How to Prevent Cans of Food From Rusting

Updated February 21, 2017

Canned food is a staple in many homes. You can eat canned food on a regular basis, but you can also store it for emergencies. Canned food can last for 12 to 18 months in most cases, but if rust forms on the metal cans, it only spreads. Eventually the rust creates holes in the can and the contents leak out, resulting in spoiled food that is no longer safe to eat. There are a few precautions to take to prevent cans of food from rusting.

Dry the cans if they get wet. In most cases rust forms when the metal can comes into contact with water. If there is a flood or a leak, be certain to dry the cans quickly with a paper towel.

Keep canned food in a dry place. To prevent the cans from rusting, keep them out of damp rooms like basements and garages. Humid rooms such as the kitchen also increase the chances of rust forming.

Store canned food in a dark and cool place. Direct sunlight can accelerate rust. Keep cans in a pantry or other out-of-the-way area that doesn't get any sunlight.

Store canned food away from anything rusty. Rust is easily transferred. Sources of rust include pipes and stored metal furniture.

Scrub off any rust with a steel wool pad as soon as you notice it. If not removed, the rust spreads. This probably won't happen if you store the canned food in a cool, dry, dark place.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper towels
  • Steel wool pad
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