The $.99 Blunder That Nearly Ruined $100 Worth of Survival Supplies!




I admit it…

Sometimes I do dumb things.

Stuff I should know better.

Stuff I would tell you NOT to do if you’d only asked!

What is that I did wrong?

We’ll get to that in a moment…

Let me first state that one of the actions I suggest you do–and that I do–is to stash some supplies outside of your home so that if something were to happen and you lost everything inside then you have something to fall back upon. It doesn’t have to be a lot… just some extras. And I’m not necessarily talking about buried caches, although, they’re useful in some cases too.

Instead, I’m merely talking about supplies that I keep at a relatives house in a variety of bins as backups.

Now, this stash of supplies isn’t really something that I’ve checked up on in quite a long time (quite possibly years to be honest) except for once a year when I swap out clothes and shoes that my kids would need. Besides clothing, I keep a wide variety of supplies, including cordage, a radio, batteries, lantern and flashlights, assorted foul-weather gear, medical supplies such as gauze, a few cast iron pans… you get the idea. If I already had enough at home and I could fit whatever it was I had “extras” of, well, I did.

And that’s where my problem started.

You see, I’m notorious for thinking things through about 99% of the way. I had a good plan and plenty of extra stuff to rely upon. The problem arose when I decided to rush through that last 1% and choose to add a few bottles of Isopropyl alcohol and hydrogen peroxide to a 33-gallon trash can that I had a bunch of my backup supplies stored in. Why was that a problem, you ask?

Because I simply added the bottles, unprotected, to the top of the bin as a last minute thought. I figured I had space… I couldn’t leave it empty! As you might now guess, one of the bottles of Isopropyl alcohol leaked and got all over everything. I was not happy when I realized this after bringing the gear back home in preparation for our move cross-country.

But, I figured if I gave it a few days and let everything air out then things would be ok. In most cases that was true. A lot of the larger pieces of gear seemed to come out ok, from cast iron pans to lanterns and basically anything that wasn’t enclosed in any packaging except for, strangely enough, a pair of wet boots that still smell a bit like Isopropyl alcohol. I’m not throwing them out since they’re not that bad and should get better over time.

And, although I wasn’t doing so for this reason, I had a bunch of small supplies stuffed inside ZipLoc bags to better contain them. When I pulled everything out after realizing what happened I figured that all of the supplies which were sealed inside bags would be fine. Not so. In fact, EVERY bag and package that I opened smelled like Isopropyl alcohol. Arrrgh!

So, I spent another two days airing out everything inside the ZipLoc bags but with a bit less success.

It seems that when it was all said and done I could have lost a fair amount of supplies but managed to salvage things like matches, toothbrushes, gloves, etc. I did, however, choose to throw out a few things like a bag of cordage that was half rotted, a few small boxes of gauze, some crossword puzzles, and few other small items that still smelled funny.

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Ultimately, I probably could have used everything that had been exposed to the Isopropyl alcohol. The problem, however, is that if we had needed some of these supplies in a true emergency then a few things may not have been immediately usable. Of course, I’m glad it was something like Isopropyl alcohol and not kerosene… of which I also happened to have a few small bottles for a kerosene lantern that was included in the stash, though, they were stashed at the bottom of the barrel… guess I thought that one through?

So, the moral of this story is: don’t stash a 99 cent bottle of Isopropyl alcohol–or anything liquid for that matter–atop dry stuff that you want to keep dry. Or, at the very least, ensure that if they do leak then the leak will be contained.

View the original article and more from Damian, at his site ReThinkSurvival.com

Want to know more? Check out these related articles on our site:

Primitive Survival Skills: Surviving Without Supplies

Build a DIY Survival Shelter for Only $5!

10 Prepper Supply Items You Can Buy at Costco

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  1. Michael Cochrane

    November 4, 2013 at 9:47 AM

    Dear Average Joe,
    I’ll add another one to the list that was much worse in my case. Bleach!
    One day I noticed the liquid bleach had ruptured through the bottle and covered the bottom 6″ of my see-through plastic storage bin. Everything on the bottom had to be thrown out (i.e. canned foods since bleach is highly corrosive). Also, I have since learned that bleach loses it’s disinfecting power after only 6 months. There is a better option.
    See this link: http://survivaltopics.com/better-than-bleach-use-calcium-hypochlorite-to-disinfect-water/
    I hope this helps others prepare.

  2. Chuck

    November 4, 2013 at 10:19 AM

    Most isopropyl alcohol IPA is sold in two strengths, 30% and 70%. The weaker solution is generally used for alcohol rubs to help bring down fever. The 70% IPA is sold for disinfecting purposes. If you want to get IPA for degreasing purposes, you can obtain 99% IPA at a self-serve printing supply store. Look for printing supplies in your area and if you see a self-serve printing supply store, they are open to the public and you can go in and buy 99% IPA. This is not to be used on skin as it is a degreaser and will dry your skin out. If you use 99% IPA, you need to use nitrile gloves to protect your hands.

    The article doesn’t say what percentage IPA leaked but if it were 70% IPA, the boots would need to be re-oiled as even the 70% will dry out the leather when the IPA dries. 70% has too much water in it to be useful as a degreaser. If it were 30%, then just drying out the boots as if they had gotten wet from water should be sufficient, although to be on the safe side, I would re-oil them with whatever compound the manufacturer recommends.

    To add to your trivia base, printing companies use IPA as a wetting agent. As IPA is hydrophilic, it is impossible to get 100% IPA except in a closed system. As soon as IPA is exposed to air it starts to absorb water from the air and is no longer 100%.

    • Lonnie Hopson

      November 4, 2013 at 10:41 AM

      Wal Mart and most pharmacies now sell 90% IPA. Just so you know. This works fairly well in alcohol lamps and stoves.

      • Chuck

        November 4, 2013 at 12:42 PM

        Did not know that Wally World was selling 90% IPA. Thanks for the tip. Another source in addition to printing supply stores where you have to buy 1 gallon cans. They are sealed with a metal seal, though, so leaks are not a problem until you open the can. If you are really into IPA usage, you can also buy 5 gallon cans of IPA, though unless you have a paint shop or a printing company, I don’t know what you would use 5 gallons for except cooking. The only problem cooking with IPA is that is has low BTUs and takes a long time to cook with and sometimes you can’t see the flame, so you don’t know if your stove is lit or not. The 5-gallon cans come sealed also, so it is a storable item that won’t evaporate or go bad in storage which is a plus. Unfortunately nothing is perfect.

  3. John

    November 4, 2013 at 10:50 AM

    I opened all of my bottles with liquids in them and placed a piece of heavy duty aluminum foil completely over the opening and resealed the caps. No leaks after a year in my go bags first aid kit.

  4. John Hammond

    November 4, 2013 at 11:03 AM

    I like to pack 95% Ethyl Alcohol instead of Isopropyl. It can be used for most of the same things as Isopropyl and you can drink it (diluted) also. I like aluminum bottles that are used by the flavor and chemical industry to ship samples so I don not worry about leaks.

    • Chuck

      November 4, 2013 at 12:37 PM

      Where can one buy 95% ethyl alcohol other than 180 proof absinthe?

      • bryan young

        November 5, 2013 at 3:58 PM

        cheapest everclear = 190 proof = 95% ethyl alcohol ……..

    • James G

      November 6, 2013 at 10:48 AM

      I don’t know if this is true, but I’ve heard that the US military switched from aluminum canteens to plastic because soldiers were dying after drinking liquor stored in them. You may want to reconsider your aluminum seals if you’re going to drink it.

      • Chuck

        November 7, 2013 at 12:09 AM

        Up until Viet Nam all of our canteens in the USMC were aluminum. I am quite positive they were WWII vintage. Plastic canteens started in Viet Nam. I am not sure why but there are probably a couple of reasons. A two-quart plastic canteen weighed less than a one-quart aluminum. The aluminum canteens were noisier than the plastic ones. Until Viet Nam, plastic wasn’t as ubiquitous as it became in the 60’s. And I think the most important reason was that they were cheaper than aluminum. I suspect that most hootch didn’t stay in the aluminum canteens long enough to dissolve the interior, whereas that could be a problem for long term storage. On the other hand, mayonnaise jars, peanut butter, and, most likely many other type of storage jars have metal foil in the lids. I just checked my vinegar jars and both of them use the plastic of the lid as the seal. I don’t remember if they originally had any other seal on them or not. next time you buy vinegar check to see what kind of seal is used if any. Vinegar is probably your best check as it is a mild acid.

  5. Wayne

    November 5, 2013 at 7:29 PM

    I made the mistake of keeping a plastic jug of bleach in a plastic barrel containing a major cache. With temperature changes the plastic bottle flexed and eventually cracked spilling the contents. Destroyed a take-down .22/20guage gun, all the clothes and other things.
    Separately I had purchased storage bulk foods from a Denver-area provider and was keeping it at near sea-level. The air pressure difference for the altitude difference plus weather changes flexed and cracked the plastic buckets destroying the nitrogen packing.

  6. Butch

    November 6, 2013 at 12:58 PM

    Here is a hint. If you are going to store anything liquid for any length of time put it in a glass container. Plastic containers do not hold up well. Canning jars are excellent for this.

  7. Jenna

    November 6, 2013 at 11:21 PM

    Yeah… we lost ALL of our food…. lots of medical supplies too. We lived in a 14 x 70 mobile home with NO storage. Up until super storm Sandy I thought my mom was all knowing (generally speaking). I discovered when I went to send stuff to my brother in Jersey to help him out that she is NOT all knowing and I was an idiot for not researching better ways to store my food.

    See, I had bins all OVER my little home with my preps. Yeah… I threw away at least 250 pounds of food… at least. My mother suggested that we store our bins under the house. I mean what better place than under the house where raiders probably wouldn’t look…. but I argued that the mice would go after it all. She suggested a couple mothballs in each tub. Just make sure you put everything in a zip lock…

    HUGE MISTAKE!!!!! BLEACH SOAKED TUBS…. IN MY BATHTUB FOR TWO DAYS… gallons and gallons of bleach in the tub…. nope. They STILL smell like moth balls (the tubs). Even the cans seemed to taste like it….

    I gave up and just threw ALL of it away and started over.

    This time I did WAY better homework. 90% of the little bit we have stashed is in mason jars. Otherwise mylar bags. And EVERYTHING is in the house.

  8. Louise

    November 8, 2013 at 8:39 PM

    A key thing that I noticed here, and have experienced myself, is that Ziploc bags are NOT waterproof! I discovered this on a Bug-out practice and I put sandwich meat and cheese that was in the refrigerator into the cooler. When we got to our bug-out location the cheese was swamped and slimy, so was the lunchmeat – ew! So I am now in the market for a food saver type sealer, and some mylar bags that I can heat seal. I bought some containers that have a rubber seal around where the lid latches down and they did not leak, so they now house the firestarter items and first aid items.

    • d barker

      November 9, 2013 at 1:30 AM

      Polyethylene (ziplocks) are much more permeable than you would imagine. If you put iodine in one sealed and peeled potato in another sealed bag and put them together, the potato will turn black as the iodine permeates the poly bag easily. Glass jars are best for long term storage. Tape the tightened caps, date, wrap in newspaper to help prevent breakage, and store all questionable liquids in a separate container, perhaps an older plastic pail with lid.

  9. Joy

    November 29, 2013 at 2:18 AM

    Shame you threw out that gauze. Seems like it would have made an excellent fire starter…

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