How To Bury: 5 Methods
to Guarantee the Safety of Your Valuables
Because no one can take what they cannot find
Here are 5 methods that myself and other survivalists have been using successfully for many years. They can be used by themselves, but since multiple redundancies are best, they can also be used in any combination that you desire. I’ll start with the cheapest first and progress to the most expensive, but you should be aware that money invested has no bearing on the integrity of your cache. If constructed properly, each of these is just as reliable as the other.
The Bell Method
The Bell Method is something that I thought up and named when I was about 12 years old. The concept works on the simple truth that water cannot run uphill and in 30 years of digging, this is the least expensive way I’ve ever found that can guarantee 100% that your gear or valuables stay dry. If you are on a budget, then use the Bell Method. It’s based on the fact that you can take an empty drinking glass, turn it upside down (like a hanging bell) and push it down into a bucket of water. Anything attached to the inside of the bottom of the glass will remain perfectly dry.
A hanging bell is represented by any upside down container that is constructed out of a single piece of plastic, aluminum or galvanized steel. Any size or shape Tupperware container or plastic storage tote should work just fine. Choose your container and another container big enough to hold the first.
Dig a hole in the ground appropriately sized for the larger of the two containers, as the larger container will be used to make the bell. Make sure to measure your depth to allow for your area’s frost line and the height of the container. As you can see by the photo below, lay the lid in the hole and weight it with rocks or bricks.
The primary purpose of these rocks or bricks will be to keep your smaller container up towards the bottom of the upside-down larger container (the top of the bell) and out of the water. The Bell Method includes these rocks or bricks through the assumption that your bell may not be perfectly level and perpendicular to the pull of gravity. Even if you use a leveling tool, changing temperatures can shift, pivot or move your bell causing it to lose it’s perfect level. The rocks or bricks allow for some water to enter the bottom of your bell and hold your precious valuables up out of the water. In the example given in the photograph, the second Tupperware container would float toward the top of the bell in the event that water entered the cache.
Also note that should a torrential downpour of rain literally saturate the ground, the air bubble inside the bell will create a very powerful positive buoyancy. It is critical that you bury your container deep enough that the weight of the soil is heavy enough to hold it down; if you must bury this shallow then I recommend placing rocks or bricks on top of the bell for added weight.
I would not normally use a storage tote of this size; only doing so as an example for this website. If the bell is not deep enough (6 inches or so) and not heavy enough, it can actually bob to the surface by slowly breaking through a thin layer of soil; so bury it deep; at least 18 inches for larger containers; but use common sense when deciding on depth versus the strength of your bell. For example, if you are burying at a depth of 5 or 6 feet, a Tupperware storage tote like this one will most certainly collapse from the weight of that much dirt. Consider using a plastic drum or buying a pickup truck’s fuel tank from a junkyard.
I’ve had people in New Jersey, Missouri and Tennessee inform me that their underground bells had only been slightly dislodged after as many as 8 years underground; and that their precious cargo was in perfect condition, just as it was the day that they buried it.
On my ‘Tips and Tricks page’ I show several containers that can be found around the house or in the garage that make excellent Bell Method candidates.
Surplus Ammo Can
Surplus military ammo cans are the best! They are not as cheap as they once were but are still very affordable. The ease of opening and closing the can is the greatest thing about them. You don’t need silicone, grease or epoxy to seal them and you don’t need tools to get one open. Just pop it open and pop it closed.
Don’t purchase the new plastic kind and don’t buy a used one that is rusted or severely dented. The original issue “old school” metal ones from the Vietnam era are the best. When buying surplus ammo cans, inspect the rubber seal on the lid. Ensure that this gasket is intact with no damage or dry-rot and you’re in business.
One cool thing about metal ammo cans is that they function as excellent EMP shields or Faraday Boxes. Any electronic devices placed inside the closed box and NOT touching the metal body of the can will be protected against electromagnetic surge of any kind.
I use ammo cans when I’m burying from depths ranging from 3-5ft deep or when I’m burying for long periods of time. There’s not much else to say about them. They are inexpensive, tough and will more than likely remain watertight long after we are all dead and buried ourselves.
This is a popular method used by preppers and survivalists worldwide. Buy a piece of 6” PVC conduit or sewer pipe and some rubber endcaps. You’ll also want some epoxy resin and some wheel bearing grease or Vaseline.
Cut the pipe to fit whatever you are burying and allow yourself a little extra length; better to be too long than too short. Personally, I use epoxy resin to permanently seal one end with a rubber endcap. After loading my valuables, I use grease or Vaseline to seal the other end, the “door.” I then mark each end and out of sheer habit, I bury the section of pipe with the permanently sealed end slightly uphill of the door. This is probably unnecessary, just a habit of mine. In this photo, they used threaded endcaps.
If you are planning on leaving your cache unattended for more than 5 years, it won’t hurt to spray paint the entire thing with a good enamel or cover it with a plastic sheet. I do this to delay dry-rot on the endcaps and once again, this practice is also probably unnecessary and just another one of my paranoid quirks.
Don’t forget to stick a screwdriver in a Zip-Loc baggie and bury it with your PVC pipe. Amusingly enough, I can personally attest that without a screwdriver, a knife or a dime, they are frustratingly impossible to get open.
The FoodSaver Vacuum
These vacuum machines usually run from $80 to $200 and use plastic bags that are designed to prevent or postpone freezer burn in frozen foods. These things are not cheap, however you will find they are quite useful in the kitchen, and they really do seal permanently. Here’s the cool thing though, you can use them for anything at all; if it will fit in the bag, it will seal it.
You can dump in whatever you want. Handfuls of bullets, USB flashdrives or even paper products like a ledger, diary or photographs, then simply seal the bag. I’ve included another photo and my only advice about this method would be to try to use desiccant if possible.
Pelican Products was founded in the 1970’s. They make versatile and superior waterproof cases worthy of respect; and they are also priced accordingly. Sorry, but if you want “the best” then you’ll have to pay for it.
Pelican makes a variety of cases in different sizes and shapes that come guaranteed and under warranty. You can buy a case fitted for your external hard drive or for your favorite rifle. They make specialized and general purpose containers in almost any size you could possibly desire.