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Oxygen Absorbers for Long-Term Food Storage

Updated on July 14, 2016
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PatriciaJoy has been interested in prepping and frugality for years. She's continued to learn and evolve her prepping style as needed.

Rice is a food staple for long-term storage and oxygen absorbers help it last even longer.
Rice is a food staple for long-term storage and oxygen absorbers help it last even longer. | Source

Popular Technique to Make Food Last Longer

Oxygen is one of the top three factors that add to deterioration of food storage along with heat and moisture. Oxygen absorbers have revolutionized how food can be stored for emergency preparedness and other long-term concerns such as food shortages and economic crisis.

Learn more about the contents and different sizes of oxygen absorbers and how they should be used.

What's in an oxygen absorber?

Oxygen absorber packets are made of plastic and contain iron powder which rusts when it comes into contact with oxygen. When the iron powder becomes completely oxidized, the absorbing action stops.

Oxy-Sorb Oxygen Absorbers for Food Storage, 100cc, 100-Pack
Oxy-Sorb Oxygen Absorbers for Food Storage, 100cc, 100-Pack

100 cc absorbers (good for mason quart jars)


Tips for Using Oxygen Absorbers

Because of the quick absorbing action mentioned above, it's best to use oxygen absorbers within 20 minutes of opening the packaging they come in which is usually vacuum-sealed plastic or put them away in a container. Otherwise, you run the risk of them becoming useless.

I've found that once I open a pack of absorbers, I need to put the ones I'm not using into a glass canning jar with a canning lid and band. I make sure to use a jar that doesn't have a lot of empty space left over. The absorbers are then kept reasonably fresh until I need them next. Tip: It's fine to use canning lids you've already used. In fact, I recommend not wasting fresh canning lids that you're saving for canning produce. It's just a waste of money and the absorbers are sealed in fine with used lids. You can also reseal them in a vacuum sealed bag such as a Food Saver bag. Even with these methods, I would advise using them within 6 months to a year so they haven't lost their potency by the time you want to pack your food.

Using oxygen absorbers is not the same as vacuum sealing your food. Many people use these along with or instead of vacuum sealing for the convenience and because it's easier to use them with large amounts of food such as 6-gallon buckets of rice, beans, wheat, etc. You can also use them in canning jars with foods that you aren't necessarily going to store away for years but want to keep fresh a little longer.

One of the most popular combinations in food storage is oxygen absorbers, mylar bags and food-safe buckets. You can learn more about the methods used in my article The Best Emergency Food Storage Supplies.

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Oxy-Sorb 60-300cc Oxygen Absorbers for Long Term Food Storage (Bags of 20), Blue
Oxy-Sorb 60-300cc Oxygen Absorbers for Long Term Food Storage (Bags of 20), Blue

These 300 cc absorbers come divided into smaller packages so you don't expose so many to oxygen when you open them which keeps them from losing their potency.


Storage Tutorial

Absorption Capacity

The cc amount that you see advertised with oxygen absorbers indicates how much oxygen they are capable of absorbing. The 100-cc absorbers can absorb 100 cc of oxygen and so on with 300, 500, and 2000 cc absorbers.

Many of the emergency preparedness companies such as Honeyville Food Products and Emergency Essentials sell #10 cans with small oxygen absorbers packed with the food and some of the products are meant to keep upwards of 10 years. But if you're packing a 6-gallon bucket, you'll want either a larger absorber or several smaller ones.

Source Consulted

Oxygen Absorbers. USA Emergency Supply, 2011.

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