Answers to Questions About Oxygen Absorbers

Oxygen absorbers

Recently I have received some questions from some beginning preppers on what is an oxygen absorber and how you use it.

They are variations of a small bag filled with iron powder and a salt mixture.  When they are exposed to air, they immediately start to rust.  Rust is a form of oxidation and consumes oxygen.  The oxidation will remove the oxygen from sealed container.  The oxygen absorbers come in a Mylar bag or special plastic that does not breathe, and have to be protected from exposure to air.

Oxygen absorbers are completely safe, and are non-toxic. They do not create any harmful gases and do not affect the smell and taste of the food.  A good oxygen absorber will reduce the oxygen level down reliably to .01% or less.  This greatly extends the shelf life of the products and helps to preserve good nutrition. They should only be used in dry foods, like grains, pasta and legumes.  Oxygen absorbers are not needed in sugar or salt.

Absorbers in cans

They are a real reliable and inexpensive product when used correctly.  I purchase the 300 CC ones for about a dime apiece.  A 300 CC absorber is adequate for a number 10 can.  I use 5 to 6 of them in a Mylar bag in a five-gallon bucket.

When you first get the absorbers, they will come in a special bag designed to preserve them.  While it may look like regular plastic, it is not.  Do not store them in plastic bags.  After I open the absorbers, I store them, either in sealed Mylar bags or pint mason jars.  But I prefer the bags.  If you have a question about the condition of the absorbers, it is possible to test them at home.  See my blog post Testing Oxygen Absorbers.

Here are the links to three additional posts that will help  answer question about canning with absorbers. Canning Dry Pack in #10 Cans, Dry Pack Canning, and Sealing Food in 5 Gallon Buckets.

I see people trying to make their own absorbers or using hand warmers.  This makes no sense to me.  Absorbers are inexpensive and reliable; I am not going to risk my food with some homemade or improvised device in an attempt to save a few pennies.

Howard

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7 Responses to Answers to Questions About Oxygen Absorbers

  1. David says:

    I read recently (here?) that brown sugar should not have oxygen removed from its container because botulism will grow on it without oxygen (brown sugar = sugar + molasses). I know that brown sugar lasts a long time (years, ask me how I know) in the cupboard in the bag it comes in, so just avoid the o2 absorbers for this use.

  2. Susan says:

    Just use 1 tbsp of molasses to 1 cup of white granulared sugar = 1 cup of brown sugar.

  3. Judi Shaw says:

    I heard that you can use the hand warmers in the place of the other oxygen absorbers. That they will take the oxygen out when storing food for a long time.
    Could someone tell me if that is true or not please

    • Matt in Oklahoma says:

      Yes but why would you want to put something that’s not made for food into your food that you will feed your family, the most precious asset in the world? Show me one food manufacturer that uses hand warmers in their food. If those people who will take the cheapest route so they can make the most money for their product wont do it then why would you? Please don’t take shortcuts on things that are supposed to keep you alive and protect what you value most in the world. I know this sounds harsh but I am passionate about this

  4. jacklyn says:

    How lond do oxygen absorbers keep your food oxygen free?

  5. Meade says:

    Recently learned to add a LG MARSHMELLO into your brown sugar storage. It works miracles, absorbing moisture, keeping sugar soft.
    I wonder which factor is more important?
    If you put marshmallows into a vacuum, they expand. Wouldn’t that force out the “offending” air?
    So much to learn…keep it comming please.

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