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Vacuum-sealable Mylar bags

One of the more frequent questions we receive at Mylar Shop is which is better for food storage, using vacuum seal bags, or Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers. The answer is that 95% of the time using Mylar bags along with oxygen absorbers is the more effective method, for the reasons outlined below.
I'd like to take a moment to briefly explain the differences first.
Vacuum seal bags or sheets are generally transparent, with one side textured, which eanbles the vacuum sealer to suck the air manually from the bag. Mylar bags are opaque, and generally, though not always, made from a thicker material. With Mylar bags, the air is removed by the additon of oxygen absorbers, also known as oxygen scavengers.
Using Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers removes up to 99.99% of oxygen. The best vacuum sealer machines only remove around 99.5% oxygen, making oxygen absorbers 50 times more effective. This can seem counterintuitive, as vacuum sealers create that 'sucked in' look, and so seem to have reduced the oxyen by more than a Mylar bag with oxygen absorber, which will 'suck in' less, and look as if there's still oxygen in the bag. This is because vacuum sealers remove air, not oxygen. Air is comprised of approximately 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen and 1% other gases. Using a Mylar bag with oxygen absorber will remove the oxygen, but not the nitrogen or other gases, so the actually volume of gas in the bag will only reduce by approximately one fifth. Bacteria can only grown in aerobic (oxygen rich) environments, so the presence of nitrogen and other gases in the sealed bag will not allow bacteria to grow.
Mylar bags are also much 'tougher' and more resistant to gas permeability than vacuum sealer bags, due to their metalised nature. Mylar bags can be considered to be like a flexible aluminium can, protecting the contents from not just gas permeability, but also light, heat, pests and damage due to impact and environmental factors. Standard transparent plastic vacuum sealer bags and sheets leak gases at a far faster rate than Mylar bags, and are more susceptible to tears and splits. Even a tiny pinhole that you cannot see will break the airtight seal, leaving food vulnerable to bacterial growth.
So having covered the 95% of situations when Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers are more effective than vacuum sealer bags for food storage, it is worth briefly explaining the occasions when vacuum sealer bags are actualy preferable to use. This is when you plan to store 'wet' foods, such as raw meat for a relatively short time. Mylar bags work best for medium to long term storage of dry foods, but aren't designed for wet foods. Wet foods stored in vacuum-sealed bags in a freezer, for example, will last around one year without degradation. The freezer protects the contents from light, pests and damage, while keeping the temperature low enough to seriously limit bacterial growth.
Here at Mylar Shop, we like to keep our customers happy. To this end, we now stock Mylar bags that are designed for use with vacuum sealer machines, in 3 different sizes; 20cm x 30cm, 25cm x 35cm and 35cm x 50cm. This way our customers can enjoy the benefits of both vacuum seal and Mylar bags.
The difference between Mylar bags designed for use with vacuum sealers, and normal Mylar bags is shown in the photos below. Vac-seal Mylar bags have a textured surface, allowing the vacuum sealer machine to manually extract free oxygen from the bag. Normal Mylar bags have a flat surface, and though they can be sealed with a vacuum sealer, the air is not removed from the bag by the machine, but by the addition of oxygen absorbers.
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Some people like the 'sucked in' appearance of vacuum sealed bags, and in some circumstances vacuum sealer Mylar bags are preferable to normal Mylar bags due to their space saving nature, with the nitrogen gas from the air being removed from the bag as well as the oxygen.
The benefits of Mylar vac-seal bags over standard transparent plastic vac-seal bags is that Mylar vac-seal bags are more durable and enable a much stronger seal, as well as protecting the contents from pests, physical damage and light. The oxygen extracted from the bag is still only around 99% however, so we would still recommend the use of oxygen absorbers with vac-seal Mylar bags for effective long term storage.
If you have any questions on vacuum sealable Mylar bags, please don't hesitate to contact us.

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