Saturday, January 5, 2013

Plastic Bottles Pro and con

      I know that several government websites suggest storing grain such as rice in plastic bottles is safe.  I repeat BPA free bottles only for me!  These websites are rarely updated to reflect newly discovered industry inflicted dangers to humans.  If I purchase water bottles that are stamped, stickered, or printed, BPA free, I wash them in cool water with a few drops of bleach.  I dry them thoroughly by putting them upside down in a mesh laundry bag with a drawstring closure to air dry before use. 

      I hope we have all heard the warnings about the use of BPA in the plastic bottles we use.  I hope we are all looking for our plastic sport drink bottles with the BPA free sticker on them.  I want to talk now instead of the dangers of BPA and plastics in the human body, but about the true enemy of plastic itself, heat.

      Heat is the enemy of plastic.  Heat is the reason we insulate our food containers in storage. Heat melts plastic.  I know you don’t think your garage is hot enough to harm your food stores, but let me tell you a little story.

      I have a client who thought he would like to try frying the family turkey, one Thanksgiving.  He is a frugal man and ran in to the seasonal fryer oil sale that was too hard to resist.  He bought enough oil to fry a gaggle of geese!  He tells me the first year he had the oil, the turkey came out great.  The next year, when Thanksgiving rolled around, his lovely wife wanted to try her hand at the holiday turkey.  So, the leftover new in-the-plastic-bottle-in-a-cardboard-carton-oil stayed in the garage for another year.  One day, he came to me while I was cleaning and asked if I had any degreaser in my car.  Well, sure I do, so I asked how much he needed.  He said about a gallon!  
      It was true.  If he had stored the oil against an interior wall, it might have lasted longer, but he stored it against the western exterior uninsulated garage wall near a window that reflected (or is it refracted?) light into the corner where the oil was stacked one on the other.  The bottom container split its seam weakening the support of the upper and oopsie doopsie, what a mess!  There are several lessons to learn here.
      Heat is the enemy of plastic, even if it is in a grab-n-go cardboard box, it is not insulated.  The sun is hot.  The sun sets in the west. Oil is a messy cleanup that spoils the concrete and many more lessons; you can see them without a pointer!

      If you are not sure if your containers are BPA free use Mylar liners to separate your food stuffs from their container walls.  If you are sure your containers are safe, remember to treat them with the respect of their chemical nature, heat is the enemy.  If you are stacking and storing containers on concrete at ground level, you can line the floor with a rubber mat.  An auto shop quality mat is available at Advanced Discount Auto parts Store, Pep Boys, Wal-Mart, Harbor Freight, and many other parts shops and hardware stores.  The best varieties are the kinds that come in a jigsaw puzzle edge.  They fit together in many configurations.  I do not know about those left over foam mats sold to keep babies from touching the floor, but if you have those, put them to use and in seven years, let me know if they lasted and did a good job!  Store safe, be safe.  

No comments: