Food and Water

Oxygen Absorbers and Long-Term Food Storage


Oxygen Absorbers are used to remove oxygen from within a sealed environment, creating a nitrogen environment for long-term food storage.  They protect dry foods from insect damage and help preserve product quality.  Our absorbers bring the oxygen level down reliably to .01% or less.  The benefits of using oxygen absorbers include extended shelf life, prevention of growth of aerobic pathogens and spoilage organisms, including molds, and eliminates the need for additives such as BHA, BHT, sulfur dioxide, sorbates, benzoates, etc.

Air is about 20% oxygen and 80% nitrogen. Oxygen absorbers remove only the oxygen. The air left in the container is mostly nitrogen and will not affect the food or allow the growth of insects. Therefore, the final packaging may not have the appearance of being “vacuum-packed” because of the remaining nitrogen in the package.

Oxygen absorbers perform their action through a chemical reaction.  They contain iron powder which reacts with the oxygen in the air causing the iron powder to rust. When all the iron powder has oxidized, the oxygen absorbers are “loaded” and the absorbing action stops.  Remove the oxygen from an active absorber and the chemical reaction stops.  Put them back in the air and the reaction starts again until the iron is gone. Oxygen absorbers become warm to the touch when they are working. They take about 4 hours to achieve their rated maximum absorption.

The packets are made of a material that allows oxygen and moisture to enter but does not allow the iron powder to leak out.  The oxygen absorbers are safe to place on top of food.  They will not harm the food they are in contact with as they come in a sealed pouch.

What types of containers can be used with oxygen absorbers for food storage?

Oxygen absorbers should be used with containers that provide an effective barrier against moisture and oxygen. The following containers work well:

• Metal cans with seamed lids

• Mylar bags

• Food-grade buckets with airtight Life Latch or Gamma Seal lids

• Glass canning jars with metal lids that have gaskets

What is the proper way to use oxygen absorbers?

1. Cut open the top of the bag of absorbers. Do not open the individual absorber packets.

2. Place one absorber into each container of food as it is packaged.

3. Reseal the remaining supply of absorbers by sealing the bag of absorbers with a vacuum sealer or placing the remaining absorbers into a glass canning jar that has a metal lid with a gasket.

Note: Do not store absorbers in zip-lock bags.

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About myoung

Ben and Marcy Young are the owners of Southern Oregon Survival.

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