Mylar bags are the best, “Do It Yourself” containers for storing dry foods in long-term storage.
Mylar bags provide an excellent oxygen barrier, keep out light and moisture, and when used with oxygen absorbers, kill all stages of bug life within 2 weeks. Not to mention, Mylar bags are inexpensive, readily available, and easy to seal.
I’ve stored hundreds of pounds of food with them. They are so easy to use there is no looking back.
What Is A Mylar Bag?
Mylar bags are made from a high barrier material that protects dry food like hard grains, white rice, and beans from light, moisture, oxygen, and air, all of which degrade food over time.
Ideal Thickness Of Mylar Bags For Food Storage (MILS)
Mylar Bags’ ideal thickness (weight) for long-term food storage is 5 plus mils thick. Enough thickness to protect food from light, oxygen, and moisture, and tough enough to withstand handling. 5 mils bags should be stored inside a container for protection from puncture and rodents.
Less Than 5 MILs
Mylar bags that are less than 5 mils may be transparent, letting light hit your food. If you are going for the 30+ year shelf life for white rice, wheat, and dry beans, avoid using these bags. Light degrades the nutritional value over time.
1 Mil is a thousandth of an Inch
Here is a chart to give you an idea of what different thickness of Mylar bags are used for.
Chart 1: Mylar Bag Thickness For Long Term Food Storage
|Bag In Mils||Common Use|
|1 MIL||Transparent/ Light oxidation of dry foods in Long-term storage, weak|
|2 MIL||Transparent/ Light oxidation of dry foods in Long-term storage, weak|
|3 MIL||Transparent/ Light oxidation of dry foods in Long-term storage, weak|
|4 MIL||Semi-transparent/ Light oxidation of dry foods in Long-term storage, easily damaged|
|5 MIL||Protects food from oxygen, moisture, and light, store inside a protective container|
|6 MIL||Protects food from oxygen, moisture, and light, store inside a protective container|
|7 MIL||Ideal For Long Term Food Storage/ Store in a lidded food-grade bucket for rodent protection|
|8 MIL||Super Heavy Weight, Expensive, More difficult to seal|
Mylar Bags For Food Storage: The #1 Weakness
5 mil plus Mylar bags are outstanding at keeping out: oxygen, light, and moisture, but they have a weakness. Rodents easily damage them. Solve this issue by using the food storage trifecta. Food-grade buckets lined with a Mylar bag sealed with oxygen absorber(s).
What Size Should I use for A 5-gallon Bucket?
Use a 20″ x 30″ Mylar bag or an 18″ x 28″ Mylar bag to line a 5-gallon food-grade bucket. Both sizes will also work in a 4.25 and 6-gallon bucket.
Chart 2: Typical Size(s) of Mylar Bags and CC Oxygen Absorption Suggestions
|Mylar Bag Sizes||Wheat/Flour/Grains/Rice|
More Compact/’Less Air
Less Compact/More Air
|20″x30″ (4.25,5,6-gal bucket(s)||2000||2500 to 3000|
|18″x28″ (4.25,5,6-gal bucket(s)||2000||2500 to 3000|
|14″x20″ (2 gal)||1000||1500 to 2000|
|14″x18″x6″ (2 gal)||1000||1500 to 2000|
|12″x18″ (1.5 gal)||800||1200|
|12″x16″x6″ (1.5 gal)||800||1200|
|10″x14″ (1 gal)||400||400|
|8″x12″ (1/2 gal)||200||400|
|6″x10″ (1/4 gal)||100||200|
|6″x8″ (1/4 gal)||100||200|
When storing dry food with lined food-grade buckets, get the larger 20×30 or 18×28 sized bags to line the buckets and get something like the 10×14 for extra or overflow. Bags can also be cleaned and reused or cut down to size and sealed.
*Note, these are average amounts at sea level. You may need more or less depending on your individual 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 volume of air, 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.
Oxygen-free Food Storage Containers: Mylar Is Better
Mylar is hands down the best container for storing bulk food at home because it’s the cheapest, easiest method and provides the best barrier against moisture, oxygen, and light. Let’s look at the four most common alternatives and why they don’t stack up for the average prepper.
#1 #10 cans are undoubtedly the rock star of containers, but few of us have access to the equipment needed to package food this way. If money is no object, you can purchase #10 cans of food professionally packaged.
#2 Glass jars are an excellent oxygen barrier, but they break easily, let in light, and aren’t convenient for bulk foods
#3 Food-grade pales are super tough, but plastic isn’t a true oxygen barrier, so you’ll get more oxidation over time. Plastic buckets are excellent used with Mylar.
#4 PET (polyethylene terephthalate plastic) mostly reused soda and juice bottles. They have to be sterilized, aren’t a true oxygen barrier, and let in light. The plastic is weak and probably not the best storage container if you’re going for a super long. On the plus side, if you are buying soda and juice, they are free.
Warning: Don’t reuse any containers, food-grade or not, used for non-food items or items that impart flavor to stored foods such as milk and dairy products, and avoid fragile PET bottles like throw-away water bottles.
Mylar And Absorbers VS Freezing To Kill Bugs
You’ll read all over the internet that freezing dry foods before repackaging for long-term storage is the best method of killing bugs, but this isn’t the case.
A combination of Mylar and enough CC (cubic centimeters) of oxygen absorber are easier and more effective at getting rid of bugs.
4 Reasons Freezing Is Outdated
freezing food before storage causes condensation and ads moisture to dry goods. Moisture is arguably the #1 spoiler of dry goods in storage.
Even the professionals can’t agree on how long you should freeze grains to kill bugs before packaging foods for long-term storage. I’ve read anywhere from four days to two weeks. Not to mention certain strains of weevils overwinter on grain in places like North Dakota, and they survive.
#3 Limited Freezer Space
If you are doing bulk dry food storage, you’re looking at 150 to 400 lbs of dry goods to process per person. Nobody I know has enough freezer space to treat grains, beans, and rice this way. It would take too much time and resources.
For maximum shelf life and to kill bugs. Bulk foods have to be repackaged. Skip the freezer step and put dry goods directly in a Mylar bag with oxygen absorbers to protect food against oxidation, moisture, bugs, and bacteria.
Warning: Dry goods should have 10% moisture content or less before oxygen-free storage. Otherwise, anaerobic bacteria like botulism may form. A rare but deadly bacteria that cannot be seen smelled, or tasted.
How To Preserve Food In Mylar Bags
Place dry food inside your mylar bag, use the correct amount or cc of oxygen absorber and seal the bag with a regular household iron
Check out Ready Squirrel’s Video on storing wheat berries in Mylar bags for long-term storage. You use the same method as you would with any other dried food.
How Are Mylar Bags Sealed?
The only thing I’ve used to seal Mylar bags is a household iron set on the highest setting. It works. I’ve heard of people using flat irons they use for their hair but haven’t tried it. When sealing the bag, the goal is to get the two sides of the bag to seal together—the same concept as a Ziploc bag sealed across the top.
Mylar bags are sealed with heat. The best DIY method is to place the Mylar edge over a wood board and run the hot iron, on the hottest setting, over the top of the Mylar. You can also use a flat iron used on hair, an impulse sealer, hot jaw, or sealers commercially available and made for the purpose.
Food Types To Store In Mylar Bags With Oxygen Absorbers
Store foods that are below 10% in moisture and low in fat. White rice, wheat berries, dried beans, and other dried hard and soft grains are often stored this way. Here is a shortlist of 20 foods commonly stored with Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers.
- Wheat & Flour
- Dehydrated Fruits and Vegetable
- Dehydrated foods that are professionally packaged are typically stored in oxygen-free containers. Do it yourself dehydrated foods aren’t typically stored this way because it’s difficult to get food below 10% moisture content to avoid botulism.
- Freeze-dried foods
- Dry Beans and Legumes
- Sprouting and Garden Seeds
- Rolled and Whole Oats
- Dried Pasta and Macaroni
- Oat Bran
- Oat Groats
- Whole Dried Corn
- White rice (not brown as it has a high oil content)
- Hard Grains (30-year shelf life)
- Soft Grains (8-year shelf life)
- Non-fat powdered milk and drink mix
- Peanut Butter Powder
Avoid Storing These Foods In Mylar
Don’t store high moisture foods in Mylar with O2 absorbers, or you risk botulism. A rare but deadly form of anaerobic bacteria.
Dried foods like white rice, wheat, and dried beans are normally stored in Mylar with O2 absorbers. Food that is high in fat doesn’t benefit from oxygen-free storage, it will still go rancid from fat, and the shelf-life is still 6 to 12 months. Brown rice is a good example of this type of food.
Avoid storing high moisture foods, foods you intend to freeze or high fat foods in Mylar bags.
Here is a short list of things to avoid storing in Mylar.
- Any foods with nuts (high oil content)
- Dehydrated fruits and vegetables that bend and don’t snap (home dehydrator won’t get fruits and vegetables dry enough for oxygen-free storage in Mylar)
- Brown Rice
- Chocolate Chips
Can Mylar Bags Be Reused For Food Storage?
Mylar bags can be reused for food storage. To reuse, cut the top of the bag below the heat seal, wash it out, let it dry thoroughly. Refill, place oxygen absorbers in the bag and reseal it. Reseal as close to the top of the bag as possible. Mark the bag with the food stored inside.
Can Mylar Bags Be Frozen?
Mylar bags can be frozen or stored in the freezer, but they tend to get brittle over time and are easily damaged when moved around in the freezer. Mylar bags are intended to be used with dry foods less than 10% moisture and oxygen absorbers and stored in a cool, dry location.
Vacuum bags are preferred over the heavier Mylar bags for freezer storage of wet foods.
Who Sells Mylar Bags?
There are so many companies on the internet I wouldn’t know where to start. You can even buy Mylar bags at Wally Mart. Here’s a shortlist to get you started in your search. Remember your looking for bags between 5 and 7mils in thickness. Be wary of bags that are less than 5 mils.
- USA Emergency Supply
- Discount Mylar Bags
- LDS Church Online Store: You don’t have to be a member of the church to purchase from them. They sell huge packs of 300cc absorbers for an excellent price. I’ve bought Oxygen Absorbers and Dry, canned Food in #10 cans from them. Quality products.
- Mylar Bags Direct
- Sorbent Systems
Will Mylar Bags Protect Electronics From EMP?
This is one of those deep preppers questions most of us never think about. Basically, if a nuke goes off, can we protect small electronic gear like radios, smart devices packed with survival manuals, and other electronic devices from the effects of a solar flare or a nuclear strike? Both produce EMP or Electro-Magnetic Pulse.
Mylar Bags will not protect electronic devices from EMP or the full band of Electro Magnetic Radiation. To protect electronic gear from EMP, you need a Faraday cage, a metal or mesh box that stops the destructive wave-lengths from reaching electronics. For a Faraday cage to work, it can’t touch a conductive surface inside or outside as electricity travels through conductive materials.
Interesting Fact: A food-grade Mylar bag of 5 mils, plus, will block an iPhone 10 cellphone signal. I know because I tried it. A cell phone is in the low band range.
Interesting Fact: EMP is a short burst of Electro Magnetic Radiation that comes in many wavelengths and can destroy electronic devices not hardened to its effect.
Can Mylar Bags Be Vacuum-Sealed?
If you are storing foods long-term, i.e., white rice for 30 years, vacuum sealing is not a great option because it doesn’t remove as much Oxygen as O2 absorbers and the vacuum bags aren’t as good at keeping oxygen out.
There are food-grade Mylar bags made especially for Vacuum sealing food.
You can purchase Mylar Bag Vacuum Sealer Food Storage bags individually or by the roll. They are readily available at big box stores like Wally Mart and on Amazon.
Mylar bags are far superior to vacuum bags as an oxygen barrier, and the correct quantity of Oxygen absorbers (cc) is more effective than vacuum sealing. Overall, Mylar and Oxygen absorbers are exponentially better than vacuum packing for long-term dry food storage.
Why Use Mylar Bags In Food Storage?
Mylar bags are the best all-around “Do It Yourself” oxygen barrier. They protect dry foods from oxygen, air, light, and moisture. Using a Mylar Bag and the proper cc of Oxygen absorption, foods are protected from light oxidation, which reduces nutritional value, oxidation from oxygen itself, and moisture, promoting anaerobic or aerobic bacteria mold and fungus.
Tip: The ideal storage container(s) for the long-term storage of dry goods is a food-grade bucket with a lid lined with a sealed Mylar bag and oxygen absorbers. This protects food from physical and atmospheric damage.
Are Mylar Bags Recyclable?
Mylar bags are not recyclable. Made from a combination of plastic and faux metal, they can’t be recycled as plastic or as metal. You can wash and reuse them for food storage or repurpose them to store other items. Sadly, the only way to dispose of them is to throw them out.
Do You I Need A Food-grade Bucket With Mylar Bags
It would help if you had a food-grade bucket when using Mylar bags for long-term food storage. Mylar is a barrier against food spoilers like oxygen, moisture, and light, but it is easily punctured. Buckets protect Mylar against physical damage, and rodents by themselves buckets are not an oxygen barrier.
Are Mylar Bags Safe For Food Storage?
Mylar bags are safe for food storage and direct food contact if they are manufactured to be food-safe. There are Mylar bags that aren’t food safe. Brick and mortar and online stores selling survival foods, oxygen absorbers, and Mylar bags are your best bet for finding food-grade bags.
When To use Mylar Bags
Use Mylar Bags when you are storing dry foods for long-term storage. Foods typically stored are dry foods like white rice, wheat berries, and dry beans. Foods should be 10% or less in moisture content to avoid botulism, an anaerobic bacteria with no color, odor, or taste.
The Storage Trifecta
Use Mylar, food-grade pales, and oxygen absorbers together for maximum protection against bugs (all stages of life), oxygen, moisture, light, and physical damage.
Warning: Dry foods stored Oxygen-free in Mylar bags should be 10% or less in moisture content to avoid anaerobic bacteria or food poisoning such as botulism. A rare but deadly food poisoning.