How to Use Mylar Bags – Practical Food Storage Tips

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Using Mylar bags is one of the best ways we have found to store food. They provide protection against the main causes of food spoilage and are easy to use with the right methods.

They are also one of the most cost-effective methods to build up a long-term food supply of low-cost pantry staples. I simply buy in bulk and when food is on sale and gradually add to my supply.

How to Use Mylar Bags for Food Storage
Jason filling a Mylar bag with white rice

With the huge amount of information on food storage available today, I have still not found a practical guide on how to use Mylar bags.

We have been storing our own food for years and have developed a method that is both practical and cost-effective.

Keep reading to find the easiest way to use Mylar bags for food storage, along with some helpful tips.

Table of Contents

How to Use Mylar Bags for Storing Prepper Pantry Staples

In our How to Store Food Long Term guide, we discussed what causes food to spoil. Oxidation, moisture, insects, microorganisms, and fungi are all enemies to freshness.

Mylar bags are made from a combination of polyester plastic and a thin metal foil. This combination prevents oxygen from penetrating if they are properly sealed. They also prevent any light from entering the bag.

Glass jars are another option; however, they are not as durable and allow light to pass. Some plastics will allow oxygen to pass through them slowly over time, and some are transparent.

Because of these reasons, I prefer Mylar bags to store my dry goods long term.

Keep in mind that only food that is low in moisture and fat should be stored in Mylar bags long term. Botulism can form in an environment with moisture and low oxygen, so never try these methods with anything other than dry pantry staples.

Here are the items you will need:

  • Food to store
  • Mylar Bags
  • Some type of box/container to hold multiple bags upright.
  • Bag labels and pen and/or Sharpie marker.
  • Oxygen Absorbers of appropriate size
  • Bag sealer (can use a hair straightener)
  • Scissors
  • Measuring cup
  • Long term storage container (Food grade buckets)

Prepare and Plan

First it is important to prepare and plan. Instead of just throwing food into some bags, use these tips to plan out what your goals are.

Jason Preparing Mylar Bags for Food Storage
Prepare and Plan your area
  • First plan out what type of food to store in Mylar bags. White Rice, Beans, Flour, Pasta, and other grains are all good choices. Anything that is low in moisture and fat are good choices. See our guide on How to Store Food Long Term and the Best Survival Foods to Store to help decide.
  • Store food that you will eat and use over time as well as in an emergency.
  • Decide how much you need to store. Keep in mind it doesn’t have to be all at one. We have found starting slow is best.
  • Decide what size Mylar bags to use. This depends on your family size. In general, we prefer smaller quart or gallon size bags that can make a few meals. Stay away from 5-gallon bags unless you have a lot of people to feed at once.
  • Decide what Oxygen absorbers to use. There are differences depending on the size of the bag and the food you plan to store. See our table below.
  • Decide what container to use. Mylar bags should be stored in a durable, rodent proof container such as plastic buckets. Don’t use cardboard boxes.
  • Purchase everything in advance and don’t get in a hurry.
  • Do each food type in batches.

We use and recommend the Mylar bag box kit from Pack Fresh USA. It has everything we need including bags, oxygen absorbers, and a sealing iron. The oxygen absorbers are matched to the three sizes of bags, so it takes some guesswork out of choosing the right one.

You can also save 10% off everything at checkout at Pack Fresh USA using our code “survivalstoic”.

Jason showing the Mylar Bag kit that he likes to use
The Pack Fresh USA kit that I like to use

Below are the Oxygen absorber sizes that Pack Fresh recommends.

Bag SizeBeans & Rice
(35% Air)
Flour, Powders,
Coffee Beans
(50% Air)
Pasta, Potato Flakes,
Oatmeal
(75% Air)
1 Pint50cc50cc100cc
1 Quart100cc100cc150cc
1/2 Gal150cc200cc300cc
1 Gal300cc400cc500cc
5 Gal1400cc2000cc2500cc

We like to store our Mylar bags in these Food-Grade Buckets. They have a unique lid system that allows me to open and close it without damaging the seal. They are stackable, durable, and easy to use.

Jason showing food grade buckets to store Mylar Bags in
The food grade buckets that I like to use

Stage Materials

Before getting started, it is important to stage everything in a clean area. Oxygen Absorbers have an indefinite life, so we like to reduce the time they are exposed to air as much as possible.

Jason showing his staged area for storing rice in Mylar Bags
My work area staged and ready
  • Use a large table that is clean and sturdy. It should have plenty of room for everything.
  • Find cardboard boxes or plastic bins that the bags can nest into. This makes it much easier to fill and seal them. It also speeds up the process, reducing the time our Oxygen absorbers are exposed.
  • Inspect the food you plan to store to make sure it is not wet, moldy, or spoiled.

Fill Bags

I prefer to fill each bag with the same amount of food for consistency. Use these tips to fill your bags.

Jason showing filled Mylar Bags
Fill each bag supported by a box
  • I like to pour the food I am storing into a large bowl. This makes it easier to inspect it before putting it into the bags. It also allows me to use a measuring cup.
  • On the first bag, I like to determine how much food I want to put in each bag. This can take some trial and error. If I want to change the amount, I simply dump the bag back into the bowl and start again.
  • I make sure to leave enough room to seal the bag. I like to stop filling about 3 or 4 inches from the top.
  • Use an amount that is logical. In the case of white rice, 5 cups of rice in a 1-quart bag works well for me.
  • Stand the Mylar bag into the supporting box, open the bag, and pour in the food. It may be easier with someone helping, but I find I can do it by myself with the boxes.
  • Fill the bags in batches. I like to do this based on the number of oxygen absorbers I am going to use. The pack fresh kit that I like to use has packages of 10. I find that 10 bags is a good batch amount, any more takes up too much room.
  • Fill all the bags first before moving to the next step.

Insert Oxygen Absorbers

Once I start this step, I want to complete it through sealing the bags. It doesn’t have to be a race, but I want to make sure I have time without interruption to insert the oxygen absorbers and seal the bags. Oxygen absorbers have a finite life, and once they are exposed to air they will only work for about 1 hour. I like to keep the amount of time they are exposed down to 10 minutes or less.

Jason showing a Mylar bag filled with rice and an oxygen absorber
Filled Mylar bag with rice and an Oxygen absorber
  • I like to turn on my heat sealer and let it warm up first. This way, I am not waiting on it later, and I know that it is working properly.
  • I close the tops of all of my filled bags first to make sure I will have enough room to seal them. I find that pulling the edges of the bags out and smoothing the top of the bag flat works well.
  • Once my bag sealer is hot (the pack fresh one in the kit takes about 5 minutes), I use scissors to open my package of Oxygen Absorbers.
  • Next, insert one Oxygen Absorber into each bag. I like to quickly check each one as I am placing it into the bag. The contents should feel soft and fluid, not hard, solid, or crunchy.
  • After inserting the Oxygen Absorber, clean off any food or dust from the inside top of the bag where it will be heat sealed.
  • Close the bag, pushing out as much air as possible. Flatten out the top of the bag again so it is ready to be sealed.
  • If there are any unused Oxygen absorbers, they can be left in their original bag and heat sealed again. They can also be stored in a Mason Jar. Keep in mind that plastic bags like zip lock bags will not work as they do not seal out Oxygen.

Seal Bags

After the Oxygen absorbers are in the Mylar bags, I like to seal them as quickly as possible. I have found the easiest way is to use the heat sealer in the Pack Fresh kit above. I find that some hair straighteners work as well.

Some suggest a household clothing iron works, and it does, but it is not as easy since it only heats one side. Household vacuum sealers may work, but some do not get hot enough. Stay with the Pack Fresh heat sealer and avoid the frustration.

Jason sealing a Mylar bag
Jason sealing a Mylar bag
  • I like to make sure the top of the bag is closed and flat before touching it with the heat sealer (it should be from the previous step.)
  • Leave all of the bags standing in the supporting boxes.
  • Starting at one side of the bag, gently close the sealer on the bag and slowly slide it across the top.
  • I like to angle the sealer and seal down about one inch from the top. This is to ensure I get a full tight seal.
  • I make a few passes until I can see the bag is closed around the top.
  • Continue and seal each bag. It is not a race, but do not waste time either.

Inspect and Label

After all of the bags are sealed, I like to inspect and label each bag.

Jason showing his Mylar bags sealed and ready for storage
My batch of white rice completed with labels
  • To inspect the bag, I gently squeeze it. I make sure that I don’t feel or hear any air escaping. If I do, the bag has a leak or is not fully sealed. Look for any holes or make a few passes with the heat sealer again.
  • I like to label each bag with the food, amount, and the date I packed it.
  • Labels can be separate sticky labels like the ones that come with the Pack Fresh kit, or I can also write directly on the bag with a sharpie.

Place into Storage Container

Finally, I place the filled and sealed bags into my storage containers.

Jason showing filled Mylar bags in a storage bucket
My filled Mylar bags in a storage bucket
  • With the storage buckets, I tap the outer ring into place with a rubber mallet first.
  • I like to store multiple food items in one bucket. It becomes a “kit” of sorts. For example, I like to put white rice, beans, and some spices together into a single bucket. This way, I can make a meal with only one bucket.
  • Throw in any cooking instructions. For example, the empty bag the beans came in.
  • I store the buckets in a cool, dark area.
  • I also make sure the buckets are not directly on a concrete floor. Moisture and the temperature changes of the concrete can affect the bucket and the contents.
  • I also like to label the outside of the bucket using a piece of tape and a sharpie, so I know what is inside without opening it.
  • Close the lid of the bucket making sure it is screwed on properly and sealed.
Jason showing a food storage bucket with the lid and Mylar bags inside
These buckets have a handy screw on lid

Other Ways to Use Mylar Bags

We know that Mylar bags are great for preventing oxidation from occurring. Keeping this in mind, there are also other emergency preparedness items we can store in them.

Anything that we want to protect from rust and corrosion in an uncontrolled environment can be stored in a mylar bag like food.

Things like sensitive documents come to mind. A stash of emergency cash is another.

Anything that is metal that we want to protect is a great candidate. Knives, firearms, and even emergency ammunition are good examples.

Using mylar bags can help protect electronics from EMP events and moisture as well.

No matter what we find to put in them, the methods are the same as above.


Prepare Your Pantry

Using the methods above is the most cost-effective way to use Mylar bags for food storage.

The kit from Pack Fresh USA is affordable and easy to use if you follow our tips above. One person can store away one month’s worth of food easily in just a few hours.

Combine this with our other tips from our How to Start Prepping guide, and you will be ready for any short term or long-term food shortage that society could face.

Be sure to check out some of our survival recipes for meals you can make from the food you store. We also have strategies for building up a three-month food supply that will save you money.

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Photo of author
Jason has an engineering and problem solving background. He is an avid outdoorsman, survivalist, and competitive shooter. He enjoys researching the best and most practical solutions for the problem at hand, studying stoicism, and finding innovative ways to be prepared.