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How do I keep bugs and water out?


CosmicBreadBox
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I don’t know about cutting tennis balls.

 

A great way to keep water and debris out is by having a container that has a balance of being weather-tight yet easy for finders to open and then close properly.  The hiding spot must be free of bugs and not wet and muddy, or it will tend to get wet inside when opened.  

 

For my very small hides, I sometimes spray a little fast-drying Sawyers Spray (Permethrin) in and around a camo cover, if bugs nest there.  For larger caches, it’s impractical to try to prevent pests outdoors.  Have a plan to check on your cache on a schedule.

 

 

Edited by kunarion
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59 minutes ago, kunarion said:

Have a plan to check on your cache on a schedule.

 

This....

and - pests - you just need an outer container that closes securely, should work fine - for water (which is a bigger problem here), I try and use a secondary inner container when I can, rather than a ziplock, or even a ziplock inside an inner container for the logbook. I make custom logbooks that fit neatly inside small (thick walled) ziplocks, so the ziplock just drops into the container without folding/stuffing. These *never* get wet. 

One of ours is a wooden 'birdhouse' - it has an inner lock'n'lock type container, with a ziplocked lobgook within - it has obtained its own cache guardian in the wooden box of course....

spider.jpg

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I typically use containers that are easy to seal so that people aren't frustrated trying to close the cache up properly and leave it exposed. One of my first hides was a waterproof bag from the GC store, and it worked well up until a cacher was unable to close it completely due to arthritis. It got soaked so I swapped it out for a simple film canister with an o-ring and put the log in a tiny ziploc. Locking tupperware works well a lot of the time, especially if it has a seal. Some people put those silica gel packs in the containers but they don't always work if the container isn't sealed. Keep the cacher in mind when creating a hide.

Edited by Hackles
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21 hours ago, CosmicBreadBox said:

I’m wanting to hide my first cache (regular), but make sure I do a good job of keeping it clean. Any suggestions on how to keep bugs and water out of the cache?

 

I’ve seen some people cut open tennis balls and leave them in caches, does that do anything?

 

We've cut-open tennis balls for turning hammers into mallets.  Many times there's already moisture inside.

 - Maybe the cut-open tennis ball was meant to have a bison tube inside ?   We used to see those (missing a lot).

I feel that after a little over a  hundred finds you have some idea what works.  :)

 

Containers with a seal is the key to keeping bigger bugs out and water resistant, but even ammo cans leak if someone doesn't close it properly.

A lot of cachers wear rain gear, and even mention how hard it rained, yet few think to bring an umbrella for the cache they opened...

We've seen those pesky, tiny red ants inside sealed lock n locks and tupperware. 

Gotta teach people to stop putting food, candles, and other smells-good to critters stuff inside.  Good luck with that.  :D

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Baggies and tight closing containers.

Dirt and bug happen as said above. You just have to check the cache and clean.  I keep golf rags clipped to my stuff and dry caches and clean as i go.  I'll leave a note in the online log if I cleaned one up.  Some of my friends who are cachers just can't get to all of there caches for cleaning and maintenance so we agree to help each other.  I use preforms, or baby soda bottles for small caches even these end up with water and dirt in the lids.  I have car air fresheners cut into stips I drop in smelly caches, it just happens here, even if a cache is clean. 

 

You will find what works best for you and your area. 

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Run a bead of Gorilla Glue around the opening of the container and make sure the lid is firmly seated.

 

No bugs, no water. 

 

Otherwise, you're at the mercy of every mouth-breather that finds your cache. You could find it left open, or loosely closed, or with a plastic bag caught in the opening, and everything you try will be for naught.

 

Follow the advice of the people above, and make sure BOTH the container and its placement work together to minimize the possibility of intrusion.

 

---------------------------------------

 

Actually, my first suggestion won't work - SOME knucklehead WILL break it open.

 

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I've found that  in our wet climate in the UK the majority of caches are very wet when I open them.  Most caches seem to be plastic boxes with a tightly fitting lid.  You would think that this would keep the damp out but it doesn't seem to.  I remember seeing a theory somewhere that this type of container actually makes things worse because pressure differentials between inside and outside can cause water to the drawn into the container - and once inside it can't get out.  The driest cache I found was actually an old metal box with an overlapping lid, but not sealed in any way.  I would like to start creating a few new caches of my own soon and I would appreciate any advice on this?

Edited by obbig60
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To keep the internals dry, you need more than one layer of waterproofing - this can be a super dry hiding spot like a cave etc, or an outer container, with a waterproof inner. We use inner sub-containers a lot now, I've never seen one get even damp. We've found a 2000 cache, hidden out in the open, buried in fact, in a damp rainforest. It had an original, dry logbook, as it had a subcontainer inside.....

If the outer container is subject to weather, some way for water to get out is helpful, but then bugs can get in. A lot of my outers are now 3D printed, it is easy to make a screened drainage hole, like insect mesh, to cover them - that's what I am trying now....

 

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2 hours ago, obbig60 said:

I've found that  in our wet climate in the UK the majority of caches are very wet when I open them.  Most caches seem to be plastic boxes with a tightly fitting lid.  You would think that this would keep the damp out but it doesn't seem to.  I remember seeing a theory somewhere that this type of container actually makes things worse because pressure differentials between inside and outside can cause water to the drawn into the container - and once inside it can't get out.  The driest cache I found was actually an old metal box with an overlapping lid, but not sealed in any way.  I would like to start creating a few new caches of my own soon and I would appreciate any advice on this?

 

You may try it, but be open to completely changing everything if it doesn't work. I can't imagine bugs and stuff not getting into a box that has no water seal.  There are too many variables to declare exactly what will or won't end up a wet mess.  But in or under a cover as lee737 suggested, adds some extra protection.

 

With a box out in the open, I start with what I've found to work best, which is a genuine lock-n-lock, the small or medium sized boxes that aren't too expensive. The bigger the box, the more natural condensation forms in there. Even if it works well, I still must change the whole thing once every couple of years, because it's just plastic and gets brittle. And anything you use will be a different lot, maybe manufactured in a different country, than last time you tried that kind of box.  I've also had lots of luck with military surplus metal ammo boxes, which have a rubber compression seal.  But watch out for manufacturing flaws that make it hard to seal correctly (although it probably was just fine for ammo).  A 30mm ammo box costs about what a couple lock-n-locks at 1/4 the size cost, and stays viable much longer than plastic.

 

But Geocachers add an extra problem to a container. They open it when there's water on and around the box, or when it's raining, and water then gets inside. If the box seals well, water stays inside.

 

But who knows:

I have found a big, round metal popcorn tin. You've probably seen similar holiday cookie tins (but not as cache boxes). The lid doesn't really seal, it's just pressed on. This is in a rainy forest south of Atlanta. The cache is in a fake bird house that now has no roof, so the container gets rained on. But it's not very rusty, the contents were dry when I found it, it evidently has never been changed, and it's been in place for 18 years.

 

Edited by kunarion
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On 12/22/2020 at 1:15 PM, CosmicBreadBox said:

I’m wanting to hide my first cache (regular), but make sure I do a good job of keeping it clean. Any suggestions on how to keep bugs and water out of the cache?

 

I’ve seen some people cut open tennis balls and leave them in caches, does that do anything?

 

The tennis ball question reminded me of what happens in my own caches.  I have big, thick paper notebooks in even some of my small containers, and when things get wet, it tends to first be that log book.  It's almost dripping wet, and everything else is dry.  Same thing when I find business cards at the bottom of the container... sometimes I can remove the soaked paper cards and that log book, wipe out the box, and put all the swag back in.  I don't consider it much of a plan to keep caches dry inside... you can't sign that wet log book... but it's an interesting effect.  In the case of just a little occasional water issue, maybe a few business cards in the bottom of a container would actually help.

 

I don't use "silica gel" packets anymore, because you need like a 10 to1 ratio of silica gel to absorb water anyway, and somehow the packets get opened, and then when I arrive for maintenance, there's water and little gel pellets all over inside. :anicute:

 

Edited by kunarion
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I've generally had good results with the Sistema Klip-It series of containers which have a good seal around the lid and hinged clips that maintain good pressure on the seal. The main thing I've found is to keep them out of direct sunlight, which will make the plastic go brittle, and to avoid letting them become fully immersed for any length of time. My oldest active hide, placed in 2014, is one of those and is still pretty much in pristine condition:

 

20210822_144011.jpg.915ade0c81648b0f78ad796542ad7359.jpg

 

This crocodile novelty container has done surprisingly well. It's located in tidal wetlands and is poked head-down into a tree stump, with the logbook inside a plastic bag pushed into its throat. It was hidden in 2015 and when I checked last month it was still bone dry.

 

DSC_0357.thumb.jpg.a99102a61631a2e5bf71911e363759a5.jpg

 

I've also experimented a bit with steel cash boxes, particularly on caches with a treasure theme, with mixed results. There's no seal around the lid that would survive immersion, but it's tight enough to keep bugs out while still allowing the container to breathe. Rust is the biggest problem I've had with them, although numerous coats of rust-proofing paint and lacquer is so far proving successful.

 

Cache.jpg.a47113908f84c436f7a2f5cd94313e24.jpg

 

My most problematic hides have been ones in places that I thought were dry, like under rock ledges, but which turn into subterranean water courses in heavy rain and fully immerse the cache in the water banking up behind it. After the deluge of the last couple of weeks, I'm now in the process of going around checking on all my hides. So far I've gotten to seven with no casualties, so fingers crossed for the rest.

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2 hours ago, barefootjeff said:

My most problematic hides have been ones in places that I thought were dry, like under rock ledges, but which turn into subterranean water courses in heavy rain and fully immerse the cache in the water banking up behind it. After the deluge of the last couple of weeks, I'm now in the process of going around checking on all my hides. So far I've gotten to seven with no casualties, so fingers crossed for the rest.

 

I spoke too soon. I've just been out to check on my Adenture Lab bonus cache at Umina Point. Not only is it now rather difficult to reach due to landslips and piles of flotsum and jetsum from last week's floods, but the hiding place became a subterranean watercourse during the deluge and the Sistema container had a few millimetres of water in it. The logbook in its bag survived okay but the pencil is pretty soggy. I've disabled the cache, switched off the AL and brought the container home while I consider my options.

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On 3/13/2022 at 1:05 PM, barefootjeff said:

 

I spoke too soon. I've just been out to check on my Adenture Lab bonus cache at Umina Point. Not only is it now rather difficult to reach due to landslips and piles of flotsum and jetsum from last week's floods, but the hiding place became a subterranean watercourse during the deluge and the Sistema container had a few millimetres of water in it. The logbook in its bag survived okay but the pencil is pretty soggy. I've disabled the cache, switched off the AL and brought the container home while I consider my options.

Do you still have it at home? With the amount of rain lately there are going to be missing or soaked caches all over.

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32 minutes ago, colleda said:

Do you still have it at home? With the amount of rain lately there are going to be missing or soaked caches all over.

 

No, it's back in service now, although I want to go and check it again after this latest lot of rain.

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Wooden boxes, like birdhouses, look cool as themed holder of an inner cache container (usually a plastic box) but attract bugs and other critters.

 

Pill bottles, basic Tupperware, Bison tubes, swim cans, and many other smaller containers that seem watertight actually aren't. Decons are watertight if closed properly but lots of cachers can't figure out how to do that.

 

Latched plastic containers are only good if their latches hold up. Lighter plastic latches tend to wear out and break off.

 

The only truly reliable, durable, waterproof containers I've encountered are ammo cans and preforms.

 

No container is immune to careless cachers improperly closing it and ruining everything inside.

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1 hour ago, JL_HSTRE said:

The only truly reliable, durable, waterproof containers I've encountered are ammo cans and preforms.

 

No container is immune to careless cachers improperly closing it and ruining everything inside.

True on all counts..... 

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6 hours ago, lee737 said:
8 hours ago, JL_HSTRE said:

The only truly reliable, durable, waterproof containers I've encountered are ammo cans and preforms.

 

No container is immune to careless cachers improperly closing it and ruining everything inside.

True on all counts..... 

 

I've seen an ammo can rust out in under a year in a location that was subject to constant sea spray:

 

RustyAmmoCan.jpg.d46b07af284b4bf67a100ce970d55c32.jpg

 

It really is horses for courses.

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We need stainless or aluminium ammo tins! :)

I guess then a nice polycarbonate pelican type plastic container trumps the ammo can - but they are even more difficult to close properly for some.

We've deployed a couple ammo-tin-lock-n-lock hybrids, they are going really well, one of the ammo tins at least is showing some deep rust after a couple of years in the forest....

IMG_2827.jpg

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46 minutes ago, barefootjeff said:

 

I've seen an ammo can rust out in under a year in a location that was subject to constant sea spray:

 

RustyAmmoCan.jpg.d46b07af284b4bf67a100ce970d55c32.jpg

 

It really is horses for courses.

 

Good point. A fresh ammo can, especially with a good coat of paint, can last upwards of a decade is a freshwater swamp (preferably without frequent submersion) but salty air destroys them.

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