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Oxygen Absorbers for long term Food storage

Oxygen absorber in rice
Oxygen absorber

All you need to know about oxygen absorbers and long term food storage.

As you may have heard that Oxygen absorbers are absolute must for preppers, when it comes to a long term food storage . I honesty, can’t recommend them enough. They are a little bit costly but if used wisely, it is investment worth making.

So, let’s firstly have a look at what Oxygen Absorbers (OA) are and how they actually work.

Oxygen absorbers are small packets or sachets containing a mixture of iron powder, salt, and a natural clay called vermiculite or carbon mixture. They are used in food packaging and storage to remove or reduce the oxygen content in sealed containers. Here's how they work:

The key component in oxygen absorbers is iron powder. This iron powder undergoes a chemical reaction when it comes into contact with oxygen (O2). The reaction is as follows:

4Fe + 3O2 -> 2Fe2O3

In this reaction, iron (Fe) combines with oxygen (O2) to form iron oxide (Fe2O3), commonly known as rust.

As the iron powder reacts with the oxygen in the surrounding environment, it effectively "absorbs" the oxygen, converting it into a non-reactive form, iron oxide. This process removes the oxygen from the sealed container, creating a low-oxygen or oxygen-free atmosphere inside.

Oxygen absorbers play a vital role in ensuring the success of long-term food storage for several reasons:

1. Preventing Spoilage: Oxygen is a primary factor in food spoilage. It promotes the growth of aerobic microorganisms such as bacteria, molds, and yeast, which can lead to the degradation of food quality and safety. Oxygen absorbers reduce the oxygen levels inside storage containers, effectively slowing down or preventing spoilage.

2. Extending Shelf Life: The presence of oxygen can cause fats and oils in foods to become rancid, while it can also lead to the degradation of vitamins and antioxidants. Oxygen absorbers help maintain the nutritional value and flavor of stored foods, thus extending their shelf life.

3. Preserving Taste and Texture: Oxygen can lead to the staling of certain foods, resulting in changes in taste and texture. Foods like grains, snacks, dried vegetable, can remain fresher and maintain their original quality when stored with oxygen absorbers.

4. Preventing Insect Infestation: Insects, particularly weevils and beetles, can infest stored grains and flours. Reducing oxygen levels in storage containers makes it less favorable for insect activity, helping to safeguard food stocks.

5. Minimising Oxidation: Oxygen absorbers are effective in preventing oxidation, which can cause discoloration and flavor changes in foods. This is particularly important for products like dehydrated fruits snd nuts.

6. Reducing the Risk of: By creating a low-oxygen environment, oxygen absorbers inhibit the growth of mold, a common issue in humid or damp storage conditions.

7. Preventing Moisture Buildup: Many oxygen absorbers also contain desiccants that help control moisture levels inside the storage container. Maintaining proper moisture levels is crucial for preventing food spoilage and insect infestations.

8. Maintaining Nutrient Value: The reduction of oxygen helps preserve the nutrient content of stored foods, ensuring that they remain a valuable source of essential vitamins and minerals over an extended period.

Oxygen absorbers are an essential tool for anyone involved in long-term food storage. They create an environment that inhibits the factors leading to food deterioration, thus allowing for the safe and reliable preservation of a wide range of products. Whether you're preparing for emergencies, stockpiling staples, or simply extending the shelf life of your favourite foods, oxygen absorbers are a key component of a successful food storage strategy.

It's important to choose the right size and type of oxygen absorber for your specific packaging and storage needs, as different absorbers are available for varying oxygen levels and container volumes. Proper sealing and storage conditions are also essential to ensure the effectiveness of oxygen absorbers in preserving the contents.

So, let's now take a look at the foods you should be using oxygen absorbers with and the foods that you should NOT!

Two of the main food products that we, as preppers, like to use oxygen absorbers for is RICE and BEANS. Firstly, they are two main foods that any person should stock in case of an emergency, but secondly, those two products are most susceptible to bugs and weevils.

Other products, as mentioned above, include dried fruits and vegetables, various grains, dried potato flakes, and, in some instances, people choose to use them in pasta. Frankly, I don't see the point in wasting them on pasta, as pasta is rarely susceptible to pests or deterioration. Of course, if you intend to store pasta for 10+ years, then go ahead and put OA in your Mylar bag.

Now, the foods you should NOT be using OA with. I have covered this in a video, the link is below.

There are certain foods that are not suitable to be stored with Oxygen absorbers, and those are:

1. Brown sugars: Moist brown sugars contain approximately 5% moisture due to the content of molasses. By adding OA, your sugar will become brick hard, though usable but not very good. I always suggest storing white sugar for long-term storage.

2. Brown rice: Brown rice contains natural oils in the skins that can go rancid in the lack of oxygen, giving the rice an off smell. As they are also a desiccant, they can make your rice dry and not palatable after long-term storage.

3. Fruit & Vegetables: Fruit and vegetables that are not 100% dry and are still pliable, i.e., sun-dried tomatoes, raisins, prunes, apricots, etc. These fruits contain approximately 10% moisture, and this is NOT safe due to the potential development of Botulism. Botulism occurs in moist foods that are stored without oxygen. The same principle applies when canning low-acid foods; the bacteria thrives in oxygen-deprived conditions. Store your moist fruits and vegetables in airtight containers only.

4. Fine Powders and spices: Fine powders like cocoa powder, powdered sugar, and some spices can become hard and compact when exposed to oxygen absorbers, making them difficult to use. Secondly, some spices have volatile compounds that will get ruined by OA, making them less fragrant and flavorful.

5. Coffee Beans: Coffee beans also have volatile compounds that offer coffee its flavor and aroma; using OA will result in the loss of those desired profiles. Secondly, coffee beans produce carbon dioxide after roasting for quite a while, hence you may have noticed a One Way Valves on all coffee beans packaging. This is to expel the carbon dioxide from the package and stop packaging bursting out. So if you were to put an OA in that environment, it is a high possibility that your long-term storage will be jeopardised and your coffee packet is more likely to burst open during storage.

So thats that sums up the key points of the Oxygen absorbers and their uses. They are an absolute must for any long term food pantry!

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