Let’s talk about oxygen absorbers. This topic always involves these questions: What on earth is an oxygen absorber? Why do I need them for food storage? Where do I buy them?
What are these things?
The short answer – they are the small packet things that you find in a variety of products that say “do not eat” or “this is not food.” Their purpose is to absorb the moisture in the air inside the package to keep everything nice and fresh. In your food storage, they keep your food dry and help to increase the shelf life.
The number you should use simply depends on how large your container is or how much empty space you have in the container. I have found that for 5-gallon buckets that are completely full (minus 1 inch or so for the lid) needs 5-6 absorbers. My full #10 cans need 1-2. My mylar bags usually get 2-3 because there is a little more empty space in those. If any of the containers aren’t completely full, I add more absorbers to account for the extra space.
How to store oxygen absorbers
The tricky thing about oxygen absorbers is that they can only “absorb” a certain amount of oxygen per packet. That’s why you need more than one in larger containers or in places with more empty space. That also means that you need to keep these little guys sealed up nice and tight at all times.
When you get your absorbers, they will likely come packaged in a clear bag that is completely sealed, tightly fitted around the packets. (Those little guys sucked all the extra air out of the bag during transit!) As soon as you open the bag, air will rush back in and the packets will again begin to absorb the air around them. Your goal is to keep the time they are exposed to the open air to a minimum. You want them to use all their power to absorb the extra air in your cans, bags, or buckets and not the air, in general. For this reason, I recommend having everything ready and waiting for the absorbers. As soon as you open your bag, quickly pull out what you need, then quickly squeeze the air out of the bag and secure it with an air-tight bag clamp. I use one that is similar this option I found on Amazon. Make sure that the clamp is long enough to seal the entire opening of your bag.
Another option is to store the unused oxygen absorbers in a glass canning jar.
Where do you buy these cool things?
You can buy oxygen absorbers from a variety of places, including the LDS Church, Amazon and many emergency supply outlets. The prices vary – A lot! I have found that LDS Church sells a good absorber at a good price. Feel free to shop around, though. You might find something you love even more!
If you are interested in the long answer, or just want to know the science behind how these little guys work, feel free to use Google. The explanation is beyond the scope of my blog (and my comprehension!).