the Camphor oil and mineral oil will leave behind a vapor barrier on the metal that will block oxygen from getting to the metal. Can't rust if it can't oxidize.

This formula is pretty cheap, with a small 4 ounce bottle of Camphor oil running about $2 at most Pharmacies, and the WD40 not being all that expensive either.

A small kerosene lantern can be had for around $5 at most wally worlds.

Another media you can use in the lantern in place of the Camphor Oil and WD40 mixture is BullFrog Vapor Corrosion Inhibitor.

They sell it in blocks and in liquid form for use in Safes, tool cribs, etc. But they get anywhere from $20-$30 a can for a 16 ounce can of the liquid for this purpose. The solid blocks are a bit cheaper.

A couple of years back I discovered that they sell the same exact formula, same ingredients, same concentrations, in a 16 ounce can, in the automotive section at ACE hardware, but labeled as Engine Block Rust Inhibitor.

You add it to your engine oil and it prevents rust inside the block, which I always thought (and still do!) that the engine oil itself does. They also market one to add to the coolant.

And they have solid blocks you can hang in a gun safe. But they (the ones specifically labeled for gun safes and tool cribs) are expensive compared to the automotive product line.

But that's neither here nor there, the beauty of it is if you want to use this VCI (Vapor Corrosion Inhibitor) technology to protect the inside of your safe, in this form (the automotive type) which as I said is the same formula and concentration as the stuff sold for use in safes and tool cribs, it's only $8 for a 16 ounce can of it labeled this way!

Here's the Bullfrog site with all their fine VCI products:

Their prices on this site are 50 % higher that what I have found them for at ACE, Home Depot, Wally World, etc. Shop around if you are interested in trying them out.

You could also install a small, 40 watt light bulb and socket inside the safe and leave it on all the time.

After a short time, the light bulb will heat up the air space inside the safe a few degrees, enough to raise the dew point and keep condensation from forming on the cold metal of any guns inside.

This is basically how the Golden RodŽ and other safe dehumidifiers work, they just create warm air, and let natural convection currents in the safe carry the warm air from the bottom of the safe to the top, preventing condensation in that manner.

But the vapor barrier method and the Silica Gel Crystal method both have the advantage of working during a power outage (which happens most often during rain storms around here!) and they can't cause a fire if something shorts out.

And they don't raise your power bill, although admittedly the large size Golden Rod and it's competitors only draw about 25-30 watts, but still, it does add up on the electrical bill.

Tophog 11-16-2011 05:26 AM

Steve, if anyone can deliver a whole thesis on cat litter, it's you!

Now about the landmines in my yard from the dog . . . ?


Kavo 11-16-2011 05:44 PM

Thank you for this post! I will be trying this out soon. :woop:

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