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 Post subject: Mylar bags FAQ
PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2014 5:08 pm 
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Introduction

Hello there ZS! I'm a 23 year old idiot from Norway! Some of you might have seen me in the off topic section before and that's where I'm the most comfortable :p
I'm also a member of some Norwegian prepper sites and that's where I get most of my food prepping tips from. I thought I check out the food section of ZS and to my big surprise, no info topic on Mylar bags! Well then! I thought I'd make my own! I'm fairly new to this myself, so if there are anyone here that are more experienced than I am, please, do correct me if I'm wrong on something!






What's Mylar bags?
Mylar bags are metalized film made into bags. These bags are either sealed by zip-lock or heat(Vacuum sealer works great too). The bags are water and air tight, so they are the perfect way of storing food that should stay dry and away from oxygen.

Like Kleenex, Mylar is a brand name and not the name of the product, but the name kind of stuck. And that's why you have to be careful buying "Mylar" from Hong Kong. These are most likely knock offs. Not saying that they can't be just as good, but hey, why take the chance?

Image

What can I store in Mylar bags?
You can store basically everything that is dry or can be dried in Mylar. So for long term storing of rice, wheat, coffee, sugar, salt (and so on) Mylar is the perfect thing.

You can check out YouTube clips of people opening 15-20yr old Mylar bags of rice and eating it without problem.

How do I store them?
The metallic film is thin and vulnerable, so for protection I recommend using buckets(or something like that). You can make Mylar bags into blocks and storing them that way, but you will have to be careful. If you store it in a bucket you can store it in less than perfect conditions without any risk to the product.
Store the product in room temperature or below and you'll have emergency supplies for year and years.


Where can I buy them?

If you live in the US you can probably get them at a local store. Hunting goods maybe? Actually, I have no idea. I live in Norway, so I have to order them online.
Sorbentsystems are the best option for me. Low shipping cost and reasonable product prices. Does anyone know what stores/where you can buy Mylar bags over the counter?



What size and thickness should I use?
Well, that depends.. The size of the bag should not be much larger than what you are storing. And you shouldn't store too much of some product in the same bag.

For example. How fast can you use 5gallons of sugar or salt? Not fast. So storing sugar and salt in huge buckets might not be the best idea. On the other hand, pasta and rice will probably go pretty fast, so you'll have no problem storing that in 5gallon buckets, especially if you have family and friends.

So I recommend using small bags for things like salt, sugar, coffe and larger bags for things like rice and pasta.

Thickness.. 3.5 -7 mil are common. In my opinion, you don't need 7mil if you use a bucket. 3.5 will do just fine. If you make them into blocks however, a thicker bag is a safer bag. It's all about the integrity of the bag. You need to be really careful so that you don't puncture them. Even micro cracks can leak oxygen, water or even bacterias into the bags.




How do I seal them?

Like I mentioned earlier in the post, there are two types of bags. Zip-lock and heat locked bags.

The zip-lock versions are really easy to seal and works fine for some of the more short term items on your list and they are reusable. Short term items that last a bit longer if stored dry. Personally I don't use them at all. All my stored food are long life.

"I use those for the things that I wouldn't use much of at a time. Like salt, baking soda, chili powder etc. There is enough room above the zipper to heat seal these bags for long term storage but once you open them up you can still close the bag between uses with the zipper." - Regulator

Heat sealed bags. Here you can use anything that makes a lot of heat. Personally I use a clothing iron for large bags and a hair straightener for smaller bags. (Not my vids, obviously. Just felt it would be stupid to make my own when there are decent one out there)

Can I use a vacuum sealer for my mylar bags? -RW_Tucker
Of course! There are some vacuum sealers that can also seal Mylar bags. However, I don't have a vacuum sealer as I have no use for them in day to day life. Some of them are quite expensive, but if you can find other uses for them you can safely invest in such equipment!


Wait, in the videos they mentioned oxygen absorbers.. What's that?

Image

Well, o2 absorbers are small packs you throw into the Mylar bag to get all the oxygen sucked "out". You do this to better preserve the content of the Mylar bag.
But be careful, once you open a pack it takes a little while to activate but you will need to work fast. The best way to ensure the best use of the absorber is to seal all your bags part way, then drop your o2 absorbers in the bags and seal them fast.

NB! Do not use o2 absorbers for sugar. You'll end up with a big block of sugar that you'll find hard to use. (Hard.. Get it? dat prepper pun :v: )

What size to use? Glad you asked!

Imagine you have a 5 gallon bucket that you're going to use for storage. You put a large Mylar bag (20x30 inches) into the bucket and fill in your product.

Say the 5 gallon(18920ml. rounded to 20000ml) bucket now contains 40% air(And that's mooooore than fair) and then 21% of this is oxygen.

20 000ml x 0,4 x 0,21 = 1680ml oxygen.

Because we rounded up and the o2 packs are made to handle more than they advertise a 1500cc pack would be ok for the 5gallon Mylar bag. If you really want to be sure, you can safely go for the 2000cc packs.

Keep in mind that the more air you have at the top of the bag when it's sealed, the bigger o2 absorbers you need. And if you're packing food that have air pockets like pasta or macaroni, you will need more than one o2 absorber because the percentage of air in the bag is bigger.


Is there anything you should do to help with bugs/eggs that are already in some of the items, or will the O2 packets help with this? - nathat


Bugs are nasty, of course... But they will die because of the o2 absorbers so you won't have to worry about them eating your food.. You should inspect your food before putting it in the Mylar bags and if you don't find anything; you're good to go!

Anaerobic organisms on the other hand, they don't die because they do not require oxygen. But most of these will die when you cook the food and the ones that won't die from from the cooking are so unlikely to end up in your food to begin with..

If you don't see any obvious damage or serious discoloration of the product it's probably just fine. But just in case, store more than you think you need. And if you're afraid of contamination, divide everything in to smaller bags instead of 5gallon bags.



And remember people..
Store what you eat and eat what you store!
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


If there are any more questions, ask them here and I'll try to answer as best I can! The question and answer will be added in the main post. (If if don't reply for a little while, PM me, I might just have forgotten to check the thread.)


I've probably forgotten something, just ask me in the thread. Of if you already know the answer; post it and I'll update the thread and give you credits for the addition.

Thanks!

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Last edited by Leckie on Mon Nov 17, 2014 3:51 am, edited 8 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Mylar bags FAQ
PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2014 2:53 am 
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Good thread. You mentioned not having any good examples for the ziplock bags. I use those for the things that I wouldn't use much of at a time. Like salt, baking soda, chili powder etc. There is enough room above the zipper to heat seal these bags for long term storage but once you open them up you can still close the bag between uses with the zipper.

O2 absorbers will be flexible when they are good and become hard as a rock when they are full. As the OP said it pays to work fast and if you have left over absorbers you can save them by re-packing them with a vacuum sealer. A well packaged mylar bag of food, once the O2 absorbers have done their job, will look like it's been vacuum packed. Ie: the bag will be sucked in to where you can see the bumps from the grain or pasta or whatever. And FWIW, vacuum sealers don't work on Mylar bags unless you use a straw or something to allow for the suction. I'm sure there's a video on that out there somewhere, but it's easier to just O2 the bags.

Pack your buckets as you would use the product. For instance, I'll pack a 5 gallon bucket with three 1 gal bags of wheat and then throw in quart ziplocks of sugar, baking powder/soda, powdered egg etc. A bucket of pasta, you may want to add powdered cheese or butter. Remember to date each bag and write the dates and contents on the bucket. It would be tough to remember what you put in a bucket 20 years ago.

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 Post subject: Re: Mylar bags FAQ
PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2014 8:49 am 
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Great write-up! I have not yet started doing this, because I"m not THAT long term yet. But I will be.

Thanks a lot!

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 Post subject: Re: Mylar bags FAQ
PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2014 11:44 am 
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Thanks! My English is not that good and I tend to forget stuff when I'm writing about it. But It looks like I covered the basics so additions will be made along the way!

When I get the next shipment of bags I'll write about making the bags into bricks for saving space.

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 Post subject: Re: Mylar bags FAQ
PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2014 11:52 am 
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Well, you did a great job writing.

I really appreciate your comments on how delicate the bags are. Like I said, I have not worked much with them yet.

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 Post subject: Re: Mylar bags FAQ
PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2014 12:33 pm 
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great post.

Is there anything you should do to help with bugs/eggs that are already in some of the items, or will the O2 packets help with this?


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 Post subject: Re: Mylar bags FAQ
PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2014 1:33 pm 
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Bugs are nasty, of course... But they will die because of the o2 absorbers so you won't have to worry about them eating your food.. You should inspect your food before putting it in the Mylar bags if you don't find anything you're good to go!

Anaerobic organisms on the other hand, they don't die because they do not require oxygen. But most of these will die when you cook the food and the ones that won't die from from the cooking are so unlikely to end up in your food to begin with..

If you don't see any obvious damage or serious discoloration of the product it's probably just fine. But just in case, store more than you think you need. And if you're afraid of contamination, divide everything in to smaller bags instead of 5gallon bags.

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 Post subject: Re: Mylar bags FAQ
PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2014 9:58 pm 
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A little trick I have for you guys:


You take these ingredients(except flour and water), mix them well in a bowl. Pour content in to two seperate mylar bags, seal, but in BOB or backpack for hiking. Great bread, easy to make and yumyumyummy! Remember to tape them together or something.

4 cups flour
2 tsp. sugar
1 ½ cups warm water
2 tsp. salt
4 tsp. yeast (some use baking powder instead of yeast. I prefer baking soda because of longer shelf life)

Vegetable Oil for frying in a pan (you can use a small amount or larger amount to deep fry)
If you can, add some syrup for that little extra. (NOT IN THE MYLAR BAGS!!!!!!!!!!! Added later, in the mixing process)

(The measurements are not exact. I suggest you try a few times with different measurements so you get the taste just right)

1) Mix water, sugar, salt and yeast/baking soda together in the mylar bag – let stand 5 minutes.
2) Add to a bowl and add the flour and knead until the mixture is smooth.
3) Find a stick and remove bark and dirt from one end.
4) Apply the dough to the clean end of the stick.
5) Heat over fireplace

I believe you call it bannoc? In Norway it's Pinnebrød. Which translates to "stickbread" Actually one of the highlights of my camping trips because it just tastes so damn good. Remember to bring a jar of strawberry jam(Ooooooh damn.. So good! That's it. I'm making pinnebrød now)

Image




OR if you are using a portable stove you can just fry it in the pan.

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 Post subject: Re: Mylar bags FAQ
PostPosted: Tue Oct 07, 2014 12:42 pm 
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I've built up the short term pantry fairly well and added some commercial long term storage options (20/30yr cans). Now my focus is on building up a store using 1/2 and 1 gallon Mylar bags w/ 300cc absorbers. I've got the bags, and the O2 absorbers, but I've been reading articles/threads and debating if they need to be vacuumed before sealing. I'm sure that it couldn't hurt to take the extra steps, but do you think it's worth the time and expense in the long run?

My setup is this, an old foodsaver w/ an internal vacuum that works great for short term and freezer storage when we bulk buy food, but it does not have enough power to seal a mylar bag. So if I can't find one under my wife's sink, I'm planning on swinging by the Wally World and buying a straight iron to seal the bags. I was thinking of getting a hand vacuum like you would use for brake lines or AC fittings, but they start around $30 and I'd rather put that $$ towards more food.

I've even tried to rig the foodsaver with a hacked attachment, and that doesn't appear to be a solution without taking it apart. Although the desire to retrieve the drill from the garage was growing, I didn't want to mess it up for normal usage.


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 Post subject: Re: Mylar bags FAQ
PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2014 6:52 pm 
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modF wrote:
I've built up the short term pantry fairly well and added some commercial long term storage options (20/30yr cans). Now my focus is on building up a store using 1/2 and 1 gallon Mylar bags w/ 300cc absorbers. I've got the bags, and the O2 absorbers, but I've been reading articles/threads and debating if they need to be vacuumed before sealing. I'm sure that it couldn't hurt to take the extra steps, but do you think it's worth the time and expense in the long run?


Nonono, it's not at all worth it unless you're using it for others thing as well. If you're going to vacuum the bags, there is no need for o2 absorbers since you suck out all the air, not just the oxygen. It's much easier and cheaper to use o2 absorbers, unless you already have a vacuum machine that's compatible with mylar, of course.

modF wrote:
My setup is this, an old foodsaver w/ an internal vacuum that works great for short term and freezer storage when we bulk buy food, but it does not have enough power to seal a mylar bag. So if I can't find one under my wife's sink, I'm planning on swinging by the Wally World and buying a straight iron to seal the bags. I was thinking of getting a hand vacuum like you would use for brake lines or AC fittings, but they start around $30 and I'd rather put that $$ towards more food.


I usually just press out the extra air with my hands and toss in the absorbers. I've had no problem with this so far. If you do want to spend the extra bucks on vacuum sealers and other stuff that's just as good, but then you don't need the O2 absorbers at all. The good thing about the sealers is that they work great in the kitchen as well, so if you can find others uses for it I'd recommend that.

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 Post subject: Re: Mylar bags FAQ
PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2014 5:00 pm 
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What is a good source for the mylar bags and o2 absorbers? I see a lot of different sites that sell them. Does anyone have any experience with any of them?


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 Post subject: Re: Mylar bags FAQ
PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 2:11 pm 
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Anyone have a suggestion for a good source for mylar bags and o2 absorbers?


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 Post subject: Re: Mylar bags FAQ
PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2014 8:43 am 
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Wow, what an awesome thread!

I guess I am not quite clear on something. Can a vacuum sealer for for a mylar bag? We have one that uses simple plastic bags, but I am pretty sure those bags are proprietary.


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 Post subject: Re: Mylar bags FAQ
PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2014 3:48 am 
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Bostoned wrote:
Anyone have a suggestion for a good source for mylar bags and o2 absorbers?


Where you can buy Mylar bags is featured in the top post. Sorbentsystems is my favorite supplier.


RW_Tucker wrote:
Wow, what an awesome thread!

I guess I am not quite clear on something. Can a vacuum sealer for for a mylar bag? We have one that uses simple plastic bags, but I am pretty sure those bags are proprietary.


Of course! There are some vacuum sealers that can also seal Mylar bags. However, I don't have a vacuum sealer as I have no use for them in day to day life. Some of them are quite expensive, but if you can find other uses for them you can safely invest in such equipment!

I'm sorry for the slow replies, but because of my work I'm travelling a lot these days.


I can see that the main post has only received a one star rating. Is there something I'm doing wrong or have I misinformed you in some way? Please don't hesitate to comment if you're unsatisfied with the post. The purpose of the topic is to educate and that should be a team effort, so please, share experiences and opinions!

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 Post subject: Re: Mylar bags FAQ
PostPosted: Wed Oct 28, 2015 1:15 am 
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@Bostoned... Regarding the best places to get mylar bags and oxygen absorbers, I have been using Mylar Pro now for about 5 years. I really like their ziplock mylar bags best. but their regular heavy duty ones are good too and a bit cheaper. i have tried them out both on amazon and buying direct from them at https://mylarpro.com and either way, they arrive quickly


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