30th Infantry Division

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Refurbishing Water Cans

This page details how to refurbish an Army water can. Most of them have been used as gas cans at one time or another and it can be difficult to get that gas smell (and taste) out of them. Plus the interior coating is usually coming off, which can't be good to drink.

For those who are just getting into reenacting, gas cans have a cap that twists off and water can tops flip up.

As of this writing in fall 2009, I haven't tried the technique yet. So take it with a grain of salt and modify these instructions as you see fit.

  1. Soak with Stump Likker for 2 3 weeks. This will get the rust out using the molasses in the product;
  2. Power wash to get all the paint out of the interior;
  3. Prime interior of can;
  4. Coat with food grade epoxy;

I'll post more details as I find vendors and go through the process on my own water can.

And here's what I found from redoing my can. The sump Likker worked well, getting a lot of the rust out. For primer I used a spray can of Rustoleum satin strawflower paint, applying a couple of coats. The next time I do a can though I'll get a quart of paint and pour it in there. That'll coat better, especially the top of the can.

For food grade epoxy paint I used Camcote, a semi-clear paint used in the bee-keeping business. I put on two coats to make sure it covered well. It takes a while for each coat to dry as it's in an enclosed can, but it did the job well.

For a new seal at the mouth of the can, get a sheet of cork, draw circles the right size, and cut it with a sharp knife.

Member of the World War II Historical Re-enactment Society