Oxygen Absorbers – How Many To Use For 5-Gallon Bucket Food Storage


How many oxygen absorbers should you be using? More accurately stated… what size oxygen absorbers should you be using?

Well this short post should help you out!

When storing bulk dry foods like rice, beans, wheat, etc., a key factor for successful long term storage is to remove the oxygen from the environment. That’s what oxygen absorbers do.

Here’s why to use them, and how many to use – versus the size of the oxygen absorber you need.

 Oxygen enables bad things to happen to your food over time.

These bad things include…

– Spoilage from organisms that will grow
– Molds
– Rancidity
– Oxidation of vitamin content
– Condensation
– Bugs

The result could be bad or spoiled food at a time when you will need it the most.

 A solution to this problem is to use Oxygen Absorbers.

How Many Oxygen Absorbers For 5 Gallon Bucket

Total of 2,000 cc of Oxygen Absorber capacity.

There are several common sizes available. So, it will depend on how much air space you’re evacuating. But for the typical 5 gallon bucket with a Mylar bag insert, use 2000 cc.

I HIGHLY SUGGEST purchasing O2 absorbers INDIVIDUALLY SEALED in pack quantities you’ll likely use.

Why? Because once you open them, they ALL start absorbing oxygen. So whatever you don’t use would need to be sealed up again (vacuum sealer bag while using your kitchen vacuum sealer, or stuff them in canning jars with lid, etc..).

[ Read: Things You Can Seal With A Food Saver Vacuum Sealer Machine ]

2000 cc Oxygen Absorbers

This company sells them in various pack sizes, depending on how many you might be using in any one project.

Quantities of 5,6,10,15,18,20,25,30

2000 cc O2 Absorbers (Individually Sealed Pack of 5)
(view on amzn)

What is an oxygen absorber?

It is typically a packet consisting of powdered iron oxide. It is safe for foods, and is very effective if you have used the right amount in a sealed environment.

Earth’s air contains 21% oxygen. The proper quantity of oxygen absorbers in a sealed Mylar bag, or a sealed pail or can, will reduce the oxygen levels to .01%, effectively eliminating (minimizing) the risk of bad things happening to your food storage.

There is a caveat to effectiveness however. The container MUST be air-tight. Most people use Mylar bags to fit in their 5-gallon buckets.

Use With Mylar Bags

The Mylar foil will provide an air-tight seal if sealed properly, and the bucket will provide protection for puncture or rodents.

[ Read: How To Seal a Mylar Bag in a 5-gallon Bucket ]

NOTE: You should check your new Mylar bags for leaks. Use a flashlight shining inside the bag in a dark room and look for any light escaping. Some may have small holes at a folded crease.

They’re Shipped in a Sealed Bag

Oxygen absorbers themselves are shipped in a sealed bag or packets. So, remember, once you open that sealed bag, the absorbers will start absorbing the oxygen of the air around it. So don’t leave them sitting around for long (try to keep it under 30 minutes) while they are ‘absorbing’ the oxygen in the room.

Have your food ready and already packed in the Mylar bags, ready to seal, before you open up the pack of oxygen absorbers.

Then, use what you need and save the rest in an air-tight container. You could use a vacuum sealer bag for the remaining O2 absorbers (probably the best way), or you might keep them in a canning jar with an air-tight lid (fill the remaining air space inside with rice which may help reduce the volume of O2 inside).

Oxygen Absorbers are rated in cc (cubic centimeters)

The sizes of oxygen absorbers correspond to the amount of oxygen they absorb.

For example, a 300 cc oxygen absorber will absorb 300 cc’s of oxygen.

So the key to knowing how big of an oxygen absorber to use, is to know how much total air (oxygen) it will need to absorb…

…which is the ‘head space’ air plus the air that’s all around the individual pieces of food inside the Mylar bag or bucket, called void space.

What matters is the is the air volume in the container after you have filled it.

To determine the total residual air that will remain in your storage container (sealed Mylar bag), you could apply a moderately complicated procedure and formula, or you could follow some general advice based on other people’s experiences and others who have run the formula as follows…

2000 cc For 5 Gallon Bucket

For foods like rice, beans, or wheat berries stored in a Mylar bag to be contained within a 5 gallon bucket, use 2000 cc’s of oxygen absorbers. This leaves a bit of a safety margin which is particularly important for larger size items such as beans because they have a bigger void space around them.

Given the value of your investment, it’s worth adding a bit more oxygen absorbers than necessary. While 2000 cc’s is enough (for a typical 5-gallon pail with Mylar bag filled with rice or wheat, etc.), 2500 or even 3000 cc’s will absolutely assure best results. It’s up to you.

What Size Oxygen Absorbers for Pint, Quart, Gallon

The following guideline is for dry goods such as cereal, oatmeal, oats, wheat berries, barley, corn, rice, etc..

Pint = 100 cc
Quart = 150 cc
Gallon = 500 cc

[ Read: Diatomaceous Earth For Long Term Dry Food Storage 5-Gallon Buckets ]

[ Read: How To Install Gamma Seal Lids For 5-Gallon Bucket Easy Access ]