Preparing and storing your own food is a cost-effective way to build your emergency food supply- not only because you can shop sales but you can also pick your own menu! The ability to tightly control the exact ingredients in your stores is ideal, especially for people living with dietary restrictions such as food sensitivities, allergies, intolerances; or those with preferences and picky eaters. And it’s simple! All you need are Mylar bags, oxygen absorbers, and something to heat-seal with such as a hair straightener or a clothes iron.
Plus, you can store a wide variety of items—there’s no need to be stuck with only rice or beans in the event you need to use your emergency food supply!
We get a lot of questions about DIY food storage here at Total Prepare, so we’ve put together this blog with a list of our most frequently asked questions to help you get started!
What is Mylar?
Simply put, Mylar is a layer of aluminum, sandwiched between two layers of plastic. This allows for all the benefits of both materials to help protect your food! Plastic is hardy, cheap, and has a good melting point for heat sealing. Aluminum doesn’t breath or break down for a long time, giving it great longevity and protecting your supplies.
What is an Oxygen Absorber?
Oxygen absorbers are small packets containing mostly iron oxide powder. When exposed to oxygen, a chemical reaction causes the iron to rust, burning up the available oxygen. The packaging is designed to allow the oxygen in without leaking any iron into your food.
Why would I use Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers?
As we discuss on our page about 25 year shelf life food products, a few factors lead to food going bad. The two biggest culprits are moisture and oxygen. Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers allow you to create an air-tight seal around your food and to remove any oxygen inside the bags, creating an idea environment for long term storage. Just be sure that you’re only storing totally dry goods so that moisture doesn’t become a problem. Dry pasta, beans, flour, and rice are popular choices.
Frequently Asked Questions About Mylar Bags
What are the best foods to store in Mylar bags?
The best foods to store in Mylar bags are dry foods with very little moisture. Dried berries, dehydrated vegetables, white sugar, salt, whole wheat, flour, pasta, powdered milk, soft grains, cereals, dried beans, corn, whole spices, and rice are all great options.
The shelf-life of your food items once sealed will vary depending on what you’re storing. Some items, like brown rice, have shelf lives of 1–2 years due to the oils in them, while others such as wheat and other hard grains can have a shelf life of up to 20 years!
Please note that shelf lives are not guaranteed, they are effected by the ingredients, storage location, and packing technique.
What size oxygen absorbers should I use?
Oxygen absorbers come in different “cc” amounts. CC stands for cubic centimeter and represents the volume of air one absorber can remove. At Total Prepare, we carry 200cc, 300cc, and 1000cc absorbers. If you need to remove an amount that doesn’t match, just use more absorbers to get the number you’re looking for. Need 500cc? Use a 200cc and a 300cc to get the job done. Remember: more than you need won’t hurt your food, but not enough will cause it to go bad much more quickly! Here’s a handy oxygen absorber chart to show what strength you’ll need for popular items in one or five gallon mylar bags.
What size Mylar bag do I need? Zip seal, or no zip?
What mylar bag to use will largely depend on how you envision yourself using the food, how much room you have to store it, how many people you are preparing for, and how long you are preparing for. If you think you’ll be using a lot of food quickly – for a large family for example – then you’ll likely be okay with a 5 gallon bag. If you’re solo, or if the ingredients are supplementing other supplies, 1 gallon bags might make more sense. If you foresee yourself needing to go in and out of the bags over a long period of time, you’ll want a zip seal for after the heat seal is broken.
Here’s a few example scenarios and what type of bag we would recommend:
|Situation||Mylar Bag Recommendation|
|A couple hoping to supplement existing supplies. Expect to need their supplies for over a month.||5 gallon, zip seal. Lots of food that can be resealed.|
|An individual who wants a supply that can be used for short or long term emergencies.||1 gallon, no zip. Small parcels of food that can be used as needed. Keeps weight of bags lower too.|
|Preparing for a neighbourhood or organization. Likely to go through a lot of food very quickly.||5 gallon, no zip.|
Often, you won’t need all of the absorbers that come in a package at once. In these cases, fill a mason jar with something that packs down densely – like rice – and seal your remaining absorbers inside. The rice and small container will mean there is very little air inside the jar and your absorber will still have plenty of life in it when you’re ready to use it.
How do I store food with mylar bags and oxygen absorbers?
We have a whole hand out on that! Click here to read, download, or print a pdf. It has additional FAQs and a walkthrough of how to use these products.
Thank you for reading! Have any questions about mylar bags and oxygen absorbers? Let us know in the comments and we’ll do our best to answer them.