Preppers and people concerned about food security are always on the lookout for effective methods for storing foods for long periods without the risk of opening your emergency stock only to find it has spoiled. Mylar bags are popular among preppers for long-term food storage, but how do these bags work, and are they effective?
Mylar bags are an excellent method for long-term food storage. Bags with a thickness greater than 5mil protect the food from light, moisture, and oxygen, especially when combined with oxygen absorbers. Mylar is puncture resistant and can store certain foods for up to 30-years.
Mylar bags are not only used by preppers to store food but have been used by food suppliers for years to package food for shipment to local stores and increase shelf-life. Understanding the correct way to use these bags in your long-term food storage program will increase the storage and viability of your stored food.
Can You Store Food Long-Term in Mylar Bags?
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Storing food for the future and preventing it from spoiling has been a challenging task for mankind since we started producing food in large volumes.
Initially, the challenge was storing food for the winter season to see families through to the next growing season. Our food storage needs have grown to include the need to store food for 5 years to 25 years or more.
Technology has provided us with materials that make this long-term food storage dream a reality, and mylar bags are a major contributor to effective food storage.
Why Are Mylar Bags Good for Food Storage?
The main factors that cause food to spoil are contamination, oxygen, moisture, and light. If the effect of these factors can be reduced in your food storage method, your food will last longer.
Mylar bags are the best long term food storage bags because you can use them to reduce the majority of these factors. This makes mylar bags an ideal method for protecting your food for longer.
Mylar bags are manufactured by layering thins sheets of aluminum foil between sheets of food-grade plastic.
The resultant mylar material has the following benefits.
- Protects against light exposure. The foil layers effectively eliminate light from the packaging, protecting the contents from light exposure. Ensure you use mylar bags with foil on both sides rather than the ones with a clear front side.
- Protects against moisture. The plastic in the material is waterproof, preventing moisture from entering the packaging and causing mold and bacteria growth.
- Excludes oxygen. The foil and plastic layers prevent outside oxygen from entering the packaging and causing the food to spoil. Measures can be taken to eliminate oxygen in the sealed mylar bags.
- Puncture resistant. Mylar is a tough, strong material with greater puncture resistance than plastic or foil on its own. The superior puncture resistance will protect the food for longer by minimizing the risk of compromised packaging.
When purchasing mylar bags for long-term food storage, always look for high-quality bags. Don’t skimp on quality when you intend to store food for years.
The best mylar bags for long term storage are between 5mil and 7mil thick. If you are vacuum sealing the bags, we have found the 4mil thick bags to work effectively as well. You can generally pick up mylar bags and vacuum sealers at a good price on Amazon.
How Long Will Food Last Stored in Mylar Bags?
Using mylar bags for food storage allows you to store food for longer, but what storage durations can you expect from these bags?
The length of time you can store food in mylar bags depends on how you package the food and the type of food you store.
The general rule of thumb with mylar bag food storage is the lower the moisture content of the food, the longer it will store in the mylar bags.
Mylar keeps moisture out and will also seal any moisture in the food inside the bag, preventing moisture from getting out. The moisture contained in the food can encourage bacteria growth and mold development.
Because mylar tends to retain moisture in the container, food should contain less than 10% moisture when packaged oxygen-free. The coupling of oxygen-free storage and high moisture levels promotes the growth of anaerobic bacteria that cause botulism poisoning.
The following is a table of expected storage durations for various food types.
Mylar Bag Food Storage Durations
|Food Type||Storage Duration|
|Less than 1 year|
Dehydrated meat (jerky)
Powdered milk (up to 5-years)
Cornmeal (up to 5-years)
|1-year to 3-years|
|5-years to 10-years|
|10-years to 20-years|
Freeze-dried fruits and vegetables
|20-years to 30-years|
Best Foods for Mylar Bag Storage
The best foods to store in mylar bags are low-moisture content foods, such as most whole grains, dried foods, and dehydrated or freeze-dried foods.
Foods with a higher moisture content can be stored in mylar bags, but the storage duration will be much shorter, and you should not remove the oxygen from the bag, as this can lead to botulism developing in the high moisture oxygen-free environment.
The best foods for mylar bag storage are those with less than 10% moisture content. If the moisture content is higher, the food should not be packaged for long-term storage vacuum-sealed or with an oxygen absorber. Rather store these foods short-term using other storage methods, such as freezing.
How To Store Food Long-Term in Mylar Bags
The method of food storage in mylar bags will affect the duration for which the food can be kept. Always package your food in a clean environment to prevent dust, dirt, and bug contamination.
We have found that the best method for storing food in mylar bags is to use the double protection of a mylar bag inside a plastic container. This can be a single mylar bag in a 1-gallon or a larger bag in a 5-gallon sealable bucket or storing multiple mylar bags in a plastic tote.
Mylar bags are puncture-resistant but not rodent resistant. The plastic containers will help to keep rodents out of your food supply.
Only store low-moisture foods in vacuum-sealed bags or with oxygen absorbers that you can pick up on Amazon.. Oxygen absorbers will remove oxygen from the mylar bag, prevent the foo from oxidizing and spoiling, and help kill any bugs in the food by depriving them of oxygen.
Use the right size oxygen absorber for the size of your container. A 300 to 600cc oxygen absorber will work well in mylar bags up to 1-gallon. For 5-gallon mylar bags, you need 2000cc to 3000cc oxygen absorber packs to completely remove the oxygen in the larger space.
You do not need to include oxygen absorbers if you vacuum-seal the bags, but many preppers use either method to store different types of foods.
Mylar bags can easily be sealed with a hot clothes iron run along the opening of the bag to melt the edge together. An alternative for sealing the bags is a hair straightening iron or a commercial mylar bag sealer.
Squeeze as much air out of the mylar bag as you can before sealing the top. This will limit the amount of oxygen the oxygen absorber pack must eliminate from the bag. Always store your mylar food bags in a cool, dark, dry, and protected environment to effectively store your food supply.
Mylar Bags Alternatives for Long Term Food Storage
As you can see from all the information above, mylar bags are a great way to store many foods long term.
However, mylar bags are not the only option for food storage. Glass containers, metal tins, plastic food storage containers, and even heavy-duty plastic bags can also be used to store food for the long term.
Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it is important to choose the right type of container for the food you are storing.
Glass containers are airtight and impermeable, but they are also breakable and more expensive than other options. Since I also do canning, mason jars are my go-to choice for storing food. When using mason jars to store food, I often remove the oxygen from the jar using a vacuum sealer together with attachments. (These items are available on Amazon.)
Metal tins are durable and inexpensive, but they can rust over time.
Plastic bags are not as airtight as mylar bags, but they are more affordable and easier to find. I often use plastic bags when storing food for a shorter period of time, or for food such as sugar, that stores indefinitely without special treatment.
When choosing a container for long term food storage, it is important to consider the needs of the food you are storing. Mylar bags may be the best option for some foods, but there are many alternatives to choose from.
Mylar bags have changed the dynamic of food storage for everyone who wants to plan ahead and build up a food supply that can last for years.
Taking some simple precautions on the method of packing the food and packaging the right food in mylar bags can extend your food storage duration for decades!
If you’re unable to get mylar bags or find them to be too expensive, consider some of the other alternatives I mentioned above.
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