New invention! The paper bag!!

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Jul 25, 2012
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838
Working off Martin's great post about bodily functions where he brings the used paper to the fire in a waxed sandwich bag, I went to the local grocery to get some bags. Sure enough, all kinds of plastic sandwich bags but nary a one made of waxed paper. They did have some paper lunch bags (too big for my use) but that got me to thinking.
Why not make my own? Now the wax in the waxed sandwich bag is to help contain the moisture in what ever you're making the sandwich from, if the intended contents are dry it isn't necessary. Evey since we've had a printer for the computer we have heaps of scrap paper. I folded several sheets in half and glued them on two sides with some titebond wood glue from my shop. After the glue was dry the homemade bag is surprisingly strong. I see no reason I couldn't package any pre-measured dry food into them and have it work. I'm even tempted to repackage the Mountain House meals into the paper bags just prior to a trip. And then after use just burn up the paper bags. Now, there might be a little down side if the bags containing your food for the trip got wet, so it's probably best to keep them dry.
So....what do you think?
Rob
 
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You are aware that those Mountain House bags are designed for ..rehydrating the food for twelve minutes in an upright position. Try rehydrating in a paper bag. Not only wont it stand up but there is no reflective inner layer. You may wind up with a cold meal. Then you will have to reheat it.

Moisture travel is a two way street. Cookies will get soggy if they are in a paper bag in a humid environment. Your dried meal may wind up moldy..but you are Oldie Moldy anyway..LOL

Waxed paper bags can be bought online.
 
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I do a lot of repackaging of prepackaged foods. Ziploc-type bags are the best way to go because they block moisture and are easy to smush around in the food pack. I wouldn't use waxed (or any other type of) paper because it just wouldn't hold up, never mind the moisture issue.
 
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Rob,

Give it a try. There is no sound reason it would not work unless your are in the habit of storing your food by floating it in your bilge water. I have never; in the 30+ years that I have been canoe camping and tripping; never, ever, ever, had anything get wet on a paddling trip that I intended to keep dry. Okay, I'll fess up...except for my own self. Hey; you ride a horse long enough your gonna get thrown.
I use a down sleeping bag and have for many years. Moisture has never been a problem. Similarly, I was rained on every day during the first 40 days of my Appalachian Trail hike. Same results. Among other things I routinely carry oatmeal in the original paper packets that it was packaged in; right from the box. The little oats didn't seem to have any idea that they weren't sitting high and dry on the shelf in the pantry. They are; as far as I can tell; unaffected by the surrounding water and humidity. I also journal daily and often several times a day during breaks. I use nothing more fancy than a plain paper notebook and a gel pen or a pencil. Again, never an issue with moisture. I think with the advent of, and dependance on, modern materials we sometimes lose our ability to objectively view alternate ways to accomplish a task or goal. It's a choice we each make. Technique or technology. That's why I'm glad that we can each paddle our own canoes to the beat of whatever drummer we may hear.
 
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I'm with Yellow Canoe on the reconstitution thing. While it is easy to boil water in a paper bag, I'm not sure it would hold up to a hot, prolonged soaking. And yet we have paper coffee cups that do this very task quite well. I would think that using waxed paper with boiling water might add a new and interesting flavor to your meal. I personally use a ziplock freezer bag to pack my dehydrated meals. I place them in a small pouch made of reflectix insulation I bought from Lowe's and they 'cook up' just fine. I'm going to have to try the paper cup idea now that I think about it. If I cook in the cup I could use a piece of clothing to insulate it until the food is ready to eat. Is your goal in using paper not to burn plastic? Some people are opposed to that. Now you've really got me thinking which can be a dangerous thing. Now I'm going to have to do some testing.
 
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I used to do the Mountain House thing - rehydrate/cook meals in their original packages. I found at least two disadvantages: (1) They're HOT! and there's no handle to hold the hot bag with (I'd put the bag back in the pot that I boiled the water in and it was something of a nuisance). (2) Standard serving sizes are too small so I found myself supplementing meals with odds and ends.

For several years now I've been buying Mountain House meals in bulk and packaging them in 1-1/2 serving amounts. I also add freeze-dried chicken or dehydrated ground beef. So the Ziploc method works much better for me. Also, since I'm boiling water in a small pot anyway, I might as well eat out of the pot. So I dump the food in the cold water, boil it, let it sit for a minute or two less than the indicated time, and pretty soon I'm happy-full.
 
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I use the Mountain House Pro-pacs which have more food than single serving packs or sharing a double serving pack. Might be cheaper in bulk the way you have been doing it, though.
 
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The story behind all my thoughts on these packaging ideas was this: on a trip one morning, I was cleaning up the campsite prior to leaving and in the process I burned some M.H. bags, one of mine and some that were left there by someone else. From another site near by, came a young guy and his very strident girlfriend. She berated me about burning plastic trash and "Leave No Trace" and so on. My German Shepherd has a very low opinion of people threatening and hollering at me and the two were soon backed off. The situation resolved itself with only ugly looks exchanged, but when I got back home I looked up about what to burn or not.

There's a lot of opinions on the internet and I'm probably biased, but to me it seems that much of this extreme LNT is a soap box for people who want to hector someone on the evils of their ways. Is it just my imagination or are we getting a lot of this kind of behavior lately?

Anyway, I don't go camping so I can have these kind of confrontations and maybe there is a point about plastic, so I started thinking about re-packaging in paper. Went to the M.H. site and found that the cost in bulk cans is more than if you buy it in the package. (?!) I don't cook the meal in the package anyway because Rose can't get to her share inside that bag.
I usually buy those packages that are for two people and eat my fill and give the rest to Rose. I'm not sure that it's good for a dog, infact with all that salt I'm not sure it's good for me! Once I've gotten all the old M.H. meals eaten up I believe I'll try some of those Hawks Vittles and maybe some others.

My first "test" paper bags were made from regular typing paper and I was surprised at how strong they were. I think that my next experiment will be with bags made from a roll of freezer paper and see if there is any advantage.

So, that's all I know and a little bit more.

Best Wishes, Rob
 
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Geeze, I almost spit coffee on my keyboard, that post was good for a snort this morning. I admire your diplomatic approach to avoiding another confrontation with the LNT disciples, but I'd be more inclined to let Rose do her thing, chasing the harpies away. That's its own form of LNT...you Leave No Trace of the LNT disciples on your campsite.

Seriously though, I'm sure everyone on this site keeps a clean campsite, but unfortunately, some of LNT advocates are from the extremist side of the philosophical spectrum , which is fine by me, as long as they don't come running over to give me a lecture, while I'm sipping my morning coffee - Or more to the point, as long as they keep their cake-holes shut, and go play Captain Planet somewhere else.
 
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Just to add some legalities to the discussion...it's illegal to burn trash in Minnesota, including the BWCAW.

We're hijacking the thread, but don't discount the principles of LNT just because some people are excessive in their advocacy.

Pete
 
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Great followup post, Rob!
My first thought is how did those folks know you were burning plastic? Did your fire send up clouds of black smoke or telltale odors? Or did the god named "Let's Not Trashthisplace" (abbr. LNT) send them a subliminal signal?

A friend of mine who's been BW/Q-ing since 1976 burns plastic bags and washes in the lake. When I said I thought that was frowned upon, he said that the amount of bad stuff is so small it can't make a difference. I almost came back with the old parental line, "What if everyone did that?" but I knew he was right. Still, that sort of thing can't be allowed because then everyone *will* do it. Then we'll have plastic vapors precipitating on the trees and getting into squirrels' digestive systems, and the fish will form all sorts of awful tumors and birth defects from the stuff in biodegradable soap. This is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but I do take the LNT principles seriously and pack out all my trash.

Anyway, I still wonder how those folks knew what was happening.

On another note, you might want to try parchment paper for your bags. I use it sometimes when baking fish and it does a nice job of holding juices. Who knows, it might also be legal to burn.

As for Rose, yes, it's bad to give a dog excessive amounts of salt. Check this out, for example: http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poison/salt/.
What's excessive? I guess it depends on whether your dog shows any of the listed symptoms.
 
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Danged if I know, Gavia. I suppose they might have smelt it, I didn't notice them until Rose started her low growl of warning. I tend to get my nose stuck in some task when working and miss much that goes on around me.
The general idea of LNT is good, none of us want to hurt the areas we enjoy so much, but I also think that basic manners ought to be employed along with a little common sense.
I seem to remember of some major fire up in Canada not so long ago, where after the fact it was discovered that the fire was started by some students. They were attending a summer camp and the instructors had taught them to minimize their impact on the environment by burning and burying their toilet paper. Maybe Memaquay know more about the situation and the fire. In any case, in their enthusiasm for a ideological goal the instructors failed to really protect the environment, in fact quite the reverse.
That said, I must own that fifty years ago I could have done something equally as foolish. The trick I think, is to slow down and give the thought process time to percolate and at the same time, step well around self righteous stances.

Best Wishes, Rob
 
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Very well, said. Was the fire you mentioned the Emerald Lake Fire, on the Canadian side of Knife Lake? I got a lot of smoke and ash from that fire in my camp a year ago.

Good comment about self-righteous stances, especially one's own (note to self here).
 
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Toilet paper burning creating forest fires is quite common, as a google search reveals...
http://wildfiretoday.com/2011/10/30/texas-man-admits-to-starting-fire-by-burning-toilet-paper/
http://wildfiretoday.com/2012/01/01...e-may-have-started-from-burning-toilet-paper/
http://hauntingthelibrary.wordpress...t-ever-fire-greenpeace-blames-global-warming/
http://www.thecrimson.com/article/1985/7/23/med-school-grads-caused-forest-fire/

And there are many more. Sometimes LNT adherents use too much dogma and not enough common sense. Iunderstand there is a time and place for everything. I paddled through the French river area once, saw more canoeists in one day than actually live in my town. The shores were coated in white and brown flowers, of the stinky kind. In areas that see high use, LNT is probably the only way to go, otherwise the area will quickly become unusable. I trip on Crown land that sees very few canoeists. I have to chainsaw ports and campsites out of blowdown and burn-overs. Human impact is very small in these areas, unless the logging companies have been clear cutting.

I burn most of my garbage in theses areas, and I bath in the lakes and rivers. I probably wouldn't do the same in a heavily travelled park.
 
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I might be mistaken, but I think that I have read somewhere that some paper is mfgd with chemicals that you might want to know about before using paper to store food.
 
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