Oxygen Absorbers for Long Term Food Storage

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What Are Oxygen Absorbers and What Do They Do?

When storing food for long term, you want to end up with food that is in a light proof container (light deteriorates the nutritional value of food). The container must keep out all moisture because moisture causes mold and creates other problems like making the grain clump together and grow nasty stuff. And, as much as possible, you want to protect the food from heat. And lastly, and REALLY importantly, you want the food to be flushed in nitrogen (not air, not vacuum sealed, you want NITROGEN in with the food, because it's the nitrogen that kills bugs, eggs, boll weevils, little black bugs and any other critter that wants to chomp on your stored food).

So Mylar bags keep light out, and they keep moisture out, and they keep "air" from coming in OR going out. But how do we get the "nitrogen flushed" state without renting a big tank of nitrogen (like we did in the 1990's)?  This is where the Oxygen Absorber comes in.

The air we breathe is 21% oxygen, 78% nitrogen, and 1% of other gases - in simple terms AIR is about 1/4 oxygen and 3/4 nitrogen (I'm talking United States, not China, no offense, but their air is scary bad). So common sense says, let's get rid of that 1/4 oxygen in as easy a way as possible and then we have nitrogen flushed food (as long as we do this process in a container that doesn't let air in or out, like a Mylar bag). And what does that magic? The simple little inexpensive oxygen absorber! It removes the 1/4 oxygen and leaves the 3/4 nitrogen to protect your food for YEARS AND YEARS!


You actually DON'T want to vacuum seal the food and then put in an oxygen absorber.  Remember how air is about 1/4 oxygen and 3/4 nitrogen? Well, we want ALL of that nitrogen we can get to protect our food.  And a vacuum sealer takes out all AIR (meaning oxygen plus the nitrogen we want), all the way down to only 1-2% AIR. And 3/4 of 1% AIR isn't enough to kill a sickly old boll weevil let alone protect a whole bucket or bag of food. Vacuum sealing raw meat keeps it from getting freezer burn - that's a good thing.  Vacuum sealing food is good for short to medium term storage. It's also great for reducing bulk when storing fluffy things like gauze and band aids.  But it isn't for long term food storage.


Sure, on the internet you see people saying to store food in empty 2 liter pop bottles. Or empty juice jugs. They not only let LIGHT in, but those pop bottles are made of a very porous plastic (meaning they are no more moisture or oxygen proof than a hairnet - I exaggerate a bit but not by much). And these people do not take into account what chemicals the plastic bottles give off as they break down after months or a year because of the type of plastic it is.  Why do you think 1 gallon jugs of water taste so funny after 1 year of sitting in a pantry or closet?  It's the CHEMICALS leaching into the water. 

I have been storing food since 1989.  I am a researcher.  I know more about the different kinds of plastics than most people who work at a water bottling or pop bottling company.  And I'm here to tell you, you don't want to put hundreds of dollars of food that you want to save your family's lives if need be, in plastic meant for a very short term shelf life. 

Soda manufacturers have it down to a science. They know, almost to the day, how many days until a bottle of 7 Up or Pepsi or Coke will be consumed once it comes off the bottling line. And they track that number because that is the number that tells them how many millions of bottles of pop to fill and send to stores.  They KNOW that the pop will be consumed within a few weeks.  Not months.  Not years.  Weeks.  So they use the cheapest plastic they can get by with so the pop keeps its fizz until you drink it.  They don't care if the plastic breaks down or leaches chemicals in a year because they know the pop will be consumed QUICKLY.  So you gamble with your health and the longevity of your food storage when you use various plastic containers.  Is risking your family's life worth saving a couple of bucks  over because you don't want to spend $12.95 for a bunch of Mylar bags?   (can you tell I am a bit passionate about food storage and it's potential to save a whole lot of lives, so you want to put the food up correctly because if you don't you are wasting both your time and your money?)

So for short term storage (under a year) use a pop bottle, use a freezer baggie, they are better than a paper bag. I wouldn't do it, but if you are really efficient at rotating your food storage then go for it.  I have a tendancy to pack it up, put it in storage and let it be for a long time. And I can do that because I pack it up correctly.  Because I know it'll be good in 10 years, so no sweat.  I popped up a big bowl of popcorn in 2012 with popcorn I put into storage in 1989.  23 YEARS OLD POPCORN and it popped up fine.  I can tell you, my popcorn wasn't stored in a soda bottle.  People will spend hundreds of dollars to buy food to save their lives and then they skimp on the one thing that will ensure the food is good in 5 years.  It is a mystery to me.  You can't use the same parameters to keep food good for 5 years, 10 years, 15 years or more that you use to keep the stuff in your pantry good until the next pay check. (I might not know you personally, but I still care about you, so I get a bit worked up when we're talking about saving your life.)

What Are The Benefits Of Using Oxygen Absorbers?
  • Extends shelf life
  • Prevents growth of aerobic pathogens and spoilage organisms, including molds
  • Eliminates the need for additives such as BHA, BHT, sulfur dioxide, sorbates, benzoates, etc
  • Significantly improves keeping qualities of polyunsaturated fats and oils
  • Helps retain fresh-roasted flavor of coffee and nuts
  • Prevents oxidation of spice oleoresins present in spices themselves and in seasoned foods
  • Prevents oxidation of vitamins A, C and E
  • Extends life of pharmaceuticals
  • Use with gas flushing / vacuum packaging to absorb virtually all oxygen and absorb any oxygen that may permeate the package.

Typical Applications:

  • Flour and grain items
  • Pasta and noodles
  • Dried fruits and vegetable
  • Spices and seasonings
  • Nuts and candies
  • Coffee and tea
  • BUT YOU DON'T NEED OXYGEN ABSORBERS WITH SALT OR SUGAR as they are natural preservatives
  • Whole fat dry foods
  • Pharmaceuticals and vitamins
  • Medical diagnostic kits and devices
  • Birdseed and pet food
  • Artwork and book preservation

Food Preservation

How much oxygen absorbent capacity do you need for standard containers?

We recommend 1500 cc’s of oxygen absorbing capacity for 5 and 6 gallon pails, however if there is a high air volume in the bucket (think pasta, noodles, pet food), you’ll want to use 2000 cc's of oxygen absorber. Thus, for 1500 cc's you could use 5 individual 300 cc packets, or 3 individual 500 cc packets. For 2000 cc's you could use 4 of the 500 cc oxygen absorbers or you could 1 of our 2000 cc oxygen absorbers. You can’t ‘over-do’ – meaning that you can use a 2000 cc absorber in a 5 or 6 gallon pail even if it is a lower air volume item such as wheat, rice or oats.

We also sell 11.5" x 60" 5 mil Mylar bags for storing rifles and other long guns, to keep them from getting rust or corrosion. You would use 4 of our 28gram Molecular Sieve Desiccant with these bags. Using our 5 mil Mylar gun bags plus our Molecular Sieve desiccant, your guns will be OK even if submerged under water for 2 or 3 days. We also sell Mylar bags and desiccant for storing ammo and hand guns.

These oxygen absorbers are working within minutes of the package being opened. When packaging food for long-term storage, you should use the entire contents of one sealed vacuum packet bag within 30 to 60 minutes. If you know that you will be unable to use the entire quantity, set those packets aside in a small, clean, and dry glass jar with a secure screw-top lid. (A jam or pickle jar will work fine.) THE ABSORBERS WILL STAY GOOD IN THIS JAR FOR UP TO 3 MONTHS!

2000 cc Oxygen Absorbers 500 cc Oxygen Absorbers 300 cc Oxygen Absorbers 100 cc Oxygen Absorbers
For food such as pasta, with ahigh residual air volume, you want to use this size oxygen absorber. Use one per 5 or 6 gallon bucket. Will also work fine for wheat, rice, oats, etc. Use 3 packets per 5 gallon bucket of wheat, rice, and grains that pack together closely. Use 4 for food like pasta or rolled oats, that have more air. Use 1 500cc in 1 gallon bags of pasta or foods with more air. Use one for each 1 gallon, ½ gallon or 1 quart Mylar bag. You can also use 5-7 of these in a 5 gallon bucket. Use one for each quart  size mylar bag or canning jar. You can also use a number of these in a larger container, depending on residual air volume - 3-5 in a gallon Mylar bag, 2-3 in a 1/2 gallon bag, etc
Packets in Bag: 10
(10 pkts = 10 pails, high residual air volume or not). Comes in 1) 10-pack or 2) 10-packs
Packets in Bag: 10 or 50
Comes in a 50-pack (all in one bag) or in 10-packs (get 5 10-packs in a bag)
Packets in Bag: 10
You get 5 individual packages of 10 when you buy a 50-pack.  This way you never open more than 10 at a time.
Packets in Bag: 100
Because oxygen absorbers have to be used within 1 hour of opening, you'll need to repackage the ones you don't use.