This guest post is by KW and entry in our non-fiction writing contest .
Sometime ago, I was having a problem vac-sealing grains such as oat groats and hulled barley in plastic bags. It seems they have sharp points that puncture even heavy duty bags. So I posed the question to the Pack: “Can I use my Food Saver to vac-seal in Mylar bags?” The fine folks in the Pack provided answers, suggestions, links to YouTube videos and the like. Thank you for all your help!
I was discussing this with Dear Significant Other and told him it couldn’t be done. I even showed him a YouTube video where a man used a vacuum cleaner, electrical tape and the hose that comes with the Food Saver to seal canisters. Well, with him being the super techno-geek that he is, he took it as a personal challenge to find a way to use these two tools together to create a new process.
In our experiment, we used 3.5 mil, and later 5 mil, Mylar bags and the Italian made Tilia vac sealer. First, we simply sealed a bag with the sealer to see if it would work. It did, beautifully. Then we tried to draw a vacuum and seal the bag. This was met with failure. The Mylar is too smooth to allow the machine to pull the air out of the bag.
I could hear the gears turning as the light bulbs in Dear SigO’s brain started popping. What if we used the plastic from regular vac seal bags inside the Mylar so that the machine could pull the air out? Would the plastic melt to the Mylar? If it did, would it still seal?
We cut a strip off of a pre-made plastic Food Saver bag and tried to fit it inside the Mylar bag. It didn’t work because even though the bags were the same size on the outside, there was not enough room inside the Mylar bag to slip the plastic inside.
Take 2: we cut the strip off the textured side from a bag, and cut it to fit inside the Mylar bag. When lined it up in the machine, it began to draw the vacuum. The machine pulled the vacuum just as it normally would. Then came the seal part. We knew we could seal Mylar to Mylar, but would a Mylar/plastic sandwich seal. Yes! But only to one side. The smooth side of the texture piece of plastic was sealed to the Mylar, but the entire sandwich would not seal together. So it was back to the drawing board for us.
We decided to try both sides of the plastic bag. We cut a collar of the roll and trimmed it to fit inside the Mylar bag. It worked. (insert recording of angels singing and the sweet smell of success here J )
In fact, it worked so well, we reduced the size of the piece of the plastic collar and tried again. Success again.
It seems that the vac sealer machine needs the texture in order to pull the air out of the bag, but the sealer needs both sides of the bag to make a complete seal. After a bit of research, we . . . Ahem . . . Dear SigO found a product that will do the job beautifully without having to cut open the all those plastic Food Saver bags.
It is called VacStrip by VacMaster (Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with this company in any way; just a happy user). VacMaster has supplied professional kitchens with suction machines for quite a while. They carry a line of bags that can be use just like the regular vac sealer bags, and the VacStrip bags. You can use them alone OR . . . you can remove the mesh, cut it into strips and use it with Mylar.
The VacStrip worked with both 3.5 mil and 5 mil Mylar; we tested with what we had on hand. I have a 4 lb package of hulled barley, sharp edges and all, sealed in 3.5 mil and in 5 mil. It’s been sealed for 2 weeks now with no sign of leakage. I now have a new tool in my food storage arsenal.
This contest will end on August 7 2012 – prizes include:
First Place : 1 Year Subscription to AlertsUSA, 1 Radiation Safety Package consisting of the following; (1) NukAlert Radiation Monitor and Alarm (5) Radsticker Peel and Stick Dosimeters (1) Box Thyro Safe Potassium Iodide. All courtesy of AlertsUSA. A $150 gift certificate for Federal Ammo courtesy of LuckyGunner Ammo. And a British Berkefeld water fillter system courtesy of LPC Survival. A total prize value of over $700.
Second Place : A six pack Entrée Assortment courtesy of Augason Farms, a Nukalert courtesy of Shepherd Survival Supply and a WonderMill Grain Mill courtesy of Kitchen Kneads. A total prize value of over $550.
Third Place : A copy of each of my books “31 Days to Survival” and “Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat” courtesy of The Survivalist Blog dot Net and “Kelly McCann’s Inside the Crucible Set” courtesy of Paladin Press. A total prize value of over $200.
Contest ends on August 7 2012.