Dear Heloise:

I've read many suggestions in your column for labeling or marking paint cans so folks can keep track of what paint they used for which room.

Not all types of paint can be safely stored unless you have a combustibles cabinet, which few people have. Not all paint holds well enough to be reused many years later. Take a hint from a former art teacher of 28 years for a safer and more efficient method for keeping track of what paint you used where.

Paint retailers supply wooden stirrers with your paint purchase. After you have stirred the paint and finished with your painting, allow the stirrer to completely dry. Record directly on the stirrer the date you painted, brand, color and whether it was flat, semigloss, etc. Drill a hole at the top of the stirrer, and loop all your stirrers together with a ring, twist-tie or snap chain. Now you have, all in one place, a record for many rooms that takes up very little space. The stirrers also serve as "chip" samples should you wish to make changes to a color in value, tone or intensity.

B.C. Cahill, Montville, N.J.

You piqued our interest when you mentioned a combustibles cabinet. So, we called a specialty-paint manufacturer, and here is what a company representative had to say: Latex paints that are water-based usually don't build up pressure in the can. Keep in mind, though, that specialty oil bases and lacquers tend to build pressure and, after time, could blow their tops. Those paints require a combustibles cabinet for storage. Remember, too, that extreme temperatures, whether hot or cold, can affect the color and application of paints. So, store accordingly.

Dear Heloise:

Rather than throw away those small prescription containers, I use them for storing different sizes of fishhooks, fish weights and line swivels. This is much more convenient than leaving them in the packages they come in. When I look in my fishing- tackle box, I can readily see what is in each container. On a label, I show the size hook, weight or swivel.

Of course, these containers can be used for storing many other kinds of small items, too. Be sure to remove the prescription label.

Alex Orr, Tyler, Tex.

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE or e-mail it to Please include your city and state when faxing or using e-mail. I can't answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column.

(c)2004, King Features Syndicate