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How to Store Sugar for Long-Term Stockpiling

Last Updated: August 3, 2020

Sugar is one of those foods which will last forever, even without any special packaging.  However, it’s not recommended to keep sugar in its original packaging.

Here’s what you need to know about storing sugar for the long-term.

White Sugar Storage

White sugar has a forever shelf life and will never go bad.  However, if not stored properly, your sugar stockpile could:

  • Succumb to Pests: Insects and rodents both love sugar, so you want to keep it in a container they can’t get to. Read how to prevent pantry moths..
  • Develop bad smells: Sugar will absorb odors from whatever is nearby. Don’t store sugar near any household chemicals, in musty places like your basement, or near any strong scents.
  • Turn into one big clump: White sugar clumps when it is exposed to moisture.
  • Get physically damaged: Hurricanes? Earthquakes? Flooding? If you want sugar for emergency preparedness, it needs to be in a sturdy container that will keep it safe from physical damage.

To prevent these issues, store sugar in an air-tight, sturdy container.  For large quantities of sugar, food-grade bucket with gasket lids is the best option.

You can just toss the bags of sugar directly into the bucket, though some people prefer to repackage them into vacuum-sealed bags, zip bags, or sealed Mylar pouches before putting into the bucket.

Smaller quantities of sugar can be stored in jars, though jars are subject to breaking and take up a lot of space so not recommended for emergency prepping.

gamma lid

Gasket lids (above) are recommended when storing bulk sugar in buckets.

Powdered Sugar

Even though manufacturers will usually put a “best by” date of 2 years on powdered sugar, it can last forever.  It is subject to the same issues as white granular sugar though, so you’ll want to make sure it is stored in an air-tight container.

You can put bags of powdered sugar directly into a bucket with a gasket lid; it will be fine indefinitely.

Since most people don’t use that much powdered sugar, you might instead want to keep it in sealed #10 cans or Mylar bags.

Brown Sugar

Like other types of sugar, brown sugar lasts forever.  However, most sources will only put the shelf life of brown sugar at around 2 years.  The reason is because brown sugar contains a lot of moisture, often up to 20%.

In storage, the brown sugar will eventually dry out and turn into a rock-hard clump.

To keep brown sugar from clumping:

  • Store it in an air-tight container
  • Put a clay disk in the container to keep the sugar moist.

Oxygen Absorbers and Sugar

Oxygen absorbers are packets which remove oxygen from a container.  They are used to prolong the shelf life of foods like flour, rice and beans.

However, you should NOT use oxygen absorbers with sugar. 

First off, the OAs are completely unnecessary as sugar is not subject to spoilage from oxidation.  Secondly, OAs will turn sugar into a rock-hard clump.

Simply keep the sugar in an air-tight container protected from pests or physical damage and it will be good forever.

Read more about using oxygen absorbers for food storage.


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Leave a comment

  1. Storing brown sugar does not have to be necessary as long as you have white sugar and molasses on hand. I make my brown sugar as I need it. Mix one tablespoon of molasses into one cup of white sugar. I’ve done this for years.

    • That’s a great tip, thanks! I also stockpile molasses, but more as a source of iron than for making brown sugar. I mix molasses with peanut butter and spread it on apples or crackers. Delicious.

  2. If I don’t learn it from the site I learn it from readers’ posts. Thanks for posting that recipe! One last thing to worry about.


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