Monday, 12 January 2014

By on January 12th, 2015 in friends, prepping

11:33 – Costco run and dinner with Mary and Paul yesterday. The only things I picked up for myself were one 50 pound (22.7 kilo) bag each of white flour and sugar, another 170,000 calories worth of carbohydrates. Oddly, I wasn’t able to find any rice at Costco. As it turned out, that’s fine. As Barbara told me, we have two bags of rice in the pantry that I haven’t gotten around to repackaging yet. They’re fine for now in their heavy plastic bags.

I’m going to enjoy experimenting with 2-liter PET bottles and oxygen absorbers. Among common plastics, PET is by far the least permeable to air and moisture. You need something like ten times the thickness of PE or PP to match PET’s permeability. In the thickness used in soft-drink bottles, PET is slightly permeable, which is why carbonated drinks stored in PET bottles eventually go flat.

If I fill a 2-liter PET bottle with rice, perhaps 150 cc of air will remain in that bottle, in the interstices. Air is about 20% oxygen, which means there’s about 30 cc of oxygen in the bottle. If I also add a 300 cc oxygen absorber packet, it uses up 10% of its capacity reacting with that oxygen to form rust. That puts a partial vacuum in the bottle, so eventually (assuming no change in outside air pressure) about 30 cc of air will penetrate that bottle to equalize pressures. That 30 cc of air contains about 6 cc of oxygen, which the absorber will remove. That leaves a slight negative pressure in the bottle, which again will equilibrate against the outside air. Eventually, iteratively, the atmosphere inside the bottle becomes nearly 100% nitrogen (along with argon and some other minor inert gases) and the bottle is essentially nitrogen-packed. Much cheaper, easier, and much, much safer than nitrogen-packing from a compressed nitrogen bottle.

32 Comments and discussion on "Monday, 12 January 2014"

  1. OFD says:

    That’s pretty interesting; even I can get it.

    I’ve started saving them 2-liter bottles; I think our next priority as far as prepping goes is to put a manual pump option on our well. Ya think filters inside the house would be a good idea here? After that, I’m mainly organizing and consolidating our heating situation and improving the lighting capabilities, all while building up the food supply. And ammo, as it is available.

    29 today and continuing snow showers with a whiteout; back to single digits and subzero chill for the next couple of days/nights and then the weather liars predict regular January weather by the end of this week. Although we are finding that “regular” weather here is a joke, due to our little microclimate on the bay. Ten degrees difference, summuh and wintuh, between here and just a mile up the road. Snow ten miles north and rain here, or vice-versa. Etc.

  2. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    You can get by without a water filter as long as you’re willing to boil every drop you drink. Either that, or get some HTH (high-test hypochlorite). Look for stuff that’s 68% or more calcium hypochlorite with no other active ingredients. This stuff is basically dehydrated chlorine laundry bleach, which makes it shelf-stable.

    Prefilter either using coffee filters or a formal prefilter system that you can build with some 5-gallon plastic pails (free from many bakeries and restaurants) and a bag each of pea gravel, sand, and charcoal. Either boil the prefiltered water or treat it with hypochlorite and you should be fine.

    Of course it’s also a good idea to store as much bottled water as possible for ready access. You can just fill empty 2-liter bottles after rinsing them with a dilute bleach solution and letting them mostly drain (with well water it’s a good idea to have some hypochlorite in the bottle when you seal it.)

  3. OFD says:

    Outstanding. I would not have previously thought that our well wottuh requires that much attention.

    But it’s mos def worth getting right, as that is the primary prepping block (after the air we breathe). Speaking of which, some folks may live in areas a little too near rail lines, regular highway truck routes, and/or industrial parks where manufacturing and/or work with waste products takes place. Will there be anything in the book discussing what they can do if something blows up or leaks near their homes?

    We have trucks rolling by on a regular basis here, via the road behind us that runs between Quebec through the “city” three miles up the road and then east into the tiny country towns and farmland. But they’re dairy farm trucks, mostly carrying cattle, feed and manure. The rail lines about three miles to our east carry both freight and passengers (Amtrak). And we have several manufacturers near the “city,” a Ben & Jerry’s plant, the former Energizer battery plant (closed) and several others.

    Reason I ask, is that I never forgot a little poster I saw on the bulletin board of a wall at the Clark University Geography Department thirty years ago that showed the dangers of living within five miles of a rail line or major highway.

  4. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Wells can be contaminated by various sources, from groundwater contamination of the well itself to surface water contamination upstream of the well head. Obviously, you don’t need to worry about pre-filtering your well water under normal conditions, but pre-filtering and chlorine treatment should allow you to drink lake water safely.

    As to leaks/spills, it all depends on the type of material involved. The actual hazard presented by different materials varies over many orders of magnitude. They range from stuff like nerve agents and dimethylmercury, which a couple drops of on your skin will kill you quickly, to stuff that’s just barely hazardous. You wouldn’t want to take a bath in it, but otherwise it’s not going to hurt you. The problem is that news media treats all hazardous materials as equal. A hundred gallons of gasoline spilled on the highway isn’t going to hurt anyone who’s not in the immediate area, but I can think of a lot of materials that I wouldn’t want to be within a mile of a hundred-gallon spill.

    The short answer if there’s a real hazardous material spill that threatens your home is to get the hell out as fast as you can.

  5. OFD says:

    That’s about what I figured; the nut to crack here is to somehow find out what the trucks and rail lines in one’s area regularly carry. As can be imagined, the owners and managers are not exactly forthcoming on this intel.

    In other nooz, my gun nut sources tell me there may be a demonstration of sorts down in the great Lone Star State pretty soon; a simulated terrorist attack run by gun rights activists that replicates the Charlie Hebdo thang and what they feel would be the typical Murkan armed response to it by civilians, instead of a clusterfuck of incompetent French gendarmes.

    We need Mr. Lynn, our Texas correspondent, to report on this caper.

  6. Lynn McGuire says:

    We need Mr. Lynn, our Texas correspondent, to report on this caper.

    No freaking way! First, the ATF, FBI or locals may show up and start shooting everyone in sight. Second, Dallas is 300 miles away from me (almost far enough).

    It is like those zombie enactments. You are freaking crazy to participate in one of those as your chance of getting shot is significantly greater than zero. Especially here in The Great State of Texas. Just like Bill Murray got wasted in the Zombieland movie.

  7. OFD says:

    “First, the ATF, FBI or locals may show up and start shooting everyone in sight. Second, Dallas is 300 miles away from me (almost far enough).”

    Good point. I have a feeling this ain’t gonna happen anyway. And sorry, I keep forgetting how huge Texas is; I live in one of the smallest states; 300 miles takes me to Boston or Providence. And it’s only 65 miles to Montreal.

  8. eristicist says:

    Out of interest, is there a significant risk of weevils in store-bought rice/pasta? I’ve had a few sealed bags that got them, when stored in warm conditions. I never did figure out whether that was a case of poor packaging or what.

  9. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    That was the first thing Mary Chervenak asked me about the 50-pound bag of white flour. I told her I would repackage it in 2-liter bottles with oxygen absorbers, which kill insects. Some people package stuff and then stick it in the freezer for a couple weeks, which supposedly also kills the insects and their eggs. I’d rather trust oxygen absorbers.

  10. Don Armstrong says:

    Packaging is generally pretty good.

    EVERY place that has weevils or pantry moths has had them brought in from elsewhere.
    That says they were already in the stuff before the package was sealed.

    Freezing stuff for a week or cooking it for an hour (low range of high heat, say 140 F, not immediately painful but still enough to kill YOU in an hour – high enough to destroy your plastic packs) will wipe out the vermin.

    And I’ll agree with Bob. Smothering the little B’s works fine, and no chance of hurting your food. Doesn’t use precious freezer space, or need attention while it’s semi-cooking. Costs more, though.

  11. SteveF says:

    “Precious freezer space”? What’s that? My entire garage is between freezer and refrigerator all winter. It got down below 0F for a couple days last week and can be expected to do so again over the next two months.

  12. Lynn McGuire says:

    Whereas I would swear that my garage hits 140 F in the summer time. So hot in there that I cut a new back door frame for ventilation last spring and plan to place a door in it any year now.

    My son was in Iraq the summer it hit the new world record of 134 F. He was guarding a bridge across the Euphrates river that day with three Marines. In an armored Humvee with no air conditioning. And no operable windows.

  13. Don Armstrong says:

    “Precious freezer space”? What’s that?

    Okay, so I’m guilty of an assumption. I assumed that people had a limited volume of freezer space, and that it would cost more to get more. I don’t know whether you’ve been watching news about this summer’s (like, right NOW!) bush-fires in Australia, but that’s what we get – every summer. Not that we get the fires every year, but that we get the risk of them every year, and fairly frequently we hit the jackpot. The last major bushfire adjoining our (well, our family – actually my little (6’3″) brother’s) property was in 2006, when they were flying in helicopters to pick up water loads from our dams (ponds in your language) to dump on the fire. I don’t expect it this year, but with the weather we’ve been having, the fuel load is growing like crazy, and soon we’ll get another crazy camper lighting a fire during a fire ban, or a lightning strike, or the electricity supplier’s REALLY poorly maintained lines sparking/arcing to surrounding vegetation, and we’ll be off to the races again.

    I can remember a day when the temperature in the shade was over 110F, and 125F in the sun. My father went off to finish the harvest. He was driving the tractor, sitting right behind a big engine block which was super hot, exhaust gases blowing back on him. I’d checked it with a thermometer before, and I’d judge that, that day, he was working in temperatures over 140F. I was 13, and normally I’d take over for him for lunch (which was the hottest part of the day, but it broke his 16-elapsed-hour work-day with an almost two-hour siesta), but that day he refused to let me work.

    It wasn’t too long after that, that the electricity supplier burnt the district.

  14. SteveF says:

    So instead of a giant freezer like I have, you have a giant, outdoor wood smoker. I’m so jealous!

  15. brad says:

    Pantry moths, and their larvae, will apparently chew through thin plastic packaging. I’ve seen this myself in our pantry: get one package that is contaminated, and it doesn’t take long for other packages to suddenly be infested – through holes that definitely were not present before.

  16. Lynn McGuire says:

    Pantry moths, and their larvae, will apparently chew through thin plastic packaging. I’ve seen this myself in our pantry: get one package that is contaminated, and it doesn’t take long for other packages to suddenly be infested – through holes that definitely were not present before.

    That is nothing compared to roof rats in your pantry. The only thing that can keep them out of your food is metal cans. And, I am not even sure about the thin walled metal stuff.

    Signed, Lynn “roof rat killer” McGuire, five in the last five years, three in the last six months.

  17. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Why not get a large terrier or put out fast-acting rat poison lures?

  18. Roy Harvey says:

    In the thickness used in soft-drink bottles, PET is slightly permeable, which is why carbonated drinks stored in PET bottles eventually go flat.

    Mountain Dew was the drink of choice of a now-former son-in-law, and I found a few bottles (plastic, 16.9 fl oz) from several years ago on a shelf. No carbonation left, of course, but more interesting was that the bottles were collapsing inward. I made no attempt to quantify it, but they were nowhere near round any longer.

  19. Lynn McGuire says:

    Why not get a large terrier or put out fast-acting rat poison lures?

    The terrier comes with its own set of problems. And are they all mousers? Cats are not all mousers, or at least our 15 lb Siamese male is not. He just watches the rats. Not hungry enough.

    And yes, rat poison does work but you need to be ultra careful with your pets. I use a Tomcat rat maze station:

    But of the five, I only got two with the poison. I got two with glue strips (and then a broom) and caught the last one behind my bookshelves. Did you know that rats scream when being crushed?

  20. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Yeah, I remember one time when I was a teenager. We were playing football in the street and my brother went long down the sideline (curb). I overthrew him, and while he was going to pick up the ball he saw a huge rat in the gutter. (That was the only time I ever saw a rat in our street in the 18 years I lived there.) Garbage collection was due that day or the next. My brother picked up a board and smacked the rat with it. He didn’t realize there was a nail in the board, but he nailed (so to speak) the rat perfectly. It screamed.

    As far as terriers, they’re instinctive ratters. That’s what they were bred for. If you overfeed one it probably won’t hunt, but in general a medium to large terrier is a rat’s worst nightmare.

  21. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Oh, yeah. I claimed the rat corpse and dissected it.

  22. OFD says:

    Terrier varieties were/are used in rat-killing gambling contests; I forgot the record but it was way up there.

    Our three cats suffice to control the rodent pop around here; we haven’t seen any in ages.

  23. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    According to Wikipedia, the record is 1,000 rats killed in less than 100 minutes, or less than six seconds per rat by a 13-pound Bull Terrier named Jacko. That was over a ten week period, but Jacko did have one record session where he killed 100 rats at an average of 3.3 seconds per rat.

  24. OFD says:

    Yeah, that’s the terrier record I was thinking of. Musta been quite a day for the spectators and wunnerful Jacko.

  25. Lynn McGuire says:

    My SIL has a terrier. Four lbs and male. Pees on everything in sight (marking). Easy to step on.

  26. Lynn McGuire says:

    along with argon and some other minor inert gases

    So the concentration of CO2 in the bottle will increase from 400 ppm to 500 ppm as the oxygen is absorbed.. Sounds a perfect condition for localized global warming according to the not so useful idiots.

    BTW, I had not realized how permeable these bottles are. That raises some interesting questions that I need to think about.

  27. dkreck says:

    Used to have a rat problem here. Never in the house but an older neighborhood with lots of vegetation we had plenty outside. Couple of time in the garage but poison took care of that.
    No more. We have a feral cat problem now. When they die the stink is unbearable. Had one die in the garage neatly tucked way back under some shelves.
    Ya can’t win.

  28. brad says:

    Our three cats suffice to control the rodent pop around here; we haven’t seen any in ages.

    We must have an endless supply of field mice. Our young cat sometimes brings in 3-4 per day. She doesn’t eat the heads, which is how we count. When she’s not hungry, she leaves the whole mouse. When she’s full half-way through, well, you get random mouse parts. Sometimes she stocks the larder, leaving live mice in the bathtub for safekeeping. My wife is not thrilled by this…

  29. Don Armstrong says:

    A proper prepper pussie.

    Store what you eat, eat what you store.
    Build community and share.

  30. OFD says:

    From the Unpleasant Natural Facts file:

    Yeah, cats will leave the rodent heads and often other parts. When they, however, are consumed by fishers, all that is left are the teeth and claws.

    Fishers will sit outside and wait for the cat/s to come out; they’ll also prey on porcupines. Fastest tree-climbing mammal in North Murka.

  31. brad says:

    Fishers? Like, with rods? Seriously, never heard of them until today – just looked them up on Wikipedia and I see it’s a weasel. I would have thought that the outcome against a cat would be a toss-up?

  32. OFD says:

    They’re part of the weasel families and the outcome against Felinus Domesticus is nearly always gonna be hugely in favor of the fisher; they are FAST and vicious little buggers; one of them was evidently surprised by a golden retriever at one of our previous neighborhoods up here and bit half his tail off as though it had been done by a straight razor. The dawg went whimpering home. Cats are special treats for them, after the usual amphibians, rodents, fish, carrion, etc.

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