How To Preserve White Rice For Long-Term Storage

White Rice is one of the best-dried staple foods you can store in long-term storage because it is highly nutritious, versatile, and lasts 30 years or more if packaged correctly. White rice is the backbone of my long-term emergency stores. Keeping rice long-term is simple, but it does need to be repackaged from store-bought packaging for maximum shelf-life.

Rice is preserved in long-term storage by re-packaging it into containers that protect rice from oxygen, moisture, heat, light, and bugs. The best “DIY” packaging method for preserving rice is a food-grade bucket lined with a Mylar bag and 3000cc oxygen absorbers.

This container combo is simple and does an excellent job of squeezing the maximum shelf-life out of your white rice.

Repackaging Tip: When packaging rice in an oxygen-free container, you do not need to freeze the rice before packaging it. An oxygen-free container will kill bugs, eggs, and pupae within 2 weeks.

Check out the Ready Squirrel article, “Should You Freeze Rice Before Long-term Storage”

Ready Squirrel Video of Scott Storing White Rice with Mylar Bags, Food-grade buckets and Oxygen Absorbers

Warning: Before repackaging, the rice should contain 10% moisture or less. Dry foods packaged in an Oxygen-free environment with a moisture content above 10% puts the food at risk for anaerobic bacteria, namely botulism.

Repackaging Rice For Preservation: Tools and Equipment

When re-packaging your white rice things will go a lot smoother if you stage your gear before you start pouring rice. Following is the list of tools I use to repackage white rice and other dried goods like hard grains and dried beans. Hopefully this will help you get set up for a painless session of storing rice.

  • 18″x28″ Mylar bag(s) (this is the size I use) or 20″x30.”
  • 5-gallon food-grade bucket with a cheap lid (when using Mylar, you don’t need a lid with a seal)
  • 1-gallon Mylar bags for over-flow
  • Standard Clothes Iron to heat-seal the Mylar bag
  • Permanent Marker to mark the package with the packing date and food type
  • 2000cc Oxygen Absorber(s) for 5-gallon bucket lined with an 18×28″ Mylar Bag
  • 300cc/500cc Oxygen Absorber(s) for 1-gallon overflow bag (s) for extra rice that won’t fit in your bucket
  • Wood board used to place the top of the bag over when you seal it with the iron
  • Scissors to cut open the rice bag, scissors make a clean cut, so it’s easier to pour the rice out of the bag.

Size Of Oxygen Absorber Needed To Preserve Rice

I typically use a 500cc oxygen absorber for 1-gallon of white rice. Some of the lists show 300cc, but I like using a little extra to account for how long the absorber is exposed to the air as I package the rice. Following is a

Chart 1 White Rice/Container Size/CC Oxygen Absorber

Container SizeBag DimensionsCC Oxygen Absorber(s) For White Rice
1 Quart (1/4 gallon) Mylar Bag6″x10″100cc
1/2 Gallon Mylar Bag8″x12″200cc
1 Gallon Mylar Bag10″x14″500cc
1.5 Gallon Mylar Bag12″x18″1000cc
2 Gallon Mylar Bag14″x20″1000cc
5 Gallon Mylar Bag20″x30″ or 18″x28″2000cc
6 Gallon Mylar Bag20″x30″ or 18″x28″2000cc
Information Compliments of USA Emergency Supply. You can mix and match different sizes of Oxygen absorbers to get the minimum cc required to remove oxygen. You cannot use too many Oxygen-absorbers, only too little.

Check out Ready Squirrel’s most popular article on rice as survival food, “Best Way to Store Rice Long-term”

Choosing Mylar Bags For Rice Preservation

When preserving rice for long-term storage, you want to pay attention to the size of the Mylar bag(s) you choose and the mil or thickness of the bag material.

Mylar Bag Size and Rice Exposed to Oxygen

Consider is how much rice you want to expose to oxygen when the package is opened.

It is less convenient but storing rice in smaller 10″x14″ (1-gallon) or 14″x20″ (2-gallon) Mylar bags minimizes the amount of rice exposed to oxygen when the package is opened. Also, the packages are lighter and easier to handle.

Rice Storage Tip: Even if you go with 5 or 6-gallon pails, you will be using smaller bags for overflow, the extra rice that won’t fit in the 5 or 6-gallon bucket. So plan to purchase two sizes of Mylar bag and the oxygen absorbers to go in them. This is how I do it.

  • Use a 500cc absorber in a 1-gallon bags for overflow rice
  • Use a 2000cc oxygen absorber for a 5-gallon food-grade pale lined with an 18″x28″ Mylar bag

Mylar Bag Thickness For Rice Storage

My go-to Mylar bags are 5 mils. They keep light out, and they are tough enough when stored in a plastic food pail or a lidded plastic bin. Mylar thickness over 5 mils is more challenging to seal, and bags that are less than 5 mils are easily damaged and may let light into the package leading to light oxidation of the rice.

Rice Storage Tip: When storing rice in smaller Mylar bags, you still want to protect them, so place them inside a lidded bucket or in a lidded plastic bin to protect rice from bugs, rodents, and physical damage.

Preservation of Rice: Food-grade Pails and Plastic Buckets

You can use non-food-grade buckets to store rice as long as they are lined with a Mylar bag. You don’t want your rice to directly contact non-food-grade plastic because the chemicals and dies used to manufacture are toxic. You don’t want your rice absorbing these toxic chemicals.

Why Use Food-grade Buckets Instead of Non-food grade

When it comes to food for long-term storage, I want to have as many options as possible. The bucket that holds rice today can be repurposed for food-grade uses tomorrow. Down the road, I may want to make pickles, honey-mead, or cider. If the bucket is food-grade, I can use it.

In a truly SHTF situation you may not have the option of running to Walmart or ordering a food-grade bucket on-line.

Rice Preservation: Pounds of Rice Per Container

Each size of Mylar bag or bucket will hold a specific amount, by weight, of white rice.

  • 1 Quart Mylar Bag holds 1.6 pounds of white rice
  • 1/2-gallon Mylar Bag filled contains 3.2 pounds of white rice
  • 1-gallon Mylar bag filled contains 6 pounds of white rice
  • 2 gallon Mylar bag will hold 12 pounds of white rice
  • 5-gallon Bucket lined with an 18″x28″ Mylar Bag holds 35 to 36 pounds of white rice
  • 6-gallon Bucket lined with an 18″x28″ Mylar Bag contains 44 to 45 pounds of white rice when filled
  • #10 can hold 5.5 pounds of white rice

White Rice To Store Per Person

According to Utah State University, you should store 25lb to 60lb of white rice per person for a year’s supply. Rice is one of the many grains they suggest storing to make up the 400lb grain storage suggested per person for a one-year supply.

Type(s) of Rice To Preserve For Long Term Storage

If you are prepping to preserve rice for long-term storage, focus on the various varieties of white rice like long-grain, Jasmine, Basmati, Arborio, or instant rice. Brown, black and purple rice contain natural oils that cause them to go rancid within 18 months regardless of how they are packaged.

Long-grain White Rice long and firm when cooked

Medium-grain White Rice long, soft and sticky when cooked

Short-grain White Rice (sushi rice) very sticky when cooked

Following is chart with the maximum shelf life of various rice types of rice.

Chart 2: Long-Term Shelf Life Of Rice Varieties

Varieties of White RiceRice Shelf Life in Storage PackagingRice Shelf Life Repackaged Into
Oxygen-Free Container(s)
Shelf Life In The Freezer
Long-grain5 years30+ years30+Years
Jasmine 5 Years30+ years30+ Years
Basmati 5 Years30+ years30+ Years
Arborio 5 Years30+ years30+ Years
Minute Rice5 years30+years30+ years
Other Types of Rice
Brown 3-6 months18 months12-18 months
Black/Purple 3-6 months18 months12-18 months
Brown, black and purple rice contain natural oils that cause them to go rancid within 18 months, or less, regardless of how they are packaged.

Rice Preservation: Ideal Storage Environment

When preserving rice for maximum shelf-life, pay attention to storage temperature, humidity, Oxygen-free storage containers, rice moisture content before packaging, and protection from heat and light.

Ideal Storage Temperature For White Rice

The ideal storage temperature for rice can be tough to achieve, so do the best you can. One thing is for sure you want to avoid storing long-term foods, including rice, in areas that aren’t environmentally controlled. Store rice or other dried foods in a hot garage, and you’ll shave off decades of shelf life.

The ideal temperature for the long-term storage of white rice is 75° Fahrenheit or less but above freezing.

Ideal Storage Humidity For White Rice

The humidity or amount of moisture in the air in your long-term storage pantry should be as low as possible. Moisture destroys food and packaging. Moisture is the #1 spoiler of grains like white rice, causing bacterial and mold growth.

The ideal humidity for the preservation of rice in long-term storage is 15% or less. If you live in a high-humidity area, consider using a dehumidifier in your food storage pantry.

Rice and other dried foods soak up moisture in the air like a sponge. This isn’t as much of an issue if you are storing rice in Mylar and sealing it as long as it is 10% moisture or less before re-packaging.

If rice sits in a high humidity environment is will mold, mildew and acquire off odors and flavors.

6 Optimum Oxygen-free Storage Containers: Rice Preservation

Here are 6 storage containers you can use to preserve rice in long-term storage. Some are better than others, but I wanted you to see the most common options so you can choose the container that fits your situation or budget.

Storage Tip: To Preserve Rice and dried grains for long-term storage, use oxygen absorbers in all of these containers to create an oxygen-free environment.

  1. Ball Jars are an excellent oxygen barrier but they break easily and they don’t protect rice from light oxidation.

2. Sterilized Soda Bottles/PETE some people swear by soda bottles but I’ve never used them.

If you re-use soda bottles to repackage rice, make sure you sterilize the bottle and the cap before packaging. And make sure they are super dry if you put rice in wet bottles, the rice with head south in a hurry.

The reason I’m not too fond of soda bottles for rice storage: the bottle plastic isn’t that tough, it’s not a true oxygen barrier, and soda bottles don’t protect rice from light. If you decide to re-use bottles like this, avoid anything that stored dairy products.

Scott Ready Squirrel

3. Food-grade bucket without a Mylar bag- The problem I see with just using buckets is plastic isn’t a true oxygen barrier, and even the best lid seals are known to fail over the long haul.

4. #10 Cans If you keep moisture down, #10 cans are probably the best storage container for rice and other dried grains. They are super tough and keep an excellent seal. A high moisture environment will rust the cans.

Some drawbacks to #10 cans are that most of us don’t have the equipment necessary to store rice this way. The other option is to purchase rice and other dried goods professionally package which can be pricey.

Another minor issue is the cans may impart a tinny flavor to the rice stored in them. This has mostly been remedied because modern cans have a food-safe lining of acrylic or R enamel which creates a barrier between the metal and food.

5. Mylar Bags: Mylar bags are hands down the best “do it yourself option” for repackaging rice for long-term storage. Most of us can do it relatively inexpensively. Mylar is excellent because it keeps oxygen and moisture out and protects rice from light oxidation.

The downside of Mylar bags is they are somewhat weak and easily damaged when compared to food-grade buckets.

Mylar is also extremely susceptible to damage from rodents.

6. Food Grade Bucket, A Mylar Bag & Oxygen Absorber

This is the perfect trifecta for rice and dry grain storage.

The mylar bag is the best DIY oxygen barrier. The bucket and lid are excellent armor for the Mylar, and the Oxygen absorber removes oxygen leaving just nitrogen in the bag.

Moisture Content Of Rice Before Preservation

Rice and other dried foods like wheat, beans, and other grains should be 10% or less in moisture before re-packaging for long-term oxygen-free preservation.

When storing grains with moisture higher than 10% in an Oxygen-free container, you’ve created the prime environment for anaerobic bacteria like botulism to form. It’s a rare type of food poisoning, but it’s deadly.

Protection From Heat & Light

Light oxidizes rice, so avoid clear containers unless you plan on covering them or storing them in a dark cupboard or pantry.

Also, avoid storing rice near heat sources like a stove-top, wood stove, or any appliance that gives off heat.

Picking Good Rice For Preservation

  • Pick only White Rice For Long-term storage, avoid brown or colored rice because its natural oils greatly reduce shelf-life
  • Uncooked Fresh rice does not have a strong scent.
  • Avoid rice with bugs, crushed rice grains, or discolored grains
  • Avoid powdery rice, or if rice grains are crushed or broken, this may be a sign of insect infestation
  • Rice should be hard to the touch. Soft rice has been exposed to moisture. Avoid it
  • Avoid rice that smells musky or moldy
  • If you see or smell anything that doesn’t seem “right,” avoid the rice.


A Guide To Food Storage Emergencies, Utah State University Extension Booklet: PDF Link

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