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When I shared my post about tools to our Facebook page, one of the readers brought up the subject of rust prevention. It initiated a good discussion because no one wants to spend a bunch of money on tools only to have them become unserviceable due to corrosion. When one of the commenters recommended using desiccant packs, it reminded me of some homemade ones that we made back on ZTC, out of kitty litter, no less.

Science types should feel free to shoot holes in my thinking, but it seems to me that the active ingredient in many commercially-available desiccant packs is silica. While not the most common variety available, we also found that we could purchase large bags of cat litter made from silica. Putting two and two together, we decided to buy a bag of kitty litter, and make our own custom-sized desiccant packs.

Note: This entire post is about using kitty litter made from silica, not the more common clay variety.

cat

Kitty approved!

The how-to details:

To hold the desiccant we purchased several packs of ladies knee-high nylons from the dollar store. After filling them until they were about the same shape as a medium-sized cucumber, we sealed off the top with a tie wrap (zip tie).

cucumber

What did we do with them? We put one or two in the bottom of each of our hanging lockers, and also some in other storage areas. Did they work? Based solely on empirical data, I’d say yes, as we never had any problems with mold in our lockers.

What is the benefit of doing this? Simply cost savings. A quick search on Amazon shows me that 1 lb. silica desiccant packs sell for about 15 bucks, while a 4 lb bag of silica kitty litter can be purchased for only 10 dollars (that’s only $2.50 per pound).

18 Comments

  1. Samantha! Have you seen here since she shifted crew?

  2. Rice works quite well too, but be sure to change it before it’s doing more harm than good if it gets too moist.

  3. On the other side of things there is this stuff called Fluid Film

    http://www.fluid-film.com/

    I think it is the greatest stuff in the world for protecting against corrosion on bare metal. It’s made from lanolin mostly, from sheep, so it coats and protects very well. I spray the bottom of my car with it, and it stops rust dead in its tracks until it is fully washed off. Even rust that is pretty set in (like the bottom of an car that has been driven in the rust best for a few years without any treatments) can be saturated with this stuff and it will keep it from getting worse. It lasts for a whole winter, maybe even two if you don’t drive much even up here in Chicago.

    The stuff works wonders on tools and other metal objects in a marine environment. It’s got serious staying power, and does a good job of penetrating and creeping into everywhere you can’t quite reach with the spray. Or you can polish it on. I’ve seen people claim they have used it on tools that they lost and found later (like down between the bed and cab of a pickup truck) and they were rust-free after all that time.

    The only downsides, other than being a little difficult to source locally, is it smells like unwashed sheep, which turns some people off. The smell tends to last about as long as the oily residue is protecting. I sort of like it myself. It reminds me of living on a farm.

    • Sounds similar to Lanacote, which we have. It’s great, but as you mentioned, has a strong smell. The problem with putting any type of coating on tools is that it makes them slippery, which obviously won’t do.

      • The calluses on my hands are so thick and rutted that it takes a lot of even thicker oil than this on stuff for me to have issues with grip. I’ve never had an issue with tools covered with this stuff, and the lanolin actually helps a little with my dry callused hands, what little that rubs off. Fluid film can be buffed fairly dry, almost like a wax coating, so it isn’t a problem with grip most of the time.

  4. (I expect Drew to chime in here…)

  5. Very interesting and duly noted.

  6. Thanks for the tip Mike. I’ll definitely be trying it next summer.

  7. Good idea!

    I use these in my Keezer
    Eva-dry E-333 Renewable Mini Dehumidifier 2-PACK https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LVN7BM0/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_x8jxybM94J35W

    They’re great because they’re re-usable!

    Not as cheap as kitty litter (though I’m going to give it a shot) but still cost effective!

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