A slight attempt to turn your garage into a storage space usually sets off the domino effect.
At first, it’s all about regular tools and gardening supplies.
Then your clothing, propane tanks, beddings may follow until you have no space left.
It may reach a point where you’d contemplate adding a pantry for your emergency food supplies.
Accordingly, Should You Store Canned Food In The Garage?
In a typical garage with usual conditions – NO; in a garage modified for food storage – YES. According to The USDA, for food to live up to given shelf life and stay healthy, it must be stored in a cool and dry location. Your garage isn’t up to these standards in its current state. Most garages are damp enough to cause rusting on the cans (which are often steel, aluminum, nickel, and chromium). The summertime can see your garage get as hot as 85°F (29 °C) which will certainly spoil your food in the long run.
Six Canned Food Garage Storage Considerations
So what changes can you make to your garage to store canned food? Here are the key ones:
The objective is to keep the summer temperatures at 85°F (29 °C) or below. There are so many affordable ways to achieve this:
Install a Decent Ceiling Fan
Fans are probably the most cost-effective way of cooling a garage compared.
If your garage is larger, you will need several of them or accompany a single fan with your HVAC system (which is already serving the rest of your home, probably).
For better performance, keep the blades 7 – 9 ft. above the ground but 10 – 12 in. from the ceiling.
The size of the fan should be considered as well – the bigger the better.
While size does matter, a single fan with a diameter of 36 – 44 ft. is enough to cool an average garage (less than 225 sq. ft.). Go for a product with an ENERGY STAR sticker on it.
Add Some Vents
Vents can cool your space to some extent without the help of an AC machine but the two can make a great combo.
Two types of vents are recommended – eave-based vents and attic-based vents.
Eave vents, as the name describes, are cut out near the eaves of your garage.
They can be accompanied by a fan or left open but they help prevent the buildup of moisture and heat.
Often, eave vents are accompanied by ridge ventilation for more comfort.
Attic vents are rarely mentioned because of attic fans (they can’t be used alone, so people are more familiar with attic fans).
And, contrary to popular belief, attic fans do work.
They function very much the same way as ceiling fans, blowing and circulating air to ventilate the space. The result is a cool garage that won’t spoil your canned food.
Install an Air Conditioner
Any type of air conditioner can be useful in keeping garage temperatures within an acceptable range.
However, any expert would recommend the mini-split AC machine for several reasons.
The main reason is the fact that it allows spot cooling and heating, meaning you can configure it to focus on where your canned food is located in an otherwise large multipurpose garage. It’s both economical and efficient to use it that way.
Moisture is highly destructive to dry foods and can cause rust on metallic cans. It could as well reduce the shelf life of your supplies.
The USDA is somewhat vague on the matter – they don’t give clear guidelines on what constitutes “dry.”
However, most sources recommend 15% humidity which is reasonable enough even for open food.
Unfortunately, unless you live in an absolute desert, it’s damn hard to naturally hit 15% humidity.
There’s a trick around this obstacle – a dehumidifier.
Your garage is just as humid as the rest of your home nonetheless, so I don’t think your canned food is going to be worse off in there.
Still, be sure to keep your cans away from wet surfaces.
While there’s no such thing as a roofless garage, a roof with light-permitting polycarbonate sheets can permit a significant amount of sunlight into the garage.
More direct sunlight via damaged or missing parts of the roof is equally destructive if not worse.
You don’t want direct sunlight to come into direct contact with your canned food.
Although it may not inflict instantly visible damages, prolonged exposure may degrade the nutrients and good vitamins.
As such, seal/repair the gaps on the roof and get rid of the light-permitting sheets if necessary (or store your food out of their path).
Few things attract rats like a cluttered, abandoned garage.
They are the second biggest threat to your canned food after weather-related issues like humidity and temperature.
You probably didn’t know they are capable of gnawing through a can of aluminum/steel, did you?
The kind of steel and aluminum you find on food cans is low-grade, a quality that makes it feel soft under a rat’s tooth.
The Mohs hardness scale rates aluminum and steel at 5 or less.
The teeth of the bothersome rodents score 5.5 on the same scale.
While prolonged gnawing on steel can damage any teeth, that’s a non-issue because rats’ incisors are constantly growing.
The fact that rats can smell food from great distances makes it even more necessary to rat-proof your garage before turning it into a pantry.
With tools and clutter all over the place, it’s possible that a hanging hammer could fall on your cans, denting or puncturing them in the process.
You should probably dedicate the room to the storage of food.
Otherwise, you will need to change the way you arrange and handle other activities to reduce accidents.
Fireproofing your garage is a must-do whether you intend it for food storage or conventional uses.
A firewall ceiling would be a great start.
You can as well go for a fire-rated door (20-minute fire rating) or add a fire retarding material on the current door.
Thickness isn’t much of an issue but 1/1/2 in. is about right.
Another part worth fireproofing is the floor.
Get rid of your interlocking tiles and carpeting in favor of something concrete. Also, consider reducing or eliminating flammable materials.
What Are The Exceptions?
All canned foods aren’t the same.
You don’t need to make radical changes to your garage for ‘hardy’ canned foods like sodas.
While the can itself may still rust, the quality of the beverage will largely stay the same in extreme room conditions.
Coca-Cola and Peps Cola don’t care how hot your garage is or whether there’s a pool of water under the crate.
However, alcoholic beverages should be stored with the same care as food.
Do You Need To Insulate Your Garage For This Purpose?
Not at all. If you can control the summer temperatures as advised above, then you have no reason to go the extra mile with insulation.
You don’t need to do anything for the winter frost.
Freezing temperatures are actually beneficial to the longevity of almost all kinds of food whether canned or not.
To summarize everything, yes, you can store canned food in the garage but not before you have made a few changes.
If you can contain extreme temperatures and humidity, you are almost good to go.