Mylar bags rock. There isn’t a better way for the do-it-yourself prepper to store hundreds or thousands of pounds of dry staple foods for pending doom. I’ve personally stored hundreds of pounds of dry staples using sealed Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers, and I’m still going. Below I’ll help you choose Mylar bags, and I will provide links to articles and videos that will teach you how to use Mylar for long-term food storage. Ok, let’s get to it.
- 5-gallon Mylar Bag (kit)
- 1-gallon Mylar Bag (kit)
- 5-gallon Food-grade Buckets
- Gamma Lids
- 2000cc Oxygen Absorbers
- 500cc Oxygen Absorbers
- 100cc Oxygen Absorbers
What are Mylar Bags?
Mylar bags are food storage containers made from thin layers of aluminum-coated plastic sheets of Polyethylene Terephthalate, also called PET plastic. This combination of materials makes Mylar strong, light, and flexible and protects dry foods from oxygen, light, and moisture.
Unlike regular plastic containers that allow for the slow transfer of oxygen, i.e., plastic buckets, Mylar is a true barrier to oxygen and moisture.
If it’s thick enough, Mylar will also protect food from light oxidation and, with the application of oxygen absorbers, will kill bugs, eggs, and pupae within two weeks.
The only other food container that provides this level of food protection is #10 cans.
When planning to store emergency food the ability to store foods for decades and forget about them means you don’t have to rotate foods as you do with canned food or other shelf-stable foods with a shorter shelf-life.Scott Ready Squirrel
Why Mylar: Food Storage
Mylar protects food from everything that destroys it: moisture, light, and oxygen.
For the price, Mylar protects dry foods better than any other DIY container and allows the average person to build an emergency food supply that will last 20 to 30-years and doesn’t require rotation.
The two alternates to Mylar are #10 cans, the best container for storing food but challenging at home, and glass ball jars. Ball jars don’t protect food from light; they are super expensive and too small for bulk food storage.
Learn more about food storage containers. Read Ready Squirrel’s comprehensive article, Supreme Long Term Food Storage Containers and Gear.
Mylar Bag For Food Storage:4 characteristics
There are several things to consider when purchasing Mylar bags for rice storage. Namely, Mylar thickness, bag size and dimensions, the cc of oxygen absorbers needed, and whether or not you want a zipper top on the bags.
For food storage, the optimum Mylar thickness is 5mils or thicker. Thinner Mylar is weak and may be see-through, allowing light to filter into the bag and oxidize rice or other dry food. Below is a list of Mylar bag thicknesses and what they are typically used for.
Chart #1 Mylar Bag Thickness & Use
|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, Difficult to seal|
#2 Bag Size and Dimensions
The best bag size(s) for long-term dry food storage are the 20″ x 30″ or 18″ x 28″ Mylar bags. Either will work for lining 5-gallon buckets. The 20 x30″ is typically used for 6 gallon pales but will work in 5-gallon buckets.
If you are storing enough dry food for a family of four, you are looking at 2,176 pounds of rice and other dry foods.
The large 18″ x 28″ or 20″x 30″ Mylar bags used with buckets are the cheapest, easiest, and most effective method of getting this much food stored for emergencies.
I use five-gallon buckets, 18″x28″ mylar bags, and 2000cc oxygen absorbers for the bulk of my rice. Because a bucket and Mylar bag will only hold 36 pounds of rice, I use smaller one or two-gallon Mylar bags for the overflow. Ideally, these overflow bags are stored in plastic bins; honestly, most of mine are sitting on shelves.
#3 Zipper Top
You can purchase Mylar bags with or without a zipper top. They are a significant pain to seal if you use a household iron, but I can see how they would be handy to store food in smaller bags.
To zipper or not to zipper is a personal choice and doesn’t affect the bag’s quality. If you want zippers for convenience, go for it.
I purchased 50 18″x28 inch bags and ended up cutting the tops of all the bags off to get rid of the Ziploc tops. I like to reuse bags by cutting them down and cleaning them; you have less material to cut down with zipper tops.Scott, Ready Squirrel
#4 Size of Oxygen Absorber You Need (cc’s of absorption)
When I’m packaging white rice or wheat in 18″x”28″ bags, I use 2000 cc of oxygen absorption. For dry beans and pasta, I use 2500 cc’s. Below is a chart that matches food type, Mylar bag size, and oxygen absorption in ccs.
Chart #2 Mylar Bag Size, Food Type, Oxygen Absorption In Cubic Centimeters
|Mylar Bag Sizes||Cubic Centimeter(s) cc Oxygen Absorption Required|
Foods are more compact, less air volume
|Cubic Centimeter(s), cc Oxygen Absorption Required |
Foods are Less Compact/More Air volume
|——————————||Wheat, Flour, Grains, White Rice||Beans, Dry Pasta|
|20″x30″ for lining a 5 and 6 Gallon Bucket(s)||2000||2500 to 3000|
|18″x28″ for lining 5 and 6 Gallon 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|
Mylar Bag For Food Storage:
The best Mylar bags for food storage are 5mil or thicker, flat without a zipper top, solid, not transparent, and do not have the stand-up gusset on the bottom.
Transparent bags allow for light oxidation of food. Stand-up pouches don’t work in buckets and have more failure points. As already mentioned, I’m not too fond of zipper tops because they are a pain to seal.
Following is a list of good Mylar Bags. If you purchase through the links, Ready Squirrel gets a cut of Amazon’s profit, at no extra expense to you. We appreciate the support. It helps us buy beans and bullets.
19″x28″ 5-gallon Mylar Bucket Liners (kit)
This Mylar bag kit is excellent for starting for food storage adventure. It comes with (10) 7 mil Mylar bags, (10) 2000 cc oxygen absorbers, and (10) 500cc oxygen absorbers.
Each bag will hold 36 pounds of rice. You can store 360 pounds of white rice with this kit.
19″x28″ are ideal for storing a year’s supply of dry foods like white rice, dried beans, wheat, and rolled oats in 5-gallon buckets with a cheap lid.
The LDS church suggests storing a year’s supply of food for each person in your household which comes out to 484 pounds of dry food per person. (400 pounds of grain, 60 pounds of dry beans, 16 pounds of powdered milk, and 8 pounds of salt per person.) For a household with 4 people, a year’s supply of emergency food weighs 1,936 pounds.Scott Ready Squirrel
Depending on your goals, this may be overkill but keep in mind these foods can be incorporated into any emergency or survival situation, including family emergencies, job loss, economic downturn, or glitches in the food supply chain.
Check out Ready Squirrel’s comprehensive article, “Mylar Bags For Food Storage: Beginners Guide.”
1 Gallon Overflow Mylar Bags (kit)
This Mylar bag kit includes (100) 1-gallon Mylar bags and (100) 500cc Oxygen Absorbers. Fill the bags with leftover rice that won’t fit in your food grade-buckets, drop in an absorber and seal the bag with a household iron.
These 1-gallon bags are the size I use when packaging 5-gallon buckets. Any food that doesn’t fit into the buckets goes in the 1-gallon bags.
If you are storing bulk food, I suggest getting 5-gallon and 1 or 2 gallons bags. You could also cut down the 5-gallon bags, but you’d be wasting a lot of Mylar.
If you have a super small amount of rice leftover, you can cut these bags down with scissors but make sure to leave enough room to seal with your iron.
One-gallon bags are excellent for small quantities of food. They are small enough for storing gear when you need a waterproof container, i.e., for bugout kits or for breaking bulk ammo down into manageable quantities.
Smaller bags are also ideal if you want to keep packaging lightweight and easy to move around. Ideally, smaller Mylar bags will be stored sealed inside a hard-shelled plastic container like under the bed bins or lidded plastic buckets. Packaging this way will keep chewing rodents and insects from infesting your food bags.
5-gallon food-grade buckets
You want to use 5-gallon food-grade buckets with your Mylar bags. The cheapest buckets I’ve found are in the paint section of Walmart. The white buckets and cheap lids they sell are marked “Food Grade.”
Why use buckets with Mylar bags?
Mylar sitting in a food pantry for 30 years needs armor from chewing rodents, insects, and physical damage. Plastic buckets are like armor for Mylar bags.
Plastic food-grade buckets allow the transfer of oxygen through the wall of the bucket and lid seals have a tendency to fail. Mylar and plastic used together for food storage are almost the perfect food storage system.
*Salt and sugar can be stored in just a food-grade bucket with a lid. No oxygen absorbers are suggested. Both foods are impervious to oxygen and will turn to stone inside oxygen-free packaging.
When sealing food in Mylar bags, you don’t need the high-speed lids; cheap ones without seals work fine.
If you are like me and want to order everything and have it show up, you can order the quality buckets listed below via Ready Squirrel’s Amazon links. Ready Squirrel gets a cut of Amazon’s profit at no additional cost to you, and it is appreciated.”
Gamma Lids for 5-gallon Buckets
Gamma lids give an outstanding seal on food buckets, but you don’t need to use them to cover all your food storage buckets: they are expensive.
Instead, use Gamma lids on specialty buckets such as those in your working pantry.
Gamma lids are also ideal for waterproof tool buckets for the range, vehicle bugout kits, potty kits, or to store communication gear.
2000 CC Oxygen Absorbers
This oxygen absorber kit from Freshus includes (50) 2000 cc oxygen absorbers.
These are ideal for storing food in 5- gallon buckets. You drop one in the bag with rice or wheat before sealing it, and you are good to go.
If you are storing larger foods with more airspace (dry beans and pasta), you will want to throw in additional absorption.
500 cc Oxygen Absorbers
This oxygen absorber pack contains (50) 500cc oxygen absorbers.
I use 500 cc absorbers for the 1-gallon Mylar bags and for extra absorption over the 2000cc absorbers I throw in the 5-gallon Mylar bags. When packaging dry foods with more airspace, such as dry beans and pasta you want to use more than the 2000cc packet.
100 CC Oxygen Absorbers
This package includes (110) 100cc oxygen absorbers. These are ideal when you want to get the exact amount of suggested Oxygen absorption into your Mylar bags. Remember, you cannot use too much oxygen absorption. You can only use too little.
Food For Mylar Bags Using Oxygen Absorber
Foods packaged oxygen-free inside Mylar bags should be low fat and less than 10% in moisture. Warning: Foods stored oxygen-free with more than 10% moisture increase the chance of botulism food poisoning.
- White Rice
- Dry beans
- Dry Pasta
- Hard White Wheat berries
- Hard Red Wheat Berries
- Rolled Oats
- Steel-cut Oats
- Hard and Soft Grains
- Dried Lentils
- Split Peas
- Powdered Milk
- Dry Cereal
- Home Freeze-dried food
- Dried Apple Slices
- Potatoe Flakes
- Dried Pearled Potatoes
- Dried Onions
- Oat Groats
- Oat Bran
Check out the Ready Squirrel article, “Best Wheat Berries For Long-term Storage.”
What Food Should I “Not” Store In Mylar
Do not store foods high in oil or more than 10% moisture content in Mylar bags with Oxygen absorbers because there is a risk of botulism food poisoning.
- Wet Food
- High Fat Food
- High Lipid Food
- Food Above 10% moisture
- Pearled Barley
- Dehydrated Eggs
- Whole Wheat Flour
- Milled Grains (rolled oats ok)
- Beef Jerky
- Dried Meat
- Brown Rice
- Brown Sugar
- Home Dehydrated Food
For other food storage options, read Ready Squirrel’s article, “Supreme Long Term Food Storage Containers & Gear.”