Removing Can Labels for roaches or bugs? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 20 Old 10-25-2012 Thread Starter
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Removing Can Labels for roaches or bugs?

OK, I've searched some recent threads on provisioning in order to find the answer to my title and no luck. It is clear that cans stored in damp places will lose labels, that a sharpie is good insurance for keeping track of what's inside. The other day in passing it was mentioned to my better half that "removing the labels is critical b/c the roaches eat the glue and there are eggs on the cans and the apocalypse is nigh, and solar flares will be our demise etc etc (ok i'm exaggerating in the latter two)" Now in 40 yrs of shopping and living at home roaches have not infested my pantry. The stores where I shop don't generally offer old tin-cans with ridges and paper labels anymore. I looked at many of the cans in our storage and they now have plastic/mylar-ish labels that are self adhesive--no yellow cakey glue, they just sort of stick to themselves as it wraps around (eureka 21st century technology). I know that corrugated cardboard from some deep third world country should not come aboard for obvious reasons.

Bottom-line are folks going through the effort of removing labels from cans in this day and age? Does anyone leave the labels and amazingly have a roach free boat like me?


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Deale Md, to Caribbean Oct 2012-Aug 2013
Boat Type Irwin 43 Mk III Center Cockpit--Sold it
Boat Yr, 1989
Boat Length 43'

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post #2 of 20 Old 10-25-2012
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Re: Removing Can Labels for roaches or bugs?

I don't know of anyone who removes labels. Recently had a question on my blog about varnishing cans too (lots of old cruising books talk about that, too) and again don't know of anyone who does.

Now, I DO label the tops of cans so that when I put them in a top-opening locker, it's easy to see what's what instead of pulling each one out to look at it.

Carolyn Shearlock

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post #3 of 20 Old 10-25-2012
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Re: Removing Can Labels for roaches or bugs?

A number of supermarkets in the states (possibly all of the chains) do supposedly spray pesticide on all the stored canned goods. Coupla five years ago it made the news, with folks being reminded to wash their cans before opening them if they really wanted to be sure there was no pesticide tainting the can. I can't say if that's urban myth, but roaches are incredible critters, and yes, if the can has the usual "corrugations" in it, I could see a small roach slipping in there under the label, enjoying the glue, and laying eggs.

RFPITA to tear off all the labels though. Maybe do a reality check, peel some labels, look for eggs, either you'll get tired of looking for proof or you'll find it.

Never have actually seen a roach go under a can label, or found one under a can label, but then again...Maybe you could just autoclave all the cans in the pressure cooker? (G)
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post #4 of 20 Old 10-25-2012
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Re: Removing Can Labels for roaches or bugs?

A good soaking in warm water ought to do the trick and get the labels off most cans. Pay particular attention to the ones with labels depicting actual food, like Chef-Boy-R-Dee stuff. The labels look good enough to eat if you are hungry enough.
Make sure that when you label stuff with your sharpie that it is nearly illegible because the critters (rats, mice, roaches) can read!
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post #5 of 20 Old 10-25-2012
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Re: Removing Can Labels for roaches or bugs?

The issue of roaches in labels and cardboard packaging is as old as the hills. With today's packaging its true that the problem is almost certainly far less than what it was but hey, how many roaches does it take ?

Me, I'm not going to varnish cans, nor remove non paper labelling but I won't allow cardboard boxes of any sort onto the boat without some kind of fumigation. Corrugated cardboard, third world or not, is of course an absolute menace cos the little bastards can lay their eggs in the corrugations.

That said CS's note re labelling cans is good advice.

Andrew B

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post #6 of 20 Old 10-28-2012
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Re: Removing Can Labels for roaches or bugs?

If them roaches want the labels off they can do it themselves I got enough to do already.
And as for varnishin' Hell, I spent enough money doin' the parkay floor,molding and brightwork . I'll be dammed if I'm gonna' varnish the pantry fixin's ! I just aint that yachty, and besides mamma says it makes the glass jars all sticky when they float around in the bilges.
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post #7 of 20 Old 10-28-2012
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Re: Removing Can Labels for roaches or bugs?

Cockroach control is on every cruisers mind. Most anchor and don't tie up much so the danger is bringing them aboard. No paper bags and no cardboard. That usually does the trick. No need to take labels off cans. Just some sensible precautions and you should be bug free. Biggest danger is when the boat is laid up for the summer in Florida. We use Sun-Pacs when we store the boat. Keeps the boat free of mildew and, as a side benefit, kills anything and everything aboard. We make sure to air out the boat before boarding.

Rick I
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post #8 of 20 Old 10-28-2012
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Re: Removing Can Labels for roaches or bugs?

When we were doing a bit more cruising and wanted a long-lived supply of canned goods without rust or lost labels, we made up a double boiler, melted paraffin, and dipped the canned goods in the melted paraffin after marking the can tops and bottoms with their contents. It was a bit labor intense but it did work quite well as we eliminated the problem of rusty cans.

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post #9 of 20 Old 10-28-2012
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Re: Removing Can Labels for roaches or bugs?

cocroaches FLY -- they do not come on board in paper. they FLY.
taking labels off spray cans is something i have never done. why?? the label will remain in tact long enough to know what is inb that can for 4 yrs. or more.
i live on board since 1990--there have been many changes in thing since then.
i cruise my formosa--there is no reason why you cannot keep the labels on your cans. even spray cans.

there are many folks around her in boats. many have cockroaches. you need screens on boat to keep them out. i do not have a single one. i spray my boat and i make sure i dont attract cockroaches in darkness. they will fly to your reading light.
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Last edited by zeehag; 10-28-2012 at 09:34 AM.
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post #10 of 20 Old 10-28-2012
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Re: Removing Can Labels for roaches or bugs?

Huh. I just came across this topic. It's not something you find in the trailer sailor forums.
Whats the big deal about roaches? They don't bite. (Not the ones I've met.) You can get rid of them with spray.
I've seen some huge roaches in Mexico. Hard to miss them. I guess you can just ask the big ones to go away. The small ones...Psst.
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