The Best Practices for Using Mylar Bags

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Given the price of food these days, I take proper food storage techniques seriously.  That being said, I have learned over the years that practices for storing bulk foods vary widely, with some methods being both cumbersome and confusing.  Trust me, I have been there and done that.  With only two hands and two arms, there is just so much juggling of bags, buckets, and beans that a gal can do singlehandedly.

Today I am going to demonstrate how I package my own bulk foods and in addition,tell you about some of the best Mylar bags out there.  Coupled with a fantastic giveaway from Discount Mylar Bags let me tell you; food storage does not get much better than this!

Best Practices for Using Mylar Bags & Oxygen Absorbers | Backdoor Survival

Mylar Bags and Other Food Storage Accessories

I have written extensively about Mylar bags and O2 absorbers so I won’t repeat that information here.  On the other hand, there are some differences in products from different vendors.  This is especially true with Mylar bags.  You get what you pay for in terms of quality.

Discount Mylar Bags, for example, sells a premium product as well as an “economy” product.  In the Mylar bag world, “premium” denotes stronger and thicker as denoted by the thickness of the bag itself.  The thicker the bag, the better it will withstand the weight of its contents.  This may not be a factor with smaller bags, but definitely plays a role with the 5 gallon and larger bags.

Here is a photo of the items that were in my sample kit.  Notice the variety of sizes that are available these days.  It was not too long ago that you could purchase 1 gallon and 5 gallon bags and not much else unless you were interested in industrial uses and willing to purchase bags by the gross for commercial use.

Best Practices for Using Mylar Bags & Oxygen Absorbers | Backdoor Survival

The zip-seal bags are especially interesting.  They feature a flat bottom so that the bags stand upright for filling.  The smaller version is perfect for smaller items such as herbs, spices, and even medications.  The nice thing is that once you break the heat seal on these bags, you can still zip them shut to preserve the contents until they are used up.

Also in the photo are oxygen absorbers and a clip you can use to seal the package of O2 absorbers while you are working with them.

One thing I should mention before moving on to my own best practices for using Mylar bags is that while many vendors sell their Mylar bags in kits filled with multiple units of the same-sized bag, at Discount Mylar Bags you can mix and match to your heart’s content.  Want to try a five-gallon zip-seal bag without making a huge commitment in dollars?  No problem.  Add a single bag to your order and give it a try!

My Own Best Practices for Using Mylar Bags

Step 1 – Decide Upon Your Packaging

I like to use 1 gallon bags (measuring about 10 by 14 because they are easy to handle and do not weigh a ton.  Have you ever tried lifting a 5 gallon bag of pinto beans?  I can do it, but who wants to work that hard?

Another advantage of smaller bags is that in a short term emergency situation, you can use what you need to get you through the crisis without having to open a large bag then reseal it up again after the emergency passes.

On the other hand, for long term storage I often do use the 5 or 6 gallon bags.  These are the bulk food items I will turn to if there is a major disruptive event such as an EMP or collapse of some sort.  Let us hope that never happens but it is good to be ready none the less.

Step 2 – Organize the Goods and Supplies

I like to organize my packaging activities into sessions. It is far more productive to do beans, rice, and dog food at the same time that to do them hither-nither over a period of time. I won’t go so far as to say that I have a marathon, but sometimes it does seem like it.

In this step I get all of my supplies in order.  I get out the bags and buckets, if I plan to use them, as well as my oxygen absorbers.  I do not – repeat do not – open the package of O2 absorbers just yet.  I also get out my hair straightening iron.  This is the tool I will use to seal the Mylar bags although you could also use a clothes iron.  Trust me though, the hair iron is a lot easier!

Step 3 – Set Your Mylar Bags Up in an Assembly Line Fashion and Fill Them

This step is self-explanatory.  Hint: a canning funnel works great when filling the smaller bags.

Best Practices for Using Mylar Bags & Oxygen Absorbers | Backdoor Survival

Step 4 – Open Your Package of Oxygen Absorbers

Take out the number you will be using for this session and immediately seal up the others.  You can seal them in a mason jar (that is what I do) or use the nifty clip available for just a few dollars from Discount Mylar Bags.

Something I learned recently is that each time you open the package of O2 Absorbers, they suck in some oxygen.  After many “sessions”, they may start to feel warm and sweaty with moisture even though they have been sealed during the interim period.

Best Practices for Using Mylar Bags & Oxygen Absorbers | Backdoor Survival

Here is what Toby at Discount Mylar Bags had to say in response to a reader inquiry:

Your reader isn’t doing anything wrong per se, and both absorbers getting hot and condensation forming are natural processes associated with the product.  (However, we definitely do want to limit moisture forming, more on that later)

The process by which oxygen absorbers remove oxygen is oxidation of iron inside the packet:  O2+iron=rust+heat.  The absorbers getting hot is a byproduct of the chemical reaction that removes the oxygen and is normal.  The moisture is caused by the heat of the absorbers in a cool jar (or the oxygen absorber bag), which causes condensation.

I personally limit the number of times I expose absorbers to air as I work with them.  So if I am going to do 5 bags and I have 50 absorbers, I recommend counting out the 5, and putting the remaining 45 into a mason jar.  What is occurring is that the excess absorbers are exposed to air multiple times, and so they are getting hot enough to cause condensation.

If you do the method where you only seal the excess absorbers once, they generally will not get hot enough to cause condensation.  Moisture in the air can also cause the process to act quicker (or more intensely), so storing on a clear day can also help limit the heating of the absorbers (and by extension the condensation).

As a side note, oxygen indicators (the pink pill or tab) can be unreliable (they are often affected by humidity and temperature and can give both false positives and negatives), so I recommend that as you pull each absorber out of a pack, you pinch it.  Generally speaking, absorbers that are soft and powdery inside the packet are good, and they will get hard and crunchy (and sometimes will form a single solid wafer) as they are used up.  That’s not 100% either, depending on the mix of elements in the absorber itself, however it holds true for the majority of the brands I’ve tested.

Using this advice, I suggest taking that package of 100 Oxygen Absorbers and separating them into 5 packages of 20 or 10 packages of 10 right from the get go.

Step 4 – Add an Oxygen Absorber to Each Bag

There are a lot of complicated formulas for determining the correct size O2 absorber for each type of food and size of bag.  Forget them and keep things simple.

A good rule of thumb is to use one 300 cc oxygen absorber for each gallon of product. For larger containers, you can purchase larger, 2000 cc oxygen absorbers which are ideal for 5 or 6 gallon buckets.

O2 absorbers are cheap so if you want to throw in an extra, no harm no foul.

I like to bury the Oxygen Absorber in the food so that pending the sealing process, it is exposed to air as little as possible.

Step 5 – Seal Your Mylar Bags

I use a  cheap hair straightening iron to do this.  If you already have straight hair (or no hair) and don’t have one, pick up a cheapie model for $15 or $20.  It will work just fine.

Best Practices for Using Mylar Bags & Oxygen Absorbers | Backdoor Survival

Take your iron and run it across the top of the bag in a wide band.  Try to squeeze as much air as you can to eliminate head space but honestly?  Don’t worry to much if there is some slack.  The oxygen absorber will do its job and even though your food package does not become hard and brick-like, the remaining “air” will actually be nitrogen and will not be harmful to your food.

Step 6 – Get Out the Sharpie and Label the Goods.

I like to write the name of product and the current date along the sealed “band” at the top of the bag.  Sharpie pens were made for this!

Step 7 – Optional:  Store the Bags in a Bucket

Why do this?  To keep pests from nibbling through the Mylar and eating your food.  It happens, or so I am told.  It has never happened to me personally but I do not want to take a chance.  My food storage is just too precious to become a gourmet delight to the field mice in our area.

For more information on buckets, read Survival Basics: Buckets, Lids and Gamma Seals

Step 8 – Congratulate Yourself  – You are Done!

That’s it.  Go have lunch, a coffee drink, or some chocolate.  You did good!

The Giveaway

Here is the part you have been waiting for.  Discount Mylar Bags wants you to practice what you have learned in this article in real time and will be giving two lucky Backdoor Survival readers a $100 gift certificate for use in their online store.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

To enter the giveaway, you need to utilize the Rafflecopter form below.  Select one or more of the options after signing in using your email account or Facebook, the choice is yours.  The best way to start is by clicking on “Free Entry for Everyone”.  After that, each option you select represents an additional entry.  There are a number of different options so pick and choose or select them all.

The deadline is 6:00 PM Pacific next Tuesday with the winner notified by email and announced on the Rafflecopter in the article.  Please note that the winner must claim their prize within 48 hours or an alternate will be selected.

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What About Food Saver Bags

I you own a vacuum sealer, you know how pricey those branded bags can be.  Discount Mylar Bags sells their own version of the Food Saver bag and included a few in my package of samples.

The textured bags with what they call ‘channels’ are for Food Savers. You’re right, they most likely won’t work with most of the low end units.

I’ve offered a free case of bags to anyone who can find an easy way to raise the heat level of basic Food Savers so they will in case your readers have any ideas!

Talk about a call to all of you prepping MacGyver’s out there.  It you think you know how to do this, let me know and I will try to get a sample bag sent out to you!

About the Company

Discount Mylar Bags is a mom and pop type company and not a big corporate behemoth.  Chances are when you give them a call, you might get one of the owners to help you with your order or answer questions.  Toby and his wife opened their doors and ran their business from their basement in April 2010, moved to a 3500 square foot warehouse in 2011, and are now designing a new 10,000 square foot facility to accommodate our growth.  In his words:

“We strive every day to do business as we hope folks will do business with us:  Good Prices, Fast Shipping, and Awesome Customer Service.”

These are good people that are also preppers.  It does not get much better than that.

The Final Word

Toby at Discount Mylar Bags is quite the character and over the past couple of months has helped me answer some tough reader questions about Mylar Bags and Oxygen Absorbers.  I love his products so much that he will soon be coming on board as a Backdoor Survival sponsor.  I am thrilled, and hope to solicit his help with more of those tough questions.

In the meantime, checkout the giveaway and be sure to enter to win a $100 gift card from Discount Mylar Bags!

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
Gaye

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Bargain Bin:  Below you will find links to the items mentioned in today’s article.

Discount Mylar Bags on Amazon:  In addition to their  online store, you can purchase products from Discount Mylar Bags on Amazon using this link.  Notice their almost perfect 5-star rating.

ShieldPro 5 Mil 1 Gallon Gusseted Zip Seal Mylar Bag: These bags with the gusseted bottom are my new favorite.  Going forward, this is the only kind I will be using.  So easy to fill!

Conair Ceramic Instant Heat 2-Inch Straightener:  Any cheap hair iron will work, including this one.  In the photos, you will see me using my fancy schmancy hair iron but that is only because I don’t have my el-cheapo iron with me.  Put your money into quality Mylar bags instead.

Norpro Extra Wide Plastic Funnel:  You don’t need to be a canner to want and use one of these. About $4.

Sharpie Fine Point Permanent Markers, Box of 12: Amazon sells Sharpies at a price less than Costco and less than Staples. I prefer black but they also come in colors.  About $6.50 for 12.

FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer: As long as the unit has an accessory port (and this one does), and inexpensive FoodSaver will work just as well as the fancier models. That is my two cents, at least.  See Fast Track Tip #4: How to Use a FoodSaver for Vacuum Canning.

FoodSaver Wide Mouth Jar Sealer: Already have a FoodSaver? If so, check out this jar sealer which can be used to vacuum seal your Mason jars. This is a great option for short to mid term storage of items such as beans, rice, sugar and salt. Store your jars in a cool, dark place and you are set with the added advantage of removing a small amount for current use without having to disrupt your large Mylar bag or bucket of food.  There is also a version for regular sized jars.

Mason Jar Storage Caps Set of 8: These are fantastic!  These plastic lids screw onto a mason jar and are perfect in the pantry or to cap you salves.  There is both a regular and a wide mouth version. I watch for sales on these at Amazon and order dozens.

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Interested in Essential Oils?

Spark Naturals Weekly Sales | Backdoor Survival




Comments

The Best Practices for Using Mylar Bags — 96 Comments

  1. My question is how: When I order oxygen absorbers, they come in one large bag. When I open the bag to take out what I need at that particular time, how can I keep the rest of the oxygen absorbers from being exposed to oxygen? It would take up a whole lot of vacuum sealing bags to individually vacuum seal each and every one of the oxygen absorbers in their own vacuum sealed bag. Vacuum sealing several of them in each vacuum sealing bag would still expose them all to oxygen when I open the bag to use one or two oxygen absorber.

  2. So as long as we are sealing up the remaining oxygen absorbers (after removing only what we are using at the time) then they will remain good? Are they good indefinately as long as they remain in a sealed container?

  3. This seems a little daunting to be packaging the food your family will be depending upon and thanks for the great tutorial! But I know it would be more daunting of a challenge to not have been prepared. Thanks Gaye

  4. What foods should and should not be stored in mylar bags like this?what are your recommendations for what to start with if someone doesn’t currently have much/any food stored?

    • All of your dry foods should be stored in mylar. Products like prepackaged beef jerky, nuts, candy, etc. should also be stored in mylar. The first foods should be bare bone basics that will sustain you. Rice, beans, flour, cornmeal, salt, powdered milk, powdered eggs, pasta, sugar, honey. Water, lots and lots of water.

  5. I use the ‘Pill Packs ‘ at the Pharmacy. They are 2.5in x 3in {50bags } all they are is Heavy Duty Zip-lock bags that you put your daily pills in when on the go . They work Perfect for O2 pks. I buy the 50 -100 pk O2 and separate them.I just count out the number I normally use {5} Place in the Pk . Push out the air , then into a Mason Jar. That way when I open the jar , None of the other pks get exposed .

  6. Thanks for the giveaway!! Also the tip with the flat iron…everybody uses a clothes iron and then a piece of wood to stabilize it which immediately means this becomes a 2 person process. Its much more efficient to use a hair flat iron.

  7. Somewhere I read on a blog yrs ago that you could use hand warmers in place of oxygen absorbers. They said they activate in the same manner. Is there any truth to that? At the time I was afraid to risk that, but always wondered if it was true or not.
    Jo

    • While they will remove oxygen from the air as they heat up, it’s unclear if they are safe for contact with food. It’s better to be safe than sorry and use the real thing.

    • Many of my spices have lasted several plus years sealed in original bottle and then in a mylar bag. If your herbs are store bought, then same thing. If you grow your own herbs, you have to make sure they are 100% dried.

  8. When putting 02 absorbers in mason jar is putting rice to fill in spaces good idea? Or should one buy a vacuum sealer to use after putting them in the jar? How long do they last once putting them in the jar?

  9. How much weight can be stacked upon a standard, filled, food-grade bucket? I’d like to stack them as high as I can or stack other items on top of it to fully utilize space. Thanks.

  10. My pasta never seems to seal very well, is it due to all the air available? Maybe I need to use more 02 absorbers. The bags don’t appear to be compromised.

  11. I have a question about Solar Cookers. I would love to have one, but they are out of my budget. I’ve looked around online and there is many different ways to make my own, but I have no ideal which type is the best. Do you have a n opinion?

  12. I have used rice in a quart canning jar and pint canning jars to extend the life of O2 absorbers. Put rice in bottom, put layer of 02 absorbers in and continue to layer until you reach the top. My last layer is rice. Periodically shake jar to distribute rice around 02 absorbers and add more rice if needed to fill to top of jar. For good measure I then seal jar with vacuum packer. Maybe overkill, but I’ve not lost any absorbers.

  13. I am new to this, and frankly my brain hurts for processing all the new information. The idea of sealing the Mylar with a hair straightener is amazing, so smart! My question is… I have a Food Saver vacuum sealer but I find that quite often the bag does not hold and oxygen gets into the bag. Super frustrating. So I am considering switching the Mylar. Wondering about freezing in the Mylar. Do they work in the freezer?

  14. This would really help me on my journey of learning the art of food preservation. I have a limited budget and need all the help I can get. Thank you for this contest. The info is great

  15. To try to answer some of the questions from the comments:

    The best way to store oxygen absorbers is in a mason jar with vacuum lid; they essentially gain a shelf life of ‘forever’ when stored in a glass jar. Glass is impermeable and so is an even better protector than the plastic bag they come in. My wife and I still use absorbers from jars going on 8 years old. Another good way to store them is in small Mylar Bags (note, you will never see any contraction in oxygen absorbers stored this way; the density of the absorber is such that it doesn’t allow for contraction, no matter how many you put in a bag). Some folks fill their mason jars with rice after putting the absorbers in, so they waste as little capacity as possible. I personally don’t do that, as the absorbers we sell are overweighted to allow folks time to use and store them without rushing, however it does work to save some capacity. As I open our jars several times over the years and if I feel they are losing some capacity, I start using multiple absorbers in place of 1.

    Yes, hand warmers are essentially the same material as oxygen absorbers, and can be used in a pinch. However, before using them note a couple of caveats. First, they are not FDA approved for contact with food, and the plastic might contain BPA or other things we don’t want touching our food. 2nd, there is no good way to tell, hey, this hand warmer is the equivalent of a 2000cc oxygen absorber. So its possible to not put enough absorption power into a bag of food we’re trying to store.

    Herbs and spices tend to not have a ‘hard’ shelf life. (meaning they won’t ever likely poison your food) They tend to lose potency over time, and you can generally just use more to get your food to the desired taste.

    Pasta has a lot of internal airspace, so I always recommending doubling up when you add absorbers to it.

    If I had to recommend a couple of items for limited storage space, it would likely be pasta, white rice and quinoa or black/white beans. They require less preparation than something like say, whole wheat, and with just a little bit of sprucing up, any of them can make a satisfying meal.

    I don’t typically go higher than 3 when stacking buckets. After that there is the risk of cracking, not to mention it becomes very hard to get to the bottom buckets (I know this one from bad experience!).

    I hope I didn’t step on anyone’s toes by jumping in here, thank you Gaye for the great article and great mentions!=)

    • Whole grain rice has a shelf life of 6 months. White rice doesn’t have much nutrition so the shelf life is almost indefinite. Most dried beans will keep for 2-3 years, though the older they get, the longer they will need to cook. I have kept beans for 4 years but not longer. It may also depend on the type of bean.

  16. I would like to know how long the oxygen abs last when kept in the original package. I have some I ordered but didn’t put them in a mason jar and they are still in the original shrink wrapped pkg,stored in cool dark place. Just wondering if I should open the package and use or toss them. they haven’t turned pink or any other color as far as I can see. Thank you for the give-away this would go a long way to help my budget.

  17. I have the same concern as Sandy on preserving the effectiveness of oxygen absorbers.

    I am interested in packing my own one/two portion “meals in a bag” in addition to preserving large quantities of the main ingredients. So a new question relates how to determine the thickness of the mylar bag needed. What foods are more prone to pierce the bag? I recently read that someone had trouble with dried corn, another with pasta.

    And thank you, Gaye, for all wonderful info and resources you provide.

  18. I followed your instructions on an earlier posting on sealing with a hair straighter and it worked great, but need to watch how hot it is and not to go too slowly.
    My question is is it best to use an oxygen absorber and vacuum seal for mason jar food storage?

  19. My question is since the zip seal smaller bags do not create an airtight seal and after sealing with the iron do I need to use another bag or can i use the same bag and iron seal below the ziplock? This effectively reduces the usefulness of the bag.

  20. Thanks Gaye and Toby for the great information.
    I’m wondering about short/long term storage on processed foods.
    On dry goods, like cereals, would they store and keep as long as say plain white rice?
    I’d like to put away a few bags as “comfort food”. Along with powdered milk.
    I’m also trying to figure out if things like dry dog/cat food can be sealed up and kept?

    Appreciate the thoughts and suggestions

  21. I really hope to win this>>> Starting on the saving prepping food now>>>> Thank you for all the information you provide us with!!!!!

  22. Rice and beans are among the very best foods to store. Their shelf life in good conditions is 25+ years. LDS studies regularly confirm excellent shelf lives for many staples as well as raising interesting new possibilities. (For example, for many years it was suggested enriched white flour had a 2 year storage life, but some recent studies put it as high as 10).

    Shelf lives of oxygen absorbers in the original packaging is around a year. That said, that is until they fall below their ‘rated’ capacity. So if you have 300cc absorbers that are a year old, they can fall to, say, 250cc, but won’t ever immediately drop to ‘0’. So by doubling up you can effectively use out of date absorbers, at least in a limited capacity. I’ve pulled out absorbers from old packaging we used to sell years ago (some as long as 5 years) and they still work, though we usually at least double up with them.

    Oyxgen absorbers work great in mason jars, and often you’ll actually here it ‘pop’ the lid down depending on how rapidly the chemical reaction removing oxygen is occurring. The vacuum attachments for Food Savers are great for storing food for a few years (and in many cases more than a few years), but oxygen absorbers remove residual oxygen down to a much lower level (.1% compared to 2% on average for vacuum sealing).

    Dent corn and ‘pokey’ pastas will puncture lighter 3-4 mil bags (though those thicknesses are fine for most other foods), but 5 mil bags hold up well to any type of food.

    I don’t know enough about essential oils to answer that question, so hopefully someone else can. As far as I understand, most essential oils will oxidize over time, but I’m not sure how one would use an oxygen absorber (or vacuum sealing) to extend their life unless you can find a way to suspend the absorber above the oil. You do definitely want to store them out of light or in very dark bottles, as they will deteriorate readily in light. I’ll try to do some looking and see if I can find a better answer for this!

  23. Fantastic information both from Gaye and all these great folks. Super helpful and much appreciated. I feel confident to undertake this now.

  24. It’s hard to store nuts due to their high oil content. My wife and I love nuts and store a lot of them (well, until we discovered one of our twins was heavily allergic to peanuts and the other was to the point of needing an epipen after just being touched with cashew butter!). We used to keep a years worth on hand and rotate through them with our regular perishable stores. They say the shelf life is 6 months, but I’ve never had a problem getting a year out of most of them.

    No, sadly you can’t make Mylar bags out of Space Blankets. Our Mylar bags, for example, are 5-7 layers; usually its 2 layers of PET (Polyethylene), one layer of Aluminum foil, and 2 bonding layers (PE) that are also barrier layers. Some specialty bags add OPP or Nylon for strength and additional barrier protection. Space blankets are essentially just a thin layer of aluminum, and don’t have the other layers. And even if you can’t see them, there can be tiny pinholes in the space blanket that would constantly let oxygen pass through. The same thing happens with regular Mylar bags, but they have 4 other layers preventing oxygen pass through in those tiny spots.

  25. For some reason I have been slow to embrace the Mylar/oxygen absorber thing. I have a lot of variety in food storage but I’m not looking @ 25 yr shelf life (hell, I’m 70!) haha Guess it’s time I gave it a try for some things. Thanks so much.

  26. I love my mylar but have found the one gallon sized bags to be the most useful when putting up quantity. They hold about 5# worth of stuff. Don’t want to have to open a 5 gallon bag on something that is not going to be used right way.

  27. How can one get dry foods dry enough – my attempt led to mould unfortunately . . . but i dried the veggies til they were completely dry (or so I thought)! And I look forward to winning . .

  28. Would putting Nitrogen gas in a jar with oxygen absorber affect their use any. I fill my 5 gallon buckets of rice, oats, or what-ever grains with nitrogen before sealing.

  29. The only thing that I have tried this method with is dry dog food (kibble). It worked, but I tried to do too much at the same time and, well, it wasn’t pretty. LOL. I contacted the manufacturer of my dog’s preferred food to inquire as to whether packaging it in this manner would extend the shelf life and by how much. The woman I spoke with said that since they had not tested storing the food in this way she couldn’t say.

    So, my question is whether anyone has any experience with this?

  30. You are looking for dry goods with around 10-12% moisture content or less. Veggies of any sort are pretty much out due to their moisture content unless dehydrated to the point where they ‘snap’ instead of bend. Same with fruits. Even dried that much, I always create test batches and date them to figure out what results I get with each certain thickness/dryness.

    You can freeze food in Mylar with the same caveats of freezing food any other way; watch for moisture content in the bag before freezing or you might end up with some crystallization. Smaller ones do make excellent ice packs or cooling pads for the dogs in summer. (Using pretty much just water and rubbing alcohol)

    Nitrogen flushing should have no effect when using oxygen absorbers. O2 absorbers will lower the 02 level to about .1% whether it starts at Earth normal (19%-20% or so), nitrogen flushed (5%) or vacuum packed (2%).

    I wish there was a good cheap way to freeze dry.=) It’s a very specialized process and requires equipment and there’s no way around that. We’re moving to a rural farm this December and I hope next year to be able to take some barn space and put in one of the Harvestright home freeze driers, which are pretty much the cheapest way to go.

    Dry dog food is hit or miss, though most dry kibble is good in that it will tell you the moisture content right on the bag along with a lot of other good info. The problem with most good kibble though is it has oils in it similar to nuts, making it hard to store for long term. Similarly, we try to have a year of dog food on hand and rotate through it like our other perishables. Worst case scenario is dogs eat table scraps like the old days (well, like every day under our tables!).

  31. What I would like to know is when I buy number 10 cans of freeze dried foods, it says to keep then in a cool, DRY place. I understand cool, but dry is what throws me. If the can is sealed (which I hope it is), then why DRY? Rust is the only thing I can think of. I would think you could submerge these cans in water and they would be OK until they rusted through.

  32. When you start an article with “we talked of something in earlier articles and will not hoover it here” can I suggest that you put in parentheses the references where these articles could be found. Newbies might fine looking them up worth the time.
    Have you come across a comparison of using O2 strips and using dry ice to drive the O2 down. Also, the value of using mylar bags inside plastic buckets vs just using plastic buckets?
    Question about the seal on the Gama lids? I gave one to my wife to store bird seed out on the deck near the feeders. It was in the weather and eventually the seed got water logged from rain. Lots of question, was it completely sealed every time it was closed etc…. But I was wondering if this is something others have found?

    Thanks for what you do!

  33. I think it would be more practical to put your beans and rice, etc. into smaller mylar bags to take one out at a time rather than opening and closing up a big bag several times. The cost would be higher, of course, but not having to waste an oxygen absorber all the time and having done all of the prep before hand makes more sense to me. You can also reuse the smaller bag too.

    • Correct Valerie. That is exactly how I load a bucket. I do have buckets with all one product, but it is a product I will use almost daily. I make buckets of complete meals that will last me at 3 weeks. Tight packing is required.

  34. Everyone focuses in on packing rice and beans. Beans take a great deal of energy to prepare. I’m looking for other dry, calorie, and nutrient dense foods that require less energy to prepare. Recently I’ve also started packing lentils. Do you have any suggestions of additional dry foods that are suitable for long term storage? And also do you freeze your dry foods for 3 days prior to sealing it in mylar bags to kill any buts that might be in the packaging?

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    • Rice and beans should be 2 of your mainstay foods. Beans are a good source of protein. Rice packs a lot of vitamins. You could also store Quinoa, CousCous, pastas. If you are starving, NOTHING takes too much energy to prepare. Put a pot of beans to soak for several hours, throw some onions in with a few spices (if you are lucky enough to have spices) and cook.

  35. Love your blog. My husband and I have just started prepping (better late than never) and you have a lot of good stuff to help us. Thanks

  36. If I open a number 10 can of freeze dried meat, can I reseal what I don’t use in the mylar bags? If so, how long would the foods keep?

  37. Thank you both for all this wonderfull information. It is especially helpful to get to see answers to the questions right away like this. So here are my questions. When storing the mylar bags in 5 gallon buckets, do you have to keep the buckets up off cement floors, or will the bucket and mylar be enough of a barrier to protect your food from the chemicals in cement? What items would you store in mylar that you should not use an oxygen obsorber with? Thanks again.

  38. I have a question about moisture. Do you need something to absorb moisture in this process anywhere or do the mylar bags with the oxygen absorbers keep out all moisture? Storage space is at a premium in our house. We have a basement but it is on the damp side. I am always trying to figure out what I can safely store there that won’t be ruined by humidity.

  39. My question is one others seem to have and that relates to now to make an absorber “good” once it has been exposed to air. The pill pack that David S suggested seems to be a good idea, but I would prefer an option that isn’t going to cost me anymore money. Thank you.

  40. Thanks for the great info. It helps to know the little things that make the job so much easier. I haven’t done a lot of prepping with Mylar bags tho I do have a few. I have enough food to last me at least months if I’m conservative even without putting it into long term storage. I have food in fridge, freezer, canned, dry, etc. Plus I’m setting up and AP system inside the house and later in a greenhouse to be able to grow clean real food. I hope and pray it works for me.

  41. I have a problem with rice, pasta and other pointy things poking holes in the bag. Would a thicker bag handle this? If so, which one would you recommend?

  42. I read a lot of the questions posted here and I want to know the answer for all of them. So my question is, will you write an article answering the questions posted here?

  43. I feed my dog the same brand (Nature’s Domain). If sealed this way in a Mylar bag with absorbers, how long should the food be good for?

    • Depends on how much oil is in the dog food. Lay some bits on a paper towel and see how much oil is absorbed. Even sealed in Mylar, oily foods can go rancid. I have stored extra rice, boullion, canned meats, vitamins and veggies to make my own. Most pet foods are good for 8 months or so in MY experience if stored in a large tub or can and with food grade Diatomaceous Earth on the bottom and several desiccants.

  44. What about using cleaned out soda bottles for storing rice and beans? Will they reseal properly? Seems like it could be a good affordable way to prep.

  45. I’ve used Mylar bags for some food storage, but not for medications. On average, will using them to store medications extend the life of the medications? Can only tablets (as opposed to capsules) be stored this way? Do you put just one type of medication in the bag, or do you mix the daily medications you take into one bag? Thanks!

    • Mylar bags ‘might’ help extend the life. However, not storing medications is worse. ME, personally. not speaking as a doctor or pharmacist, I have stored meds for years without much if any any disintegration. Meds can still be good, but the dosage may be a little weaker. I store like medicines in the same bag. But, if you have managed to stock a 30 day supply of every medication, put them in a smaller mylar bag with a desiccant and seal. Mark it well. I don’t know if y’all know about “Fish Antibiotics”, but they are exactly the same as what humans take and a prescription is not needed. I have stocked up a variety of these precious medications as we might not be able to get them if things really go down hill.

  46. I have heard that if I vacuum seal things like steel cut oats and rice in mason jars I still need to use oxygen absorbers. Is this true and how much more shelf life would I get using both?

  47. how do you prevent the oxygen absorbers from slowing down with absorbing ambient air while you are packing the rest of the mylar bags.

  48. I have one person to prep for (me!) and if I want to get started with this system (mylar bags) what’s a good amount to start with (number of bags, investment) for a good six month supply of food. More than a sample kit but not sure how to gage what amount I need to start out with.

  49. I really appreciate your site/info. It helps to have so much info available as sometimes I find it all very overwhelming. Like everything, it is small steps. 🙂 The biggest thing I find overwhelming is the storing and rotating of food and water. I am sure once I get into the habit it will all be fine. Thanks again.

  50. The best Mylar bags I have found are on ebay. The “mylarpro” have the best bags going. Trust me, I’ve tried a bunch of different brands. Each order of bags comes with their own desiccants for each bag, plus free shipping. If you do the math, these bags cost no more than the cheaper ones because the weight alone jacks up shipping costs. I use my vacuum upholstery attachment to suck out the air and a regular iron to seal. You will also a get a pamphlet of everything you need to know about using the bags.

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