Rust is probably the number one enemy of rod and reel, knife, and gun owners. In just a few short weeks, unprotected firearms left alone in even a moderately humid environment will begin to grow an orange or brown colored 5-o’clock shadow. Steel pistols carried concealed during the hot summer months are even more susceptible to rust as corrosive sweat and oils from the wearer encourage rapid rust formation. Fishing reels that are not cleaned and rinsed on a regular basis, especially saltwater rigs, will quickly oxidize to the point that they lock-up completely.
Most owners of fishing, hunting, and shooting equipment know that their gear requires thorough cleaning and oiling after each use, but even clean and oiled if left alone, unprotected, for months at a time in a garage, closet, attic, or gun safe your expensive gear can quickly become ruined, even permanently damaged beyond repair.
When opened, this little pack of dessicant is able to dehumidify up to 3 cubic feet of storage space.
The key to keeping the rust bug away, in addition to keeping your gear well oiled, is to keep the ambient humidity down as low as possible. There are a number of ways to do this, such as a GoldenRod or other electrically powered dehumidifier, but the cheapest and most portable is the lowly pouch of silica gel.
Online retailer Lucky Gunner sent me a sample of Dry-Packs reusable silica gel for review not too long ago. The problem with reviewing desiccants such as this is that you either need a very long time, or a high humidity level, to see how well they work. North Texas isn’t a region well known for its particularly high humidity, though compared to areas located in mountainous ares out west, the ambient 50%-60% RH (relative humidity) is sufficient for a test spanning a month or so.
The Dry-Packs silica gel canister holds about 40 grams of desiccant in a perforated metal box about the size of an Altoids tin. In the center of the can is a small window that can be used to observe the color of the silica gel. This particular type of desiccant has had methyl violet added to it, an indicator that turns from orange to green when it is hydrated. Other brands use cobalt chloride or ammonium tetrachlorocobaltate (try saying that five times fast) and turn from blue to pink when they have absorbed enough moisture to become saturated.
Little cans of desiccant such as this are small enough to keep in a gun case, tackle box, first-aid, or survival kit, and are cheap insurance to make sure that humidity and moisture don’t ruin your gear.
To test the effectiveness of this particular brand, we placed it in a long-gun case along with two older shotguns that I’d recently inherited. These particular shotguns had been stored in soft cases, tucked away in a late family member’s closet for a number of years with no cleaning or maintenance. When they came to me, one of them was so corroded and damaged that the action had completely locked up. I took them to one of my local gunsmiths and had them completely disassembled, detailed, and put back together. All of the surface rust was completely removed, and the few parts that had pitting were replaced.
Now restored to clean and working order, well oiled and rubbed down with a silicon impregnated cloth, the shotguns were ready to go back in the closet. Inside the case, I placed the little metal can. There, until some time in late January when the light-geese conservation order begins, it will stay and quietly do its job sucking moisture from the air while keeping my precious scatter-guns dry and rust free.
Once the little rust-killing can has sucked up all the moisture it can, I can simply toss it in the oven at 250-280 degrees Fahrenheit for a few hours and watch in amazement as the indicator turns from green back to orange once all the water has been baked out.
Priced at only $10 each, these little canisters are fantastic insurance to keep your equipment dry and rust free.
FTC disclaimer: I didn’t get paid a damn thing to write this, but they did send me the desiccant, unsolicited, for free. That was nice of them.