Long-term storage requires a few protection measures if you want to prevent your food and supplies from going to waste. Moisture is one of the enemies of every storage space, and you need to be able and prevent it. Making your homemade desiccant is an easy task and here are three useful methods you can try.
A lot of preppers are storing dried grains in large quantities because grains are cheap. If stored in proper conditions they will have a shelf-life of over 30 years. Before you store anything dried, you should determine the moisture content of that food item.
If your food has a high content of moisture, it will provide a perfect environment for bacteria and mold development, but also for insect infestation. A method for preventing moisture buildup in your grain containers is to add some oxygen absorbers or desiccants to your cans or buckets. Besides acting as a drying agent, they will also stop the oil from foods going rancid and prevent the growth of fungi.
Most preppers and survivalists will choose to buy desiccants packets to deal with the moisture issue. They aren’t expensive, and they can be found at any general store. However, we should learn to get rid of our store-bought dependency and discover new alternatives to deal with our needs. After all, we should be able to get by even when the stores will no longer be open. The homemade desiccant can be easily made in the comfort of your home and here is how to do it.
How to Make Homemade Desiccant
First Method – Homemade Desiccant using gypsum
For this method, you will need a 1/2 foot x 1/2 foot piece of drywall (gypsum wallboard). These can be found at any general store, but you can also get them for free at various construction sites. You just need to ask if they have some scraps laying around.
Before moving to the next step, you need to remove the paper and glue/adhesive (If you got it from a construction site). This can easily be done if you wet the paper first and you will be able to peel it off easily.
You should have a piece of white gypsum after removing all the paper from it. Now break it into small pieces of ½ – 1 inch and put them in an oven tray.
Preheat the oven to 450°F and heat the gypsum pieces for 1 hour. Make sure you have no more than two pieces deep in the tray.
After an hour, remove from the oven and while still hot, place in an air-tight container that won’t melt from the heat. Use a mason jar for this job. Keep in mind that anhydrite, the component of drywall can rapidly absorb water from the air and you need to store it in your mason jar quickly.
When you need to use this homemade desiccant, I recommend manufacturing some small bags from fabric. Other people use old socks to make desiccant packets, but I prefer to use fabric from other pieces of clothing.
Related reading: Ten Household Items To Use In An Emergency
Second Method – Homemade Desiccant using kitty litter
I came across this method, two years ago, when an army veteran, a close friend, told me about how he protects his ammo. He was making homemade desiccant using kitty litter, and he tried various methods before sharing his knowledge.
You need silica gel cat litter for this method or silica gel that is being used for drying flower (can be found at craft stores, in the floral department).
You will also need to make a few small cloth bags, depending how many desiccants you need.
Just put a teaspoon or two of silica kitty litter or silica gel in a clean fabric bag and tie up the opening as tight as possible so no gel can get out.
This is all you need to do, and it’s pretty much straightforward. I recommend using unscented kitty litter since you can’t be sure of what chemicals they used in it to give it a pleasant scent. It’s much safer when using it for grains or other food items.
The third method – Reusing old desiccant packets
This one method relies more on reusing or regenerating old desiccant packets rather than making homemade desiccant. You could get these from free by asking at department stores such as Kmart or Wal-Mart. They are usually throwing these away after handling various products such as shoes or electronics.
I never throw away the little desiccant packs I get from buying various stuff. I have quite a collection now, and I’ve used a lot of these over the years.
The trick with reusing old desiccant packets is knowing how to regenerate them properly. You need to reheat the gel at the right temperature for a proper amount of time. Otherwise, the silica gel will chemically change its composition and lose its hygroscopic properties.
After doing a lot of research, I discovered that you need to regenerate silica gel at 250°F for about 4 to 5 hours, depending on the oven you’re using. An electrical oven is recommended for this job as it shortens the time needed to regenerate silica gel.
How to use your homemade desiccant
When it comes to using your homemade desiccant, the options are endless. Here are just a few examples, useful for your prepping plans:
- Use them when you store ammo or in your Gun safe.
- A survival cache will always need one or two packets of homemade desiccant
- Throw a packet of desiccant when you want to seal your electronics in Mylar bags
- You can even use them in your toolbox to prevent moisture
- In a safe, when you store documents or important items
- Inside plastic buckets with grains or inside boxes with seed packets
Some people may argue that you could buy desiccants from stores, but why not learn how to make your own? You should always be prepared to make do with what you can use from your home or scavenge from a nearby area. Your survival knowledge should help you figure out ways to be self-sufficient when it seems impossible to do so. Making homemade desiccant is a simple task, and it may help you keep your stuff dry when commercial products aren’t available anymore.