Long term storage of food should be high on the list of any prepper’s list of prerogatives. Having food on hand when times get tough and supply lines crumble is a great thing.
But most foods don’t last as long as we would like, and even among the longest-lasting foods the need to constantly inspect and rotate to ensure freshness is a major chore and highly draining in terms of time and resources.
One way that preppers can greatly extend the shelf-life of the foods they typically store, and improve the freshness, is by storing the food in sealing mylar bags.
Mylar is a durable plastic-like material that is a natural oxygen barrier, making it perfect for this use. The bags and the tools needed to create an airtight closure are commonly available and affordable, making this a technology that preppers would be wise to employ.
This article will tell you everything you need to know about using mylar bags for long term food storage.
What Causes our Stored Food to Degrade?
The main reason our stored food goes bad is because of oxygen. Oxygen causes foods to oxidize, which leads to rancidity in fats, and the growth of mold and bacteria. The degradation process is accelerated by heat, light, and moisture.
Mylar bags are an effective way to keep oxygen out, and thus prevent food degradation. No matter what kind of food you are storing, mylar bags can likely help.
What are Mylar Bags?
Mylar bags are an effective way to block out oxygen and keep your food fresh for much longer.
Mylar is a plastic-like material that is made from multiple layers of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) or PE (polyethylene), with aluminum foil sandwiched in between. This combination makes for an effective barrier to both light and oxygen.
They were originally created for the space industry as an ultra-light and reliable way to package food for astronauts because of their ability to block out oxygen and moisture. This same property makes them ideal for long term food storage.
Mylar bags come in a variety of sizes, but the most common size for food storage is gallon size. They are also available in quart and sandwich sizes. Mylar bags can be sealed with a heat sealer or an iron.
Originally a high tech and specialized item, these bags and the systems to handle and seal them are no widely and cheaply available.
How Does Mylar Help?
Mylar bags create an oxygen-free environment inside the bag, which slows down or stops the oxidation process. This means that your food will stay edible for much longer in storage when it is kept in mylar bags.
The aluminum layer on the outside of the mylar film reflects light and helps to keep out UV rays. This is another way that mylar helps to preserve your food.
Mylar bags are also water resistant, which keeps your food dry and they are tough enough to resist compromise due to rough handling or intrusion from most pests. All of these assets together significantly helps toward increasing the storage life of your food!
What Can I Store in Mylar Bags?
Almost any type of food can be stored in mylar bags. Fruits, vegetables, meat, grains, pasta – you name it! The only exceptions are items that are high in water content (like fresh fruits and vegetables), if they are not dehydrated; this is because the water will cause the bag to burst over time.
Mylar bags can also be used to store non-food items, like medications and vitamins. You can also keep clothing, blankets and even documents in mylar bags to protect them from environmental degradation.
Basically anything that would benefit from protection against the elements can be placed in a mylar bag- as long as it fits!
You can find mylar bags online or at some stores that sell canning supplies. Prices vary, but they are generally very affordable. Just be sure to get the right size for your needs!
How Do I Seal a Mylar Bag?
There are a few ways to seal a mylar bag. The most common way is by using a heat sealer. If you don’t have a heat sealer, you can use an iron. Just place the mylar bag on a hard surface and cover it with a cloth.
Then set the iron to medium-high and iron the bag for about 30 seconds. Be careful not to let the iron touch the plastic directly or you will damage the bag! As always, this should be done on a heat-proof and flame resistant work surface.
If you are using a quart or sandwich size mylar bag, you can also use a zip-top bag as long as it is made from food grade plastic.
Just place your food in the zip-top bag and then put that inside of the mylar bag. This creates an extra layer of protection against oxygen and pests.
Once sealed, your mylar bag should retain its protective capability for many decades to come.
My Experience with Mylar Bagging
Storing food continues to be my main priority in gathering survival supplies. Canned goods are the mainstay of much of my stockpile along with some freeze dried. Over the past few months I have added some additional food via storing them in mylar bags.
Mylar packaging has been around for many years. Used for many different products – mylar has a unique ability to present an oxygen barrier and protect food for extended storage.
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So – how do I store food in mylar bags? Typically for preparedness-related food storage – food is placed into the mylar bag, an oxygen absorber is placed in the bag, and then the bag is sealed(using heat). The oxygen absorber will eliminate most all the oxygen in the bag – thus providing a very long shelf life.
In the picture above I have my supplies laid out – mylar bags, oxygen absorbers, some spaghetti, and my iron. I also had some rice as well to store away:
Here I have placed some rice in the Mylar, and added the oxygen absorber. Next the top of the bag needs to be sealed up. Yes – a lot more rice can go in this bag:
Part of the “trick” to sealing the bag is to place it on something – and then run the hot iron over the Mylar sealing it. As much as possible should be removed from the bag prior to sealing:
I generally form a 1-2 inch sealed edge along the top. Once sealed, it is good to try to squeeze the bag to make sure there are no leaks.
Below is one of my completed bags. Mark all bags with the date of packaging, contents, and approximate amount:
There are any different sized bags available. I prefer the gallon size:
Once I have several bags done – I place them in a plastic 5 gallon bucket and place the lid on it. I then mark on the outside the date of packaging and I list the contents as well.
Of note I never pack a bucket with only one ingredient. I always mix up the contents – beans, pasta, rice, sugar, salt, etc. Why? In-case I have to pack buckets in a vehicle to “head for the hills” – I want t know that however many buckets I get I will have a variety of food items.
Overall – this method is not too expensive. Also – there are some good videos on YouTube demonstrating this process, such as this one:
When stored under the right conditions certain foods can last a very long time.
Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
Mylar for Long Life and Freshness
Mylar bags are an excellent way to store food for long term storage. They are affordable and easy to use, and they provide a high level of protection against the elements. Be sure to seal your mylar bags properly to ensure that they will last for many years!
Are you thinking about using mylar bags for food storage? Do you have any questions that we can help answer? Let us know in the comments below! And be sure to check out our other articles on food storage for more tips and tricks!
last update 03/21/2022