Gun safe moisture control.

This is a discussion on Gun safe moisture control. within the Related Gear & Equipment forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Living in the South, humidity control in a gun safe can be quite challenging. My safes are in an area that would make it quite ...

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Thread: Gun safe moisture control.

  1. #1
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    Gun safe moisture control.

    Living in the South, humidity control in a gun safe can be quite challenging. My safes are in an area that would make it quite difficult to break into. They are surrounded on 3 sides by poured concrete basement walls. Safes being anchored to the wall and floor. Although I thought this a good idea when building the house, it does present some moisture control issues. 2 Remington dessicant driers and a goldenrod, in each safe, work fairly well. I find that I have to rejuvenate the 2 driers every 2 weeks. The only real issue is on older, oil finished stocks which develop some light mildew during the summer.

    I understand that, in order for the Goldenrod to work properly, air must be circulated. Most opinions say that fresh air must go in, be heated and then go out of the safe. This requires a constant flow of humid air.

    Consider this. A safe door that measures 55"X31" with a 1/16" gap would be equivalant to a 10.75" square inch hole to allow air into the safe. Even with a 1/32" gap the hole would be more than 5 square inches. Producing air tight doors would raise the price of safes drastically. Maybe that is why the manufacturers produce safes with "vented" doors. Again, I don't know this to be a fact.

    My question is this. Would making the safe air tight, or semi air tight, make a difference? Theory being, less humid air into the safe for the dessicant driers to absorb. Why let humid air into the safe just to warm it up and let it back out to be replaced by more humid air? Why dehumidify a lot of air when you could dehumidify a little bit of air? Wouldn't it be better to seal it off or just allow a tiny bit of air in and out to allow the safe to "breathe"?

    I don't know if this has been discussed before. There are some smart folks on this fourm. I sure would appreciate some opinions.
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  3. #2
    Distinguished Member Array airslot's Avatar
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    I've had a Golden Rod in my safe for six years. Absolutely no corrosion issues. The rod is installed about 2" from the bottom of the safe parallel with the floor.
    The airflow in is so gentle you don't even notice it.
    I tried a dissecitant first, lasted one day.
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    A Golden Rod does not dehumidify the air, it only warms it and whatever is inside the safe to prevent condensation. Moisture collects on cold items (think glass of ice tea).

    I lived in Warner Robins and now in S. FL. with no more "dehumidization" than central A/C and have yet to have a condensation or rust/mildew problem on my guns. I think the source of your problem is the basement, which will always be cooler that the rest of the house, and the resulting higher humidity of the summer months. Thus the collection of moisture in the (cool) safe.

    I think your options are either make the safe airtight and use however much desiccant it takes to dehumidify it, dehumidify the basement (probably more expensive) or use the Golden Rod and ventilate the safe (or a combination of al three). The basement, unfortunately, is probably not the best location humidity-wise, and you'll continue to have to battle moisture as long as it's located there..
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    Distinguished Member Array GlassWolf's Avatar
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    A: Silica Gel. Use it. It absorbs moisture.

    If you really worry about moisture, use DampRid.
    Damp Rid Disposable Moisture Absorber, 10.5 oz - Home Improvement Supplies - Dollar General

    Stick one of these small tubs of DampRid in the bottom of the safe, and it will suck the moisture out of the cabinet quite well. I used a bunch of these when we had flooding from a burst water line a few times (don't ask) at my home back in Michigan. We had a huge workroom with standing water on the floor (by huge, I mean about 3000 sq feet in the basement of a 7350 sq foot house) and once the room was down to just wet floors, this stuff did the rest.
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    Silica gel (rechargeable ones) and a humidity meter. Keep it at 60% and lower for best effect.

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    I agree with OldVet I think its your basement, I use rechargeable desiccant and don't have a problem. I'm in South Central Alabama so humidity is high here years around.
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    The problem with making your safe airtight is that without special precautions, you'll always be starting with a safe full of air at whatever the ambient indoor humidity is. And besides that, how would you know your safe is airtight, without instrumenting it?

    As OldVet correctly stated, the key to keeping your safe dry is to simply keep its interior temperature warmer than its surrounding environment. How much warmer? If you could guarantee perfectly uniform temperature distribution inside the safe, 1 degree F would be more than sufficient. But that's not realistic, so without resorting to my psychometric charts and finding out what your local temp and humidity ranges are, I'll say 5-10 degrees above ambient (room) temp should provide plenty of margin.

    There really is no air flow into and out of your safe once the door is closed and the inside reaches a steady state temperature. Assuming a fairly constant room temperature, there will be a small amount of air motion inside the safe due to convection, but measurable flow in or out of the enclosure will be miniscule.

    Also, understand that dessicant driers don't magically remove moisture from the enclosure; if you started with 1 ounce of water in the air inside the safe when you closed the door, you still have 1 ounce of water in the safe a week later. The only difference is that some of the water has migrated to the bucket of dessicant. It's a help, but warming the air in the safe is much more reliable.

    Based on the mildew you're getting, your safes are not dry enough. I would add more heat - another goldenrod - to each safe, and of course make sure they are installed low and horizontally.
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    Senior Member Array patri0t's Avatar
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    I have the GoldenRods in my safes (actually Shop Shooting Supplies | Reloading | Gunsmithing | Hunting gear ? MidwayUSA equivalent) rated for 100 cubic ft. I drilled a small hole for the cord and attached the plug afterward.
    I them sealed the hole with silicone. The rods only get to a temp where they are uncomfortable to hold on to when plugged in.
    The doors are not air-tight, so I put up some weather stripping to stop any airflow.
    Also, I use the dehumidity containers ("Damp-Rid" brand from Home Depot for closets) or the generic Calcium Carbonate granules from the Dollar Store. Both will remove the water for the safe's air, so care has to be used when they fill with water.

    If you still get moisture (condensation) go to the 200 cubic ft rod or add the rechargeable "EVA DRY" units, with the rods (as RubenZ posted above)
    I use one safe for more long term storage and the other, I OPEN more often, gets more heat.
    Every time you open your safe, you are starting over again, depending on how much your contents cooled + how much humidity let in.

    Accurate Hydrometers (humidity gauges) are quite expensive. It would be very difficult to make an inexpensive safe air-tight.
    There is no need for "airflow" at all.

    I have stored insurance policies, bearer bonds, etc., in my safe, where an air-tight and even 'waterproof' safe is necessary.
    The high-end safes are even submersible... more than I could afford, though.
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  11. #10
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    In a 60x30x30 safe I've done a Golden Rod, a jug of dessicant. Together, it works well. No corrosion. But this is also in a safe with a tight-sealing door, though with a hole for the Golden Rod's power cord.
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    I spoke with a buddy, retired EPA, at the gun club today. I told him about the mildew issue on some of my stocks. He told me that this was a common problem in some of the U.S armories quite a few years ago. It was determined that some of the military stocks were subject to mildew during long term storage periods. Evidently, mildew loves linseed oil as a food source. The mildew was on on the stock before the oil was applied and normally would have died, but the linseed oil gave the mildew a long term food source. Wiping down the stock just cleans off the surface mildew but, until it is killed, the mildew returns. The mildew was traced to certain manufacturers and would spread to other, uninfected, stocks if not checked. He told me that, if the government report was available, he would try to get a copy.

    The simple solution is to scrub the stocks, several times, with a 50/50 water and hydrogen peroxide solution and the problem goes away unless infected by another stock. Peroxide penetrates the oil enough to kill the mildew down to the the wood. Of course, don't soak the stocks, just a few light scrubbings.

    I feel sure that the culprit was an M1 carbine or an 03-A3. I will give this a try and see what happens. I won't really know if it works until next summer.
    A wise man once said: "Bugout bag?..What's that? Is that all the junk you sidewalk commandos plan on humping when the SHTF...I'll grab a Nylon 66, a box of 22s and a poncho liner and in less than a week I will have all of your stuff and everything else that I need for the duration."

  13. #12
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    I don't have much experience with these specific issues, but wouldn't a whole room electric dehumidifier make a big difference. Removing the moisture from the air surrounding the safes would surely help. Or if the issue is the cool temps of the concrete walls and floor transferring through the steel of the outside of the safe, maybe spacing the safes off of the concrete with some boards would help. Would insulate the safes from the concrete, as well as allow for circulation around the exterior. I know it's a lot of work, but long term may be worth it.

    If I've missed the mark feel free to let me know. My gun collection hasn't gotten to the point of needing a full size safe yet. Hopefully it will in the near future.


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    Making a safe airtight won't prevent moisture issues. The temperature differential between the inside walls and the outside of the safe could result in condensation. Moisture is always present in the air to some degree. The trick is preventing warm and cool from mixing.
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