How to Seal Food in Mylar Bags

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One of the very first things I learned to do when I started to prep was seal food in Mylar bags.  As simple as this sounds, you would not believe the gyrations I went through to make this happen.  Holy moly, I used plastic tubing, a FoodSaver vacuum sealer, a yardstick, a straw, and iron and ironing board.

Yes, it all worked but it was a bit tedious in that four hands were required to get the job done.  I also have to tell you that there were a lot of laughs during the process as the pinto beans went flying everywhere!

How to Seal Bulk Foods in Mylar Bags BDS

Years later, my method is so much simpler that I tend to forget about my initial struggles.  With that in mind, today I am sharing a step by step show and tell, describing how you can easily move your beans, oatmeal, and rice from their store packaging to Mylar (or metalized) bags.

Why Mylar?

Mylar is a lot tougher than a lot of food packaging including a lot of Foodsaver style bags. This makes it more suitable for long term storage, especially if conditions are less than ideal. Vacuum bags are handy but they are also clear which means to get good protection from light, you have to store foods in an opaque tote or similar to protect them from sunlight. Mylar is an excellent choice for those that simply don’t care to use a plastic bag.

Mylar also protects odors from being detectable. So if you like minced garlic and you store it in a sealed mylar bag, you are not going to be able to smell it.

Mylar Bag Thickness

When you purchase your bags you should check and see what thickness you are getting for your money. Some are thin metal polyester film that you can see through. While this may be fine for some purposes or shorter term storage, purchasing the thicker bags that are in the 5.4 mm thickness range may be a good idea for your heavy food storage items and those you want to store for long term.

Grains for example can keep up to 25 years if properly sealed and stored and they weigh a lot for the volume they take up in a bag.

While a lot of the mylar bags you see are gallon-sized, you can get smaller bags if desired.

Step by Step – Storing Bulk Foods in Mylar Bags with Oxygen Absorbers

The first step is to get your supplies in order.  You will need Mylar bags, oxygen absorbers, a cheap hair straightening iron (not pictured), and a jar that will hold the oxygen absorbers until they are needed.

Mylar bags and Oxygen absorbers

Have all of your bulk foods ready to go before you open up the package of oxygen absorbers.  Here is a 25 pound bag of wheat.  I will also be packaging some oatmeal.

2FoodStorage Bag of Wheat

I find it easiest to pour bulk items into a Pyrex measure before adding it to the Mylar bag.  Note that I have set the opened Mylar bag in a container so that it stays upright during the filling process.

3FoodStorage Adding Wheat to Mylar Bag

You can also scoop your food into the bag using a measuring cup.  If you are brave (I am not) you can pour your bulk food directly from its original package into the bag.  This is the oatmeal and as you can see, the oxygen absorbers are still tucked away in their jar, limiting their exposure to open air until the very last minute.

3FoodStorage Add Oatmeal to Mylar Bag

When you fill the bag, you are going to want to leave a few inches of head space.  This will allow you to create a big fat seal across the top. But before starting the sealing process, you are going to want to create an assembly line of filled bags so that when you are ready, you can seal them all at once.

Once your bags are filled, pop an oxygen absorber (O2 absorber) inside.  For a 1 gallon bag, the rule of thumb is to use a 300 cc O2 absorber.  For a larger, 5 or 6 gallon bucket-sized bag, 2,000 ccs.  I take the oxygen absorber and stuff it down into the middle of the food.  I did not get a picture of stuffing an oxygen absorber into the bag, but here is a photo stuffing one into a canning jar that will be sealed using my FoodSaver. (This was covered in the article How to Use a FoodSaver for Vacuum Canning.)

4FoodStorage Adding an Oxygen Absorber to the jar of food

Before moving on to the next step, you are going to want to put the lid back on your jar of unused oxygen absorbers or seal them back up in a bag using a FoodSaver or clamp of some sort.  Personally, for me it is a lot simpler to put them in a jar.  Simple is good.

How To Seal Mylar Bags

Remember that cheapie hair straightening iron I mentioned?  You are now going to run the iron across the top of your bag (or bags if you took my advice and created an assembly line).  Do not worry if there appears to be air stuck in the already-sealed bag.  As the oxygen absorber does its job, the bag full of food will compress and become brick-like.  Trust me on this.

Alternatively, if you have a regular clothing iron you can carefully use that too if you have a heatproof surface to iron your bag. A hair straightening iron is much more convenient for most people.

5FoodStorage Sealing Mylar with Hair Iron

When done, get out your sharpie pen and label the outside of the package with both the contents and the date.

Add a label

Three hours later, two of the filled bags I filled are like bricks.  It appears that the top bag of oatmeal will take a bit longer for the oxygen absorbers to do their job.  This is normal – some foods will take longer to compress than others.

7Food Storage Bags are Bricks

The Next Step

Once you are satisfied that the bags are sealed properly, you can move them to your food storage pantry.  This can be a closet or basement or even under the bed. You do want to be mindful of the six enemies of food storage and keep your food as cool and dry as possible.  For extra protection, especially from critters, pop your brick-like foods packages into a tightly lidded bucket and you will be golden.

Remember that for extra protection, you can get mylar bags that fit in a 5-gallon bucket. If you seal food in mylar and then seal with a 5-lb bucket gamma lid, you have some very protected food for your very long term good stash. Remember that mylar is not rodent-proof and even though it is tough, it can get punctured. Storing food in mylar bags is great but you need to put those bags in something that protects the bags themselves. Inexpensive plastic totes work well.

For More Information

There are many articles on Backdoor Survival that can help you manage your food storage.  Here are a few to get you started:

Survival Basics: What the Heck are Oxygen Absorbers?
16 Food Storage Tips for the Space Challenged Prepper
14 Common Food Storage Mistakes and Goofs

For a more detailed and comprehensive handbook on food storage, be sure to check out my eBook, The Prepper’s Guide to Food Storage, that can be purchased on Amazon.

The Final Word

Packaging your own bulk foods for emergency use is a great way to save money.  Walmart, Costco, and LDS Canneries sell bulk foods at reasonable prices and with a little bit of work on your part, can provide you and your family plenty to eat when the grocery store shelves are bare.

Not only that, the money you save will go a long way towards helping you fund the extra flashlights, water filters, and other items you need to keep you secure and safe when the stuff hits the fan.

Until next time, keep on prepping!

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

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Updated Sep 5, 2020

38 Responses to “How to Seal Food in Mylar Bags”

  1. I had often wondered how you vacuum sealed the mylar bags! This answered that question – you don’t! Instead you add the oxygen absorber and seal, the oxy absorber creates the vacuum as it removes the oxygen!

    Thanks for the new information!

    Reply
  2. Just remember not to place oxygen absorbers in Mylar bags for salt and sugar. You will have a lump of rock when you open the bag.

    Reply
  3. Have you ever had bags NOT turn into bricks? Though I don’t store in mylar much anymore, I’ve had both mylar bags that have turned rock hard like this AND also bags that were obviously sealed but still seemed to retain their atmosphere inside, quite a bit, in fact. Makes me wonder if the O2 absorbers were bad but they were taken from the same stash of O2 absorbers and sealed at the same time. Just wondering your thoughts!

    Reply
    • I have had some variance – mostly dependent upon the contents. I don’t worry about it much, there is more to air than oxygen so my assumption is that I left way too much headspace.

      Also, curious why you do not use Mylar bags much any longer. Are you using a FoodSaver instead?

    • Can I use my Food Saver to seal the Mylar bags?

    • No, they will not seal. A cheap hair iron works perfectly, however.

  4. Doing a bit of research I found that WalMart (I know,but it’s the only place within 100 miles from here) has a hair straightening iron for 8.24 – it has a high and a low setting, so I would have to experiment.
    Now, for a single person, or two, what size bags would you recommend? I wouldn’t want to open a 5 gallon bag of anything for just myself because over half of it would probably ruin before I ate all of it. Plus, 5 gallon bags are rather bulky for a bug out bag! 🙂

    Reply
    • Jim – Most definitely use the 1 gallon bags. The nice thing about smaller bags is that for a short term emergency, you can use up the contents and not worry about repackaging the balance (which would be basically starting all over).

      Plus, those 5 and 6 gallon bags weigh a ton! Even with buckets, I mostly fill them with numerous smaller bags rather than one large bag.

      How is the hair iron working out?

    • I wound up getting one for about $9. It also has high/low settings. I didn’t have any bags, except one I received some electronic components in. Sealed it up fine using high setting. Just got some quart size bags, but haven’t tried them yet. Have a large bag of pinto beans I’ll experiment with this week.

  5. So, let me get this straight…I have a vacuum sealer, but I don’t have to vacuum the bag, just seal it? (With the oxygen absorbers of course). I think think this may be the best post ever.

    Reply
    • Sheryl – Yep, that is all you need to do. I learned the hard way by trying all of those complicated methods. Mylar bags, some oxygen absorbers, and a flat iron. Easy peasy.

  6. Why can’t one use the O2 absorbers with the heavy-weight Zip Lock FREEZER bags instead of mylar?

    Thanks for all the information. You have shortend my learning curve by years!

    Reply
    • The problem with a Zip Lock freezer bag is that there is no way to completely seal it so it is 100% air tight. With Mylar (or a metalized bag), you can heat seal it shut so absolutely no air can penetrate the seal.

  7. Remember you can reuse the mylar bags you buy other foods in. Especially the bags of Pete’s coffee or some chips, etc. They wash out nicely and saves some $’s

    Reply
  8. Thank you very much for all the SPECIFIC tips and instructions.

    Reply
  9. Hi, I too filled big mylar bags full of rice and seem to have lots of “air” in them and they haven’t sucked in very much (more like at all) just like millenniumfly. I’m almost sure I left too much headspace, but I would hate to have an emergency and have bug-laden rice. That’s why I’m writing here. We used ye olde yardstick and hot iron method, yes, with 4 hands! The problem is that we’ve had the o2 absorbers and mylar bags for several years (about 5?), but the o2 absorbers were in a vacuum sealed plastic baggie that had a little tab that would change color if there was the presence of oxygen in it, and it was the correct color when I opened them to put them into the bags. I used big bags to fill 5-6 gallon buckets and each of the o2 absorbers were like 1500-2000 CC (I forget exactly). Does any of this sound right, or should I just rebuy mylar bags and o2 absorbers and try again?

    We still have yet to put some beans up, so we will be sure to check out your products listed here. We will probably do single gallon bags for those but probably fill up 5 gallon buckets for convenience.

    Reply
    • Sorry for taking so long to reply. You should be fine. Remember, not all air is oxygen so as long as the Mylar bags have a good seal, the remaining head space should be oxygen-free nitrogen.

      By the way, instead of using the 4-hand method, get a cheap hair iron and use it. Sooooo much easier 🙂

  10. Confused. If you store grains, flour and beans in sealed Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers, where do dessicant packets come into use (and with which foods?) if I have crackers in original packaging, would I just put as is in sealed bucket with dessicant or take out of packaging and use dessicant or what? Again, confused. Thanks.

    Reply
    • O2 absorbers remove oxygen/air and desiccants remove moisture.

      You need the O2 absorber for long term storage in Mylar bags and buckets. In order to be effective, your food would need to be removed (or unsealed) from its original packaging prior to repackaging and sealing in buckets or bags.

      If you live in a humid area, the desiccant will eliminate moisture intrusion. In the case of crackers in original packaging in the bucket, yes, the desiccant would keep them crisp but would not prolong storage.

      Note: I do not use desiccants myself but according to my research, this is how they work.

    • Well, I think some of the confusion stems from the fact that she doesn’t mention desiccants anywhere in this article (I used control + F to try to find words like “humidity”,and “moisture” as well, and I skimmed to see if I could visually find it).

      But if desiccant packets were added, it can only be for reducing humidity / moisture. The oxygen absorbers just take out the oxygen. Two totally different things.

    • For my corn storage I used both oxygen absorbers and desiccant packs. The trick is to put the desiccants at the bottom of the mylar bag and the oxygen absorbers at the top just before sealing up the bags. Oxygen absorbers actually need a bit of moisture to work best, but desiccant packs take a while to work, so by placing them on opposite ends of the bag everything gets to work properly.

      As to which foods need desiccant packs, I’ve been putting them in all dry storage except sugar and salt. Salt I don’t bother repackaging, I just keep it in the 1 pound cardboard containers and place them directly into 5 or 6 gallon buckets along with other food packed in mylar. Sugar also is kept in the original containers, because I buy it in 10 pound plastic bags that are well sealed to begin with. If you had sugar in paper bags then putting a desiccant pack at the bottom of your mylar bag then filling with sugar might make sense. Just remember to not use oxygen absorbers with sugar or salt as others have mentioned here.

  11. I’m going to be storing oatmeal. What would be the shelf life of properly sealed/stored oats?

    Reply
  12. i have tried storing oats in the mylar bags but for some reason the bags are soft. i have done rice, beans and they did great turning the mylar bags hard. did the oats the same way as i did rice ect but not having any luck. does oats Not turn hard. please help

    Reply
    • I just responded to a similar question from someone else a couple of days ago. The bags of oats are probably okay. In determining whether the bag gets “brick like”, a lot has to do with the amount of head space left in the bag and/or the moisture content of the goods that have been packaged. Keep in mind that oxygen is not the only component of air so most likely, what remains in nitrogen. If you were confident that the O2 absorbers you used were good (not hard like a brick when you placed them in the bag), you should be okay.

      Here is an article you can refer to if you have not already seen it: //www.backdoorsurvival.com/survival-basics-oxygen-absorbers/.

  13. New at this and do not understand. Metal bags, O2 bags, hair iron etc etc. Why not just use a vacuum sealer with their respective bags? I assume these bags are some sort of plastic.

    Reply
    • Mylar bags and other metalized bags are impervious to moisture and light. When sealed, they do not leak. This makes them ideal for long term storage.

      A vacuum sealer (such as a Food Saver) works great for short term storage but they do loose their seal and leak over time. Also, they are clear or opaque and let in light. Light is one of the enemies of long term food storage. Vacuum sealer bags are also easily punctured. That being said, I use my vacuum sealer on bulk foods items that I plan to use within a year or two.

      I hope this explanation is helpful. Good luck as you start this new adventure!

  14. How well do crackers do with long term storage ? What is the best way to store them ? I have been using my vacuum sealer for a long time and sealing my dehydrated veggies, etc. in glass jars & I love it. I store them in a cold dark room. I am just doing some research on using mylar bags and your info has been very helpful. I have some bags & oxygen absorbers & found out the hard way that they get hard after you open the bag. Should I put absorbers in my jars of dehydrated meat ? Thank you for answering my questions.

    Reply
  15. Will the product in the mylar bag (oats) take on the smell of the mylar bag after a few years?

    Reply
    • I have not opened a stored bag of oats but I have opened bags of both rice and white flour and there is no smell.

  16. Thank you so much for this article! You’ve made emergency planning an easy process for our family. And, it’s so much cheaper than those pre-packaged emergency food kits! Many more servings with DIY. We appreciate you giving back to the community through education!

    Reply
  17. ARGHHH I’m new to this – did a bunch of research and actually did EXACTLY what you described with the mylar bags/oxy absorbers and straightening iron. I did buy the big giant bags and quickly realized I needed smaller so cut them in half and created a new seal on the open end (like the food saver seal a meal does when you pull the roll out). I packaged up 100lbs of flour, rice, beans, sugar, salt… over half of the bags aren’t airtight and none of them are brick like :(. When I squeeze them air escapes. I’m wondering if I made the flat iron too hot? the seals are very wide and I thought I was thorough… grrr!

    I’ll try again but am wondering if anybody has any thoughts on what I could have done wrong???

    p.s. love your stuff!

    Reply
  18. Gaye, this is a great article, highly informative and your effort in replying to many comments is excellent. Please continue the good work.

    Reply
  19. I bought the bags from PackFresh USA, and their instructions indicated 1×100 cc OA per quart bag. I followed the intstructions, sealed it very close to the product in the bag to reduce air space, but it never “bricked”. Do I need to re-do them with 2 OAs?

    Reply
    • Melissa,

      You don’t need to do anything else if you put in the recommended amount of O2 absorbers. Air is more than just oxygen. It’s mostly nitrogen which the absorbers won’t absorb. Nitrogen won’t harm your food. So long as your seal is good the O2 absorbers will absorb all the oxygen in the bag and your food will be safe for long term storage.

  20. I just made some beef jerky, and put it in small mylar bags with zip closures. Two questions, do I really have to heat seal the bags, and is two 100cc O2 absorbers enough for each bag??

    Reply
  21. Are the bags in your article really 3.5mm thick or is this a typo?

    Do you have any experience with integrated seal small mylar bags and their effectiveness without the hot iron seal. (Just thinking I can reuse more of the bag by unzipping rather than cutting but could be false economy)?

    Thanks

    Reply
  22. I am wondering about fresh meat that you intend to freeze. Can you pack meat in a mylar bag with an oxygen absorber then freeze it rather than using a vacuum sealer. I understand that if you lose electricity to your freezer that the meat will be lost.

    Reply
  23. Could you please advise me how to best store a few oz of organ meats? I also would like to know how to cut the meat ( beef heart or beef liver) in small chunks? Do I do it before or after dry freeze? And very small pieces as training treats for my pups? How or with what to cut?

    Reply

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