Guide to Using Oxygen Absorbers at Home

Oxygen Absorbers

We often come across little white sachets packed together inside the food packaging bought from supermarkets and grocery stores.

The small packets are oxygen absorbers containing fine iron powder and salt. In a sealed environment, such as a jar or bag, iron absorbs 99% of the oxygen. These sachets are made of a semi-permeable layer which prevents the iron powder from seeping into food products while allowing oxygen and moisture to enter.

Oxygen absorbers are natural food preservatives that help to extend the shelf life of foods by preserving their natural colour, flavour, and taste. As some foods are susceptible to oxygen damage, oxygen absorbers remove oxygen from a sealed atmosphere, resulting in a nitrogen-rich condition suitable for long-term food preservation. They help preserve the quality of dry goods by protecting them from insects and fungi growth.

Benefits

Inexpensive

Using oxygen absorbers is more beneficial than other methods of removing oxygen. They are not only safe but also an inexpensive solution for long term food storage. Alternatively, if you vacuum seal foods, you can effectively use oxygen absorbers to remove oxygen from the sealed bags.

Food-Safe

Oxygen Absorbers can be safely placed on top of the food. They will not harm the food they come into contact with because they are sealed. Food is preserved using oxygen absorbers that do not contain artificial additives or chemicals. Hence they are guaranteed to be safe and long-lasting.

Prevents the growth of microorganisms

Microorganisms such as fungi and mould can grow in an aerobic environment when oxygen is present. The growth of these microorganisms significantly weakens the integrity of the food package. Food products can discolour and become rancid, leading to food poisoning. A nitrogen-rich environment is inhospitable to many unwanted organisms and moulds.

How to use oxygen absorbers?

1. Determine the amount of oxygen absorber packets to be placed with your food.

Each oxygen absorber is rated to absorb a certain amount of oxygen. They are rated in CC (Cubic Centimetres). Humi Pak’s Oxygen Absorbers are available in sizes, ranging from 10 CCs to 3000 CCs.

Here is a guide on the recommended amount of oxygen absorbers to use when storing foods:

Bag Size Refined Grains (sugar, flour, etc.) Pasta and Thicker, less Dense Foods
6″ x 6″ 20 CC 50 CC
8″ x 8″ 50 CC 100 CC
10″ x 14″ 100 CC 200 CC
10″ x 16″ 150 CC 300 CC
16″ x 18″ 500 CC 1000 CC
18″ x 28″ 750 CC 1500 CC
20″ x 24″ 750 CC 1500 CC
20″ x 30″ 1000 CC 2000 CC
2. Prepare storage containers or bags to store your food products.

The best packaging solution for storing your food is Mylar bags (Moisture Barrier Bags). They effectively protect your food against light, moisture, and insects. By creating an oxygen barrier, Mylar bags allow the oxygen to escape and extend the shelf life of food products.

A Mylar bag is a good choice for storing dry and freeze-dried foods such as wheat, white rice, beans, pasta, oats, sugar, and flour. Dehydrated fruits and vegetables can be packaged in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers only if completely dry. Choosing the correct Moisture Barrier Bag is crucial if you want your food to last long.

HDPE plastic bags can also do the job, as it has a low Oxygen Transmission Rate. If HDPE bags are vacuum-sealed or sealed airtight, they can prevent oxygen from entering for around five years.

For storing small amounts of food, it is advised to use a mason jar. Dry goods can be stored in a glass jar because it protects against both oxygen and moisture. Furthermore, glass does not harbour bacteria or transmit toxins into food.

3. Storing your food products

Mylar/HDPE Bags – Fill the bags with food, leaving a little space at the top. Add the necessary amount of oxygen absorbers on top of your food. Secure the bag by folding it closed and sealing it with a clothes iron/hair straightener or a vacuum sealing machine. For extra protection, you may place the bag in a bucket.

Mason jars – To limit air volume, pack the food as tightly as possible when filling. Then add the oxygen absorber packets and use the lid to seal the jar. As the oxygen absorber removes the air in the jar, you will hear a pop when it is done. The top of the lid should not move when pressed down on it.

Applications

Food products to be packaged should be low in moisture and oil content. Consider the different dry foods you frequently store and want to preserve. Oxygen absorbers are suitable to be packed with:

– Grains/Flours
– Oatmeal/Cereals
– Bakery products
– Dehydrated food and nuts
– Jerky and processed meat products
– Pet food
– Pharmaceutical products

Any dry, home-packaged food to store for three months or more should include an oxygen absorber. Sugar and salt do not need an oxygen absorber. Otherwise, they will become rock solid.

Preserving non-food items

The presence of oxygen can damage paper documents, art, and other valuable artefacts, causing rapid degradation, mildew, and mould. However, when these items are placed together with oxygen absorbers, the oxygen level in the surrounding environment can reduce to approximately 0.01%. Important paper materials like books, magazines, and journals are best stored in Moisture Barrier Bags with oxygen absorbers.

Things to note when using oxygen absorbers

Once opened, oxygen absorbers immediately start absorbing oxygen in the open air, and there will not be much iron left to help preserve your foods. Hence, only open the oxygen absorber packets after preparing your foods in the storage containers.

Check that the oxygen indicator should still be pink/red and not blue. The oxygen absorber packet should feel soft from the loose iron powder. If it feels hard or solid, the oxygen absorber is not effective anymore.

When oxygen absorbers are working, it is normal to feel the warmth. The absorption of O2 from a sealed bag typically takes up to four hours.

Conclusion

Oxygen absorbers are essential if you are interested in preserving, extending the shelf life and improving the quality of food products. Worry less about your food storage solution with oxygen absorbers. Humi Pak carries a range of Oxygen Absorber sachets in different sizes. Find out more here!