Proper "Wrap" for Ammo Box?

I am pretty sure it has been covered, but I did not find it, so, herewith my latest quest:

What is the best/safest/preferred way to wrap a cardboard/paper ammunition box to protect it?

I have some that were wrapped in Saran [or other celophane] Wrap, some that look like they are wrapped in what used to be sandwich bags, some in what looks like a heat shrink material, (Heat a 90 year old box of ammo? Really?!).

I would like to protect some of my hundred + cardboard box and paper wrapped cartridges the best way possible.

PET film might be worth considering as UV bleaching from fluorescent lighting is typically a problem. The old style tungsten filament bulbs have, I believe, less bleaching effect.
Unfortunately; PET has, “only moderate moisture barrier properties.”
Photobleaching may be a bigger problem than moisture.

“Polyester or polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is a high-performance, crystal clear thermoplastic made from ethylene glycol and dimethyl terephthalate (DMT). In comparison with other common plastic films, PET film has higher tensile strength, excellent dimensional stability, low moisture absorption, and good retention of physical properties over a fairly wide temperature range. It also has superior UV resistance, excellent electrical properties, good optical clarity, high gloss, and good gas barrier but only moderate moisture barrier properties. It is the ideal film for quality printing and lamination and a good choice for a high performance plastic films and sheets. © 2015

Ah, yes, UV: The Killer People Pay No Attention To!
As a photographer, I have been fully aware of the destructive properties of UV from many sources, and my cartridge boxes are all on shelves that have air flow around them, and are in areas where there is no direct or reflected sun light, or flourescent bulbs.
In fact, that room has daylight balanced LED, but still not directly onto those shelves.

Know of any bargain sources for the film, and, how do you seal it around the box?

Obtaining film will, to some degree, depend on; ‘location.’
Industrial PET film is available from many suppliers…one example is as follows:

You should, perhaps ask for samples of different micron thickness to determine the most appropriate for handling…my guess would be 30-50 micron.
When overwrapped it will act like clingfilm.
Hope this helps.

For whatever it’s worth I don’t like to see wrapped boxes & the reason is that they need air. If modern acid paper, the acid fumes need to be vented & wrapping only localizes them within the wrapper, So I like them to breathe, I think it helps provide a little longevity. The acid will eventuality destroy the box unless conserved & I understand that is expensive.

However I do wrap some if they might be handled often or if full & fragile to begin with. Saves wear, finger oil & if dropped it helps keep the box in one piece.

About shrink wrap every one I’ve ever seen somewhat crushes the box.

Not sure what PET film is so can’t comment on that.

My 2¢

Background reading:
The Deterioration and Preservation of Paper: Some Essential Facts

I’m not sure about the evidence for allowing paper to; ‘breathe.’ The breathing process, to be effective, would ‘need’ to allow the acid to vaporise and escape, or be neutralised, insitu, by atmospheric process.
I’m not sure how effective either of these processes would be, when occurring naturally.

“Today, artificial aging tests combine elevated temperatures and elevated humidity, recognizing the essential role that moisture plays in the acid hydrolysis of paper.”


Interesting Sam3, thanks.
Glad I live in a low humidity state, except we do need some rain. Hardly any snow this winter & monsoons don’t start until early July.

I would not seal all of them, I think, but I have a few VERY old boxes that I want to protect.
I do not let people handle my collction, not at all- unless I am selling something- and then make them wear clean cotton gloves [I aquired for film handling from a camera store].

Thanks, Sam3!

Note that the LOC report deals with “paper” in the context of books, documents and newspapers.

I am not sure that the pasteboard material used in most boxes for cartridges is subject to the same results as thin sheets of paper to be handled while reading them. A pasteboard cartridge box surely is subject to the same chemical and environmental hazards, but they may not become unusable or disintegrate in the same way or at the same speed as pasteboard.

Surely storage in moderate temperatures, low light, and low humidity is a very good idea.

Personally I do not feel that using shrink wrap will accelerate damage to the cartons for the stuff I am interested in (primarily military boxes circa 1890 to present). I have not noted any deformation of the boxes from shrink wrapping, although different material and methods may produce different results.
If I had some very rare and valuable and fragile iboxes, I would be much more cautious about wrapping.

I have seen some military boxes damaged by “leaking” cartridges having primer/powder decay, and it may be best to remove “leak prone” cartridges and store them separately from the box.

Your mileage and preferences may vary. Some collectors love to open sealed boxes to verify contents, while others view that as vandalism. Wrapping or not wrapping may be a similar personal preference.

JohnS, I have some boxes that are unopened, and quite a few that were previously opened.
For the former, I shall not open them, and for the latter, I do open them to confirm contents.
Many of my previously opened boxes had ammo that was not original to the maker, which was quite common when I was a kid: One box has 38 rounds, and the two boxes are nearl empty, so to combine them just made sense.