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Challenge: How to store pop (soda) and beer cans without them starting to leak.

As you can imagine, we often need to carry a lot of can drinks with us when on charter. Never allowing cardboard on the boat, we remove the cans from the packing boxes as soon as we get to the boat (the cardboard then gets put right back in the dinghy for immediate disposal on shore). The cans are then stacked, most often on top of one another, lying on their sides (not as in the photo included above). This storage method would be fine except that at some point in time, perhaps due to the motion of the boat and/or maybe the salt air, one or more cans will develop a pin-hole sized leak, draining the contents into the storage box. With the corrosive nature of the soda, this then starts a chain reaction with every other can that the leaked fluid comes in contact with.

To be clear, this is not a new problem for us. We experienced the exact same thing when we stored beer cans in the (dry) bilge on ZTC. There has to be a way to prevent this. I’m open to suggestions!


  1. Solution – drink them first!



    Mike ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Boy, please let us know if someone suggests something that works for 2 months or more. I wonder if the weak point is where the can opens and if it would be worth it to swab a tiny bit of vaseline or a rag moistened with vegetable oil on that. (Do your clients swig their drinks right from the can ?) A lot of extra labor but might be worth it to not clean up exploded cans. I’ll set up an experiment next season and let you know. Or you could set aside a couple six packs right now in their own plastic box. Yeah, like you need to be monitoring a science experiment, lol. Have a great season.

  3. Drink faster? I’d be interested as we’ve had the same issue and it’s a PITA. Not to mention the cleanup. Haven’t tried on their sides, but standing and stacking results in some leakers as well.

  4. Seems to me that there is a friction issue causing the holes. Perhaps you could get some cheap table mats to put between layers of the cans, or perhaps use a bungy cord to keep them from moving.

  5. We had an occasional leaking can and the resulting mess the first few years on Slow Dance. One spring Nancy got around to lining our canned goods storage area with that nonslip plastic mesh shelf liner stuff. It protects the bottoms and seems to reduce the motion of the cans rubbing against each other. Between that and a bit more attention to rotating our stock we haven’t lost a single can since. Because you are stacking the cans on their sides a sheet between the layers would probably help but would slow down the loading/unloading process.

  6. Store the cans upright. The sides of the can are very thin and chafe through due to the motion of the boat when stored on their sides. Also I like to have a layer of dri-dek under the cans so they don’t trap moisture below them. Also if a can does leak (they still do, just less often) it is easier to clean up.

  7. Having been in the aluminum industry for most of my carreer, I can tell you that those cans are truly a marvel of engineering. The sidewalls are thinner than aluminum foil. In fact, by laying them on their sides, you are putting abrasion on the most vulnerable part of the cans. Here’s what I’d recommend:
    Store the cans upright – the bottom is the thickest part of the can
    Store the cans in a dry area. Tho the insides are carefully coated to resist the acids in their contents, the outsides are not (as you have discovered). The alloys (yes, there are three different alloys used in constructing the cans) are chosen for strength – not corrosion resistance. Keeping the cans dry, and especially away from seawater contact is important.
    If you can, separate the cans with a buffer. Even a single layer of Saran wrap stretched between layers of cans will help

    We like cans on Eolian too, because after their contents are consumed, the cans can be collapsed into very small volume, stretching the usefulness of our limited garbage stowage capacity.

    s/v Eolian

  8. Great question! Have been wondering myself and will love to see ideas. I’ve only come up with drinking the beer faster

  9. maybe try putting paper towel’s between each layer of cans, the metal’s at it thinnest on the sides, so it doesn’t take much of a piece of debris between them to over time penetrate the sidewall.

  10. I’ve never heard of this problem but one thing that comes to mind is maybe sand or grit creating a hole. Is this a possibility? If so storing them stacked vertically would probably help.

    Have you actually seen the holes that are made?

  11. Can you put a grate in about 1″ off the bottom to store the cans on so that when one leaks the contents would not come into contact with others, as they would be off the bottom.

  12. Hey Mike…provided there is a dedicated locker/ice chest for the soda cans, I would separate each layer of soda cans with a sheet of bubble wrap. I envision the wrap with large bubbles, but I suppose the small bubbles could do the trick, as well. Ideally, if the locker had a drain, you could fill it with water and drain off the excess as the contents is consumed. This would provide additional cushion and hinder any acidic action should a can break. And, you could store the unused bubble wrap inside the locker by rolling it up and securing it with velcro…what do you think?

    • The challenge is compounded by the fact that we have various types of drinks that we store (several brands of beer, coke, diet coke, club soda, tonic, sprite, etc.) and at least once or twice a day, have to go into that storage area to replenish the cold drink cooler.

  13. Another thought, Mike…would be to do away with the cans entirely and have a soda fountain installed. Space is definitely a concern on a vessel, but it seems the space required for a limited number syrup containers, a co2 tank and use of your existing water supply could be comparable to a locker with several cases of soda cans. There also would be an increase in cleaning and maintenance for the system, but again, that may be balanced out by only having to keep syrup and co2 in stock.

    Here is a three dispenser system I looked at:

    Of course you probably would want to insure you have superior manufacturer support until the unit is marine tested.

    Good luck…


  14. And finally! With the soda fountain setup, you aren’t too far away from carbonating your own beer! I know you don’t need another hobby or task, but how cool would it be to brew up and have on tap your own custom crafted “One Jug” Caribbean lager? Oh man…I can see the bright yellow tap handle and the label proclaiming, “Drink the beer you love. Love the beer you drink!” I’m thinking Bob would be smitten!

  15. What about one of those soda machines (home carbonation machine, like the ones that West Marine used to sell) instead of all those cans?

    D & Don

  16. “One Love” koozies on every other can?

  17. Store the cans in a tub or ice chest, covered in fresh water from your watermaker. Change the water every week. This will keep salt crystals from forming on the cans. You could even add a bit of zinc or magnesium in the ice chest to take the corrosion.


  18. This is a problem we constantly encounter when doing four wheel driving trips into the Australian outback. The constant bouncing of the car over the rough dirt roads wears tiny holes in the cans as they rub together. If you do not have many cans, some people put them all in beer coolers (neoprene jackets – not sure what Americans call them). Of course with lots you cannot do this. The alternative is to get some thin plastic or cloth and place between each row of cans. However, you can still get problems when the cans bounce up and down and they can sometimes compress. I suspect this may not be a problem that much where you sail.

  19. Saying the bottom of the can is the thickest part of the can does nothing for my problem with aluminum drink cans.

    Twice in the past couple weeks a vertically stored can (Diet Coke) has developed a leak.
    The cans are stored indoors on a wooden shelf unit that has been stained with a Minwax stain.
    Constant movement or salt water are not factors.

    So if storing horizontally is not recommended and leaks develop when stored vertically, how should they be stored?

  20. We received two cans of small coke with Grandpa on one and Grandma on the other. I stored them unopened In my hutch. One can leaked all over my hutch and down to the next shelf. They were bought at a state fair as a gift

  21. Well here’s my 2ยข FWIW. Of course i just found my “mess” which is why i’m here. The main factors, in my case at least, seem to be weight and time. This should not be taken to mean motion, friction, heat, and cold are irrelevant, they’re just not necessary. Mine are stored indoors, upright, still in their 12 pack boxes, with each layer perpendicular (turned 90ยฐ) to the layer below it. Just like the grocery store does it. I assume they’d know best. Mine were 5 layers high @ 3/layer. The lower the layer, the more cans/pack were partially or completely empty. I don’t rotate mine like the grocer does, using the FIFO (first in first out) method, so the packs on the bottom have been there the longest. :::deep breath::: So i guess i’m gonna try rotating my stores. Happy day! More work and less time is EXACTLY what i was hoping for!!! (:-\>~

  22. I had the same problem with both Pepsi and Coke products stored in a wine cellar. Beer isn’t an issue, as I don’t buy beer to let it sit on a shelf. A month ago I saw that all the cardboard soda packs were wet and moldy. Found 8 cans that were totally empty. There appeared to be small holes where the can may have been dented. Tossed the dented ones, cleaned up the cardboard and associated mess. Washed off the remaining cans and replaced them in a single layer on a plastic shelf. Came home today and the shelf is wet and moldy with 2 cans empty, but no signs of denting. All are well past the drink by date. IMO it’s the failure of the coating on the inside of the can, due to time. The acids in the drink then corrodes the aluminum causing the pinholes.
    For a less scientific explanation: the sugary drinks “know” they are bad for you so they self destruct to keep you healthy. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  23. 12 pack of 7UP cherry, bought and taken home in normal weather conditions. Still in box, put in finished basement ( insulated & climate controlled remaining the same temp as upstairs ), and stored by itself on the floor, on carpet, with nothing on top of it. Sat untouched for a least a year to maybe two. I pass by the box almost daily as it is located in a wash room. I never noticed anything different about the box other than dust on it. Yesterday, I picked it up to use it, and to my surprise, the box was super light. Then I noticed the back bottom where it sat against the carpet and wall were wet & moldy. Carpet was wet in a perfect square outline of where the box was and dry outside the shape. All 12 cans lost their contents. some were half full, some partially filled, and some were bone dry. No cans had any dents or damage at all. The box was stored upright, and every can was clean from top to about 2/3 the way down, where there were small signs of residual, but nothing in any specific area. The bottom rim of the cans show a small amount of oxidation. The best way I can conclude is the liquid seeped through. P.S. remember some cans had absolutely nothing in them at all. so fluid would have only drained to the lowest pin hole. How else would the liquid dissipate from the very bottom rim…

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