Vacuum Bag Sealers for food storage

Discussion in 'Preparedness & Survival' started by ArgentineSteel, Sep 26, 2012.

  1. ArgentineSteel

    Vancouver, WA
    Well-Known Member

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    Anyone here have advice on vacuum bag sealers for general use?

    It's harvest time and I need to replace ours.

    1. What are you using and how do you like it on a scale of 1-5
    2. How easy is it to set up and use
    3. Are the bag supplies easy to find and inexpensive?
    4. What size bags will it handle?
    5. Will it handle bags with liquid content?
    6. What sort of price on the unit, any deals?

    Lets get a useful discussion going.
  2. MarkAd

    Port Orchard
    Well-Known Member

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    Food Saver
    very easy to setup and use
    Suppplies are everywhere
    Bags are various sizes or you byr the roll and make you own sizes
    Liquids - the bage should work but there are limits, jars would be better to use with the vacuum sealer
    Prices - less the 200.00 to get going

    I like mine. have had it fir seceral years. The newer ones have some features but mine does the job very well.
  3. Dunerunner

    You'll Never Know
    Well-Known Member

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    1.What are you using and how do you like it on a scale of 1-5

    Food Saver I bought NIB at a garage sale for $5, it is my fourth one. I rate their products a 3.75.

    2.How easy is it to set up and use.

    a child could operate it.

    3.Are the bag supplies easy to find and inexpensive?

    $29 for a box of bagging material at Bi-Mart. Watch for sales and stock up.

    4.What size bags will it handle?

    The roll material comes in 8" wide and 11" wide and any length limited only by the length of the roll.

    5.Will it handle bags with liquid content?

    The unit doesn't like getting liquid into the vacuum pump and does a poor job if inhibiting it. That is how I ruined the first three machines I bought.

    6.What sort of price on the unit, any deals?

    Go to garage sales, watch for sales at Freddies and Bi-Mart, etc. Again, you will find one for $10 or less right after you pay $65 for a new one at the store.
  4. sapper77

    Linn County
    Active Member

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    Just a quick reminder. If you are vacuum sealing dehydrated food that is sharp or pointy at all it will most likely puncture the bag. Just make sure you recheck your bags after a couple of days if there is any doubt. A lot of dehydrated veggies and even some fruit become pointy and kind of jagged so just keep an eye out for air loss after a couple days.
  5. AMProducts

    Desert Southwest
    Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    I had a lot of the same problems most people have talked about with vacuum sealed food systems. I got pretty lucky and got one of the big commercial bag sealers at an equipment sale, and wouldn't go back. Now this system does not have a vacuum component, but that doesn't really bother me, as the main utility I found in vacuum sealing bags was it was a solid way of knowing when something punctured the bag and it was now time to eat/toss the contents.

    With the commercial sealer, I typically run either the 6 or 8mil bags (this is more like pipe than bag material) and occasionally the mylar bags. For stuff that will spoil when exposed to oxygen, simply drop in an absorber, or you can use purge gas to exclude oxygen. I've done both, and usually prefer the purge method, I've used nitrogen, CO2, laser mix, welding shield gas and all work well, nitrogen and CO2 are usually the cheapest, with CO2 being the easiest to manage (I put a welding regulator on it down to 40PSI and have a foot pedal with a wand mounted on my work table. However, I seal all kinds of stuff into bags, so this setup may be a bit extreme for a lot of people. I frequently seal machine parts in bags and evacuate all the oxygen so they won't corrode in storage.

    If you're doing any quantity of bag sealing, you may want to try ordering your bag materials from U-line Plastic Tubing, Polyethylene Tubing in Stock - Uline the only problem I see with using these in a seal-a-meal is it might not have enough heat to seal the bag properly.
  6. simpleguy

    Active Member

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    I definately have some opinions and just to forewarn you, I apologize for the book that is about to ensue as I just went through buying my 4th sealer.

    My first 3 were FoodSaver brand, I killed them all. Burnt out the first so fast you couldn't say "BOO". The other 2 lasted a number of years, but I was never satisfied with the quality of the seal(lots of failures in the freezer) or the amount of vacuum(never enough).

    1. What I have now(bought last night) I rate a 5 on how good it is. It ixs a Weston 2300 that I bought locally at Quality Matters(King City, OR).
    2. Pull it out of the box and plug it in, that’s the set up(you can get technical and tear into it and adjust/calibrate the vacuum, but it’s should be good to go from the factory, mine was).

    3. Bag supplies are 21% cheaper than Food Saver at Costco. FoodSaver bags are 47.62cents/foot, these are 37.98cents/foot. You can also use the FoodSaver bags if you have them.

    4. This has a 15” wide sealing strip that is like 3/8” thick, my FoodSaver was 12” I believe.

    5. This will not handle bags with liquids, liquids need to be sealed in a chamber machine(I went there with the intent to buy the chamber machine but chose this instead). On the machine I purchased mylar bags should be able to be done but unlike chamber machines the bags cannot be smooth, this is how the air is drawn out. In a sealer like the FoodSaver and my new Weston 2300 only the top of the bag is under vacuum. In a chamber machine the whole bag is inside the vacuum chamber, which is why it can be smooth(if this doesn’t make sense I don’t blame you, I will clarify, just send me a PM and I’ll update my post).
    6. This unit was $380 and the Chamber machine was like $980. The older I get(I’m 40 now), the more I realize 2 things.
    a. I never regret buying quality, buy once, cry once is truly a motto we should drill in to our children.
    b. Don’t be afraid to pay someone a bit more if they are going to provide you with their valuable knowledge(I don’t care if we are talking about Doctors, Lawyers or those that are true PROFESSIONALS in their field not just sales people). If I pay 10% more for something but walk away with the knowledge of:
    i. How to fix it if it breaks
    ii. Where to fix it or better yet, who to talk to so I can fix it myself
    iii. Where it’s likely to break and what to look out for with respect to care and maintenance.​

    In the end if I would have found the right people to educate me on the product instead of looking at the pretty glossy boxes and all the neat things they say they do, I could have saved 100% or more. Over the years I’ve spent over $450 on FoodSavers and 21% more on FoodSaver bags to be able to tell you, there’s a better product out there that is repairable with less expensive bags that do the same thing. Over the time I’ve owned FoodSavers I’ve spent enough that I could have BOTH the chamber machine and the Weston 2300 I just bought.

    There are 3 ways that I know of to seal bags.
    Strip Sealers – Stip sealers have no vacuum, it’s essentially a hot strip that is timed for how long you want it on. Lots of preppers use these when storing food in 5gal. buckets, usually in conjunction with a shopvac. I have one that cost me $65 or so and it’s like 15 or 20” wide(I haven’t used this yet I was going to build my own homebrew Vacuum Sealer). But I learned something while I was at the Quality Matters store. I never realized(call me dumb, but honestly sometimes if there’s no one there to hold your hand and teach you you just don’t get it). If you are using oxygen absorbers(hand warmers are the same thing as oxygen absorbers for those that don’t know), they will create their own vacuum, literally vacuuming the bags down tight as they eat the air(apparently as they take oxygen out of the bag, it is either converted to a solid or the remaining space it taken up by something much less dense).
    Up to this point, I have been using mylar bags with ziplok tops and oxygen absorbers in 5gal. buckets, which I know is less than ideal, but I didn’t realize the above epiphany until very recently. Going forward I will be strip sealing 5gal buckets in giant mylar bags using my shop vac and oxygen absorbers. When I need in to it, I will trim a little off the top, get what I need and re-seal the same way. Previous to this I was going to try to put several small bags inside a 5gal. bucket, but realized so much space would be wasted, it would be better to just sacrifice a few oxygen absorbers.

    Traditional Vacuum Sealers – Tradition Vacuum Sealers are the FoodSaver we all know about, some are better than others, but essentially they are all the same. Using a quilted bag(giving channels for the air to escape) that usually comes in rolls, you insert the top of the bag in to the sealer and push a button. The air is removed from the bag and once the pressure levels have been reached, the sealer turns on and seals the bag while under vacuum, after a few seconds of sealing, there’s a few seconds of cooling and then the bag is released(good idea to wait 20-30seconds before using the sealer again to give the strip and vacuum pump a little rest).
    The good: I like that it has a built in bag cutter and roll storage. I like that there is a port on top to plug in the jar vacuum. They are light and compact. Its flat easy to choose the level of suction or to interrupt the sealing process once it’s underway.
    The Bad: Suction is weak relative to the new machine I have. The heat strip is too narrow, I had lots of bags not stay sealed. They really aren’t repairable, per se, this is disposable. I wouldn’t try to use anything thicker than the FoodSaver bags, but I also think the FoodSaver bag is a stretch for these machines. I definitely wouldn’t try mylar or retort bags(retort bags are bags in which people essentially do canning in a bag, kinda a neat idea, not for me yet).

    Weston 2300:
    The good: Heavy duty. Great suction. Great sealing and it’s a nice wide sealing strip. I have been told this machine will seal bags up to 5mil, my understanding is the FoodSaver bags are anywhere from 2.5-3.5mils thick depending on what article you read. This will also seal mylar BUT, because mylar is flat and slick you have to have an airchannel. So I bought some pre-made bags from Quality Matters that have a mesh that is removable. You simply remove the mesh from the bag and insert it into the mylar bags and VOILA, you can vacuum pack mylar as well. You can fix this and parts aren’t expensive($30 for the heat strip, $30 for a vacuum pump rebuild kit, $60 for a new vacuum pump). This same model has been around for 15yrs. Bags are substaintially cheaper than FoodSaver.
    The bad: It’s heavy and bulky. To suction jars there isn’t a port, but there’s a work around, it’s not hard, but it’s also not set up for it. It doesn’t have bag storage or a cutter. I’m still getting used to figuring out how to moderate the suction on things that are more delicate(I was working on some first aid kits and there were some things I didn’t want to KILL, it’s taking some doing, but I’ll get it). Can’t do retort bags as they have so much aluminum in them, they wick the heat of the strip sealer out too fast and cannot get a good enough seal to be reliable.

    Chamber Sealers:
    The good: Heavy Duty. Scary good suction. Great sealing with a nice wide seal strip. Bags are substaintially less expensive than any of the above(I think 20% cheaper than the Weston’s bags). I figured out the break even for me to buy this was in the 5000-6000bag range, meaning if I sealed 5000 to 6000 bags of stuff, it breaks even with the cost of the Weston 2300(I was so tempted). Repairability and adjustability. You can adjust how long this is under vacuum and how long the sealer strip is on. You can repair any part of it and they’ve never had one that is so worn out that they couldn’t somehow repair it. You can use smooth bags, regular vynil/poly bags, mylar, or retort bags. You can seal water into bags(it’s crazy cool, there’s so much suction in the chamber that the water boils at room temp. inside the vacuum).
    The bad: This puppy is HEAVY 85lbs. It’s big. It’s limited by what you can fit inside the chamber. It’s expensive $960-ish.

    In the end I am glad/happy with my purchase, but I still would like to eventually get a chamber sealer, hopefully I can get the vacuum rate down for more delicate items on my Weston. I just don’t see it quite as versatile as the chamber machine, but I’m also not limited to the size of things I seal, so I can practice on using them on my 5gal. buckets of food storage. Heck I could buy a 5mil. 15”wide 50foot roll of bags and seal up rifles if I wanted to…….

    Each person has their own opinions, thoughts, views and priorities. These are just mine for whatever that’s worth.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2012
    ATCclears and (deleted member) like this.
  7. knuckle Head

    knuckle Head
    Well-Known Member

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    Well I used a vacuum sealer actually a foodsaver in 1999 to package my food for Thru hike of the A.T. I still have and it is ingood working order,

    A couple point that should made here, vacuum bag sealing is ok for short term storage but is not the best.

    There are several previous forum on here and other sites about this, I highly suggest anyone looking at doing longterm food storage and or high volumes of stuff consider using mylar instead, yes it cost more and does take more time, but when you consider the money you have already or about to invest in food storage or prepping the extra $$$ is minute in comparison

    WIth the devaluation of our that would have been .02 cents worth but is either .000002 cents worth or $2.00 depends on how you want to look at it.
  8. mjbskwim

    Well-Known Member

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    Mormons have been seal a mealing guns at their cabins for years

    My motto on most new things is buy cheap,unless you definitely are going to start using the new thing heavily.
    Some times we say we are going whole hog on this new adventure,but we last a month and never do it again.
    You spend a bunch of money and the thing sits in the garage for years,to be sold at a garage sale.

    Now the funny thing about a seal a meal is it can be used daily. Have some left overs? Good but not gunna eat them for a few months?
    Seal a meal.
    Buddy comes by with a few extra salmon? Friend has no room for all the chicken his mom gave him? Found a deal on bulk...anything?

    I'm single and I use mine weekly. I cook like my mom.Too much every time.
    Not a problem,just seal up the remainder and it's good for next month.
    Don't label it for some added fun at dinner time!;)

    Buy as much a sealer as you can afford cause it will get used.
  9. KalamaMark

    Kalama Wa
    Well-Known Member

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    I just pulled the trigger on a chamber style vacuum sealer a month ago.
    VacMaster Chamber Vacuum Sealer with Oil Pump - Stainless Steel VP215
    I'm not much of a prepper....except I live in the country and have always tried to be prepared.
    This machine is a big heavy hog that works awesome, and I use it nearly every day. I'm looking forward to using it to seal a couple deer and elk this year, if we get lucky.
    In the mean time, I've bought meat in bulk from Cash and Carry(Pork Loins and Beef brisket), and used the vacuum sealer to divide the meat into smaller portions before I cook it on the Traeger, and preserve leftovers after the feast.

    The chamber style units will also do liquids, so it's handy for stews, soups and such.

    This model does Retort bags, and I'm looking forward to experimenting with Retort Canning, where you could preserve meat with no refrigeration and lightweight, flexible packaging.

    I could justify the expense at the time, and I'm glad I went big.
    mjbskwim and (deleted member) like this.
  10. KalamaMark

    Kalama Wa
    Well-Known Member

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    A note on vacuum sealing rifles. I think it's a bad idea. Any leak in the packaging is going to suck in air and moisture. An atmospheric or above atmospheric environment purged with an inert gas such as nitrogen, CO2, argon, or helium bould be a much better choice for storing and preserving firearms.
  11. knuckle Head

    knuckle Head
    Well-Known Member

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    Excellent point, I would put a bag designed for storing a firearm longterm, make sure the weapon is cleaned very, very well with a liberal but not drenching coat of oil, include moisture absorber in the package, personally I would include a few cleaning rags with or in another storage bag for quick cleaning.

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