Oxygen supports the growth of microorganisms and causes changes in color and rancid odors in packaged foods. Oxygen absorbers absorb oxygen and effectively reduce the aerobic environment to 0% oxygen. Therefore aerobic bacteria and fungi are unable to grow in this environment. This will extend the shelf life of a food product drastically. The type of packaging and the food bag /container seal are crucial for the effectiveness of the oxygen absorber. A minor packaging fault or leak can render the oxygen absorber useless and the contents inside the package will perish. Thus, a high barrier package (with a low oxygen transmission rate), such as our Mylar bags, and efficient seal techniques need to be employed. They are most effective when as much air as possible is pressed out of the bag before sealing (this does not require a vacuum sealer, just pressing the bag down by hand is sufficient).
We offer two sizes of Oxygen Absorbers, the 100cc which is ideal for our 1 Quart Mylar bag, and the 2000cc which is ideal for 5-6 Gallon Mylar Bag. Each pack also includes 1 Wondersensor Oxygen Indicator, these indicators change color from pink to purple when they are exposed to oxygen (more than 0.3%). The indicators are reusable and will turn back to pink when the oxygen level returns below 0.1% (note: color change in either direction is not instantaneous).
The 100cc Oxygen Absorbers come in a vacuum sealed bag of 100. 100cc is appropriate for most 1 Quart Mylar bags (depending on the contents). Keep in mind you can use several 100cc absorbers together for larger containers and using more than necessary won't negatively affect your packaging. Each individual 100cc absorber is approximately 1.75" x 2" and weighs approximately 0.1 oz.
The 2000cc Oxygen Absorbers come in a vacuum sealed bag of 15 absorbers. 2000cc is appropriate for most 5 and 6 gallon buckets (depending on the contents). Keep in mind you can use several 2000cc absorbers together for larger containers and using more than necessary won't negatively affect your packaging. Each individual 2000cc absorber is approximately 3.125" x 4.625" and weighs approximately 1.7 oz.
Before opening the package of Oxygen Absorbers it is necessary to make sure that you have everything ready to go as the absorbers begin working as soon as they are exposed to oxygen. Oxygen absorbers should always be used with appropriate packaging to maximize their effectiveness. The most common application is with Mylar bags as they are more effective than regular poly bags at keeping out oxygen, although thicker poly bags can also be sufficient. We also discourage using oxygen absorbers in plastic buckets (with regular or Gamma Seal Lids) without a Mylar liner bag as the bags are more affective at reducing the influx of oxygen.
When preparing to use the Oxygen absorbers be sure to have a suitable storage container on hand if you do not intend to use all the absorbers at once. Good storage methods for extra absorbers include vacuum sealed bags or canning jars (especially if you have the vacuum sealer for canning jars). Never store Oxygen Absorbers in grocery store style resealable bags as they are not airtight! If you know you use a fixed number of absorbers every time, for example you package 4 quart bags with 1 oxygen absorber each on a regular basis, we suggest packaging the excess absorbers in those amounts (4 to a vacuum bag) to minimize the exposure of each absorber before it is used. We recommend leaving them exposed for no more than 20 minutes.
It is important to note that the chemical process taking place within the absorbers is exothermic (the bags get warm as they absorb oxygen) and that the warmer they get the faster they absorb oxygen. This means that when working with them it is good to space them out on your workspace so that they absorb the least amount of oxygen before being used. This also means that some condensation may accumulate on the interior of your packaging.
Oxygen Absorbers should be placed inside the container on top of the contents. Our Oxygen Absorbers are food grade and in a sealed pouch so they will not harm any food they come into contact with. As air is only 20.95% oxygen your finished packages may not look vacuum sealed (unless you used a vacuum sealer). To minimize the number of absorbers you need you can also vacuum seal the containers you are using them in.
We also recommend pairing Oxygen Absorbers with Desiccant Packets (available here) to maximize the shelf life of your items.
So how many Oxygen Absorbers do you need? Oxygen Absorbers are measured in CC's (cubic centimeters) which corresponds to the volume of oxygen they can absorb. 1cc is equal to 1ml or approximately 0.034 fl. oz. Therefore a 100cc Oxygen Absorber can absorb approximately 3.38 fl. oz. of oxygen. Also: 1000ml = 1L, 3.78L = 1 gallon, and 1 gallon = 3780 ml. Keep in mind that oxygen makes up only about 20.95% of air. The approximate volume of several common containers are: #10 can aprox. 3980cc, 5 gallon bucket aprox. 18942cc, 6 gallon bucket aprox. 22730cc.
When deciding how many oxygen absorbers to use you must also consider that, for example, a bag of elbow macaroni has a lot more air in it than an equal sized bag of flour. For convenience we have included a table below which gives some standard container sizes, their approximate volumes, and which oxygen absorbers, at a MINIMUM, are appropriate based on the contents (at sea level).
|Typical Dry Food Items*||1 Quart Bag
|#10 Can (0.85 gal)
|5 Gallon Bucket
|6 Gallon Bucket
|Flour / Fine Powders||50cc||100cc||350cc||400cc|
|Grains (e.g. Wheat)||75cc||150cc||900cc||1100cc|
|Pastas (e.g. Spaghetti)||100cc||250cc||1300cc||1500cc|
*These are minimum requirements, and assume that you have forced all the excess air out of the packaging. The numbers also assume you are at sea level, higher elevations generally require less (as the air is thinner). All numbers are approximates.
**Sugar tends to harden and clump up when an oxygen absorber is used. Also unlike with most foods, oxygen has little effect on the shelf-life of sugar but it prevents any organisms (such as ants) from living in the packaging.