“In some of the older books on cruising, they talk about dipping cans in varnish or some such to keep them from rusting.”
And so began a question from Tami on my article about storing canned goods, asking about ways to do it.
Good news! This is one job you can cross off your to-do list. (Good thing, too — I hate varnishing!)
Yes, I’ve read the old books talking about varnishing cans or dipping them in wax . . . but don’t know anyone who actually does it. And while cans may pick up a bit of light rust, they’re fine to eat from (see Are Rusty Cans Safe to Eat From?).
I’ve never known anyone with a real problem with cans getting seriously rusty. Maybe years ago, but not within the last 20 years at least. I think it’s for several reasons:
- Boats just don’t leak as much — even wood ones use better sealants and the rise of fiberglass has dramatically reduced the number of damp lockers
- Plastic bins — by putting cans into plastic bins, which also helps organize them, they’re protected from any dampness that might be in a locker
- Can technology — yeah, they’re using greatly improved coatings and manufacturing technology so that cans rarely rust through, and little bits of rust don’t affect the can contents.
I do suggest washing and drying cans if they’re at all dirty before stowing them (more a problem in less developed countries), but that’s all.