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Do It Yourself Food Storage with Mylar Bags, Oxygen Absorbers & Food Grade Buckets

21 Oct, 2015

Packing and storing your own bulk foods for emergency use is a great way to save money. You can find bulk foods at very reasonable prices at the large warehouse stores (like Costco or Chef's Store). The money you save on purchasing bulk will go a long way towards your peace of mind and may provide leftover funds to buy the other emergency preparedness items you need to keep you and your family safe and secure. Do it yourself food storage!

Storing Food: How to Do It Yourself

Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers are highly recommended when storing bulk foods. We receive many questions about DIY food storage like:

  • What is a Mylar bag?
  • How do I use Mylar bags for food storage?
  • What is an oxygen absorber? How many do I need? How are they used?

We want to share with you how to safely store bulk foods in Mylar bags for long term storage..

Mylar Bags

Mylar bags are commonly used for long-term storage of dried and dehydrated foods like grains, beans, corn, seeds, rice, etc. The metalized barrier protects food from moisture, light, and oxygen. Mylar bags are popular due to their good puncture structure, outstanding barrier, high tensile strength, and relatively low cost.

We recommend the following sizes of Mylar bag for storing food products:

  • The one-gallon size (measures approximately 10" x 14" and is equivalent to the 10" x 16" with a Ziplock seal) and is a good size for smaller caches of grains, spices, salts, flour, sugar, and other baking ingredients.
  • The five-gallon size (measuring about 20" x 30") is good for heavier, bulkier items like beans, pasta, noodles, corn, and rice.
  • The one-quart size 8" x 10" (with Ziiplock seal) and smaller 8" x 8" (no ziplock) sizes are good for smaller snacks and treats for easy and quick access without taking up a bulk of space. We use these sizes for our freeze dried dog food to take with us on our camping trips.

The 1-gallon and 5-gallon sizes are the most popular. When you start shopping for Mylar bags, we recommend a minimum thickness of 4 mil. The thicker the bag, the better, but 4-5 mil bags will serve you well.

Oxygen Absorbers

Use a recommended size of oxygen absorber for the size of Mylar bag being used:

  • 2000cc Oxygen Absorbers - best for 5-gallon Mylar bags
  • 300cc Oxygen Absorbers - best for 1-gallon and smaller Mylar bags

Food Grade Buckets

For more security and protection (especially if you are concerned about rodents) and easier handling, you can always use Mylar bags as liners to store food inside a 5 or 6 gallon "food grade" plastic bucket. The Mylar bag is placed inside the bucket, filled with the product, the bag is sealed, and the bucket is closed with a tight fitting lid (Gamma lids are the best!).

Is it truly a food grade bucket? Use the following methods to identify food grade plastics:

  1. Purchase new buckets that are marked “food grade” by the manufacturer.  Look for the following marks: “NSF”, “FDA” or “USDA Approved” on the labeling. If you are unsure, call the manufacturer and ask.
  2. Buy free or low-cost used buckets that have already been used to store food and not used for anything else. Used buckets can be found at places like bakeries, restaurants, and food processing plants.

Note: 5 and 6 gallon buckets typically use a universal 12" lid, making various lids interchangeable. This makes finding new replacement lids is quite easy (always recommended when you will be storing food product in used buckets).

Bucket Lids

Standard lids are fine, except they can be difficult to use. Getting the lid on requires some brute strength to get a good seal (using a rubber mallet will help). Also, removing the lid is challenging because the lid must be pried open and most likely cause damage to the lid.

  • Can be difficult to put on bucket
  • Easily damaged when removed from bucket
  • Getting a good seal can be troublesome

Gamma seal lids are easy to use and a good seal is not difficult to achieve — simply snap the outer adapter ring on the bucket rim, and screw the inner lid into the outer ring. When you need to open the bucket, just unscrew the lid, remove the product, and screw the lid back down. Super simple!

  • Easy to Use - no special tools are required
  • Resealable - can be opened and used again and again
  • Airtight and Leak Proof - Air, moisture, insects, and rodents cannot get into the bucket and ruin the stored product(s)
  • Mylar Bags are recommended for long-term storage, but they are not mandatory if you are using the bucket for short-term storage. We use ours to safely store our pet food.

Another great thing about the gamma seal lids is that the outer rim of the lid has a built-in stacking channel. This is a space-saving feature, allowing you to safely stack sealed buckets on top of one another.

Sealing a Mylar Bag

Sealing Mylar bags can be a challenge for first timers — it was for us! But with some practice, you will get the hang of it. Some of the easiest methods used include everyday tools like a dry iron, or even a hair straightening iron. Just seal the top of the bag after it is filled with the dry food and an oxygen absorber.

When using Mylar bags, we recommend that you:

  1. Do not overfill the bag. (Oxygen absorbers will do their job to remove the oxygen, leaving only nitrogen in the void).
  2. Wipe any residue from the inside and outside edges before sealing (especially when storing things like flour or other powdery substances).
  3. Seal only the top of the bag (about an inch). This will allow you space to seal up the bag again should you ever need to cut open the bag to remove product (and always add a new oxygen absorber before you re-seal the bag!). If you are using the Mylar bag to line a food-grade bucket, you can fold the seal down and tuck into the bucket for safe storage.
  4. Check the seal within a couple of days. The bag should be visibly compressed.  If not, keep an eye on it for another few days and if is still is not compressed, you will need to cut it open and start over. :(
  5. Keep your food storage in temperatures below 70 degrees if possible (or even cooler for longer storage shelf life). Heat is detrimental to all food storage products.

Where Can You Get Mylar Bags & Oxygen Absorbers?

For current availability and pricing, please visit our Mylar Bags & Oxygen Absorbers page @ TheEpicenter.com.

For the best prices on Food-Grade Buckets & Gamma Lids, we recommend you do a local search in your area at farm supply stores or big box hardware stores.