Do Mylar bags have a place in your preparedness efforts? Absolutely. While I store a lot of food and non-food items in four gallon square buckets, #10 cans, Mason jars, and five gallon round buckets, there’s still plenty of tinsel in my pantry in the form of Mylar bags. Why?
Mylar bags make your food access more convenient.
Mylar Bags are easy to use-and lighter than a bucket!
Rather than bug my hubby to carry up a large bucket of white rice, I can simply get a Mylar bag of rice, heft it upstairs myself, and store it in my kitchen cupboards as I make my way through its contents. As great as plastic buckets are, they’re not oxygen proof, whereas quality Mylar bags indeed are. They also shield the contents from light, and so long as they are a good thickness, cats and rodents will not chew through them. Mylar bags are reusable and the gusset bottom ones make them easy to fill as well. I recommend getting a zip-locked version so that your food can continue to stay preserved while you are working your way through the contents. Mylar bags are also water and moisture resistant and are more durable in the event of a flood or earthquake.
A quality Mylar bag will be at least 4 mils thick. Don’t waste your money on the ones that feel as flimsy as a Mylar balloon. While the thin ones will still prevent light from ruining your foods, they will do little to mask the smell of the food inside and weakly defend against the nibbles of bugs, rodents, and felines. Conversely, a thicker Mylar bag will be unappealing to any typical critter and will suitably mask enticing smells. It will also be puncture resistant against an “oopsy daisy.”
When sealing a Mylar bag, you don’t need one of those fancy Mylar bag sealers. You can seal a Mylar bag with your Foodsaver, a curling iron, or a hot iron, even if you’re investing in the really large bags. When using an iron, simply set it on its highest setting, set the bag on a metal surface or a metal leveler, and slowly run the hot iron over the edge to create the seal. Use the curling iron on its highest setting and move it slowly across the top of the bag as well. If you purchase quality, thick, Mylar bags, they are great to reuse, so pay a little extra for the more durable kind. When you open a Mylar bag, if you do it gently or with scissors you can easily reuse it. Your bag will get “smaller” after each use as you cut it open, but trim sensibly and they will last a while. As mentioned earlier, I also invest in zip-lock topped bags. Sometimes I will reuse a bag so many times that I have to cut below the zip-locked edge to open it, but at least I can still seal it with my Foodsaver or a hot clothes iron. That way I can continue to seal the bag in between uses.
Personally, I think Mylar bags inside a plastic bucket are overkill. Perhaps I’d even go so far as to say that fear mongers or cheap manufacturers came up with such an idea. If you’ve got a good quality Mylar bag, you don’t need to pair it with a bucket—unless you’re simply trying to make the handling and tight fitting storage of all of the Mylar bags more efficient.
On a final note, understand that I use a variety of storage methods for my goods. I have some in jars, some in buckets, some in Foodsaver bags, some #10 cans, and some in Mylar bags. This way I’m protected against a broad range of possible events and natural disasters. An earthquake could break my bottles, a flood could seep through my bucket lids, or a fire could burn through my bags. While I have yet to find one storage method that does it all, a Mylar bag is great to use in concert with other methods. It’s easy to heft, minimizes moisture, truly protects against oxygen, bug infiltration, and light exposure. When I use Mylar bags with a Foodsaver when storing dry goods such as candy, brown sugar, rice, flour, cereals, chocolate chips, cake mixes, or muffin mixes, I get them to last a lot longer than the typical expiration dates. The Foodsaver will get rid of all of the oxygen inside, and your items will stay snug and tasty until you get into them. So long as you have electricity, you can keep sealing them up each time you remove something from them. Worst case scenario, if you find you are without electricity, you can still seal the bag with a hot antique iron (that you warm over the fire) leaving just a small smidgen of room in the seal big enough to fit the tip of a tire pump. Insert a tire pump that you’ve reversed the direction of the air flow on, and then just pump away to remove the oxygen, grasp the corner, remove the pump tip, and then quickly seal the last gap.
When purchasing Mylar bags, be sure to inquire about the thickness as well as the other dimensions of the bag, whether or not they are gusset-bottomed (for ease of filling, using, and for better shelving), and a zip-locked top. If a bag has “large dimensions” but does not have a gusset bottom then your usable space is downsized a bit.