• Happy Birthday, Meriwether Lewis (1774-1809)!

How do you store your food waste trash at campsites?

Joined
Dec 24, 2015
Messages
151
Reaction score
44
Location
Ocala National Forest
After reading about blue barrels and other food barrel substitutes I was wondering how you store the food waste trash generated on a trip. Do you use the same methods of storing your food at campsites, ie away from camp hanging in a container or in a trash bag in the campsite or some other method? I would think food waste trash would attract more critters than food that is sealed prior to being cooked.

Kayak_Ken (in a canoe)
 
Joined
Dec 17, 2014
Messages
960
Reaction score
278
Location
Pickwick, MN
I do think food waste attracts more critters. I use a garbage bag and tie it up at night.
 

Glenn MacGrady

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Oct 24, 2012
Messages
2,878
Reaction score
1,076
Location
Connecticut
My answer is to generate very minimal waste and garbage by minimalist meal prep. I don't cook at home (unless you count microwaving), so I'm sure as heck not going to cook in the woods.

My only food is commercial freeze dried meals in sealed packages, protein bars, and maybe some snacks in sealed bags like peanuts. I burn the paper wrappers. I rinse off the aluminum wrappers and seal them in an odor proof OPSAK, which goes into my bear proof Ursack along with my uneaten sealed foods, which are in their own OPSAK. All I have to pack out are the clean aluminum wrappers, which compress very small.

If I had organic waste and I was on a long trip, I wouldn't dispose of it on or near a campsite. I'd paddle somewhere along the 99% of the shoreline that is nowhere near a campsite and periodically dispose of it in the woods. That's what I do at home with most organic waste -- just toss it into the yard. The birds make very quick work of it all, the squirrels take some, and the insects take care of the tiny pieces. It's all gone within a day. Some people make compost piles, but I've never found that to be necessary.

I assume fisherman dispose of fish guts in the water, but I haven't fished in 60 years, so I don't know the modern practices.
 
Joined
Mar 20, 2013
Messages
3,356
Reaction score
460
We burn most of our wast food. the containers everything else is put in a large ziplock bag and in the barrel or wanigan. Sometime we do a really hot fire and burn the trash on site, that said I'm not a big fan of that, but every one I travel with seams to think it is alright... The majority wins! Since we use a fire box and no open fire pits everything that didn't burnt is picked up and put in the ziplock bag since we have to empty the fire box, that's an easy way to make sure that nothing stays behind.
 
Joined
Nov 23, 2012
Messages
879
Reaction score
232
Location
Western Adirondacks
Not everyone abides in the strictest sense to the Leave No Trace Principles. But there is a lot to be said for following the guidelines as much as you can. At the very least, plan ahead and minimize the amount of trash you generate. That way you will not have to worry so much about what to do with leftovers and trash. And yes, food waste trash should receive the same protection from critters as fresh food and other "smellables". By the way, even the hottest campfire does not vaporize metal foil, it simply melts into a long lasting glob.

http://www.leavenotracedude.com/waste-disposal.shtml
 
Joined
Dec 17, 2014
Messages
960
Reaction score
278
Location
Pickwick, MN
In the BWCA it's illegal to burn trash including food scraps so I repack everything before I go and try to keep waste to a minimum.
 
G

Guest

Guest
After reading about blue barrels and other food barrel substitutes I was wondering how you store the food waste trash generated on a trip. Do you use the same methods of storing your food at campsites, ie away from camp hanging in a container or in a trash bag in the campsite or some other method? I would think food waste trash would attract more critters than food that is sealed prior to being cooked.

To some degree it depends on how and what you’re eating, and what kind of “food waste” remains.

I tend to eat oatmeal or grits, fortified with dried fruit or etc, for breakfast. I eat every morsel, so there isn’t much food waste remaining. I am Scots-frugal, dump a little hot water in the oatmeal cup and shallow the last flakey dregs. Yummy.

I do keep a separate Zip-lock “burn bag” and use any paper packaging as starter in the next fire. Coffee is Via, so there are no grounds, just slender foil packets in the garbage bag.

After breakfast I lick the spoon clean, rinse out the mug and bowl, and that “cook wear” goes back in the barrel along with the stove.. If “real” cooking is involved I am convinced that the pots and pans used for anything more than boiling water present a critter odor attractant no matter how well scrubbed. I have no olfactory sense, but I can smell bacon on that cast iron skillet.

Stove odors too if you are a messy cook; we haven’t used our 2-burner Coleman’s for years, but I could probably make a meal of the splatter scrapings. An unopened freeze dry meal or can of New Spring Potatoes has zero attractant odor compared with some tasty crust left on a pot lid or spattered around a stove.

Lunch is typically a sandwich and snack stuff, so again no food waste leftover. Dinner is most often freeze dry or some easy noodle dish. The biggest food odor attractant there is the leftover freeze dry pouch; I usually only rehydrate half of a commercial freeze dry meal at a time, put the other half in a baggie and eat it the next evening.

I use a Reflectix cozie rehydrating meal pouches and prefer that to using a pot, so I rinse out freeze dry pouch and put it back in the barrel for reuse the second night.

I don’t burn plastic or foils, so I eventually rinse the pouch out again it goes into the garbage bag; I expect even rinsed those pouches are still an odor attractant.

I’ll sometimes bring canned food (the Irish in me loves a can of New Spring Potatoes, easy-peezy heated over the fire and forked piping hot directly from the can), especially on trips where I am packing potable water anyway. That’s a great, filling, sharable appetizer with the tater water used later in the half-ration of a rehydrated meal for some tuber flavoring. The empty cans get rinsed, crushed and go into the garbage bag. Even scoured in the fire there is probably still some residual food odor there as well.

The garbage bag, especially if “free” of food odors early on, is hung near camp, more often in bear-fee areas where the bigger concern is squirrels, chipmunks and raccoons. That campsite potential for midnight Rodentia visits might not be restful practice if tripping with a dog, or if you freak out every time you hear a raccoon chattering in traverse rope frustration.

I prefer to store food, stove and cook wear in a blue barrel or other hard side container, and I don’t hang usually hang those. On a longer trip I may have both the 30L barrel and a small 10L plastic wide-neck drum. If space necessitates no-odor excess sealed meals or cans may start off in a small dry bag instead of a 3[SUP]rd[/SUP] hard side container.

But, once all the food fits in the barrel, the trash bag goes in the emptied drum. It’s just easier, less messy and far more critter-proof.

I do like the incremental sizing of Cur-tec wide mouth drums. On shorter trips I can get away with two of the 10L versions instead of a 30L barrel, and garbage vessel the second one when emptied.

They also fit better than the 30L barrel in a decked boat. And they fit better in any boat than a \_/ pail shape. The 10L (2.6 gallon drum (_) somehow appears smaller than a 3 gallon \_/ pail; it’s just a better shape for packing grub inside container and transports/stores more efficiently.

https://www.curtec.com/en/products/drums/wide-neck-drums

(For Ken-in-a-Kayak trips the 3.6L/1 gallon versions might fit in a kayak hatch; check the measurements.

https://www.curtec.com/en/products/drums/wide-neck-drums/detail/wide-neck-drum-3-litres

If anyone ever sees those Cur-tec wide neck drums, in any size, grab them; they are awesome and very water tight.

In all honesty my biggest trash item is crushed empty beer cans. I probably should rinse them out just to eliminate the barroom stank and inevitable bag drippage that develops over time. Maybe next time.

I have never put the garbage bag in the 30L or 60L barrel, probably because I have yet to produce 30L of trash and empties, and condense other non-garbage things into in the barrel when space is available. But I have no problem putting that leaky, skanky bag in the food-emptied 10L drum as soon as it is available. At some take outs I don’t really want to deal with transporting a leakyskanky trash bag for 100 miles ‘til I find a dumpster, not back in my travelling bed and sure as hell not up front with me.

I scrub out the drum after a dumpster visit, and bleach it after I get home; don’t bleach the rubber gasket in the lid. As a gross aside the hardest smell to get rid of any plastic container is the weird and distinctive odor of shit-filled Wagbags.

How much “food waste” or trash you produce is up to you. One multi-week trip with a UL practicioner and trash abhorring companion stands to mind. After 3 weeks I had a yard waste sized bag of trash and empties, including some not-my stuff I had picked up along the way. The totality of his trash (and I know he burns nothing) fit easily in a 2 gallon Zip-lock bag.

I do agree that even in the cleanest practices the “garage bag” is a bigger issue than food/stove/cook wear storage when using hard side containers.
 
Joined
Dec 24, 2015
Messages
151
Reaction score
44
Location
Ocala National Forest
Mike, my days as a hard core kayaker are in the past. Haven't been in my ww kayak in years and it's been awhile since I have used my sea touring kayak. I do use my SOT once and awhile though. I switched to a solo canoe a couple of years ago to make it easier to get in/out of the boat at camping platforms and steep river banks. I don't do much day paddling but love to go primitive camping every chance I get, or maybe I should say primitive glamping because I really like to take along my creature comforts. I start with my directors chair, cot, bivy bag and now a bridge hammock plus the stuff that goes along with it. Now back to the topic at hand. When it comes to eating now days I usually carry a cooler (or two) with a steak, potato and corn for steak night. One maybe two Dutch Ovens, for a slow cooked meals and peach cobbler and a cast iron frying pan for bacon and eggs in the morning. I also throw in some lunch meat, cheese, mayo and bread for lunches. I guess you can see now that my trash bags have the pontental to attrack a wide assortment of critters. I have been pretty lucky so far with most critters except for ants.

Kayak_Ken (in a canoe)
 
Joined
Mar 20, 2013
Messages
3,356
Reaction score
460
Not everyone abides in the strictest sense to the Leave No Trace Principles. But there is a lot to be said for following the guidelines as much as you can. At the very least, plan ahead and minimize the amount of trash you generate. That way you will not have to worry so much about what to do with leftovers and trash. And yes, food waste trash should receive the same protection from critters as fresh food and other "smellables". By the way, even the hottest campfire does not vaporize metal foil, it simply melts into a long lasting glob.

http://www.leavenotracedude.com/waste-disposal.shtml

We burn our trash and everything that is not consume by the fire is put in the bag just like I said.
 
Joined
Feb 14, 2015
Messages
3,899
Reaction score
659
Location
Iowa
In the BWCA it's illegal to burn trash including food scraps so I repack everything before I go and try to keep waste to a minimum.

Whoops ! I packed everything out, in a zip lock bag, except the two paper plates. I'll do better next time.
Oh, the zip locked trash, went in the 5 gal pails with lids. No critter problems.
 
Joined
Jul 11, 2014
Messages
4,520
Reaction score
818
Location
Ontario Canada
Empty dishes, pots and pans get washed and rinsed every day. Deciding who does the dishes is a complicated marital game of matching wits and daring. We draw straws, see who can spit the furthest, do rocks paper scissors, pick a number between 1 and 10, and then WTF I just go and do the dishes.
There are no food leftovers. We plan our meal portion sizes down to the nearest gram/ounce per person and per individual caloric requirements. And then WTF I just eat the leftovers.
If I have any energy left and will to survive after all that eating and cleaning I tend to the meal prep waste. This is not for the faint of heart. I roll up my sleeves, place a stick between my teeth to bite down on, and steel myself for the gruelling task. And WTF I just slide the used Ziplock bags into a bigger clean one, zip it up and toss it in the food barrel.

"Yeah, but how do you know it's going to boil unless you watch it?!" PA042206.jpg
 
Last edited:
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Messages
1,140
Reaction score
139
Location
central NYS - 10 miles from the Baseball Hall of F
One thing that's nice about our college trips is we always seem to have a Mikey..."give it to Mikey. He'll eat anything!" if you remember that old commercial. Anyway, any leftover food we have is packed in with the garbage. From there we store it all in Ursacks and then bring the bags at least 100' from camp and tie them off to trees.

That's all for now. Take care and until next time....be well.

snapper
 
Joined
Dec 17, 2014
Messages
960
Reaction score
278
Location
Pickwick, MN
Whoops ! I packed everything out, in a zip lock bag, except the two paper plates. I'll do better next time.
Oh, the zip locked trash, went in the 5 gal pails with lids. No critter problems.

You know Jim, can't imagine burning paper plates is a big deal, especially if they don't have an ink design on them. They make great 🔥 starters.
 
Joined
Aug 22, 2013
Messages
924
Reaction score
51
Location
Red Lake, Ontario
Fortunate to live where burning is the only real answer. I am hesitant to burn plastic though unless it is a real hot fire and no more cooking to be done on the fire.
 
Joined
Sep 21, 2014
Messages
182
Reaction score
10
Location
Wisconsin
I done what Odyssey does, but double bag. Put our trash in a 2 gallon ziplock and double bag it with a second 2 gallon ziplock and keep it in the blue barrel or food bag. Based on the amount of trash we generate one set of baggies lasts our family of 3 approximately seven days. I need to double bag because sometimes somebody cheats on the eat all your food no slime in the trash rule. My trash is not bulky because most of it is light weight plastic bag type packaging or wrappers. I'm not into throwing plastic into the fire personally.
 
G

Guest

Guest
I have been pretty lucky so far with most critters except for ants.

We have not been so lucky. Our biggest problem, excepting raccoons in the Everglades (and occasionally elsewhere) has consistently been camp bold/habituated squirrels and chipmunks.

Those problems mostly had to do with the design of the screw-top lid on our buckets/pails. All of the ones we (once) used had an edge on top of the lids that was gnaw-able by rodent sized jaws. We went through several screw-top bucket lids that were chewed through on that raised edge. The critters never chewed through into the food, but they gnawed through a couple inches along that edge and ruined lids for being waterproof.

The Cur-tec wide neck drums likewise have a rodent jaw sized lip on the lid, but even leaving them on the ground for the past 5 or 6 years of use I have not awoken to plastic flakes and a ruined lid. That was never a fun clean up; one morning I thought it had snowed lightly overnight.

At least I think that Cur-tec lid lip is chewable, but so far, so good. It may be that they seal so tightly that the odor attractant is less.

FWIW the 10L Cur-tec wide neck drums we have are stamped on the bottom with a variety of letters and symbols, including a wine glass & fork symbol, a U over N circle and “02” in triangle arrow recycling symbol.

When it comes to eating now days I usually carry a cooler (or two) with a steak, potato and corn for steak night. One maybe two Dutch Ovens, for a slow cooked meals and peach cobbler and a cast iron frying pan for bacon and eggs in the morning. I also throw in some lunch meat, cheese, mayo and bread for lunches. I guess you can see now that my trash bags have the pontental to attrack a wide assortment of critters.

That could have the potential to be a trash bag of attractant smells, deserving of some critter inaccessibility and/or odor proofing. The cooler itself is another target, and experienced raccoons can open a cooler as fast as you.

I am now curious, how do folks protect a cooler in camp? I do so my having nothing in mine but beer, but YMMV.

Beyond a cooler how do folks store their cook ware? What do you do with a Dutch oven, just clean it and leave it out with the lid on? Fry pans seasoned with the morning’s bacon grease, griddles and stew pots?
 
Joined
Dec 24, 2015
Messages
151
Reaction score
44
Location
Ocala National Forest
When a picnic table is at the campsite I lift the bench seat enough to slide the cooler under it then lower it on top of cooler. Had a cooler slide off my SOT one time, the lid opened and the ice, food and drinks spilled out. Now I usually have a strap around the cooler to keep everything in it in case I flip while paddling. I strap the cooler closed before going to bed.

Once I use my cast iron cookware I give it a quick wipe down and leave in the cooking area. I don't put the lids on so if a critter visits, they don't get moved. I give it a quick cleaning before I use it in case a critter licked it.

Kayak_Ken (in a canoe)
 
Joined
Nov 23, 2012
Messages
879
Reaction score
232
Location
Western Adirondacks
Lest you think that a bear will be turned away by a picnic table, watch this Yeti video. On the first Yukon 1000 mile race in 2009, we were required to have all of our food in certified bear resistant containers. With 7 people racing in a voyageur canoe and the race rule food requirement of 20Kg per person, simple canisters would not fit our bill. So I bought a large Yeti.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3k8qdh-r_E
 
Joined
Dec 24, 2015
Messages
151
Reaction score
44
Location
Ocala National Forest
Didn't realize we were talking about bears, thought we were talking about raccoons, squirrels, chipmonks and ants. If we are talking about bears I would try to hang it between two trees and hope for the best. After seeing how easy the black bears in the Ocala National Forest can climb trees I have no dought that if they want to get it they probably will.

I once saw a bear open a Craftsman toolbox full of tools that had a padlock on it in the Smokey Mountains. It was standing on it's hind legs, picking the toolbox up over it's head and throwing it up against a tree. After a couple of tosses it gave up on the tree and switched to a rock which did the trick. The bears in the video were playing with that cooler. If the Yeti had some good smelling food in it and they were real hungry they would get in to it.

Kayak_Ken (in a canoe)
 
Top