Last week I was sealing some food in Mylar bags and I was trying to remember if I’d ever made a post on this topic. I searched my own site and was surprised to find I hadn’t. (Although I did share some good videos about it in the post, Using Buckets for Food Storage.) Many preppers have different methods and preferences when using Mylar bags, and I’ll mention those, but in this post I’m going to walk you through what I did.
Step 1: Buy some long-term foods. If you can afford to buy food from distributors like Nitro-Pak, good for you. They have some great MRE’s and freeze-dried food which of course is pretty easy to prepare. But frankly, most of us (myself included) are better off going to Costco, Sam’s Club, or Walmart when stocking up on food. Sometimes you can even find great deals at dollar stores or your local grocery store. I do most of my shopping at Winn-Dixie and they often have buy one, get one deals. Last week I saw some rice so I snatched it up. Here are some pics of things I got at Winn-Dixie and Sam’s Club.
By the way, those instant hashbrowns are delicious. You just let them sit in hot water for 15 minutes, then throw them on a greased skillet over a fire for five minutes.
Step 2: Buy Some Mylar Bags. There are several options here. If you have some huge bags of beans, wheat or rice, you’ll want to get some 5 Gallon Mylar Bags. For smaller items like pancake mix or mashed potatoes, just do like I did and get some 1 Gallon Mylar Bags. Whichever you get, they should come with one oxygen absorber per bag (300 cc for 1 gallon bags and 2000 cc for 5 gallon bags).
However, I highly recommend you order extra absorbers so you can put at least two in each bag. One might be enough, but I prefer to stay on the safe side (it’s why I’m a prepper). Here’s a picture of what I used.
As you can see, these oxygen absorbers come sealed with a small pink pill. That’s to let you know they’re still good. If the pill is blue, they’ve been exposed to too much air and are worthless.
Step 3: Fill The Bags With Food. I managed to get about three pounds of food into each bag. I probably could have gotten more into them, but I didn’t want to accidentally spill food everywhere.
The annoying thing about oxygen absorbers is you can’t use one at a time. If you open that bag of 50 absorbers, you’d better get them all sealed inside mylar bags within 15 minutes or they’ll absorb too much oxygen and become useless. (A friend of mine pointed out that you can put the extra absorbers in a small jar with a screw-on lid. Thanks for the tip, Justin.)
Anyway, the reason I brought up the oxygen absorbers in this step is because you want to have at least 20 bags filled with food and ready to be sealed before you open the absorbers. You can see my setup in the picture below.
Notice that I wrote “Instant Rice” on the side of one of the bags. Be sure to label every bag with a marker before you start sealing them!
Step 4: Seal The Bags. First, go ahead and throw a couple oxygen absorbers into each bag. As I mentioned above, if you’re using a 5-gallon bag you could use a shop vac to suck out the excess air. The best method is to place the bag in a 5-gallon bucket, seal it most of the way (leaving an opening for the vacuum hose), suck out the air, and finish sealing. For smaller bags, you can simply press them up against a solid vertical surface like a wall with your hands. Flatten them as well as you can without pushing food out of the bag.
What most people do next is seal the bag between a board and an iron. This method works great, but I came up with a method where I could keep the bag pressed up against the wall while sealing it. I used my wife’s hair straightener.
Laugh all you want, but it worked great.
Step 5: Put them somewhere safe. People always seem to talk about storing Mylar bags in food-grade buckets, but the only time it’s absolutely necessary for them to be food-grade is if they’re used. You don’t know what’s been in a used bucket, and sometimes leftover chemicals can eat away at Mylar bags. However, if it’s a brand new bucket, it doesn’t matter. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be a bucket. Just so long as they’re in something that will keep out mice and other critters, they should be fine. I put my bags in a tote.
As you can see, using Mylar bags is not nearly as complicated as it might seem at first. Don’t let your storage food sit on the shelf exposed to light and air any longer. Go ahead and start sealing it up now. Food that has gone bad is a waste of money at best, and life-threatening at worst.
What to read next: Where You Should Store Your Food