Oxygen absorbers were introduced into the emergency and survival food storage arena in the early 1990s. Oxygen absorbers are small plastic packets that contain an iron powder and are made of a unique perforated material that allows moisture and oxygen to be absorbed without the iron powder leaking out. Oxygen absorbers are very easy and relatively inexpensive to use, and provide an excellent and very effective technology to ensure a very low residual oxygen level inside sealed food storage containers. Oxygen Absorbers will not harm the food they are in contact with as they are non-toxic and come in an encapsulated and sealed sachet. Most of them are FDA approved and safe to place on top of your food in storage.
How do oxygen absorbers work?
The residual oxygen level established by military specifications to significantly reduce the microbial growth and oxidation for long term foods is set at a maximum of 2%. However, using appropriately sized oxygen absorbers can reduce the residual oxygen levels to less than 0.1% representing a significant drop in oxygen levels. As the name implies, oxygen absorbers only remove the oxygen and the air left in the container is mostly nitrogen which does not affect the food or allow the growth of insects. Oxygen Absorbers can take 4 to 48 hours to create a virtually oxygen-free atmosphere. However, it is important to handle oxygen absorbers properly and to use the correct sizes to achieve your desired outcome.
Why should you use oxygen absorbers for your food storage?
There are two main reasons for using oxygen absorbers namely, prevention of food damage by infestation and the prevention of oxidation. Oxidation causes food deterioration, including nutritional loss, discoloration, texture change, deterioration and rancidity of fats and oils, and the loss of flavor and taste. Thus, oxygen absorbers increase the shelf life of most foods in food storage. Oxygen absorbers are simple to use and offer the following benefits for long term food storage;
- Oxygen absorbers are nontoxic and safe to use.
- Oxygen is reduced to 0.1% or less in an airtight container, prolonging the product’s shelf life.
- They keep stored food fresh and maintain its nutritional value, color, flavor, taste, and wholesome goodness.
- They prevent oxidation and infestation by microorganisms, bacteria, mold, bacteria, insects,, which would otherwise thrive in an oxygen-rich packaging environment causing food spoilage and damage.
- The sachets don’t require special treatment and can be discarded through ordinary disposal methods.
How to use oxygen absorbers?
Oxygen absorbers are relatively easy to use. All that you require is to be aware of the procedures and characteristics of storage, sizing, containers, handling, and precautions. Oxygen absorbers were designed to work when inserted into containers that offer airtight characteristics such as cans, bottles, and film. Oxygen absorbers work best when used with sealed Mylar bags. The following lesser storage options can also be used: mason jars with canning lids, #10 sized metal cans with sealed lids, vacuum sealed bags, 5-gallon plastic buckets with gamma lids, and PETE plastic bottles. In simple terms, put your food in a metal can, glass bottle, or a high gas barrier film package put the appropriate size oxygen absorber on top of the food in the container, and then seal the container properly.
Note: Oxygen absorbers are used to store food items that have low moisture and oil content i.e. less than 10%. Common foods that work extremely well with O2 absorbers are dry food items like rice, wheat, beans, oats, and pasta. Likewise, most anything thing that is dehydrated or dried can also be stored in sealed container with an absorber too. However, using oxygen absorbers to store food items which have a much higher moisture or oil content may result in botulism poisoning. Also, understand that due to the varying packaging methods and the various types of absorbers that exist, some oxygen absorbers brands have a limited shelf life, even when sealed, so only purchase an amount that you can use within a year. However, if you purchase a well-known brand like the oxy-free oxygen absorbers brand from a respected D.I.Y. food storage supply company, like MylarPro, then the unopened bags will still retain a strong potency level for several years to come.
In conclusion, there are two main reasons for using oxygen absorbers namely, prevention of food damage by infestation and the prevention of oxidation. Thus, oxygen absorbers increase the shelf life of most your foods in food storage. Oxygen absorbers are economical and safe to use and offer a way to create an oxygen-free environment, helping to improve the shelf-life of food in storage. If you are wondering where to purchase them here is the best place online to buy mylar bags and O2 absorbers.