Humidity management in safe, or "Ugh!!!"

This is a discussion on Humidity management in safe, or "Ugh!!!" within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Hi all. Want to probe everyone's opinions on how to best manage the humidity level and rust issues in my gun safe. Quick back story, ...

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Thread: Humidity management in safe, or "Ugh!!!"

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    Member Array Griblik's Avatar
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    Humidity management in safe, or "Ugh!!!"

    Hi all. Want to probe everyone's opinions on how to best manage the humidity level and rust issues in my gun safe.

    Quick back story, just for rant's sake if nothing else cause I'm super frustrated with my situation. Was being a bad boy and keeping all my guns piled in my closet waiting to get stolen for several years. A couple months back, got a great deal on a nice Sentry gun safe. However, I was still living in my apartment at the time, and knew I'd be getting married and moving to a new house soon, and it was heavy as crap, so didn't want to deal with lugging it into my apartment just to move it again two months later, so it sat in my dad's barn for a bit. Fast forward, married now, in the new house, finally being a good boy and keeping my guns all locked up where they should be, and seriously within a week, everything went to crap. Surface rust on a Savage .22, Mossberg 500, SKS, Chinese SxS, a pellet gun, and my PPK. Basically everything but my Glocks, which I love for a whole new reason now. Lots of rust and very minor pitting on an otherwise pristine Winchester 94. (I'm telling myself that one's just "patina".) But then - egads. Great big streak of rust and pitting and kick in the junk along the left side of the slide of my Kimber Tactical Pro. My freakin' crown jewel, favorite gun ever, firearm love of my life looks like crap now.

    Back in the days when my guns lived in my closet, I would clean them after a shooting session, but would never take any great care to keep them oiled down at all times, and never ever developed a spot of rust, even after carrying them in IWB leather holsters. Now, just a few days in my safe has made my collection look like I stored them in a mud puddle.

    Upon this discovery, I immediately wiped everything down with a heavy dose of Hoppe's lubricating oil, and especially drenched the pitting on my beloved Kimber. Let it sit for a few days, more surface rust. So, I bought a Goldenrod dehumidifier and some Remington brand "rust inhibitor" wipes, wiped everything down again. Rust seems less prolific, but is still forming on my Winchester and my Mossberg. Fortunately, my Kimber seems to be safe so long as I continue to wipe it down like twice a day. Obviously, this is not a sustainable situation, and generally no bueno.

    Is this just a fact of life with safes?? Does everyone go through this? Am I doing something wrong? I've read about the silica dessicant some people use, and maybe I need to use that as well?? On a whim that I don't particularly expect to do anything, I just now put a bowl of rice in the safe, thinking it might suck up some moisture that was somehow "trapped" in the safe? Does it normally take a few days for Goldenrods to get the safe up to temp and do any good?

    I'm totally distraught about my Kimber. I've had it like six months, carried it all the time, carried it in the rain, carried it in the mountains, carried it at the freakin' beach, and never had this problem before. After a day of carrying it now those pitted spots are the color of a tin can from the bottom of the ocean. I talked to Kimber already, wondering if maybe the finish was somehow flawed to have rusted so quickly and so badly out of nowhere, and they basically said I was dumb, and that Kimbers can only be expected to survive in hermetically sealed underground chambers submersed in WD-40. No, they didn't say that, but they said it was all my own fault, need to store differently, need to keep covered in oil, need to basically never touch it or carry it or shoot it. Finish damage "not covered under warranty", $50 to refinish it, but I'm hesitant to do that until I figure out how to make my safe a happy place for my flock, so it isn't ruined again three days after getting it back.

    For those of you waiting for the cliff notes, the preceding post can be summarized as "Ugh!!! Help!!!" Any instructions/advice/condolences are greatly appreciated. Gonna go cry over my poor rusted Kimber now.
    .40 is fine.

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  3. #2
    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Griblik View Post
    Is this just a fact of life with safes?? Does everyone go through this? Am I doing something wrong?
    No, it's not a fact of life with safes. Something is wrong with one or more of the following:

    • You've stored a gun or other item with moisture in/on it, such that the moisture has infected the safe's contents;
    • Your safe leaks air/moisture due to not being manufactured well enough to seal tightly;
    • You open the safe frequently enough such that the moisture-laden air you allow to get in there cannot be handled by the dehumidifier power you've installed;
    • The amount of dehumidifier/desiccant you have in the safe isn't sufficient to eat up the moisture that is present, which should be (IMO) 10x the space recommended by the desiccant/dehumidifier;
    • Any or all of the above.


    I have a safe, sized about 60H x 30W x28D. I have ~8 long guns and ~5 pistols. I open/close the safe perhaps 5-7x per month.

    It seals up very, very tightly, due to the manufacture of this particular make/model of safe.

    There is a hole at the bottom for bolting to the foundation of the house. There is another, small hole at the back for insertion of the wire for the goldenrod dehumidifier. Each hole is sealed with a blob of silicone gel to keep the moisture/air out.

    For dehumidification, I keep three units inside the safe and ensure they're regularly "recharged" to full strength:
    • One large can of silica gel desiccant, 33cuft rating;
    • One smaller dehumidifier that gets recharged by plugging it in every month (for ~8hrs) to eliminate the moisture that has been gathered;
    • One goldenrod dehumidifier rod that runs 24x7 from the wire that's tapped through the back of the safe.


    Altogether, the CuFt of space these three units are supposed to protect exceeds 250 cuft, which is 10x that of the safe's interior space. Personally, I don't feel comfortable with just enough dehumidifying power to cover 1x or 2x the space. I've heard too many horror stories. As well, my particular collection doesn't have $5000 wood on any of the guns, and I tend toward synthetic "furniture," so I don't have the worry some do about the fragile moisture balance of fine woods.

    Every ~3-4mos, I wipe down the surface exterior (frame, barrel, bolt) of every gun with an impregnated cloth and light oil. This is to keep the surface basically clean of any moisture or contaminants that might come from my occasional opening of the safe.

    Every 6mos to 1yr, depending, I clean each and every gun. Most are used reasonably frequently.

    Each gun is stored in a "gun sock" made of impregnated material. Some say that you should store guns in the open, free-standing in the safe, without a sock or case around the gun. I've heard both sides. I choose: impregnated sock. Nothing gets stored wet, ever. No gun stock gets stored wet, without first drying out, ever. No oils/cloths or other items that can "leak" moisture, oils or other contaminants into the air are ever stored in the safe. YMMV, but it seems to work for me.


    Does it normally take a few days for Goldenrods to get the safe up to temp and do any good?
    Yes, IMO, after each and every time you open the safe and there's a "shot" of moisture-laden air that needs to be fixed.

    Be sure to install the goldenrod unit at the bottom of your safe. Mine's at the bottom/rear, as recommended by the safe manufacturer and the installer. The heated air rises, going after the humidity 24x7 due to its being plugged in.

    If you're still having troubles after addressing the above points, consider one more product. I have found the Birchwood-Casey Sheath oil to be exceptional in its ability to eliminate moisture. You can find it at many online retailers, some local stores. Works well for cleaning a gun's surfaces after a wet session in the field. Works well for the occasional surface skim of your gun collection. Works well after any handling, to zap fingerprints.

    Birchwood-Casey Sheath oil.
    Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
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    Member Array Griblik's Avatar
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    Lots of good info, thank you. There are a couple of holes in it for mounting and one the cord runs through, hadn't thought of sealing those, will definitely be doing that tomorrow.

    Goldenrod is installed at bottom rear of safe.

    I think I will try a silica dessicant as well, recommendations of a particular brand/style, or does it matter?

    I do open and close the safe basically twice a day, getting carry du jour out in the morning and putting away bedside gun, and the reverse at night. Is that not standard operating procedure for some if not most? Is it harmful to open safe that often? Thanks again.
    .40 is fine.

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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Griblik View Post
    I think I will try a silica dessicant as well, recommendations of a particular brand/style, or does it matter?
    The silica gel crystals/pellets are basically all the same material. Acquire from a reputable gun shop or online store.

    Currently, I have the "can" variety, which comes in a can that's about ~7" tall. I provided a link, above. It has a little window at the top, on the lid, through which you can view the color of the silica inside. When it changes color, you stuff it in the oven @ 300*F to recharge it. I've also got one of the little units that you plug into the wall to recharge. Plus the goldenrod, which is "on" 24x7. I'd pick up either the mid-sized can or the larger "box" size, which handles 33cuft or 57cuft, respectively.

    Keep in mind, the safe is ~20cuft or so. Putting ~200cuft of dehumidification power inside the safe is going to suck all the moisture out of any fine woods you might have. Something to think about. This is one of the reasons why fine art collections are temp/humidity controlled, not temp/humidity completely-sucked-bone-dry.

    As for the goldenrod, remember that there are different sizes. The larger size handles more CuFt of air space. Same with the desiccants, of course.

    I do open and close the safe basically twice a day, getting carry du jour out in the morning and putting away bedside gun, and the reverse at night. Is that not standard operating procedure for some if not most? Is it harmful to open safe that often?
    Yes, I think it's harmful. In the sense that every single time you open the safe you're introducing moisture-laden air, you are forcing your dehumidifiers to work much, much harder to get the job done.

    I'm of the opinion that a person needs two safes:
    • One safe, for the long-term storage of the basic collection. The point is to keep this closed as much as is humanly possible, to reduce the load on the dehumidifiers.
    • One smaller safe, for the daily items that a person carries. This secondary safe is opened/closed daily, controlling any of the guns/items that a person uses each day and needs to protect each night. Being smaller, it's also far easier to keep the moisture under control.

    That's just me.

    Some folks get by, just fine (seemingly), on a single safe. Some folks report that they have no such moisture problems in a safe where they report keeping the door open for extended lengths of time.

    But, if you've ever seen an old 1873, 1876, 1894 style lever-action rifle found in the corner of an old barn, you'll realize just how badly moisture can attack a gun. Personally, I think a large gun safe that gets opened frequently throughout the day cannot be adequately kept moisture-free in the amount of time the safe is closed up. Though, I have no data to support that.

    You can get a moisture-meter and install it inside the safe, to track a week's worth of humidity and temperature patterns inside the safe. That might give you an idea of what your guns are really contending with, since all we've got (from outside) are guesses.
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    Member Array Chris Dawg's Avatar
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    I have a kegorator and always had trouble with humidity. I put two of these in and my troubles went away. I am sure that they would work fine in a gun safe.

    Portable Dehumidifier | Quiet Dehumidifier | Safe Dehumidifier | Small Dehumidifier

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    Member Array Griblik's Avatar
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    Thanks, didn't realize those were links, just thought they were bold..! :-) Ordering myself a can from Cabela's right now. The plug in models look interesting as well, if the can doesn't take care of the issue that's coming next.

    Interesting idea for a second safe. Something I may need to consider if this problem does not get under control.
    .40 is fine.

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    Senior Member Array boscobeans's Avatar
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    I have a Sportsman safe for many years now and I have never experienced any rust with my guns. It is NOT fire proof, resistant or insulated in any manner. It is however one sturdy, heavy and durable hunk of steel. The area where the safe is has the same temperature and humidity as the rest of the house. Central heat and A/C keep temp and humidity within what could be considered to be normal ranges.

    The safe gets opened several times a week and the guns rest unholstered on the carpeted shelves or upright for the long guns. There are other items, optics, ammo and such stored in the safe as well and none have any of the problems you are dealing with.

    After cleaning I use Eezox on the firearms but the other items get no special treatment.

    Could your safe's insulation material be saturated from being stored in a barn. ???

    After doing a quick search on their website I do not know, and have been unable to find out, what material is used to insulate Sentry safes. Go out and buy a humidity sensor, empty your safe and after leaving it open for a few hours lock the sensor in the safe and see what you get 24 hours later. It should be the same as the ambient humidity. If not there is something wrong.

    In any case I wouldn't keep my guns in it before getting it dried out since humidity unlike a few drops of rain gets into every part of your gun's inner workings and can cause havoc.

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    I keep all my guns (without holsters or impregnated socks) stored in a Champion safe that has an 18" Goldenrod installed plus a bag of DampRid dessicant (available at any WalMart) inside. I only have to replace the DampRid about every six months--more or less depending on how often I open and close the safe.

    To date I have not had any issues with rust at all, but I should mention that I keep all weapons cleaned, lubricated, and at least a monthly wipe down with a silicon cloth.

    Living in the high humidity conditions of Florida requires an extra measure of care for guns to prevent them from turning into useless rust sticks.
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    Member Array pollardjd's Avatar
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    I'm with Bosco when he asked: "Could your safe's insulation material be saturated from being stored in a barn?" Something is not normal in your situation. I live in the Deep South and use nothing more than a single Goldenrod in a loose-sealing safe, with no troubles. Sounds like you may need to dry the safe out before using it...

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    You can get either a goldenrod (which is electric) or you can go with a dessicant type dehumidifier. Personally, I use the dessicant, which I recharge by plugging into a wall outlet simply because I access my safe almost daily so I keep a close eye on the dessicant....
    "Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined". - Patrick Henry

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    I use a desiccant that changes from blue to pink when it is saturated. I then can stick it in the oven at 250 for a couple of hours and reactivate it.

    Living in South Alabama I deal with a high level of humidity
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    Member Array Mr. Habib's Avatar
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    Have you considered a small dehumidifier for the room that the safe is in? If you are opening the safe that often and letting in humid air the Goldenrod may not ever 'catch up' with all of the additional moisture.

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    Member Array Griblik's Avatar
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    Everybody, thanks for all the information. It sounds like the consensus was the safe's time in the barn is the culprit here. The situation as of now, safe emptied, goldenrod still turned on, space heater sitting just outside of safe, a bag of "Dry-Z-Air" from Bi-mart in there right now, (plus my bowl of rice still, for good measure or maybe just good luck), and a rechargeable dehumidifier on order from Cabelas. Currently my closet has about the feel of a sauna, and my glasses fog up every time I walk in there, so there's definitely some moisture being released. I guess my non-scientific test for now will be to say when my glasses don't fog up anymore, things are better? I need to get a humidity meter to better test. However, I can already see that there's a bit of "dew" sort of collecting at the bottom of the "Dry-Z-Air" dish, so I think it's doing some good. Anything else I should be doing at this point? Closet door open or closed, would you guys think? Better to create a hotter area around safe or just to heat up closet and to some degree whole rest of room with door open allowing moisture to escape better?
    .40 is fine.

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    Here they have the tubs of silica at Walmart in the camper section. I also have a couple of the glass bead (turns from blue to pink) and keep them both in the safe.
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    http://www.6mmbr.com/corrosiontest.html



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