Altoids Tin Waterproofing Experiment

I have heard claims that it was possible to waterproof an Altoids tin, a type of container that is commonly used within survivalist circles as a BOAT (Bug Out Altoid Tin) or alternatively referred to as a PSK (Personal Survival Kit). I decided to test this assertion by assembling the initial 3 items; an Altoids tin, a roll of electrical tape, and a half-cut yellow Post-It sticky note that says “I am the Stuff:”



Here is the Altoids tin, cleaned and dried from the mint leftover crud:


I placed the yellow sticky note inside the Altoids tin. I reasoned that if it were possible to waterproof the tin, the sticky note should not get wet:


Next, I wrapped the electrical tape right along the lid’s edge. This was especially important considering the back has two holes for where the lid has to rest on; if there were any particularly susceptible spots to water infiltration, it would be those hinges:


I also took the liberty of wrapping the tin widthwise:


This is what ended up being tested:


What I also needed for this experiment was a simple sink stopped up with water deep enough for the tin to be completely submerged. It only makes sense to me to make the conditions as hard as possible, since if the results are as others claim they are, then it would mean that the waterproofing ability would be that much better under less adverse circumstances:


The only problem at this point though was that the container was completely empty (not counting the “I am the Stuff” sticky note), which meant that there was no weight inside the tin to weigh it down past the waterline vis-a-vis the lip of the actual container:


At first, I simply pushed it down with my fingers and held it there for awhile, completely submerged:


To my surprise, it turned out that the tin was actually airtight, otherwise it wouldn’t have had the resistant buoyancy that you see here:


It would seem that it might be waterproof, but resistant buoyancy with the lip of the container above the water line ain’t gonna cut it. So, I had to improvise some weights from $3 worth of quarters that were carefully stacked on top of the tin:


Turns out those quarters were exactly what was needed to push the tin down far enough to test for possible water seepage inside:


Now that I had both dunked and gently floated the taped up tin below the water line, it was time to take it out and unwrap it:


Keep in mind that if the “I am the Stuff” sticky note was soaked, that would be positive evidence that it isn’t possible to waterproof an Altoids tin (not with electrical tape, anyway):


Now, it looks as if some water droplets were underneath this innermost layer of electrical tape. Remember, this was the first one on there that covered the lid. It’s not a certainty, but it’s not exactly good either:


Well, the inside of the tin is not flooded with water, so that’s an initial good sign:


“I am the Stuff” was actually bone dry when I touched it, which is fairly damn impressive, especially considering that the Altoids tin was completely submerged for ~ 2 minutes:


However, there were some small pockets of water as you can see in these last photographs:


So, what does it all mean? I think it demonstrates that those guys in the various survival discussion forum boards are not completely full of shit, at least when it comes to waterproofing Altoids tins. I was happy that “I am the Stuff” wasn’t even slightly damp, but on the other hand, it was somewhat disconcerting to have those water droplets on the inside of that one strip of electrical tape as well as those small pools of water in the corners in the inside of the tin and its lid.

I think that if an item was placed inside of a plastic bag (i.e. a Ziploc), then placed inside of the tin before it was wrapped with electrical tape, I think that the item would (most likely) not be damaged. So, if any of you guys are interested in How to Hide Things in Public Places, I think one way of doing so by waterproofing your item(s) with an Altoids tin is definitely a viable option.

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