Mylar bags are the best do-it-yourself long-term food storage container for dry foods like wheat, white rice, rolled oats, and dry beans. They are easy to use, come in all shapes and sizes, and give foods a 20 to 30-year shelf-life when used with oxygen absorbers. All of my dry bulk foods are stored with Mylar.
Mylar bags are PET plastic bags laminated with aluminum foil. Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers will store dry foods for 20 to 30 years and kill bugs, eggs, and pupae within two weeks. They are an excellent oxygen barrier that protects food from oxidation, moisture, and light.
Do I need Mylar Bags For Food Storage?
Mylar bags are necessary for Do It Yourself food storage because they provide superior oxygen, light, and moisture barrier. No other DIY container offers the well-rounded protection of a Mylar bag. The one exception is #10 cans, the absolute best long-term food storage containers, but most preppers do not have the equipment to preserve food with this method.
4 Reasons To Store Food In Mylar Bags (long term food storage container)
Mylar is strong, pliable, and sealable. Plastic buckets are excellent storage containers but don’t provide a true oxygen barrier. Other than #10 cans, there is no other storage container that matches Mylar. And wow, are they easy to use. You can store hundreds of pounds of food quickly and easily.
#1 Oxygen Protection
Food stored in an oxygen-rich environment allows bug eggs to hatch and bacteria and fungus to thrive. Mylar protects food from these elements. Once heat-sealed, Mylar doesn’t allow oxygen transfer into the bag, so food doesn’t oxidize, and bugs, eggs, and pupae can’t survive.
If you use Mylar that is five mils or thicker, it also protects food from light oxidation, breaking down the quality and nutritional value of foods.
#2 Moisture Protection
Mylar bags store dry foods with less than 10% moisture and low in fat. For example, white rice and beans. The Mylar acts as a shield or barrier, keeping additional moisture out of the bag.
You want low-moisture dry foods going into the Mylar bag, and then you want to keep moisture out. Mylar does this well.
Warning: Only Foods with less than 10% moisture are stored in Mylar because high moisture foods are at a higher risk for anaerobic bacteria like botulism, a deadly food poisoning, which you can’t see, smell, or taste.
#3 Light Protection
Mylar bags with laminated aluminum foil block light from oxidizing dry foods like beans, rice, and wheat.
Light oxidation reduces the nutritional value and quality of dry goods. This is one reason you repackage dry foods for long-term storage.
#4 Bug Protection
Mylar itself doesn’t kill bugs. A lack of oxygen does.
Use the proper Oxygen absorption in a sealed Mylar bag and get oxygen levels down to .01%. Vacuum packing is not as efficient at removing oxygen.
The oxygen-free environment kills bugs, eggs, and pupae within two weeks.
Most dry goods like rice, wheat berries, and beans have bug eggs when you purchase them. This is one of the reasons you repackage foods for long-term storage.
Storage Tip: When storing foods with sealed Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers, you do not need to freeze foods before packaging.
Should I Use Mylar With a Food-grade Bucket? (long term food storage container)
When I store dry foods for my emergency pantry, I line a 5-gallon food-grade bucket with an 18 x 28 Mylar bag, fill it with white rice or wheat, and pop in a 2000 cc oxygen absorber. Once sealed, the food is protected for decades. You can package it and forget about it until you need it.
Use Mylar Bags when storing food, for long-term storage, in food-grade buckets because the plastic in the buckets is not a true oxygen barrier. Plastic buckets won’t protect food from oxidation long-term and may not kill bugs, eggs, and pupae.
You do not need a 5-gallon bucket or a plastic container to protect Mylar if storing food for a short period. For maximum shelf-life, store Mylar inside a lidded food-grade bucket for protection against puncture, pin-holing, and rodent damage.
Chart #1 Mylar Bags Sizes That Fit 5-Gallon Bucket(s)
|Mylar Bags Size||Bucket Size|
|20″x30″||4.25, 5, 6 gallon|
|18″x28″||4.25, 5, 6 gallon|
Is Mylar Food Grade?
Not all Mylar bags are food-grade. They may be special use and have added chemicals, or they may be made in a factory that isn’t food safe. Bags for food storage will say they are food-grade, and most online stores that sell them only sell food-grade products.
Mylar bags used for food storage are food-grade or food-safe and can make direct contact with food. They are made from PET Polyethylene terephthalate, used to make water bottles, and laminated aluminum foil. Mylar bags sold for direct food contact will be identified, as such, in the product literature.
How Long Can You Store Food In Mylar Bags? (long term food storage container)
Some foods will store longer than others. The backbone of most long-term or prepper pantries are staple foods like white rice, dried beans, wheat berries, rolled oats, and other hard and soft grains.
When you use Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers, dry foods such as wheat, white rice, dried beans, and rolled oats, and other foods with less than 10% moisture and low in fat will store for 30 years or more if they are properly packaged and kept in a cool, dry location.
Some foods aren’t worth storing in Oxygen-free containers, and some will gain decades of shelf-life. Here are some
Chart #2 Foods That Store Less Than A Year In Mylar
|Whole Bean Coffee|
Chart #3 Food That Stores Up To 3 Years In Mylar
|Beef Jerky (Less than 10% Moisture)|
Chart #4 Food(s) That Store Up To 5 Years In Mylar
|Herbs (dried and ground)|
|Powdered Milk (With Fat)|
|Seeds (Garden and Sprouting)|
Chart #5 Foods That Store Up To 10 Years In Mylar
|Peanut Butter Powder|
|Powdered Milk (skimmed)|
|Unbleached Wheat Flour|
Chart #6 Foods That Store Up To 20 Years In Mylar
Chart #7 Foods That Store Up to 30 Years In Mylar
|Freeze Dried Fruit and vegetables|
|Powdered Milk (fat-free)|
Chart #8: Foods With An Indefinite Shelf Life Stored In Mylar
|Salt – (do not use oxygen absorbers, or salt will turn hard)|
|Sugar- (do not use oxygen absorbers, or sugar will turn hard)|
What Are the Best Mylar Bags For Food Storage?
The best Mylar bags for long-term food storage are five mils or thicker. Bags thinner than five mils may let in light, causing light oxidation of food—the thicker the bag, the more protection provided. Bags should also be sold as food grade and include laminated foil to keep out light.
How Do You Seal Mylar Bags For Food Storage?
Mylar bags are heat-sealed with a clothes iron, hair straightener, or a Mylar bag sealer for long-term storage. Weak points in the seal come from using too much or too little heat. Dusty or dirty Mylar or wrinkles when the bag is sealed are also weak points.
How Do I Get Air Out of Mylar Bags?
Removing air from a sealed Mylar bag when using oxygen absorbers isn’t necessary. When oxygen absorbers are placed inside the bag and heat-sealed, the absorber(s) will remove oxygen. It is not necessary to remove nitrogen from the bag. It is an inert gas that does not spoil food.
Can You Store Salt and Sugar In Mylar Bags? (long term food storage container)
You can store salt and sugar in Mylar bags to protect them from moisture but do not use oxygen absorbers. Both are exceptions to the food storage rule for dry long-term food storage. They are not spoiled by oxygen and will become rock-hard if stored this way.
Can You Reseal Mylar Bags?
You can reseal Mylar bags as long as you have enough Mylar to make the seal, cut the old seal off and reseal below it. Use larger bags than you need to make this easier.
Can You Reuse Mylar Bags?
You can reuse Mylar bags multiple times if you don’t store non-food items in the bag before storing food. To reuse Mylar bags, wash them and let them dry thoroughly before reuse.
How Long Can You Store Rice In Mylar Bags?
Dried White Rice will store 30 years or more in a heat-sealed Mylar bag with the proper amount of oxygen absorption.
Can I Use Mylar Bags In the Freezer?
You can use Mylar bags in the freezer, but be careful because they become brittle. If you place oxygen absorbers inside the bag before freezing, let it sit overnight before putting it in the freezer, or the O2 absorbers will not work correctly.
If you are using Oxygen absorbers, it isn’t necessary to freeze foods to kill bugs; the oxygen-free environment will do this.
Freeze-Dry High Moisture Food Before Storing in Mylar
You should freeze-dry high-moisture foods before storing them in an oxygen-free container like a Mylar bag. Freeze-drying reduces moisture to 2% for most foods; the safety guideline is less than 10% moisture for oxygen-free storage to avoid non-aerobic bacteria like botulism.
Storage Tip: Many foods can not be stored in sealed Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers if you don’t freeze-dry them first.
Are Oxygen Absorbers Needed For Mylar Bags?
Oxygen absorbers are a great way to preserve food with Mylar. Absorbers come in sizes noted by cc or cubic centimeters. You can use many miniature absorbers to get enough cc of oxygen absorption, or you can use a big absorber. I’ve done it both ways in my food storage.
Chart #9: Mylar Bag Sizes, cc Oxygen Absorption Required By Food Type
|Mylar Bag Sizes||Wheat/Flour/Grains/Rice|
More Compact/’Less Air
Less Compact/More Air
|20″x30″ (4.25,5,6-gal bucket(s)||2000cc||2500cc to 3000cc|
|18″x28″ (4.25,5,6-gal bucket(s)||2000cc||2500cc to 3000cc|
|14″x20″ (2 gal)||1000cc||1500cc to 2000cc|
|14″x18″x6″ (2 gal)||1000cc||1500cc to 2000cc|
|12″x18″ (1.5 gal)||800cc||1200cc|
|12″x16″x6″ (1.5 gal)||800cc||1200cc|
|10″x14″ (1 gal)||400cc||400cc|
|8″x12″ (1/2 gal)||200cc||400cc|
|6″x10″ (1/4 gal)||100cc||200cc|
|6″x8″ (1/4 gal)||100cc||200cc|
*Note, these are average amounts at sea level. You may need more or less depending on your conditions and the remaining residual volume of air. There is no danger in adding too many as this does not affect the food.
Oxygen represents 20% of the total air volume, and the number in cc’s above represents the amount of oxygen that would be absorbed. Conversions: 1cc = 1ml. 1000ml = 1 Liter. 3.78 Liters = 1 gallon.