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Containers are interactive objects that can contain items, or be used to store items in the game. There are a variety of different containers in Skyrim, most of which initially hold loot appropriate to the container's style and location. Some containers may contain valuable treasure or gold, while others may only contain food or non-valuable clutter. Any container that contains nothing has "(empty)" after its name, letting you know that you do not need to bother searching it.
When you activate a container, you are presented with an inventory list displaying the container's current contents. You can move individual items from the container to your personal inventory, or you can "Select All" to take everything in the container. Alternatively, you can scroll down to your personal inventory and move any items from there into the container if you wish to store items and/or get rid of extra items.
However, most containers in the game are not safe for long-term storage, as stated in a loading screen:
- Items can be stored safely in any containers in your own home. But items kept in any other containers may not be there later when you go to retrieve them...
Most containers will respawn if you leave the area for multiple days (in most cases, ten days, but the exact number depends upon where the container is located). Any contents left in a container when it respawns will disappear and be permanently lost. Safe Containers provides details on which containers can safely be used for long-term storage, without risk of losing your stored items.
 Respawning Containers
Note that these types of containers customarily respawn, however there may be exceptions to the rule.
 Apothecary's Satchel
Apothecary's satchels are small leather containers, often found near Alchemy Labs, that contain alchemy Ingredients and/or Potions. There are actually three different types of satchel (all identically named), each with different quality and number of ingredients:
- Common: contains one common ingredient, and a 25% chance of containing one restoration potion (potion is random and leveled, with equal chance of being restore Health, Magicka, or Stamina)
- Uncommon: contains one common ingredient, one uncommon ingredient, and a 25% chance of containing one restoration potion
- Rare: contains one common ingredient, one uncommon ingredient, one rare ingredient, and a 25% chance of containing one restoration potion
Barrels are one of the most common types of containers, found in homes, shops, towns, and many dungeons. In addition to barrels that act as containers, there are also static barrels that are purely decorative; the latter type of barrel is slightly darker in color and cannot be activated. There are several different types of standard barrels, which contain different items (although they are all identically named).
- Food: 70% chance of containing 1-5 identical fruit or vegetables, or 1-4 salt piles. This is the most common type of barrel.
- Meat: 1 piece of raw meat and 1-3 salt piles.
- Ingredients (common): 1-5 identical Ingredients, randomly selected from: Garlic, Honeycomb, Juniper Berries, Lavender, Snowberries, or Wheat.
- Ingredients (uncommon): 1-5 identical ingredients, randomly selected from: Bleeding Crown, Canis Root, Dragon's Tongue, Fly Amanita, Frost Mirriam, Mora Tapinella, Spider Egg, or White Cap (note that Dragon's Tongue is included in this list even though it is otherwised categorized as a common, not an uncommon, ingredient)
Variants: These look identical to standard barrels, but have different names, allowing their contents to be more easily identified.
- Black-Briar Mead Barrel: Contains 1-4 Black-Briar Mead, 10% chance of 1 Black-Briar Reserve. Found in the Black-Briar Meadery.
- Fish Barrel: Contains 2-5 Salmon, 0-2 Clam Meat, 1-3 Salt Pile, and 25% chance of each of the five fish ingredients (Abecean Longfin, Cyrodilic Spadetail, Histcarp, River Betty, Silverside Perch). Mostly found on the docks at Riften.
- Honningbrew Mead Barrel: Contains 1-4 Honningbrew Mead. Found in the Honningbrew Meadery.
- Mead Barrel: Contains 1 Nord Mead
Mead barrel (Sovngarde)
Chests are the standard container for treasure and other types of valuable loot. There are actually more than two hundred different types of containers that are identified as "Chest". The majority of these are visually identical, but have different contents. Different types of chests are located in each different type of dungeon (e.g., Draugr chests, Forsworn chests, and Vampire chests each have slightly different contents). More than half of the different types of chests are actually Merchant Chests that are hidden and not intended for player use.
Chests may be locked or trapped.
- Common Loot: Treasure
Snow Elf chestDG
 Egg Sac
Egg Sacs contain the eggs of Frostbite Spiders, and can be found in some dungeons.
- Common Loot: Spider Eggs
- Variant: Web Sac
Knapsacks are less common and are usually found near adventurers and hunters (dead or alive), near skeletal remains, as well as in bandit campsites. There are two types of knapsacks in the game, and the Dawnguard plug-in adds in a third.
- First type: Unique and is only found in Helgen Keep. It always contains 4 lockpicks and 1 Potion of Minor Healing.
- Second type: All other knapsacks in the game. Each of them contains:
- Third typeDG: They contain the same type of loot as listed above with slight differences:
Satchels are a less common type of container, and are in the form of a small leather pouch. Loot found in satchels include:
- 90% chance of 1-9 gold.
- 75% chance of 1 lockpick.
- 25% chance of 1 random leveled potion of Restore Health, of Restore Magicka, or of Restore Stamina.
The Dawnguard plug-in adds three more types of satchels into the game. They contain similar loot as listed above, but with slight differences.
Urns, including Burial Urns, are found throughout Nordic Ruins. Some urns are always empty. All other varieties of urns contain each of the following:
- 20% chance of one random leveled restoration potion
- 30% chance of containing minor treasure (1-9 gold, low-value gem, or low-value unenchanted ring)
- Guaranteed 2-10 additional gold if you have the Imperial Luck ability or Golden Touch perk
- Guaranteed 1-4 additional gems if you have the Prowler's Profit ability
- Ash Yam: 3 ash yams
- Food: 75% chance of containing a fruit or vegetable (with the exception of gourds and leeks)
- Ingredient: Common ingredients (identical to the content of ingredient-type barrels)
 Corpse Containers
There are many corpses in the game which are considered to be containers in game data. Unless otherwise noted, all of the containers listed here do respawn with the cell in which they're located. Dead NPCs are not found here and are listed at their category instead.
 Burnt Corpse
Burnt corpses are charred bodies which are commonly found in dungeons, sometimes lying over fire pits or inside hanging cages.
- First type (model #3 and #4): Two unique versions which are only found at the Western Watchtower during the quest Dragon Rising. They do not respawn. Each one has the following contents:
- 1 sample of bone meal
- 1 steel dagger
- 1 two-handed weapon, or 1 shield and 1 one-handed weapon
- 1 hunting bow
- 75% chance of 15 steel arrows
- 50% chance of 1 torch
- 25% chance of 1 low-value beverage
- 25% chance of 1-9 gold coins
- 10% chance of 1 common food item
- 10% chance of 1 Amulet of Talos, Dibella, Kynareth, or Mara (twice as likely to be Talos than the others)
- Second type (all five models): Five versions found commonly throughout Skyrim. Each one has a 60% chance to carry the following contents:
- 1 sample of bone meal
- 1-9 gold coins
- Third type (model #1): Yisra's dead body. It contains the following:
 Desecrated Corpse
Desecrated corpses are bodies of unfortunate soldiers of the civil war, found in only two locations in the game. They do not respawn.
- First type: Unique to Kilkreath Ruins, these are the corpses of Imperial Legion soldiers which appear during the quest The Break of Dawn. There are seven in the Temple, four in the Ruins, and eleven in the Catacombs. They each carry 25-125 gold.
- Second type: These are the corpses of Stormcloak soldiers which appear in two locations: Kilkreath Ruins (six in the Temple, five in the Ruins, and ten in the Catacombs) and the Throat of the World (ten, during Alduin's Bane). The ones at the Throat of the World cannot be looted, as they only appear during the cutscene in which you learn Dragonrend. They each carry 25-125 gold.
 Dessicated Corpse
Dessicated corpses are the bodies of unfortunate victims to frostbite spiders, found wrapped in spiderwebs in various dungeons throughout Skyrim. They have a 75% chance of the following contents:
- 1 lockpick
- 1-9 gold coins
In addition to living draugr, many dungeons throughout Skyrim also contain the corpses of draugr which can be looted. There are ten versions, all of which carry the following contents:
- 90% chance of 1-9 gold
- Guaranteed 2-10 additional gold if you have the Golden Touch perk
- Guaranteed 2-10 additional gold if you have the Imperial Luck ability
- Guaranteed 1-4 gems if you have the Prowler's Profit ability
- 25% chance of 1 piece of armor (boots, cuirass, gauntlets, helmet, or shield)
- 25% chance of 1 weapon or 12 arrows
 Safe Containers
Containers may be safe for one of two reasons. Some container types are set to be non-respawning — containers of that type will never respawn, no matter where the container is found. Other containers are safe because of their location — some locations, in particular the player's houses, are identified as non-respawning locations. All containers in these safe locations (even common Barrels and Sacks) can safely be used for storage.
 Child's Chest
Child's Chest is a part of child's bedroom. It will be empty if you haven't adopted any children. Your children may collect various things and store them in their chest. Their older weapons, clothes and dolls will be kept in it too, if you give them a new one. Your children will restock it every few days. However, the original contents in it won't disappear.
Coffins are found in Halls of the Dead and Vampire Dungeons. Most coffins are always empty. However, one variety of coffin has a 75% chance of containing one of the following:
- 2 gold, Bone Meal, Bloody Rags, Skull, Ragged Robes, or a 1.5% chance of containing a random leveled gem, unenchanted Jewelry, or Amulet of the Divine.
Whenever a citizen of a hold dies, the items that they were carrying, such as keys, clothes, and weapons, will appear in a coffin in the Hall of the Dead of the hold capital. These items will then be free to take without consequence.
Cupboards are common furniture in houses. Different types of cupboards appear in common houses, upper-class houses, and noble houses. Some models have shelves on which additional items may be placed. The interior contents of cupboards are:
- Common variety: 75% chance of containing random clutter or cheap clothing. Most valuable possible item is 10 Leather Strips.
- Upper-class variety: 50% chance of 1-9 gold, plus up to three random clutter items or random books (75% chance for each of three items).
- Noble variety: 50% chance of 1-27 gold, plus up to two random clutter items or random books (75% chance for each of two items)
- Common Loot: Clothing, Clutter
 End Table
Most frequently seen in houses.
- Common Loot: Clutter
- Common Loot: Random ingredients
- Common Loot: Treasure, Gold, Miscellaneous Items, Riekling Spears
- Common Loot: Gemstones, Jewelry, Gold
- Variants: Strong Box, Safe
- Common Loot: Apparel
 Safe Locations
Safe locations are places that never respawn. Therefore, every container in the location (even a common barrel or sack) is safe for storage. The primary example of a safe location is a player-owned house, but a large number of other places are also non-respawning. Unless noted otherwise on the place page, only the interior areas of these locations are safe — i.e., only regions that are entered through a door that triggers a loading screen, and have their own map, separate from the exterior map.
In a few instances, there may be quest-related changes to the location (as noted on the individual place page), but otherwise the game does not modify the contents of a safe location.
All safe locations are listed in the Safe Locations category.
 Merchant Chests
All merchants in the game (with the exception of Hunters, Peddlers, and skooma dealers) have a merchant chest containing the merchant's gold and the goods they have available for sale. The chest does not contain the merchant's entire inventory — merchants will also sell some items sitting out in the store and unequipped items in their personal inventory — and also is not the only source of merchant gold — any personal gold will be added to the merchant's available gold. Nevertheless, the merchant chest contains the standard list of items sold by the merchant. If multiple merchants work in the same store, they share the same merchant chest. A merchant must be in the same area as the chest in order for its contents to be made available for sale. It respawns every two days, independent of whether the rest of the cell contents respawn.
The merchant chest is a standard container, but it is intentionally hidden to prevent players from accessing the chest. On the PC, using the
tcl Console command generally allows the merchant chest to be found, most commonly under the floor of the merchant's store. The existence of this chest is not a bug, an easter egg, or in any way noteworthy -- it is a standard part of game mechanics that is not visible as part of standard game play.
 Inventory List
A container's inventory list is sorted in this order:
- All armors and weapons, sorted by their damage or armor.
- All food, potions, ingredients, books, notes, and misc items, sorted by name.
- All heavy boots, sorted by armor value.
- All rings, necklaces, amulets, hats, hoods, cowls, caps, circlets, and ebony boots, sorted by value.
- All unhooded clothing, sorted by value.
- All hooded clothing, sorted by value.
- Some gauntlets, boots, and bracers, sorted by armor.
- Imperial bracers, steel cuffed boots, and all boots of light armor, sorted by armor.
- Iron gauntlets and boots, scaled gauntlets and boots, sorted by armor.
- All remaining light gauntlets and bracers, sorted by armor.
- All non-armor shoes, boots and footwraps, sorted by value.
 Other Containers
- Book Shelves in the player's houses can be activated to access a limited capacity book inventory, and automatically place books on the shelves. Other types of items may be moved onto the shelves manually. Bookshelves are also known to be used with the reusable Oghma Infinium glitch.
- Display Cases have a glass top that will open and close through activation, and a weapon may be placed in them while they are open by activating them.
- Mannequins can be activated to store and display armor, and clothing. They have a weight limit (around 305).
- NPCs can be used as containers either via pickpocketing or trading with followers, but have a weight limit as to how much they can carry.
- Shield / Weapon Plaques are decorative wall mounted containers that will remove and display equipped items when activated.
- Static Containers such as baskets, boxes, etc may contain loot, or be used to display items, but the latter requires manual placement of items.
- Weapon Racks can be activated to automatically remove equipped weapons from the player for storage and display.
- Certain merchant chests are accessible without the use of console commands, some with and some without clipping issues.
- Containers in houses sometimes reverse the stolen flag on items—non-stolen items get marked as stolen, and stolen items become clean.
- Occasionally, continuing from a saved game inside a home you own loads the cell without furniture, and all your books end up in a pile on the floor.
- This bug is fixed by version 1.2 of the Official Skyrim Patch.
- Bookshelves can often glitch, causing you to lose any books that are stored on the shelf you are using. If you try to overload the shelf with too many books, you may permanently lose all the books on it, as well as making the shelf unable to be activated. Occasionally these books are still visible but unable to be activated. Also, the "take all" button will sometimes only take some of the books, permanently deleting others.