Saturday, 29 October 2016

10:53 – I decided to start using the standard WP template formatting rather than formatting each paragraph separately. We’ll see how it looks in serif rather than sans-serif.

Dave Starr posted this comment on yesterday’s entry, and I thought it deserved a more complete reply than I could make in comments:

I’m really enjoying your LTS and other aspects of prepping articles. I’ve lived outside the USA for more than 10 years now, seriously considering moving back in the next year or two though. One of my main reasons would be LTS. Americans are spoiled by the cheapness of food in the USA and the broad choices. In most of the world, building up a few shelves of LTS items would be akin to storing shelves of gold bullion for the average person.

Year ago I used to follow the LDS guidance on food storage. We kept a lot of hard winter wheat in 5 gallon food safe containers, placing a small block of dry ice atop the wheat and letting the C02 sublimate, then sealing the containers. I assume the current practice of using oxygen absorbers is a superior way to go?

Checking into the availability of dry ice where we live now (it’s also become like gold), I found that the commercial dry ice manufacturing process is very simple, basically nothing more than capturing and compressing the C02 “frost” that forms when you discharge a C02 fire extinguisher.

Given that the ability to chill or even freeze things temporarily might be useful from time to time in long term survival situations, what are your thoughts on perhaps storing a commercial cylinder or two of C02?

No, most of us in the US don’t appreciate just how good we have it in terms of consumer goods. I’m 63 years old, and I’ve spent a total of about a month outside the US and Canada. I suspect very few Americans other than those in the military have been outside the US even that much. Moving back is a good idea. I think things are going to get worse and worse all over the world over the next five to ten years–we’re watching it happening now–and I think the US and Canada are the safest places to ride that out.

Yes, dry ice is as good a method as any of eliminating oxygen from storage containers. I use and recommend oxygen absorbers because they’re inexpensive, effective, safe to handle, and readily available from the LDS store, Amazon, and other vendors. Back 40 years ago, I did use dry ice when it was the only practical choice. Once oxygen absorbers became readily available, I started using them exclusively.

I had the problem with dry ice brought home to me in spades one day when I was visting a prepper friend, back when we were still called survivalists. He and his wife had just repackaged a dozen or so large Mason jars of dry staples, using dry ice from the ice cream shop to eliminate oxygen. Unfortunately, they didn’t wait long enough before they screwed the lids and bands on all the Mason jars. I’d showed up just after they finished. We were standing at the kitchen door when there was a loud bang from the pantry. His wife ran toward the pantry door. Fortunately, he grabbed her, because just then there was a second loud bang. I actually drew my .45, because I had no idea what was going on. He started shouting, “The Mason jars!” and told me what they’d just finished doing. I suggested he wait at least several hours before he entered the pantry. He told me later that a few more of the jars had exploded, and then when he finally entered the pantry the next morning there were shards of glass all over the place, including some embedded in the wood, as well as scattered food all over the floor and shelves. The lids just blew off some of them, leaving the glass undamaged, but at least a couple of the jars had fragmented. A carbon dioxide bomb is no joke, even in a plastic soda bottle. The takeaway here is to be extremely careful if you use dry ice, and NEVER EVER use it in a glass container.

Adiabatic cooling is certainly one option, but storing compressed carbon dioxide is very expensive, unsustainable, and dangerous. (I once saw the results of a poorly-secured compressed gas cylinder falling and breaking its valve. It blew through a concrete block wall into the neighboring lab, banged around and destroyed a lot of expensive equipment, and finally came to rest after cracking a poured reinforced concrete foundation wall. Fortunately, other than the guy who loosened the retaining strap to start the whole event, no one was around when it happened. He was uninjured, but I suspect he needed to change underwear.) Better to depend on evaporative cooling with clay containers, making provision for at least some electric power to drive standard or Peltier coolers, etc.