If this is the first article on prepping you encounter here, I will briefly repeat what I have said in many articles and videos in the past.
Oxygen absorbers are readily available for purchase on Amazon and Ebay, and directly from LDS. I think it was LDS that made them popular, and in the thinking of many people, absolutely required.
My feeling has always been that they are drastically over-rated, though they may have a qualitative effect. Maybe they help the food to not degrade as fast as it would when an 02 is present. But I don’t think the actual viability of the food is effected at all.
Some foods, like flour, rice, and even small beans, sugar, etc. have very little airspace at all. Elbow pasta probably has the most of all the core food I usually suggest. Something like oatmeal also maybe a bit more. But from the “cubic foot” charts I have seen on people selling oxygen absorbers, there is way more misinformation out there than truth. Oxygen is currently 21% of the air, and the rest of the gasses are inert. Oxygen reacts most severely with fats, so maybe beans are more sensitive. But overall, there is very little overall reactive material, in very little actual oxygen.
Couple that with the fact that a lot of people selling oxygen absorbers are sloppy with how quickly they vacuum pack them. The cheapest ones are available in bulk from overseas, and the seller generally splits them into smaller packs, which they then vacuum pack. And usually they include a freshness indicator in their individual packs, but who knows if they filled 50 bags, left them open, then threw in a freshness button one at a time and sealed them individually. Most of them are using a Foodsaver!
DIY Oxygen Absorbers
I can’t take credit for thinking this up myself. Someone forwarded me a TikTok video or something. The premise is that easily rusting steel will oxidize and use up the reactive oxygen in the air of the bag long before it will effect the food. I think this is sound.
In the video, they ground salt into steel wool, and that was enough to get it started rusting. This works fine, but of course I had to overcomplicate it. I used a salt solution to boil out with the steel wool and leave the salt crystals stuck. It worked perfect, but maybe it’s a little overkill, I don’t know. The steel wool did start rusting right away.
I think these oxygen absorbers are likely to be far more effective long term than the chemical version. In fact, on the LDS store, it specifically says that chemical oxygen absorbers do not work in plastic buckets, or unsealed ziplock bags. I don’t think that they absorbers are going to run out of steam anytime soon, even if the bucket leaks a little over the years.
As you can see in the video, I used some empty teabag bags I had purchased to make mine. You can use coffee filters just as well, and staple them. The staples will also rust! And all of these will most likely stain your food a bit, but rust is harmless to eat. We cook almost everything in cast iron and eat rust all the time. Iron deficiency is never a problem.
Please don’t hold up your purchase of large scale food supplies because you don’t have the stuff to make absorbers, or you don’t have bags, or whatever. This is a short time horizon now and all of this stuff is irrelevant. Please see the companion article to this on food storage options, and the things that you do have to look out for. And subscribe to GunsAmerica Digest for free so that you will get the Grid Down quarterly magazine.