How to determine the right number of Oxygen Absorbers to use inside a sealed Mylar Pro Bag:
Are you curious as to how the numbers in the Quick Reference Oxygen Absorber Chart were calculated???
The following simple explanation will briefly explain the math and science behind the chart so that you can better understand how to determine the right number of Oxygen Absorbers to put in each of your sealed MylarPro Bags:
The starting point to determining how many Oxygen Absorbers that you need to use would be to first calculate how much air would fit inside the container if it were empty and it just contained air.
For instance, there are approximately 3785 Cubic Centimeters (cc’s) of space inside each gallon sized container. So, as an example, a #10 Sized Can normally holds a little less than 1 gallon (note: there are varying sizes of #10 cans, however the most common one used in the food industry holds .82 gallons). Therefore, there would be about 3104 cc’s of air inside a typical empty .82 gallon sized #10 can.
The next issue you would need to address is to calculate the total amount of Oxygen that resides inside that air. What’s odd is that when most people refer to air, they just assume that it is primarily comprised of Oxygen. However, you may be surprised to find out how little Oxygen is actually in the air that we breathe. In fact, there is nearly 4 times as much Nitrogen in our air as there is Oxygen. Our earth’s atmosphere is predominantly comprised of 78.09% Nitrogen and 20.95% Oxygen.
The good news as it relates to food storage is that the biggest component of that air, Nitrogen, is basically an inert gas and it does not significantly affect the shelf life of food. The real culprit to causing food to oxidize and go bad is Oxygen and you need to remove as much of it as possible in order to insure that your stored foods maintain a very long shelf life.
As an example, to calculate the amount of Oxygen sitting inside a #10 Size Can, you would need to multiply the 3104 cc’s of air by 20.95% and you would find that there is approximately 650 cc’s of oxygen inside the empty can.
But since your aim is to store food inside the container, the next thing you would want to determine is how much air will be left over when the majority of it is pushed out when you place the actual food inside the container. The concept that you need to focus on for this calculation is figuring out how much space resides inside the spaces in-between the food matter. In other words, just because you fill up a container to the top with a dry substance, unless the matter packs down perfectly together, there will still be some air left over inside the container.
To conceptualize the concept of air inside the gaps, let’s think of marbles. You know, those perfectly round pieces of glass that kids play with. For instance, even if you filled the container completely full of marbles, there would still be a considerable amount of air left inside the “full” container. The reason being is that the marbles simply do NOT pack too well together. There will always be air in the gaps between the marbles.
In fact, if you poured water inside the container, you would find that the so called “full” container was not really that “full” at all. In fact, you would find that you could still add about 38% of the volume of the container with water before the container would be completely full.
So, let’s get back to our example of a #10 can. If you were to fill it to the brim with marbles, then there would still be approximately 247 cc’s of Oxygen residing inside the full can ((3104 cc’s of air) X (20.95% Oxygen) X (38% empty space) = approximately 247 cc’s of residual Oxygen).
So, if you wanted to seal marbles inside a #10 can and you wanted to ensure that no Oxygen was left over inside the sealed MylarPro Bag, then you would want to place one of our high efficient 300 cc Oxygen Absorbers inside. (note: it is always a good a idea to use a slightly larger Oxygen Absorber than is necessary. For instance, in stead of using a 250 cc O2 Absorber, it would make sense to use a 300 cc O2 Absorber. That way, if over time miniscule amounts of air seeps into the bag, there would still be a way to continue to remove the Oxygen inside that new air.
Now that we have covered the essential components, at this point, you need to think about what type of food you are placing inside each container and how well it will actually “pack” together. For instance, if you were to place something inside that packs together really well like white flour or even small granules of white sugar, then there would be very little air left inside the full container. But if you were to instead place a dry and tubular pasta like “Penne” or “Rigatoni” inside the container, then you would wind up with a much larger percentage of air residing in the container.
To give you a better idea of how well things pack together, here is a list of common dry food storage items listed in ascending order of how much Oxygen will be left inside the container. (Flour, Baking Soda, Cooking Mixes, Corn Meal, Powdered Milk, Salt, Sugar, Oats, Powdered Milk, Potato Flakes, Wheat, Rice, Spaghetti, Lentils, Split Peas, Black-eyed Peas, Lima Beans, Kidney Beans, Corn, Penne Pasta, Rigatoni Pasta and Etc.)
There could of course be exceptions to that list, but at least it will give a an idea of how well some foods pack together versus how poorly others do.
However, now that you have a better grasp of “why” you need different sizes of Oxygen Absorbers, our Quick Reference Oxygen Absorber Chart should make more sense to you.