Acceptable gun safe humidity level?

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Dec 25, 2002
Decatur, AL
I think I've asked this question a dozen times, but I'll try again.

Last December, I finally got a safe, and a Goldenrod dehumdifier. I also bought a hygrometer to watch the level of humidity in the safe.

During the winter months (when the furnace was on) the humidity level was in the mid-twenties.

Now that spring/summer has arrived, the level has gone as high as 52%.

I've bought some silica gel dessicant, and every other day I bake it in the oven per instructions. The three trays of baked dessicant bring the level down to around 38%. Then it starts back up again.

Part of the reason I got the safe was so that I didn't have to keep my guns in the vapor-inhibiting bags (which work 100%; in ten or more years I've never had a moisture problem using them).

So, at what level does humidity pose a threat to guns stored in safes?

Any replies much appreciated.
I wouldn't think it's a big deal as long as the safe is indoors in the heat/air conditioning and in a dark room.
My dad has kept his guns for years and years with no problems in one of the most humid places on earth...the Houston gulf coast in his laundry room.
The consistent temperatures keep moisture from ever condensing on guns or anything else in the safe.
Forget where I saw this. But somewhere around 40% or less
and steel will not rust. You might try doing a search on the web for info on rusting steel.
Heating to 10F above ambeint will dry things, food etc. This is how the golden rod works as I remember. You shoul d carefully clean and coat the gun lightly with a good rust preventative , I use RIG, before it goes into the safe. You can also line the safe with rust inhibiting paper which uses nitrates to prevent rust.
I don't think you'll have any problems if you keep the guns lubed with something like Breakfree or RIG. My safe is in a damp unfinished basement and I'm getting the same kind of readings - even after I run the dehumidifier all night and pour 3.5 gallons of water down the drain. At first I was a little bothered by the humidity readings, but then I reconsidered...

Prior to putting the new safe in the basement, I had smaller ones on the second floor. Most summers I don't bother to AC the second floor(10-foot ceilings, fans, big windows, porches for shade, etc.) and if it's still 90*F at bedtime we'll sleep downstairs. The point is that my guns were exposed to high humidity all year long for more than 20 years and didn't rust. The 2nd floor gets pretty steamed up from showers in the winter, too. Ninety-year-old houses don't usually come with exhaust fans in the bathroom :)

Right now in Richmond it's 56*F with 100% humidity - just another typical day. It's no wonder Virginia is so green most of the time. D.C. was considered a sub-tropical posting by the British and Richmond is 100 miles to the south and has a tidal river running east and a cyprus swamp to the north and east.

I put 2 Goldenrods in the 35cu.ft. basement safe just to make sure the temp stayed up. One is 18" and one is 24".
Why? In case one quits on me. The 14"-inch-thick brick walls in the basement stay cool year-round and will condense damp air in a heartbeat. Think cave.

Good luck and buy a RIG Rag. I bought one at the last gun show for $6 (a factory second because a 1/4" sliver was torn off one end. ) and can't believe how much easier it is to use than a piece of cloth or a patch.

Humidity level at which iron rusts

From the web...
"Iron and steel will not rust if the air in contact with the surface has a relative humidity below 50% relative humidity (RH)."
According to the NRA:
50% humidity at 70 degrees is considered ideal "Arms Museum" storage conditions.

Any dryer then that, and you will have problems with wood stocks drying out and shrinking / checking.

Actually, if you don't have wide daily temperature swings in your house to cause condensation on the metal, whatever the humidity is, is probably just fine. (Unless you live on a sea-coast with salt-spray air.)

I have had a bunch of nice guns stored in cabinets without any humidity control here in Kansas for years without any rust problems at all.
In spring & fall, indoor humidity may reach 65-70% or more.
In winter, we run a furnace humidifier to raise the humidity in the house.

But my guns are wiped down with R.I.G. after every handling, and my home is heated and air conditioned mostly year around, at a constant temperature so condensation is just never going to happen.

In winter, when I bring a gun indoors, I just leave it out in open air with a ceiling fan running until it has reached room temperature, wipe it down with a Rig-Rag, and put it away.

I've never had a rusty gun in over 55 years of storing them this way!

FWIW, I went on a tour of the Rock Island Arsenal's Museum this fall and they had a display on the conditions that they strive for in storing their guns. They said that they strive for 50% humidity but that they consider 45-55% acceptable.

Have a good one,
My safe is in the garage in coastal Florida. Humidity inside the safe is usually 50-60 % year round. I have a golden rod and some dessicant in the safe. The key is that the golden rod keeps the temperature of the guns above the ambient air temperature. This prevents moisture from condensing on the guns and causing rust.
Where I live it's humid in the summer and dry in the winter. I have a dehumidifier for summer and a humidifier for winter. (In spring and fall I don't use anything.) I monitor the humidity and keep it as near as possible to 50% year-round. My guns are wiped down with silicon cloth or oil rag before I put them in the cabinet, but I don't use a Goldenrod or any dessicant. I have never had a rust problem.
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