How to use Oxygen Absorbers for food storage

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Above, Alasla Granny shares some secrets about oxygen absorbers, including
the foods you should not store with oxygen absorbers.

Happy endings...
Oxygen absorbers are incredibly important for preppers. As a
prepper you'll want to get started using oxygen absorbers because
they will help you save food in the pantry for 30-years or more! You
can buy food in bulk to save money and then store your food both
for everyday use and for emergencies.

While they are not easy to find in your local stores, they are
available online. Now that you know how to use oxygen absorbers
for food storage, start using them! Be sure also to learn about
silica gel packs.

Related articles...

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Oxygen Absorbers...
Prepping with oxygen absorbers for your food storage

How to use oxygen absorbers.
Oxygen shortens the shelf life of some foods. Thankfully there are
oxygen absorbers to help you maintain the original flavor, color,
and nutritive value of your food storage, as well as to prevent
oxidation in vitamins and medicines.

Once you get started using oxygen absorbers, you'll use find you
use oxygen absorbers for homemade jerky, medicine bottles,
herbs and spices, candy jar storage and even pet food. Below is a
primer on how to use oxygen absorbers to extend the life of your
food storage for years to come...

How to use Oxygen Absorbers
With oxygen absorbers you can remove oxygen from a sealed
environment, such as a mason jar, a Mylar bag, a can, or a food
grade bucket to help your food last years longer. After opening
the sealed container of oxygen absorbers, you'll want to use them
as soon as possible. If you can't use immediately these oxygen
absorbers, be sure to keep them sealed in the zip lock or small
jar to preserve the life.

There's more to learn about oxygen absorbers. Use oxygen
absorbers the right way with the tips below...

Use Oxygen absorbers because they:
  • Extend shelf life of food in the prepper's pantry.
  • Inhibit mold and growth of aerobic pathogens on grains.
  • Prevents oxidation of Vitamin A, C, and E!
  • Delay browning in dried fruits.
  • Stop oxidation of oleoresins present in spices, which alters
    the flavors.
  • Deprive pests of oxygen, so they and their eggs and larva
    can't live in your food.
  • Keep medicines and pet food fresh too!

Here are some tips on the proper use of oxygen absorbers:
Gather what you need.

  • Mason jar. Do not open your bag of oxygen absorbers until
    you can control the storage by stashing the unused
    absorbers into a lidded mason jar. This will limit the oxygen
    exposure so the oxygen absorbers don't start their job until
    you're ready to use them with your food.

  • Mylar bags and heat sealer. A few oxygen absorbers paired
    with a Mylar bag will keep your bulk food fresh inside your
    buckets of food storage. You'll use a heat sealer to seal the
    Mylar bag with your food and oxygen absorber.

  • Outer container. Sometimes you can include oxygen
    absorbers in a food grade bucket without Mylar bag, for
    example in storing rice, or you may seal a dry meal into a a
    mason jar, though it's always better to have the extra layer
    of protection and seal your food in Mylar bags.

  • Gamma seal lids. If you plan on saving money buying bulk,
    you can get gamma seal lids so that you can access your
    bulk food.

Oxygen absorbers defend food against spoiling:
It's the oxygen in the air that causes food to spoil. Oxygen
absorbers extend the life of your food storage in three ways.

  • Microorganisms. With oxygen absorbers in check, you won't
    have to worry about microorganisms destroying your food.
    Without them, oxygen surrounds your food and
    microorganisms can flourish, including some kinds of
    bacteria, as well as mold and yeast, which can make you sick
    if ingested. Oxygen is life to these little destroyers of your
    food and they also enlist the help of enzymes. (Enzymes in
    food also react with oxygen to speed up the spoilage
    process). While some kinds of bacteria can thrive without
    oxygen, most can not. Thankfully, oxygen absorbers keep
    microorganisms and enzymes at bay, so your food can stay

  • Insects. When you use oxygen absorbers effectively, you'll
    never notice a little bonus of protein buried with the grain.
    You see, your grain may look weevil free, but weevils in
    particular burrow eggs into the grain and sometimes survive
    the packaging process only to hatch and maybe even thrive
    in your food storage. Beetles, weevils and moths need
    oxygen just like humans. Without oxygen, these little
    critters thankfully won't survive and they also won't multiply.
    Insects love your flour and whole grains, beans, pasta, dried
    fruits and vegetables, nuts, bird seed and pet foods ~ and
    you can help protect these foodstuffs with oxygen absorbers
    to keep insects under control.

  • Moisture. A big secret of oxygen absorbers is that they also
    keep moisture under control! Moisture is present in all foods
    (even dried beans and rice). Oxygen absorbers oxidize, which
    means they cause the iron oxide to rust. This is the process
    absorbs the moisture. Along with the iron powder, oxygen
    absorbers include sodium and activated carbon (charcoal).
    Sodium is the activator, which causes iron particles to rust,
    and this helps the absorption process.  The bigger the
    oxygen absorber in terms of cubic centimeters, the more it
    can absorb moisture. The activated carbon adsorbs (not
    absorbs) gases and organic molecules,

Now that you know some benefits of oxygen absorbers, and you
know that hand-warmers are not the same as oxygen absorbers,
you might want to start using oxygen absorbers right away in
your food storage. It's tempting, but before you get started with
oxygen absorbers, get all your food storage ready and follow the
steps below.

Get Started Using Oxygen Absorbers
Before you open the package of oxygen absorbers, get ready,
because there are three important steps to using them properly.

If you have no idea of how to use oxygen absorbers, rest assured
that it's pretty easy; however, you need to plan before you open
the package of oxygen absorbers. There are the three basic

Three basic steps to using oxygen absorbers:

1. Set aside a canning jar for storage of absorbers.
Have a canning jar ready which will fit the entire package of
oxygen absorbers. The canning jar must have a tight, sealable lid,
so you can immediately place the absorbers you are not using in
it. Set aside this reserved jar, ensuring it is dry and ready to go.

2. Prepare your food.
Have your dry canning ingredients and their containers clean and
ready before opening the package of absorbers. This means you
must fill all your canning jars or mylar bags with food and have
the lids ready or the sealing equipment at your side. This ensures
you're prepared to plop in the oxygen absorber packets
immediately after opening the package and seal the food
immediately to take on the full power of the absorbers.

Foods that benefit most from oxygen absorbers include:

3. Know exactly how many absorbers you'll need.
Make sure you know how many oxygen absorber packets you'll
need for the task at hand.

This will give you a general idea for your food storage project:
  • Use at least one 100-cc oxygen absorber for a mason jar
  • Use three 100-cc oxygen absorbers per #10 can
  • Use 500 cc's of oxygen absorbers for a five-gallon bucket

Seven Tips for working with oxygen absorbers:

Tip #1: See if the oxygen absorbers are fresh
Look for the pink pill on the bag, which provides a good indication
of effectiveness in the packet. It doesn't guarantee the oxygen
packets are good; however, it does show the effectiveness of the
absorbers in the packaging. Instead: pinch the bag and you will
know it is almost certainly good. The goal of oxygen absorbers is
to lowers oxygen levels to less than 0.01%. The pink pill
indicates this. If it's blue, you have an old bag.

Tip #2: Use oxygen absorbers immediately.
Estimate how many oxygen absorbers you need, then purchase
oxygen absorbers in the smallest lot possible for the food storage
prepping you've planned. Plan to use them immediately as oxygen
absorbers start loosing effectiveness within three months of
purchase. That's because they are intended for long term storage
in mason jars, Mylar bags, #10 cans, and food grade buckets.

Tip #3: Transfer oxygen absorbers to an interim
mason jar
When you're ready to begin working and after determining that
they are worthy of use, open the package of oxygen absorbers
and store them immediately in a glass mason jar (and not a zip
lock plastic bag).  The oxygen absorbers should be air tight. The
minute you open the manufacturer's enclosure, or the minute
there's a puncture in the bag, your oxygen absorbers loose
effectiveness, which is why you need to act quickly.

If you can use a
Food Saver with a jar sealer, pictured right, to
store them in, all the better. The less air, the better!

Tip #4: Inspect the oxygen absorbers.
As you transfer the oxygen absorbers into the mason jar, make
sure each oxygen absorber is soft and powdery inside, not hard or

  • Is it too hard? If you find an oxygen absorber that's hard,
    then it's old and useless and you should toss it. Your oxygen
    absorbers should feel as though they are powdery inside.

  • Is it too hot? If you find an oxygen absorber thats too hot,
    it's a good one! When exposed to oxygen, the absorbers can
    get uncomfortably hot to the touch, but if this happens know
    that it's working (provided the contents are still powdery).
    Pinch the bag to see if it's still good: if it's HARD, then dump

    Now you're ready to begin using your oxygen absorbers.

Tip #5: Don't use oxygen absorbers for some foods.
Know when not to use oxygen absorbers:

  • Do NOT use oxygen absorbers with leavening agents! Do
    not place absorbers with pancake mixes or other products
    with the leavening as the absorber reacts with the leavening
    rendering the product useless. Leavening agents to avoid
    include yeast, bakign soda, and baking powder.

  • Do NOT use oxygen absorbers with salt or sugar either!
    You need to keep salt and sugar dry and pest free, but salt
    simply doesn't need an absorber, and oxygen absorbers will
    harden the sugar (think sugar cubes). Don't waste your
    money and time.

Tip #6: Use oxygen absorbers with food safe, airtight
Select a long-term food storage container that's a barrier to both
oxygen and moisture. Use mason jars with metal lids that have
gaskets, Mylar bags that you can heat seal, metal cans withe
seamed lids (available for use at Mormon canneries), and Pete
Plastic food buckets with air tight lids, such as gamma seal lids.

Tip #7: Get the most use of the oxygen absorber.
Go ahead and use a Foodsaver with your oxygen absorber. Your
Foodsaver will get out the air, and the oxygen absorber will have
to work less to get the remaining oxygen. Also, be sure to put the
oxygen absorber on top, where oxygen collects, so it can do the
job of getting to most of the oxygen.

  • Combine oxygen absorbers with mylar bags and food
    grade buckets. Food will last upwards of 20-30 years in
    mylar bags, when combined with oxygen absorbers and food
    grade buckets. Mylar bags filter out the sunlight and provide
    an additional barrier for oxygen and moisture. To seal mylar
    bags, just iron the opening shut. It's that simple to begin
    bagging your Costco and Sam's Club bulk purchases.

Tips for Purchasing Mylar bags
When it comes time to buy a Mylar bags, know that thicker is
~ and a good thickness is .05. Long grain rice may easily
poke through thin mylar, which is important to know if you're not
using the mylar in another container.

Tips for emergency food buckets

  • Don't run to Home Depot and get yourself a white bucket as
    it might not be food grade! Ordinary buckets will leach toxic
    chemicals during storage.

  • Never store foods in a used bucket as it may have contained
    toxic substances as well. How can you be sure that bucket
    you got at the bakery wasn't also used to mop the floors.
    Don't risk it.

  • Remember to use a gamma seal lid and a bucket opener
    (pictured right) to make it easier to open and close your food.

Oxygen absorbers vs. silica gel packs
What's in the oxygen absorbers?
The active ingredient of oxygen absorbers is iron. Oxygen
absorbers aren't toxic ~ when you think of it many preppers cook
on iron (think
Lodge cast iron). Oxygen absorbers also include
sodium and activated charcoal.

When this charcoal gray iron powder does its job, it rusts. This
rusting creates an iron-oxide compound, which is simply a
combination of iron and oxygen. The oxygen clings to the iron,
leaving the rest of the container with nitrogen, which doesn't
have an effect on your food. (Air is a combination of 21% oxygen
and the rest is mostly nitrogen.)

There is no "dirty little secret" about oxygen absorbers.
Oxygen absorbers are not made the same as handwarmers! It's
true that handwarmers, have an iron powder in them, along with
activated charcoal and sodium chloride, but handwarmers also
include an inedible substance: vermiculite, which may be harmful.
Vermiculite is linked to asbestos.)

Not only do handwarmers have vermiculite, which shouldn't be
around your food, but the packets themselves are not considered

Are handwarmers the same as oxygen absorbers?
Now you know: they are made similarly, but they are not the
same. You should never use handwarmers in place of oxygen
absorbers, since they perform different functions. Because
vermiculite sometimes can become contaminated with asbestos,
it's not suitable for food use.

Why risk your health and why risk your valuable food storage by
being cheap on your oxygen absorbers? Don't skimp! Oxygen
absorbers are food-safe, vermiculite free, and ideal for food
storage. These hard working little oxygen absorber packets keep
oxygen in check to lock-in freshness and lock-out microorganisms,
insects and even moisture.
Do you know the difference between a desiccant, and
an oxygen absorber
A desiccant removes the moisture and an oxygen absorbs
removes the oxygen! Use a desiccant for your firearms storage (
, in a gun safe); and use an oxygen absorber for your food
storage. It's that simple. Now you know.

What's the difference between deoxidizers, oxygen absorbers,
silica gel packets and deoxidizers?

  • Deoxidizers: The purpose of deoxidizers is to remove
    oxygen during manufacturing, but preppers often mistakenly
    believe they are for stabilization during storage. They are
    useless by the time you get them. Do not re-use.

  • Oxygen absorbers: Non-toxic powdered iron in food-safe
    packets. Oxy-Sorb helps retain fresh-roasted flavor of coffee
    and nuts, as well as prevents oxidation of spice oleoresins
    present in spices themselves and in seasoned foods. Ideal
    for nuts because it prevents oxidation of vitamins a, c and e
    and significantly improves keeping qualities of
    polyunsaturated fats and oils. Use with gas flushing/vacuum
    packaging to absorb virtually all oxygen and absorb any
    oxygen that may permeate the package. When used with
    proper packaging and sealing, Oxy-Sorb reduces oxygen in
    the packaging to extend shelf life by preventing growth of
    aerobic pathogens and spoilage organisms, including molds.

  • Silica gel packets: Silica gel has many prepper uses. Silica
    gel, clay, molecular sieve and activated carbon desiccants
    remove moisture of various products at manufacturing. They
    are useless by the time you get them. Do not re-use them
    unless you reheat them. (We suggest you just get new
    ones.) Yes, you can use silica gel packets for certain meats;
    however never re-use oxygen absorbers or silica gel packets
    for food. Oxygen absorbers have a limited shelf life, and
    silica gel packets are not free from contamination if they
    have been used previously. While it's true you can re-use
    silica gel packets, please do not re-use them for food. Some
    silica gel packets are toxic, including the ones that start of
    blue and end up pinkish.

Is it okay to re-use Silica Gels?
No! Do not re-use Silica Gels because they break easily. Beware
of microscopic leaks or infusion as silica gels are toxic and
carcinogenic. Silica gels are not intended for food. Silica gel is
irritating to the respiratory tract and may cause irritation of the
digestive tract. Also, dust from the beads may cause irritation to
the skin and eyes.

Finally, do not confuse oxygen absorber packets with
silica gel
packets, though sometimes they may be used similarly.

No doubt oxygen absorbers are a prepper favorite; however, too
many prepper articles advise re-using the silica gel packets
enclosed with new merchandise. The first reason is they are
vastly different. Oxygen absorbers reduce oxygen and silica gel
packets remove moisture. Also, silica gel packets included with
shoes and other products were not created for  stabilization
during storage, but rather for moisture removal during
manufacture. By the time you get the merchandise, the silica
packet has long lost its effectiveness.

Why risk your valuable food storage by being cheap on your
oxygen absorbers? Don't skimp!

Also remember, before you open the package of oxygen absorbers:
  1. Set aside a canning jar for storage of absorbers.
  2. Prepare your food.
  3. Know exactly how many absorbers you'll need.

Now you know that oxygen absorbers are important to inhibit
mold growth, prevent oxidation of fats, stop microbial growth and
hinder discoloration of your foods.

Now that you know how to use oxygen absorbers for food storage,
get started using them! Still not sure how to use them?

AlaskaGranny covers the basics on Oxygen Absorbers:
  • What are oxygen absorbers?
  • When to use oxygen absorbers?
  • How to use oxygen absorbers?
  • What foods to store for long term food storage using oxygen
  • What foods should never be stored with oxygen absorbers?
Oxygen Absorbers
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