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Mylar Bags for Food Storage – The Complete Guide


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Last Updated: October 29, 2020

Mylar bags are the best long-term food storage method for dry foods like rice, beans and flour. When done correctly, some foods can even last over 25 years!

If you are new to this method, here is everything you need to know about long-term food storage in Mylar bags including step-by-step instructions for packing food in Mylar bags, shelf life, oxygen absorbers, and FAQs.

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What is Mylar?

As one man aptly said in a survival forum, Mylar is

Every prepper’s favorite kind of plastic. I know I have been trying (unsuccessfully) to get my wife to dress in it for years.

I’m not sure how it would work for a dress, but Mylar certainly is a versatile material.  The trade name for Mylar is biaxially-oriented polyethylene terephthalate.  It was originally produced in the 1950s and is used for things like insulation, solar filters, blueprints, and even kites.

Why It is Great for Long-Term Food Storage

As far as food storage goes, Mylar is amazing because it is:

  • Non-porous
  • Impermeable to gas
  • Reflects light
  • Flexible
  • Durable and puncture-resistant
  • Cheap
  • Easy to use

There are certainly other packing materials you can use for long-term food storage, but they tend to have a higher learning curve, are more expensive, or simply not as good as Mylar.

Mylar Bag Food Storage Instructions

Materials Checklist


  • Food that you will be storing
  • Mylar bags
  • Oxygen absorbers*
  • Bucket or container (that you will be putting the Mylar bags into)
  • Sealer (clamshell sealer, iron, hair straightening iron)
  • Work gloves

  • Piece of wood with a towel wrapped around it (to serve as an ironing board if using an iron for sealing)
  • Scoop or funnel
  • Permanent marker for labeling
  • Mason jar (or other way to store unused oxygen absorbers)

Note: *For Mylar bags to work, most foods need to be stored with oxygen absorbers. However, some foods should not be stored with oxygen absorbers. I’ll discuss this in the FAQs section. Also see this detailed post – Oxygen Absorbers for Food Storage.

Step 1: Preparation


It is really important that you get everything set up in an assembly line.  You can take your time filling up the Mylar bags.  But, once you open those oxygen absorbers, you need to seal them quickly!

  • Open Mylar bags and put each in a bucket/container
  • Line up the containers
  • Make sure your sealer has a cord long enough to reach the buckets

*If you are going to put lots of smaller Mylar bags into one bucket, then you obviously won’t be propping up one bag per storage container.  It’s really helpful to have the bags propped up during the process.  Consider rigging a shelf system for holding the bags, or bust out all of your Tupperware to use as holding trays for the open Mylar bags.

Step 2: Loading the Food


  • Using a scoop or a funnel, fill up the Mylar bags with food. You’ll need to give the bags a good shake to ensure the food particles are settled (which means more food per bag and less air).
  • Fill the bags to about 4-5 inches from the top. Make sure you don’t overfill the bag or it will be very difficult to seal.
  • Label the bags and container with the contents plus the date.

Tips

  • If you are using 7.5mil Mylar bags, wear gloves! The bags are sharp and can easily slice your fingers!
  • To protect the label from rubbing off, put a strip of clear packing tape over it.

Step 3: Partially Seal Bags


Let your sealer heat up.  Irons and hair-straightening irons need to be on the highest setting. Seal all but the last 2 inches of the Mylar bag. Make sure there aren’t any little pieces of food in the seal.

It is also smart to wear gloves during sealing.  The sealer can make the Mylar bag get very hot and burn your fingers!

If Using an Iron: The easiest way to seal with an iron is to put your 2×4 over the rim of the 5-gallon bucket.  This will make an ironing board so you can seal the bag without having to lift it out or turn it horizontal.  Once you’ve sealed one bag, then just move the board to another bucket.  You’ll definitely want help – one person moves the board and the other does the sealing.
Tip: Make sure you seal as close to the top of the bag as possible.  That way you’ll have room to reseal the bag again.

Step 4: Add Oxygen Absorbers


It takes about 2-4 hours for an oxygen absorber to do its job.  However, you should really try to get your bags sealed as quickly as possible (within 10 minutes, 20 tops).  Otherwise you risk the OA absorbing too much outside air and not being able to absorb all the oxygen in your Mylar bag.
Tip: Before you open your oxygen absorbers, mark each bag with how many OAs the bag needs.  This will speed up the process.

Step 5: Fully Seal the Bag


As soon as you’ve added oxygen absorbers, you need to quickly seal the bag.  Press the bags to get out as much air as you can.  Then seal the remaining 2 inches.

Step 6: Checking the Seal


Wait at least one day.  Then go and check on your Mylar bags.  Look at the seal and see if you can squeeze any air through them.

When oxygen absorbers have done their job, the bag may look “sucked up” or vacuum-sealed.  However, since so much of air is actually nitrogen, it is possible for the bag to be properly sealed but not sucked down.

Step 7: Seal Buckets or Containers


Once you are sure that the seal is good, you can close up your buckets/containers and put them for long-term storage.

Ideally you will store them in a cool place which is accessible during an emergency (for example, you wouldn’t want all your emergency food in the basement during a flood!).

Procedure Graphic (click to enlarge)

Storing food in mylar bags infographic

FAQS

What Foods Can You Store?

Any dry, low-fat food can be stored in Mylar bags.  That means things like:

  • Dehydrated fruits and veggies
  • Flour
  • Grains
  • Pasta
  • Sugar

  • Dried beans
  • Powdered milk
  • Cereal
  • Spices

Remember the key words here are dry and low-fat.  Any food which has moisture in it may start to go bad in the Mylar bag. Some foods have a surprising amount of moisture in them. One example is popcorn kernels.

The same goes for foods which have fat in them – the fat will cause the foods to go rancid in around 3-12 months.

Foods Not Suitable for Long-Term (5+ Years) Storage

These foods can still be stored in Mylar bags, but you’ll have to rotate through them about every 2-5 years (depending on the food).

  • Whole-wheat flour
  • Pearl barley
  • Brown rice
  • Brown sugar
  • Chips and greasy junk food
  • Granola
  • Dried meat/jerky

  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Fresh or wet foods
  • Dried eggs
  • Milled grains (other than oats)
  • Any dehydrated fruit or veggie which is not so dry that it snaps when bent!

Related Reading

Botulism Risk

Botulism is usually only talked about in regards to home canning.  However, because the botulism bacteria grows in no/low oxygen environments, it could also grow in Mylar bags packaged with oxygen absorbers.

Botulism requires moisture of 35% to grow.  However, to play it safe, virtually all food preservation guides will say that food must have 10% or less moisture to be packaged in airtight containers with oxygen absorbers. (1)

If the Mylar bag is bulging (a sign that bacteria is growing inside), then don’t eat its contents!

This shouldn’t scare you away from self-storing foods with oxygen absorbers.  Just make sure you aren’t storing any moist foods in Mylar with oxygen absorbers for the long-term.

Some moist foods – such as dehydrated fruits — can still be stored in Mylar bags. They will be fine for the semi long term (such as up to five years).  Home dehydrated fruits and veggies just need to be so dry that they snap when bent.

The good news is that botulism toxin (which causes the disease) can be easily destroyed by boiling for 10 minutes. The CDC states, “Despite its extreme potency, botulinum toxin is easily destroyed. Heating to an internal temperature of 85°C for at least 5 minutes will decontaminate affected food or drink.”  This page also has good info on deactivating botulism. Many of the foods which get stored for long-term need to be boiled anyway (dry beans, dry grains, etc.), so this in theory would kill any contaminants.

However, that doesn’t mean you should eat any foods which you suspect are contaminated with botulism.  If the Mylar bag is bulging (a sign that bacteria or toxins are growing inside), then don’t eat its contents!

Which Bags to Use?

Aside from the brand, there are a few key considerations when choosing which Mylar bags to use: size, thickness, and whether you want zip tops.

Size

Mylar bags come in various sizes, typically ranging from 1 pint to 6 gallons.  To give you an idea, a 1-gallon Mylar bag will hold about 6-7lbs of rice. A 5-gallon Mylar bag will hold about 33lbs of rice.

I personally recommend using 1 gallon Mylar bags for foods like beans, flour, and grains. For spices and freeze-dried fruits and veggies, I use even smaller bags. Here’s why:

  • Using large bags of food is impractical: Imagine that a disaster has occurred. Would you really want to open up a bag containing 33lbs of rice? Or 6lbs of dehydrated onions? It would be easier if the foods were in smaller bags.
  • Mylar keeps food safe. Once you open the Mylar bags, the food inside could get destroyed before you have time to eat it (by flood water, rodents, etc.).
  • Rotating food is easier. Some foods only last 2-5 years in Mylar bags. You’ll need to rotate through them. It’s easier to rotate through smaller bags than larger ones.

The downside, of course, is that it takes more work to store food in smaller Mylar bags. However, I’d still rather have lots of smaller bags of food than a few giant bags.

Thickness

Recommended Reading – How To Dehydrate Food Like An Expert

Mylar bags come in various thicknesses, with 4.3mil and 7.5mil being the most popular.  The 7.5mil bags will hold up against damage better.  However, they aren’t as flexible.

Because the thick bags are so much stiffer, you probably won’t be able to get as much food in them as a thinner bag.

Also note that the 7.5mil bags are sharp! You should wear gloves when working with them so you don’t slice your fingers.

Read our survival glove guide here.

Zip Tops

There are some Mylar bags which have zip tops.  The zip top does NOT replace heat sealing.  However, it is great for convenience.

During the sealing process, you can first squeeze the air out and zip lock it before heat sealing.  It prevents little pieces of product from getting into the seal.

Once the bag is open, the zip is also great for closing the bag while you use the contents.

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  • ShieldPro oxygen absorbers absorb 200% to 300% of their rating

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How Much Food Will Fit

Food Type1 gallon5 gallons
Rice5-7.3lbs25-37lbs
Whole Grain White Wheat5-7.5lbs25-38lbs
Flour5lbs25-33lbs
Cornmeal5-6lbs33lbs
Beans (black, pinto, white, etc.)5-7lbs25-40lbs
Lentils7lbs35-36lbs
Macaroni4lbs20-21lbs
Potato Flakes2.5lbs12-13lbs
Diced Dried Carrots3.3lbs16-17lbs
Dry Milk5-6lbs29-30lbs
Powdered Eggs4.2lbs20-21lbs

(10, 11, 12)

*How much food you can fit in a Mylar bag depends on a lot of factors.

  • How big the food you are trying to store is (for example, some beans are smaller than others).
  • How well you shake the food to pack it down and how high you fill the bag. It’s easier to seal a bag which isn’t completely full.
  • You’ll be able to fit more food in thinner Mylar bags because they are more flexible.

How Many Oxygen Absorbers to Use

It’s possible to seal food in Mylar bags without oxygen absorbers. The Mylar will protect the food from light and outside humidity. However, oxygen will get sealed in the bag with the food and slowly cause it to start going bad.

Oxygen is found in the space between the food and in the actual food itself.  The table below gives you a good idea of how many OAs you will need with each type of food in different sizes of bags.

Note there are some foods which should not be stored with OAs.  For example, sugar and salt will turn rock hard if stored in Mylar with OAs.

For more detailed info, see this post which goes in-depth on oxygen absorbers.

Food Type1 quart1 gallon5 gallon
Beans, lentils, split peas125-150cc500-600cc2500-3000cc
Rice100cc400cc2000cc
Flour100cc400cc2000cc
Instant mixes and powders100cc400cc2000cc
Coffee beans100cc400cc2000cc
Pasta125cc625cc2500cc
Cereal125cc625cc2500cc
Instant potatoes125cc625cc2500cc
Whole grains (barley, corn, wheat, oats)125cc625cc2500cc
Top Tip
It is always best to play it safe – use more oxygen absorbers than you think you need!  Using extra oxygen absorbers won’t impact the food. OAs are cheap, better to  spend an extra 25 cents on an additional oxygen absorber than throw away 5 gallons of food when it’s needed most.

Shelf-Life of Foods

When trying to figure out how long foods will last in Mylar bags, you will see a lot of different ranges given.   Here’s why it is so difficult to give an exact number of years that food will last.

1. Nutrients Break Down Long before the Food Goes Bad

Part of the reason for these varying shelf-life dates is because nutrients can break down.  For example, the nutrients in rice may start to degrade after 10 years.  However, the rice will still be safe to eat for approximately 30 years.

2. Mylar is a New Product

The process of checking how long a food will last is called shelf life testing. Big manufacturers are required to do shelf-life testing.  However, aside for a few studies on canned foods, there haven’t been any tests on how long food can last.

Also consider that Mylar is a relatively new product (it was made in the 1950s).  We think some foods will last 30+ years in Mylar, but I don’t know of anyone who actually tested food that they packaged in the 1980s!

3. It Depends on Packaging Conditions

Mylar only protects food from degradation due to oxygen and light.  Assuming that you used oxygen absorbers correctly and properly sealed the bag, you still have to worry about degradation from heat and moisture.

According to the USDA, each 10.08 degree F increase in temperature will half the storage life of seeds.  This applies to other foods too.  So, if you are keeping your Mylar bags in a cool area (such as a root cellar), they will last longer than if stored in a hot area (such as your garage).

With these factors in mind, here is what you can reasonably expect in terms of shelf-life for foods in Mylar bags.

Food TypeShelf-Life (in sealed Mylar bag with oxygen absorbers)
Hard Whole Grains (Dry corn, buckwheat, hard red wheat, soft white wheat, kamut, durum wheat, spelt)10+ years
Soft Whole Grains (Oats, quinoa, rye, barley)8+ years
Professionally-Dehydrated Vegetables10-20 years
Professionally-Dehydrated Fruits*10-15 years
Home-Dehydrated Fruits and Veggies*2-5 years
Freeze-Dried Fruits and Vegetables25 years
Legumes (Beans, lentils, chickpeas, split peas)25+ years
White Rice10-30 years
Brown Rice2-5 years
White Flour10-15 years
Whole-Wheat Flour10 years
Corn Meal5-10 years
Potato Flakes30 years
Pasta20-30 years
Dry Non-Fat Milk15 years
Cheese Powder10-15 years
Powdered Eggs5-10 years
Nuts **1-5 years
Granola1 year
Yeast*3-5 years
TVP10-15 years
Baking Soda, Baking, Powder*30 years
Sugar*Indefinitely
Honey*Indefinitely
Salt*Indefinitely

*Sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder should be stored in mylar bags without oxygen absorbers. Honey does not need oxygen absorbers.

See:

(Sources: 4, 5)

*Dehydrated Fruits and Vegetables in Mylar Bags

Most dehydrated fruits and veggies usually aren’t suitable for long-term storage.  They simply contain too much moisture.

Many people report that their dehydrated fruits/veggies last much longer than 5 years.  However, it’s important that they have very low moisture (10% or less) before storage. That means the fruit/veggie will snap when bent.

Some people also recommend using a desiccant to remove moisture from the dehydrated fruits/veggies before packaging.  More on this later.

**Nuts and Seeds in Mylar Bags

Putting nuts and seeds in Mylar bags will extend their shelf life.  However, because they contain so much oil, they will start to go rancid.

Most people put the shelf life of nuts/seeds in Mylar at about 2 years.  However, some nuts and seeds will last longer than this even outside of a Mylar bag.  The key is keeping the temperature low.

Since nuts are so expensive, I wouldn’t want to risk having an entire batch get destroyed. Only package as much as you actually eat and rotate through them regularly!

How To Seal Mylar Bags

The trickiest part of using Mylar bags for long-term food storage is sealing them.  They must be sealed with heat in order to create an air-tight seal.  Even the Mylar bags with zip seals still need to be heat sealed (the zip is just there for convenience).

You need a temperature of around 375-425 degrees F to get a good seal. Thicker Mylar bags will require a higher temperature.

There are 4 main ways that you can seal a Mylar bag:

1. Clamshell Heat Sealer

This is by far the easiest way to seal a Mylar bag.  They are great because they are hand-held.  They also squeeze, which helps grip the bag.

It makes it very easy to close the last 2 inches of the Mylar bag after you’ve squeezed out the air.

This clamshell sealer is a bit pricey, but it is very easy to use.

clamshell sealer
It has two heat settings.  The higher one is 410F, which is perfect for sealing Mylar bags.
Check On Amazon


2.  Impulse Sealer

I personally wouldn’t recommend impulse sealers.  Not only are they expensive, but they are designed to seal an entire bag at once.

Ideally, you should seal most of the Mylar bag, push the air out, and then seal the last 2 inches.  This takes some practice with an impulse sealer.

There are some affordable impulse sealers available which get good reviews. For example, this one by Metronic is well liked and doesn’t cost much.

Impulse Sealer
Check On Amazon


4. Hair-Straightening Iron

While I personally don’t have experience using one of these for sealing Mylar bags, it seems like it would be better than a normal iron.  You’d be able to keep the bag vertical so bits of product don’t get into the seal area.

Just make sure you get a hair-straightening iron with adjustable heat settings.  This one, for example, gets up to 450 degrees F at the highest setting.

Hair-Straightening Iron
Check On Amazon


3. Home Iron

If you’d rather not buy a special product for sealing your Mylar bags, a home iron will work.   You’ll need to have a piece of wood to put the Mylar bag against while sealing.

Also be warned that, since you’ll be sealing the bag as it lies horizontally (as opposed to being able to keep it vertical), you might end up with bits of product shifting into the area you are trying to seal.

It’s not impossible to do. However, it can be a bit frustrating – especially when you are trying to work fast because of the oxygen absorbers!

This video demonstrates the process:

Mylar vs. Vacuum Sealing

Many people confuse Mylar bag storage with vacuum-sealing.  They are completely different processes and get different results.

With vacuum-sealing, you are using a machine like a FoodSaver (Amazon Link) to suck air out of the bag while sealing it. While this does have benefits (like being cheap and fairly easy to do), it isn’t the best option for long-term food storage.

Vacuum-sealed bags:

  • Leak: The plastic bags used in vacuum sealing are porous. You can’t see the little holes but, over time, vacuum sealed bags will allow air to leak through.
  • Don’t remove all oxygen: Vacuum sealing will remove most air (which includes oxygen and nitrogen) from the package. However, some air will remain.
  • Allow light through: The bags used in vacuum-sealing are clear – which is great if you want to see what’s packaged inside, but not great if you want to prevent food degradation from light.

By comparison, Mylar bags will not leak. When used with oxygen absorbers, virtually all oxygen will be removed. Finally, Mylar has a foil layer which blocks 100% of light from coming through.

This doesn’t mean that vacuum-sealing isn’t good for food storage.  Vacuum-sealing can increase shelf life of foods by 3-5 times.  But, when it is long-term storage that you want (5+ years), then Mylar is the way to go.

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Leave a comment

    • Yes, you can use a vacuum sealer to heat-seal mylar bags BUT it does a very terrible job! Most heat sealers don’t get to hot enough of a temperature to seal Mylar bags (Mylar is a lot thicker than food-saver bags). It can work okay on thinner mylar, but not on thicker bags.

      On top of that, vacuuming the air out of a Mylar bag while also using O2 absorbers means that the bag can get punctured (especially by sharp things like pasta). Without enough air, the O2 absorber might fail too.

      I know some people do it successfully (usually by making some modifications — there are videos on YouTube). But it’s a LOT MORE EFFECTIVE to just use a hair iron or clothes iron.

      Regardless of how you seal the Mylar bags, you should always CHECK THE SEAL the next day. If it is sealed, then you put the bags into a bucket for long-term storage.

      Good luck and have fun!

      Reply
  1. Great article! Thank you. This has kick started my education. I feel I can confidently store food long-term after reading.

    I believe one of the tables has incorrect headings. The table “How Much Food Will Fit in a Mylar Bag?” makes more sense to me if the first column is labeled “1 Gallon” and the second column is labelled “5 Gallon”.

    Reply
  2. Best article I have seen in many years on how to store food in mylar bags. I have only been able to find scattered info and have thrown out many bags because I really didn’t have the info I needed. Your charts are a BIG help. Also threw out bags that weren’t sucked down because I thought the absorbers didn’t work. Never heard anywhere about the nitrogen in the bags. Thanks for a great teaching tool!!

    Reply
    • Thanks Michelle takes a lot of time and resources to put these big guides together, comments like this keep us going!

      Reply
  3. What about using Garmin lids and food sealers like the ones for the mason jars cuz that’s what I’m doing and granted I don’t have a big budget but at least I have something that I’m doing in mind when I get the money I am going to buy food containersoners that have the flip top lid and I’m going to put some rice sugar and like you mentioned about rotating that’s how I’m going to do

    Reply
    • I’m not sure what Garmin lids are. However, it is possible to store food in airtight mason jars. If you want to remove the oxygen from them (and make the food last longer) you’ll have to add oxygen absorbers to the jar.

      I generally don’t think storing food for emergencies/long-term storage is a good idea though. If an earthquake, hurricane, etc. happens, the jars will break. Also, you can’t tell if the seal has broken with jars unless you get ones with special metal lids (the lid will cave downward to show that oxygen has been removed). Jars also take up a lot of space. The Mylar bags and oxgyen absorbers aren’t so expensive, though admittedly it is a slight pain to seal the food in them.

      Reply
      • Great info! To the person who asked about glass jars- check out ‘dry canning’. Ive seen a few YouTube videos and you can store grains, etc for just as long. The benefit of glass jars is rodents can’t eat through (they can eat through buckets) but the jars can break and of course they are heavier and less portable and cost more.. You can put thick rubber bands around each one so they don’t touch each other. It’s still seems like a good method, imo.. I’m looking into all these methods and am just starting my emergency food supply pantry. Question, can you use Mylar bags to store OvaEasy egg powder? How long do you think it would last? Also, I’m also curious about dry dog food storage?

        Reply
        • Egg powder can usually be stored in Mylar with oxygen absorbers. The shelf life is usually at least 5 years (I’m not familiar with that brand though). As for dog food, it can also be stored this way. Some dog foods are pretty oily though. Check the fat content of the food to get an idea. Or, put the dog food on a napkin for a few hours and see whether it leaves a big oil stain on the napkin. The more fat/oil in the food, the shorter the shelf life will be. I’m guessing it should be fine for around 5 years though.

          Reply
  4. Thank you for the great information.
    The only part I didn’t see was under the heading “How many OE to Use?”. The explanation about figuring out how much oxygen is present is good, but, once I know the ratio, how do I figure out the number of OEs to use by food type, weight & size of bags?
    In your example of “Only about 21% of air is actually comprised of oxygen (the rest is mostly nitrogen). So, calculate 21% of your air space. For example: 0.21x1893cc= 398cc.” how many OEs are needed – 1,2,3?

    Reply
  5. Thank you for the helpful information. I was able to confidently start my prepping in 1 gl mylar using your article. I can fit 4ct 1gl mylar bags in a 5gl plastic bucket. I then add a gamma lid. I’m very happy with this approach except for one thing. There’s about a whole gallon of air space in my 5gl bucket. I’d like to find make the most of the air space for food storage. Using a 5gl mylar is just too much of any one kind of food for our small family. Do you have any tips on how to make the most of the space in the 5gl bucket?

    Thank you!

    Reply
    • If your Mylar bags are properly sealed, then air space in the bucket doesn’t really matter. The buckets more about protecting the Mylar bags from damage. However, you could consider putting another small bag of food into the bucket to maximize use of the space. Maybe something that you don’t need lots of at once, like freeze-dried cheese powder, spice mixes, or some sweets? *I actually mixed spices into rice/beans/etc right into the Mylar bag. But, considering how damn picky my children are, I should probably have left the spices separate, haha!

      I know it’s annoying to deal with small Mylar bags but, as you know, the 5 gallon bags are really impractical for most families. Who the heck is going to use up 5 gallons worth of cheese? 😀

      Reply
  6. Great information and very easy to understand. Many thanks for your research and sharing. I have shared a link to your website with my adult son on the other side of Australia.

    Reply
  7. How suitable could be to place different kinds of dry food, individually packed in zip lock bags or paper bags inside a 5- gallon mylar bag? How many oxygen absorbers should be required for a 5- gallon mylar bag full this way?

    Reply
    • That’s a good question. You can definitely package foods in plastic or paper baggies before putting them in the Mylar bag with oxygen absorbers. This will help keep things organized. Just don’t zip plastic bags all the way. While plastic baggies are permeable, it might be harder for the oxygen absorbers to do their work if they need to absorb the oxygen stuck in the plastic bag (this is my educated guess; I haven’t actually tried it).

      I can’t answer how many oxygen absorbers you need. You’d likely end up needing a bunch more because there would be lots of air gaps between the plastic baggies of food. Obviously certain foods would leave less space between them (like bags of flour versus bags of crackers). Oxygen absorbers are cheap so I’d recommend overshooting it. After a few days, see if the bag is sucked-in looking. That’s a good sign that the air has been removed.

      Reply
  8. I was wondering if using zipped mylar bags that have a CLEAR front or window is a good idea for food in a Bug Out Bag or for backpacking. I was leary about trust them to keep the food safe for very long, not to mention keep animals from smelling the food. If you do think they’re good to use, are there any brands you’d recommend? The ones I’ve found on Amazon seem to be only 2mil or less. I haven’t found any that have a large number of reviews.

    Reply
    • As you suspected, the zip on Mylar bags doesn’t actually completely seal them. The zip is more to make re-sealing after opening easier. I also find that it’s a heck of a lot easier to seal zip bags: you can push the air out and then zip them before doing a proper seal. As for the ones with clear windows, I would also be weary of them. Just like vacuum bags, they probably leak over time. There are some links within the post to reputable companies. In any case, it’s a good idea to rotate the food in your BOB every 6-12 months. Not only does it ensure the food is fresh, but it gives you a reason to “check in” on your BOB and see if you need to make any changes or replace gear.
      As for animals smelling food, have some rope and hang your food in a bear bag in a tree. Do this even if you aren’t in bear country! While backpacking, I once had friggin’ COWS attack my food bag while it was down from the tree!!! Not to mention all the critters that could get into your food bag. There are also odor-proof bags you can get if you are worried about bears or other dangerous animals sniffing you out while you hike, but you’ll still want to store the food up high.

      Reply
  9. I’ve spent many days and hours researching mylar bags, and I finally chose the ones from Pleasant Grove. They are 7 mil, and odor proof. I decided for 2 people, the 1 quart and 2 quart zip seal bags will be the best, and most feasible option.
    I also spent a mini fortune on the food grade buckets, with both gamma lids and screw on tops.
    My question, before I spend more money, is it necessary to buy the 5 gallon mylar bags for the buckets, and then store the smaller bags in them? If I’m going to put 2000cc O2 absorbers in the bucket, should this be enough protection? I only found one company that makes those bags with a rounded bottom and you have to buy them by the 10 pack which will cost over $70. All of the other companies use a straight bottom bag, and about 30″ long, and it seems to me that it will be a big pain in the butt to work with.

    Reply
    • Valerie—Good question. You do NOT need to place already filled/sealed Mylar bags in a 5 gallon Mylar bag AND in a bucket. 1 qt to 1 gal bags go right into the bucket—no 5 gal Mylar needed. The bucket is to protect the 1 qt to 1 gal bags from water, vermin, insects, sharp objects that might pierce your bag(s). Personally, I never use 5 gal Mylar bags. I also mix the contents in my bucket: popcorn, rice, beans, sugar instead of having all rice or all sugar. If an earthquake crushes a bucket, I don’t have all my “eggs in one basket.

      Reply
    • I thought the main reason to have a bucket was to put the food in it to keep the rodents and ants out of the food. I’ve heard people putting them in clothing containers that slide under their bed or put into their closet; any hard plastic container that mice won’t chew through will be fine.

      Reply
      • Buckets are ideal because the lids are more likely to stay on. Imagine a hurricane coming through (or tornado, earthquake, etc.) and sending your buckets flying or debris falling on top of them. Most hard plastic containers kind of suck in terms of lids, not to mention creating an air-tight seal to keep some flood water out. But, yes, one of the main reasons is to prevent rodents from getting to the Mylar bags.

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  10. You stated in the above length of storage in mylar bags, that sugar and salt are stored with OA. Do not do this as it will become a rock.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the comment. There’s a section in the article about “Foods which Should NOT Be Stored with Oxygen Absorbers” where we talk about that. I’m going to put a * next to those to clarify that those items in the list shouldn’t have OA when stored. Thanks again!

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    • Yes would be ideal for storing peanut butter powder. Not sure on shelf life – the powdered version may be different, but nuts contain lots of oil in their natural state which means they do not store well.

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  11. Can you Mylar bag and oa chicken bullion if it’s in a loose powder form but it says it contains dehydrated chicken fat… I got A tub of korrs loose powder but didn’t know if it’s a no no. Thanks

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  12. This is by far the most comprehensive article about food storage in mylar bags. Your detailed instructions, and possible pitfalls, are quite helpful! It took me months to find this article and I’m so pleased! Thank you.

    Reply
  13. I have rice and rolled oats in Mylar bags inside 5 gallon buckets. I noticed about 18 months after storing these items, there is some air in the bags. What should I do? Do I need to open these bags and add more oxygen absorbers?
    Thank you for you time.

    Reply
    • I can’t say for sure. It’s normal for some air to remain after closing your mylar bags + oxygen absorbers.
      That’s because OAs will only absorb oxygen and not other gases in the air. However, the air shouldn’t mysteriously appear later down the road. Worst case scenario is that your rice/oats had a lot of moisture in them and botulism started growing.

      Or it might just be that the Mylar bags weren’t completely sealed. Try pushing on the bags and seeing if the air comes out (gently so you don’t pop them!). You might want to open and reseal just to play it safe. *If you take this step, wait until your new batch of OAs arrive before opening the bags. Things are chaotic now and I’ve heard it can take weeks for deliveries to arrive.

      And good job on actually checking on your preps. That’s something we should all be doing more frequently!

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  14. Thank you very much. This post has been most helpful as I’ve finally made the jump from just having canned and dried food that’s rotated out every 2-3 years or so (depending on shelf life) to longer term food preps. As others have mentioned, this is a very detailed and well crafted post on how/what/when/why mylar bags and I am thankful you created this website. Thank you again.

    Reply
    • I’m glad you found the post useful. Here’s another tip: Make a spreadsheet with everything you have and list the expiration dates. It makes rotating a lot easier. 🙂 Good luck on your preps!

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  15. Thanks for the article, just what I needed to know! I am interested in storing meat in the qt. size bags. How many oxygen absorbers do you think I will need? (The meat will be dehydrated.) What thickness of mylar should I use? Any guess on how long (if done properly) the meat will last? Any suggestions on this? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Yes. After you open the bag, you’ll have to re-seal it below the original seal spot. That means the Mylar bag will get a bit smaller each time you seal it.

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  16. Sorry if this has already been answered. What about the bags with the viewing windows? are those any viable? I understand exposure to light would make a difference, but as far as the seal provided, what do you think/know?

    Reply
    • Good question! Those Mylar bags with windows are ok for short- to medium-term storage. However, the window is not made of Mylar. That means the window will eventually leak air and moisture from the air into the bag. For long-term storage, the bags which are 100% Mylar are the best choice.

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  17. Hi! My first time using the mylar bags… i tried to post a pic but it would not let me. I have put different foods oats, cereal, hasbrowns. Rice, beans, flour into 2 gallon 7 mil bags…. i used 900cc of oxygen absorbers in each one. Some bags are brick like and others not. The ithers have seemed to go down and are not pillow like anymore but i am concerned they might not be working properly. Must the bags all be like a brick? Should i redo them? More absorbers? If so can i just reopen them and try and reseal them without using different bag?

    Reply
    • You should join our Facebook group for female preppers and survivalists! Then you could post photos there: https://www.facebook.com/groups/191771778387171/

      As for the “brick” effect: Oxygen absorbers only absorb oxygen. They won’t absorb nitrogen in the air. So, it’s common for the bags to not be completely “sucked down.” HOWEVER, I’m guessing that the bean bags are the ones which aren’t sucked down? And maybe the cereal ones too? Beans actually contain a lot of air inside of them. I generally recommend using 1000-1200cc for a 2 gallon bag of beans. So, 900c might not have been enough to absorb all the oxygen. To redo them: Cut the bag open right below the seal, add new oxygen absorbers, and seal again.

      Reply
  18. I keep reading that white flour only lasts 5 years in mylar bags, but you have much longer. Where do you get your info? Have you tried it for longer than 5 years? Thanks!

    Reply
  19. I have read that you should freeze the dried rice, beans, etc to kill any bug eggs in the food. Is this done prior to OA and sealing the bag or after?I

    Reply
    • If you are storing dry foods (beans, rice, etc.) in Mylar bags with Oxygen Absorbers, then you don’t need to kill the bug eggs first; the eggs die/can’t hatch without oxygen. However, if you are just putting the dry staples into jars or buckets, you absolutely should kill the eggs first since oxygen is present in the containers.

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  20. First article I could gather a lot of information, sequentially put out.

    Only question remains – is there any other option to Mylar bags, when used with Vacuum sealing for grains & baby foods?
    Is ti advisable to put a small paper within 4 sides of bag as grains edges do not a reason for making a tiny hole while vacuum is applied
    Also the spreadsheet tip is much useful.
    I will try and share this article with friends & other family members.

    Reply
    • Vacuum sealing is different than Mylar bags: vacuum sealing won’t extend shelf life by much. Mylar bags are generally pretty durable so you don’t need to worry about grains poking a hole through the bags like you would with vacuum sealing.

      Reply
  21. I did three 5 gal bags with flour and squeezed as much air out of the bag as I could before sealing in the flour with 2600cc of AO but the bag isn’t sucked up tight like other things I’ve done. Should I redo it with new AO at about 3000cc? All three bags feel the same.

    Reply
    • There’s a lot of nitrogen in air, and oxygen absorbers only remove oxygen and not the nitrogen — so it’s completely normal for the bags to not always be “sucked in” looking. Plus, for whatever reason, granular and soft things like flour, cornmeal, powdered milk, etc. don’t get as sucked down as harder things like beans or pasta. Unless you are really worried that you left the oxygen absorbers outside too long, I wouldn’t worry about it. 2600cc should be more than adequate for 5 gallons bags of flour.

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  22. Excellent coverage on storage and thank you!
    Being new to prepping, I have one question that you may have covered?
    I have prepacked nuts / fruit and trail mix that I’d like to store in mylar bags with absorbers. Can I place the prepackaged bags either opened or can I keep them them closed and then place them into the mylar with absorber and then seal? Or should i dump the food out of the prepackaged bags directly into the mylar bags?
    I know oxygen is a concern and wonder about that being present in the prepackaged bags. Thanks!

    Reply
    • You’d want to open the bags and dump the contents into the Mylar bag. Otherwise the oxygen already inside the packaging might not be absorbed – you’d end up with a poofy bag of nuts inside a sealed Mylar bag. Be warned that nuts don’t have a very long shelf life in Mylar because of their high fat content and dry fruit needs to be VERY dry!

      Reply
  23. Thank you so much for the great info. It is very helpful and I really appreciate it. I have 3 questions:
    (1) Before putting food (rice, beans, oat meal, flour, etc) in Mylar bag, I freeze it for about a week. After take it out from the freezer, how many days should I wait to avoid moisture gets in mylar bag? I am a little worried because I just took my 25lb bag of rice out from my freezer and the outside of the bag is always very wet. What’s the best way to ensure that the rice itself will not hold moisture before putting in Mylar bag so it will not form mold (I use 600cc Oxy absorber in 1 gallon Mylar bag)? Maybe using desiccant?
    (2) Should I freeze potato flakes, pasta, cheese powder and dry milk before putting in Mylar bag, too?
    (3) What is your favorite brands for powdered eggs and cheese powder brand for a long term storage?

    Reply
  24. I am just beginning to read about Mylar bags for food storage. I do glass jar canning and vacuum sealing for meats, breads and veggies. I am unhappy with the way the bags allow oxygen into casseroles and then ice crystals form. I am wondering if I wrapped a casserole made in an aluminum pan with the Press & Seal wrap and placed it in a Mylar bag, could it be placed in the freezer? Maybe let it cool, wrap it, put it in bag with the oxygen removers, and the freeze? I’m looking for no longer than 6-10 months storage time. Thank you for any advise or suggestions on this!

    Reply
    • The ice crystals are actually forming because the food is slowly freeze drying (I’ve written about that here:https://www.primalsurvivor.net/home-freeze-drying-food/). The issue isn’t oxygen. Rather, it’s water moving out of the food which is the problem. In a nutshell, no — Mylar bags won’t help much or at all. And you don’t want to use oxygen absorbers with things like a casserole as botulism poisoning could occur (botulism grows on moist foods in an oxygen-less environment). I don’t have experience with Press and Seal. Maybe you could try getting a good vacuum sealer and use bags instead. They still allow some moisture to escape, but hug the food very tight.

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  25. Diane,
    I have a question that I am not clear on. I purchased a lot of individually bagged dried (not freeze dried) fruit from one of the big box stores. About 12 bags each of apricots, cherries, mangoes, plums, and crasins. You mentioned not to use oxygen absorbers with these due to the moisture content. (With my home dehydrated fruits I never have to worry because they are very dry.) My confusion is looking at options for storage of these commercially dried fruit that I would like to use to get us through about 2 – 3 years. The best by date on the packages range from 6 months to 1 year. The fruit is packaged in commercial grade plastic bags with zip locks. Would it be feasible to just put the unopenend bags into buckets with lids and let them be or should I open the original bags and pour the fruit into mylar bags and place the sealed mylar bags of fruit into the buckets minus the oxygen absorbers? Yours is the only site I have seen to even address commercially dehydrated moist fruit.

    One other question if I may, I tried storing popcorn once using mylar bags, oxygen absorber, and the bucket method. Several months later when I opened it, the popcorn had molded. Any suggestions on avoiding that disaster again would be appreciated. Thanks very much.

    Reply
    • I personally have stored commercially-dried fruits for wayyyy past their listed shelf life. They usually have preservatives added and are fine for years. I definitely have some candied dried mangoes which have been sitting around for 4 years now. HOWEVER, if you live somewhere with high humidity, the dried fruits will last much shorter and maybe even get moldy. Also please be cautious about pantry pests. They will attack your dried fruit like crazy. Really make sure it is in an air-tight container! Anything you can do to limit moisture, light, heat and oxygen exposure will prolong shelf life. I know this isn’t an exact answer to your question but, sadly, there’s no way I can say that “raisins will last X years” since there are too many variables. (I am not recommending that you eat food which has expired. You know, legal reasons and all…!!!).

      Reply
  26. I’ve been looking for information on using Mylar bags in a chamber sealer. Would you suggest using an oxygen absorber in conjunction with the chamber sealer? If the double seal wasn’t enough I could take a second pass with an iron to increase the seal area. If you have any thoughts on this I would love to hear them. Thank you.

    Reply
  27. The only place I have for storage of our food stuffs is an unheated shed. Temp will drop below freezing this winter and of course be warm in the spring. Can I store dehydrated foods in mylar in tubs in that shed?

    Reply
    • Hmmmm… that’s a tough one. Freeze-dried foods would be okay because all of the moisture is out of them. The problem with dehydrated foods is that they still have a small amount of moisture in them. Normally the moisture is spread out evenly in the food, so not an issue. If frozen, the moisture will crystalize. Then, when it defrosts, the ice crystals will melt and could pool together in spots. That moisture could cause issues.

      I’d recommend moving other items inside your home to the shed to make room for your food supply indoors (or at least the dehydrated items).

      Reply

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