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I am in the process of storing all my dry foods in airtight jars and bottles. I mainly want to prevent pests, but also want to increase shelf life. There are some foods I need very infrequently and I have to keep throwing those away. My question is, how much difference would it make, if I add an oxygen absorber to my already airtight jars? For example, for flour and other grain-based products. I don't plan on keeping my food for 30 years. Would it really make a huge difference, if I am filling the jar to the brink? How much air could be there, if a flour jar is full? Basically are oxygen absorbers just a prepper meme, or are they useful for general food storage as well?

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    I can’t answer the question about oxygen absorbers, but don’t underestimate the air in flour. It’s the same principle like one can pour quite a bit of water in a jar of dry sand, only on a much smaller scale. – Stephie Oct 11 '20 at 19:56
  • thanks for your question! It got me asking "hey, why haven't I heard of these for food preservation before?" turns out there's a good reason, but it was fun research. – FuzzyChef Oct 13 '20 at 2:31
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It's not clear that oxygen absorbers would help you preserve food at all.

First, the science on the effectiveness of oxygen absorbers is still young, and few national food regulatory agencies have offered any opinion as to whether they work or not (just that they're non-toxic). Most published "studies" are written by people with a direct interest in selling them. Second, the oxygen absorbers you get from internet retail are unlikely to be the same kind that food manufacturers would use; based on a quick perusal of prepper websites, what many of them are selling aren't actually oxygen absorbers at all.

Most importantly, though, is that just putting an oxysorb in your jar of granola isn't sufficient. There are multiple kinds of oxygen absorbers, including low temperature ones, high temp ones, ones that absorb moisture, ones that emit moisture, and even ones that emit alcohol. The most serious independent studies I can find come from military forces, and they make it clear that it's necessary to match the correct oxygen absorber, packaging material, packaging method, and foodstuff.

Making effective use of oxygen absorbers, then, would require you to have an inventory of different kinds, and also invest in industrial-grade packaging equipment. This does not seem cost-effective compared to buying replacement buckwheat flour every 9 months, or just buying a heavy duty countertop vacuum packing machine.

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  • hmm so its not so simple after all. If they work, they would probably create a vacuume, so it would be noticeable? – user1721135 Oct 13 '20 at 11:28
  • They don't make oxygen disappear, so I doubt they're lowering the air pressure. – FuzzyChef Oct 14 '20 at 2:44

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