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Thread: How do you clean out a old metal canteen..???

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    Richard Proenneke
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    How do you clean out a old metal canteen..???

    I been thinking of getting a USGI metal canteen to add to my kit(bit like the on we have on the forum banner).I really don't what to get one of the cheap "made in china" canteens you see a lot of on eBay.They look very badly made and seem to be very prone to leaking.


    So I was thinking of trying to get a real American army USGI metal Canteen ether aluminum or stainless steel.
    problem is the American army stopped using there metal canteen back sometime in the 1960's.So they are becoming somewhat rare and are more of a collectors item now.I have also heard that the the early copy's of the USGI metal Canteen are of much better quality that the ones we see today.So it my be worth getting a good early copy of the metal canteen..


    So here is what I am try to find out guys....So lets say I get lucky on eBay or a car boot sale and get a good quality metal canteen for a few dollars.So this old canteen is going to be at least 40 to 50 years old!!So how do I make sure it is totally food safe and good to drink from??
    Last edited by Howling Dingo; 07-06-12 at 08:43 PM.

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    Ray Mears
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    Quote Originally Posted by ozhaggishead View Post
    So here is what I am try to find out guys....So lets say I get lucky on eBay or a car boot sale and get a good quality metal canteen for a few dollars.So this old canteen is going to be at least 40 to 50 years old!!So how do I make sure it is totally food safe and good to drink from??
    I have one (maybe two) of the old US ones with a black screw top lid, but like Chutes noted, I know the provenance of it - was my Bro-In-Laws. Nevertheless, it is scungy inside. I've searched online and there's probably three ways to clean the thing so it's 'drink safe':

    1. fill it up with mild acetic acid (vinegar) and lemon juice ('... aluminum forms a passivatingacid-resistant film of aluminum oxide, aluminum tanks are used to transportacetic acid.') Leave for several hours and probably repeat.)
    2. have the insided carefully sand-blasted to remove the built-up gunk.
    3. 1 or 2 above then put it in a dishwasher.

    I personally prefer the authentic plastic army ones, as I can always taste the aluminium. (The aluminium ones are good for carrying water alternatives, say cordial, to offset the aluminium taste. I suspect the acetic acid in cordials also helps to keep it relatively clean too - self cleaning.)
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    Harry Butler
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    Well to clean a babies bottle inside without a bottle brush we used a half a handful of white rice and about
    quarter filled with water and shake like mad, do this a couple of times and probably with hot water and detergent as well.
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    Don’t try and blast it mate. Firstly it wouldn’t be able to be done as the air would have to escape around the nozzle through the neck as your trying to blast and it wouldn’t be successful. Sand or grit would leave a rough surface anyway that you wouldn’t want, even glass beads would on aluminium. Soda blasting is much more gentle but i have never used it, you still wouldn’t be able to get it inside. I would say you have to determine what’s inside. If it is corrosion or staining then i would use a caustic based aluminium cleaner first, if it is an algae/ living thing then bleach
    Hope that helps
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    F. C. Selous DSO
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    Well all the advice given so far is pretty good...

    Another option for cleaning is to boil it in a couple of changes of water, same advice given for cleaning metal canteens about 100 years ago by Kephart and it's pretty hard to stuff up I might add, I did it with my Brit '44 pattern Aluminium canteens with no problems, likewise a couple of those Chinese green canteens with the shoulder strap.
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    Richard Proenneke
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    Thanks guys,I think the best way to do the is...Soap bottle brush,then bleach,the boil it out a few times.You would have to be careful to clean will the lid really as well.

    The slightest sing of rust in the inside give it a miss.

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    Rüdiger Nehberg
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    One thing that I like to use to get the insides of my water bottles clean is denture tablets...fill with water and drop in a couple of these tablets, wait half an hours or so. The bubbles clean it out and sanitize it. If it is really bad, go with the bleach first and finish with a couple of tabs. Works great with lexan and stainless steel, not sure about aluminum as I stay completely away from aluminum due to the possible links to alshimers disease (I know that it is spelled wrong, but getting old and forgetting things already - don't want to make it worse as it runs in my family)

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    Howling Dingo (11-06-12)

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