Okay folks - today we finished our 9 family, 8600 pound food storage day.
Here's a link back to the planning meeting thread outlining where we were back in May. Lots of good info, questions and answers from other forum members.
Here is a detailed description of what we did today with lessons learned and observations.
One of our participant families graciously offered the use of their family owned business for staging. This is almost a must since you will need a lot of space for set up. There was a warehouse we could have used in case of rain - we were fortunate to have perfect weather - mid 70s, humidity in the 40% range. We actually had to move the bag sealers in out of the sun at one point. Make arrangements for the ability to do this in a covered area in case of rain, like I said, we were lucky.
We had a master spreadsheet that calculated out the number of buckets of what type of grain/bean each family wanted to order. We built the spreadsheet to also calculate the number of buckets, lids, mylar bags, O2 absorbers and desiccant packs each family needed to order. We had to order more absorbers, desiccant packs and mylar bags than the number of buckets because of package contents sizes but we just pooled everything together anyway so it didn't matter. In this case more is better.
I would recommend that each family order their own buckets, lids and absorbers, etc. The logistics required to collect money and everyone's specific order requirements isn't worth it. In most cases, shipping was between $30-$50. We also arranged for a drop shipment to the business address - several members of our group had large enough orders that they were palletized and we needed a forklift to unload them.
Order all of your grain and beans from one place. What you might save in price you will lose in shipping. We were fortunate to have a vendor in western Virginia (Yoder's Country Market in Pratt, VA) that assembled our entire order. We had to go pick it up since they don't ship, but one of our group members had a large truck and we got the whole load in one trip. We price checked with Honeyville Grains and Walton Feed but the shipping was expensive compared to the cost of gas for the trip out and back.
You can get either the HDPE Premium or Standard Food Grade 5 gallon buckets. The Premium is .090" thick, the Standard is .075" thick and the dimensions are the same. Both are FDA approved. Don't use LDPE buckets - the interstitial space between the molecules will allow gases to leak into the bucket - not that much of an issue since the contents are in a sealed mylar bag, but could be a problem once the bag was opened and you were using the contents.
Most of us ordered white buckets - we staged all the buckets and marked each one with a permanent marker with the family name and contents. Then we staged the buckets in groups by contents - this made filling easy, more on that later.
One recommendation - consider having each family order a specific color bucket. This makes for easy identification of who gets what bucket, but it's not essential. This would be polishing the cannonball.
O2 Absorbers, Desiccant Packs and Mylar Bags: www.sorbentsystems.com
- Mylar Bags - You can get either 4.3 mil (Part # 20MFS30) or 7.5 mil (Part # P75C2030) bags, but you MUST use food grade bags. We used 20" x 30" bags ordered from Sorbent Systems. Fold each bag into an 'S' shape to stage in the buckets. See the pictures below.
4.3 mil or 7.5 mil is a personal preference - the 4.3 mil is much easier to work with. The 7.5 mil bags ended up being the limiting factor as far as how much of each grain or bean you could get in each bag/bucket combo because the bag was much stiffer and didn't fill out into the edges of the bag as readily as the 4.3 mil.
- Desiccant Packs: http://www.sorbentsystems.com/order_desiccants.html (P/N 205050PK01)
One or two packs to a bucket depending on what was in each bag. If the air volume of what is being packaged is 40% or higher, use 2 packs. A quick way to check is to fill a measuring cup with the "stuff" to check. Take another measuring cup and add another cup of water. If you can add a full cup of water to the cup of beans/wheat/rice/whatever, then you have at least 50% air volume and need two desiccant packs. We used 1 pack per bucket for wheat, oats, rice, Red beans, Black beans, Pinto beans and Great Northern beans as they all had an air volume of 33% or less. The Navy beans, Kidney beans and Lima beans needed 2 packs.
- O2 Absorbers: http://www.sorbentsystems.com/order_O2.html (P/N OAP100020)
Two to a bucket, 1000 cc absorbers recommended. We used two per bag for everything.
These come in packs of 20 which will do ten buckets. This is the time critical step so once the absorbers are opened, we put two in each bucket and started sealing. Order enough to cover the number of buckets you need filled - there will be extras (unless you all have bucket totals in multiples of 10, but they are relatively inexpensive - about $0.48 each so we won't be wasting too many. Like I said earlier, we just pooled all of our stuff together.
IMPORTANT STEP: The desiccant packs and O2 absorbers MUST be physically as far apart as possible or they will interfere with each other. We put our desiccant packs in the bags before we filled and put the O2 absorbers on top of the grain just before we sealed the bags.
Empty buckets, with mylar bags, arranged by contents.
Buckets arranged by contents
Bucket staging, hard to see the 'S' shape we folded the bags into, but you get the idea.
Once everything was staged and we had people at their stations we started filling bags. At any given time we had 3-5 guys doing the filling. Use a good scale so each bag gets the correct amount. As I mentioned above, the 7.5 mil bags were the limiting factor as far as how much grain/bean we could load since the bag didn't fill out as much as the 4.3 mil bags. Grab each mylar bag by the edges and shake the contents down to settle it into the bag/bucket as tightly packed as possible. Use gloves because the 7.5 mil bags will put a nasty slice in your finger if you aren't careful.
Here's is how our bucket loads broke out by contents:
Rice and Wheat - 35 pounds/bucket; Oats - 20 pounds/bucket; Pinto beans - 31 pounds/bucket; Great Northern and Navy beans - 33 pounds/bucket; Kidney, Black and Red beans - 32 pounds/bucket; Lima beans - 30 pounds/bucket; Quinoa - 25 pounds/bucket.
As each bag got filled, we moved them to the sealing area. We had 14 people total: 3-5 doing the bag/bucket loading, 2 moving full bags from the loading area to the sealing area and 3-4 moving sealed bags/buckets from the sealing area back out to the parking lot where they were rearranged by family.
We had two people using clam shell heat sealers. Don't use an iron, buy a clamshell sealer. Trust me. The 4.3 mil bags took about 5-6 seconds, the 7.5 mil bags took about 10 seconds. Sealing is the critical step since this is where you add the O2 absorbers. The O2 absorbers come 20 to a pack so each pack does 10 buckets. We had one person who was responsible for the O2 absorbers and nothing else. We would bring 5 buckets out to each sealer, add the absorbers and start sealing. Seal all but one corner, then fold the bag over getting out as much air as possible before sealing the last couple of inches. Make sure to seal as close to the top as possible so you have enough bag left over to reseal if necessary. Another thing to watch for is to make sure no pieces of grain or bean are stuck in the area you are sealing. Sealing is the slowest part of all of this - you need to have sealers in multiples of two, so you start sealing right away and don't have O2 absorbers sitting open. We were pushing sealed bags out at about 20-30 seconds each. At one point we were doing 70 buckets per hour. Use gloves, the mylar gets very hot (or so I'm told as I did not burn my right thumb).
Follow-up: Don't put the lids on the buckets for at least a day. Check to make sure you have a good seal. The O2 absorbers will suck the bags down pretty tight. By the time we finished, the O2 absorbers in the first batch of buckets we sealed up had sucked the bags down to a near vacuum and they were sealed up tight. If the bag isn't snugged down tight after 24 hours, check for a good heat seal. If the seal looks good, take the bag out fo the bucket and check for a hole. You will need to transfer the contents to a new bag, replace the O2 absorbers and reseal.
All of these buckets are full and waiting to be moved to the sealers in groups of 10 ( 5 per sealer) for addition of O2 absorbers sealing.
The buckets to the left of the open bay are staged, waiting to be moved into the bay for loading. The buckets in the bay door are full and staged for sealing.
Going Home Loadout (or just another reason to play with a forklift)
Odds and Ends: (Some material repeated)
We started at around 7 AM and were done by noon. Close to 270 buckets and 8600 pounds of wheat, rice, oats and beans.
Have one or two helicopters - people who can just float from station to station and help when and where needed.
Bring food, snacks, water, coffee.
Rotate people in between stations to avoid burnout.
Label the buckets by Family AND Contents for easy auditing.
Stage buckets by contents, fill buckets one item at a time.
Unless you are extremely lucky, you will have extra stuff. Make sure you have extra buckets, bags, absorbers, desiccant to seal it up. We just split it up pretty much evenly depending on who wanted what.
I'm sure I left something out - if anyone has any questions don't hesitate to PM or email.
A few things Dogs left out. He and I were late... I made a checklist of what to take, I neglected to check on what Dogs was putting in the car before we left. He left our box of bags and O2 absorbers, so halfway to our location we had to turn around to retrieve them. So double check that you have everything you need with you before you leave for the day. In our case the facility were using for the food "festival" was 45 to 60 minute drive for most.
The day before the group effort, several members of the community got together at the facility and unloaded the pallets. They also did a test run with a bag of rice.
I walked around with another person and we made sure each bucket was labeled, had a bag and desiccant. Then we moved the buckets into the staging area a little bit at a time. This really didn't take that long because the bucket fillers were moving very fast.
The sealing took a little bit longer than Dogs' explanation. We had two sealers and a helper for each sealer. You can't see this in the picture because at the point the picture was taken, the helpers were doing other task. After the O2 absorbers were placed in the bag, the bag was then folder over. The sealer had to make three or four different clamps to seal across the entire bag. The sealer left an open on one end, and the helper pushed out the excess air, folder the bag into the bucket and then the sealer made one final clamp.
I would say each bucket took two to four minutes to completely seal. Once the bag was sealed, someone else moved the bucket to the vehicle of its owner. We had a few orders go on to pallets because their order was too large to fit into their personal vehicles. The large truck owner was kind enough to transport those orders of a few individual families to their homes.
Once we were finished with the initial order and every family made sure their order was correct, we divided up the remaining food. Each family received two or three additional buckets of food. So it is a good idea to order extra buckets and bags and have them with you.
I will admit, we were all pleasantly please with how quickly the process worked. We were most fortunate to have a nice facility and just about perfect weather for the process.
Sunrise from the Hampton Roads Bridge/Tunnel on the journey to the facility.
I took a slightly different approach to my personal food storage as outlined below:
Thus my bulk storage is just used as a buffer for my kitchen pantry, and is not just sitting there getting old as an insurance policy against some future crisis. The use of mylar bags precludes this flow in the usage of supplies. Though I did seal a few items in Mylar bags, the majority of my bulk pantry is easily accessible. The buffer approach also allows one to make use of periodic sales to save money.
Of course there are quite a bit of canned goods in both pantries, but I cycle these in the same way.
Below is a pic of the bulk pantry.
Morning Jeff -
You bring up a great point that I didn't and a distinction needs to be made on the two approaches.
Our approach is very long-term. Our buckets are not intended for use anytime soon. The shelf life of a properly packaged and sealed bucket is minimum 10-15 years. We looked at it as an insurance policy. Buy it, stick it on the shelf and hope you never have to use it, but be glad you have it in case you do. We take a similar approach as far as pantry stocking and rotation - we don't have the space for packaging the way you do, but all of our pantry items are in 1 of 3 categories
1. Immediate use - the perishable things
2. Longer shelf life items with an expiration date within the next year. We do first in first out and rotate the stock by expiration. All of these items are tracked on a spreadsheet.
3. Long shelf life with an expiration date >1 year out. This is our surge volume, as we use items in Cat 2, we will replace with items from Cat 3 that are close to a year. Otherwise we will replace as needed with a periodic big Commissary run at the Naval Air Station. Gotta love not paying taxes.
Great points - thanks for the different view.
What a fantastic display of organization, planning and community.
Thank you for doing this and then taking the time to share this with everyone here.
I am really impressed and consider your efforts to be top-notch!
Can I ask why you considered iron sealing to be inferior?
Once again, thank you.
Congratulations! What an impressing work of community and planning!!!
Thanks Chris -
The key to the whole thing was that it really was a total group effort, and since we used the the model you gave us at Lowesville we started with a sound framework to put our project together. Everybody had their strengths, everybody had great ideas and we just dialed in the process as we moved along. It was kind of funny when after 5 hours, we looked around at each other standing in an empty warehouse bay and said "Are we really done?" A lot of people thought it was going to take alot longer than it did.
As far as the iron - it's not so much that using an iron is inferior, it's more of a sense that after using the clamshell sealer I can't imagine it being any easier. We had no issues with temperature control and the "squeeze" helped grip the bag. We also didn't have the 2 x 4 iron sealing template you described at Lowesville.
One of the biggest advantages of the clamshell sealer we found was once we had all but the last inch or two of the bag sealed, we would fold down the bag and squeeze out the last bit of air. In many instances, we had a little triangle of the bag edge sticking up that would have been difficult to seal with the iron, but was easy to seal with the clamshell sealer.
Thanks for the rectangular bucket tip, Jeff . . . . We use the same organizational system, with various "levels" of storage, the "pantry" being the most accessible.
Also, a tip for those who are concerned about ingesting toxins: Mylar bags are loaded with phthalates, a component of plasticizers used to make plastics pliable. Over time they "outgas", so that the contents of mylar bags are coated with phthalates. This effect is magnified by a vaccuum, which results when only O2 absorbers are used to remove oxygen from the container after sealing. To avoid this, the containers can first be flushed with nitrogen gas (supplies available from your local welding supply shop). This flushes out most of the oxygen. The small amount of remaining oxygen, when sequestered by the oxygen absorber, is insufficient to create a vacuum, so phthalate outgassing is minimized.
Phthalates absorbed from food packaging are hormone disruptors, causing, over time, a wide variety of endocrine problems. The best documented of these effects include infertility in women, irregular menses, and hirsutism. In short, they're not part of the four food groups . . . . To mitigate this, we include DIM (diindolymethane), d-alphatocopheryl succinate, and phosphaticylcholine in our supplement program, as the combination is useful in detoxifying hormone mimics, such as phthalates. For those who are adverse to taking supplements, diaphoresis (heavy sweating) is also useful in off-loading these toxins.
I’m not going to venture into the realm of TMI, but let’s just say that I can personally attest to the efficacy of these strategies.
I also prefer a sealer to an iron, as the shape of the contact surfaces (convex), its corrugated surface, and the leverage added from the scissors/fulcrum effect allow greater, more even pressure and control than the relatively bulky, flat surface of an iron. Also, the compressibility of the sealer surface allows for more perfect contact than a completely rigid surface. FWIW.
Thanks Regina -
As you might guess, anything Cat gets involved with is going to be successful. I just mostly did what she told me to do.
But she wouldn't let me drive the forklift.............
Too bad about the forklift. They're fun to operate (I did 3 summers in a warehouse in Compton, LA -- worked my way up from 'swamper' [guy sweating his patoot off in the containers loading boxes onto pallets] to driver -- certainly was educational to work with day-labor part-time gangbangers from the 'Hood [this was the era of Jheri curls so they'd wear shower caps all day cuz the dust would stick to their gooped-up curls]... they taught me dominoes and I read to them from 'Niall's Saga' [it's an Icelandic thang...they loved all the beheadings..])!
More to the point, thanks for the textbook on how to do it all. At this point the wife & I have no core group to undertake a full-on community stock-up, but I'm hoping by next Spring we'll have at least a few families on board, which would help bring down the unit costs. At any rate, whenever it happens, thanks in advance for the Mucho Clues!
Viva -- Sager
Damn....she really knows how to hurt a guy, huh?
Also, a tip for those who are concerned about ingesting toxins: Mylar bags are loaded with phthalates, a component of plasticizers used to make plastics pliable.
I am always alert for false estrogens and endocrine disruptors and excitotoxins and radiation and hosts of other nasties we are bombarded with daily. I would really like to read your source to educate myself to the dangers of Mylar®/PET. Please post.
I have been under the ( false?) impression that Orthophthalate is the phthalate plasticizer that is really bad and that Mylar®/PET, or polyethylene terephthalate, is very different from Orthophthalate and has been tested independently and found inert in cold and heat and UV radiation even in the German and European tests released earlier this year. I don't recall anything about vacuum testing.
Sealing Mylar bags for food storage.
For smaller bags... How to vacuum seal Mylar bags in a food saver.
Nice job Dogs - and thank you to the contributors of this thread.
Th photos and procedural outline were very helpful - this is really good stuff.
I can't add anything but I have a question. How do we determine the amount of food and and the nutritional value specifications per individual? Does anyone have specific guidelines?
How do we determine the amount of food and and the nutritional value specifications per individual? Does anyone have specific guidelines?
How do we determine the amount of food and and the nutritional value specifications per individual? Does anyone have specific guidelines?
To do it right requires quite a bit of calculating and considerations, too much to distill down into a post. I would highly recommend this book to learn more:
Crisis Preparedness Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide to Home Storage and Physical Survival by Jack A. Spigarelli
Ok guys, settle down, my "lucky" husband learned to use the forklift and got to use it all weekend!!!
While attending the Martenson's seminar in April at Lowesville, VA one light bulb moment was when Chris said once your food storage is done you never have to think about it again. That moved it up on our list of things to do. My husband and I view it as insurance we hope we never have to use but have it just in case. The Lowesville seminar was excellent in providing us guidelines and information in this process so please attend Rowe if you have the opportunity.
Just some additional thoughts/reflections on food storage............
Job assignments for this process: food/bucket quantity spreadsheet (dogs had this job, lucky guy-lol), a Treaurer-in charge of the money, someone in charge of ordering and a person in charge of the facility. I think it's important to get people involved in each step of the process so a few aren't doing all the legwork.
One thing I would add (close your eyes "dogs") is I would prefer to make one order for buckets and divide them up at the end of the filling/sealing process. It wasn't a big deal separating them in the beginning but think that would save a step and possibly given us a discount quantity and saved money on the shipping.
Also, the Martenson's gave us a ton of tips. I had information and notes from Lowesville that I used during this entire process and even that day. The Martenson's also had small tips that make a difference as far as making sure someone was alert and taking away the empty bags as you fill since they pile up quickly, have snacks and music there to enjoy............it's all these things the Martenson's helped with that sure made the "big" day go smoothly.
I'll talk about the facility since that turned out to be my "job". It was a 45-60 minutes drive for most of the group but I think at the end of the day they all thought the drive was worth it. We had a bay to work in as "dogs" described, a forklift on the premises, two dumpsters-one for regular trash (which I couldn't believe how quickly it filled) and one to recycle cardboard. Both dumpsters were already there so it worked well for all the trash. A few of us met the day before so we organzied the bay area lining up the buckets on one side and when the food arrived the food was lined up on the other side. We started with the food that we had the most quantity to fill-wheat, rice, oats, etc. so we made sure that was located first and easy to get to the next morning. Then since we ordered a few different types of beans we did those last and it felt like those flew by since it was only a few bags of each bean! A member of our group suggested a few of us practice the process so they brought their own rice and a few of us practiced the process filling 10 buckets. After learning the process and practicing on these 10 buckets, we discussed the order and system we should use the next day. Therefore, when people arrived the day of the event, we already knew how many people to use filling the buckets (since this was a physical job), how many sealers, one person to organize and oversee everyone, another person was alert and took note of who needed a break so would tell the organizer and we would rotate jobs.
The start time was 7:00 a.m. and let me just say, well.........I'm not a morning person but I picked the start time since I was nervous we would not finish this quantity before dark. The quantity of buckets and food seemed daunting but it was worth it when we finished at noon and we all had the rest of the day to celebrate and relax!!! I just couldn't believe how well it went, how well everyone pitched in, everyone did whatever job needed to be done whether it was sealing, carrying completed buckets to whoever's vehicle it belonged to or just picking up trash and sweeping the floor. No one complained, no one just sat there - everyone got the job done and it didn't matter if they only had 8 buckets to do or had 60 buckets to do for their family.
Overall, our group proved what a comminity could do when they have a job to get done.
Lastly, my husband and I both feel like a weight has lifted off our shoulders just since yesterday when this was checked off our list of things to do to become prepared. Thank you to my entire group and especially to Chris and Becca! Teresa
It's been a long time since I did that research . . . . . I looked at the outgassing data for Mylar from a few studies posted on the net . . . I'm sorry, I don't have links . . . . Anyway, the bottom line was that Mylar does outgas significantly. But I also was warned, off the record, by the technical guru at a major packaging and O2 absorber supplier (you've heard of them, if you've hung around preparedness much), that Mylar outgasses much more severely under vacuum conditions. He kind of "implied" this "off the record" when I was consulting with him, and told him that I was storing organic food . . . . . When I told him that I was putting up organic food for long-term storage in Mylar, he actually sounded a bit alarmed . . . . He indicated that it is better to flush with N2 before storing organic food in Mylar with O2 absorbers, as that will avert vacuum conditions. I pressed a bit, but he would say no more . . . . Certainly, you can imagine why . . . . . He certainly wouldn't want to start a buzz about phthalates outgassing from Mylar (one of their major products).
I'm aware that, at the present, food -grade PET is generally considered safe for food, but I am a cynic when it comes to studies that have impact on big business. The research and business communities are so incestuous that I really don't trust the integrity of the scientific community completely. As far as I'm concerned, if it outgasses, and precipitates on my food, that's a problem. Unfortunately, there really is no suitable alternative to Mylar.
At any rate, I realize that's not a very specific information, but the risks with phthalates are so detrimental, and the cost of N2 flushing is so low, that I opted for safety . . . . Also, by using both N2 and O2 absorbers, there's a bit of overkill that makes sure that the oxygen level is extremely low. And, with N2 flushing, since tanked N2 does not contain water vapor, dessicants are unnecessary . . . . Which is good because there is some incompatibility between O2 absorbers and dessicants.
Like I said, I certainly err on the side of safety with my food supply . . . . We also treat our grains and beans with CO2 by dry ice treatment, prior to final packaging, to ensure that there are no viable insect eggs. I don't think that this is strictly necessary, as near elimination of O2 (O2 absorbers, as I recall, bring the level down to about 0.5%, when properly used) will prevent a fulminant infestation, as eventually the little buggers will suffocate . . . . But studies have shown that there will likely be so many insects per pound if a fumingant, such as CO2 is not used.
Anyway, I think that the most important thing is that people have emergency food. I recognize that I'm a bit of a fanatic when it comes to purity . . . .
I found a helpful site .http://lds.about.com/library/bl/faq/blcalculator.htm the LDS could not make it any easier for us . Type in the number you are storing for and it gives you the amount !
I can't add anything but I have a question. How do we determine the amount of food and and the nutritional value specifications per individual? Does anyone have specific guidelines?
We used Chris' guidelines from the Lowesville Seminar as a guide. It worked out that a bucket of wheat, oats, rice and a bean type would provide sufficient nutrition and caloric intake to sustain an adult for 93 days. Scale from there - 4 buckets each of wheat, rice, oats and beans will feed an adult for a year.
I think the LDS site Full Moon discussed has some more info as does http://providentliving.com/
Shoot me a PM if you have any specific questions - I'll be glad to email you a scrubbed version of my planning spreadsheet. If you know your way around Excel, it's pretty easy to taylor to your specific needs and set up your own linked formulas as needed.
Hi Dogs and Cat,
Looks like a great job and good fun. Glad to see you guys had a successful event. Our food order arrives next week and we have a similar party in the works.
But today we are putting the finishing touches on our goat barn in preparation for about eight new kids and then we have to finish the watermellon harvest. The best to you and your group!
Dry Run ahead of food storage day....
For superfreaks like myself a dry run on Saturday was important. It took us about 40 minutes to complete 8 buckets of rice and two buckets of beans purchased separate from the group order. Spreading the bags into the buckets seemed to take the longest, but I believe we were to particular in this process. As the scissors approached the the bag containing the O2 absorters, we realized we had no juice. Power that is, for the clam shell heat sealer. Quickly resolved we got right to it. Other than some hilarious spillage it went fine. Noone has to know what we did with the spillage, because if I am eating my insurance the SHFT has hit. And alittle bit of dirt never hurt anyone.
Nervously, we waited for the absorbing action to take place. Maybe you'll find this boring, but we were excited. Besides, we were waiting on the truck load of food to arrive anyway.
I do believe the two guys must have stopped off at the 9-12 Rally cause they were alittle off schedule. Well, just a wrong turn couldn't have made them three hour late. I would suggest you have three men and a truck make the food run. The truck the guys took was to small for the delivery bay once they arrived at Yoders, so the bulk of the food had to be hand stacked on the skids. Three men would have helped this process. The guys also did alittle survival shopping. They both returned with a L'EQUIP Nutrimill Grain Mill. Perfect for the Praire Gold Whole Grain Berry Wheat we purchased.
Beep! Beep! as they rounded the corner. Perfect timing. Our bucket at this point are showing signs of absorbing. The next day they were great example of a finished product.
Dry Run lesson review.
* three men are better than two
* Alow alittle extra time for man shopping.
As for Sunday, It all went well for two reasons. We had a clear mission with great organization, and we had a great crew with a positive attitude.
And Oh, and we didn't let DOGS run the forklift!
Staying light while preparing.......R39
Hey Coop -
Good luck. Let us know how it turns out for you. I'd really be interested in how much your bucket loads come to. Our buckets were 10-15% lighter than what Chris put out at Lowesville. I'm curious as to what the what the difference was as everything was the same as far as buckets and bags. Humidity in the grain/bean perhaps?
Not my major area of expertise, but I am under the impression that the outgassing is a function of the vapor pressure of the material, unless there is some trapped gas. If so, the N2 flush will perhaps help get rid of any residual nasty, but won't do much to prevent future outgassing compared to a partial vacuum condition. Would be happy to be wrong about this.
I am pleased to make some additions and one correction to my earlier post. Here’s some more background on outgassing of polymers, which would include HDPE (typical 5 gallon bucket used for storage):
What is outgassing?
“Plastic and rubber materials give off gaseous molecules. For example, the smell inside a new car is caused by polymer outgassing. Heat and vacuum increase the rate of diffusion. In a spacecraft the gases coming off polymers can contaminate optical surfaces and instruments. The result is degraded performance”.1
How is outgassing measured?
“The space industry has adopted a standardized test procedure, ASTM E 595, to evaluate out-gassing properties of polymers. Small samples of material are heated to 125° C. at a vacuum of 5 X 10-5 torr for 24 hours”.1 NASA is particularly interested in outgassing, as it is increased under vacuum, as in space. I was unable to locate any ASTM E 595 specs for mylar food packaging.
Outgassing in a closed environment
“Outgassing can be significant if it collects in a closed environment where air is stagnant or recirculated. This is, for example, the origin of new car smell. Even a nearly odorless material such as wood may build up a strong smell if kept in a closed box for months. There is some concern that softeners and solvents that are released from many industrial products, especially plastics, may be harmful to human health.”2
I was also able to confirm, from websites of several Mylar manufacturers, that Mylar does not contain plasticizers, and therefore would not outgas phthalates, specifically. I am delighted to be wrong about this one, as the detrimental effects of phthalates are well documented. However, I’ll still flush with N2 for my food storage, as the elimination of vacuum would tend to decrease outgassing of other plastic constituents, since the presence of vacuum increases outgassing. This is a matter of personal preference . . . . that is, erring on the safe side. Too many times have I proceeded to use products with published reassurance of safety, by “trustworthy” sources, only to have the deleterious effects later revealed. Absence of data proving harm is not the same as no harm . . .
I also find that N2 flushing is an economical way to reduce water vapor without having to worry about interfering with the function of O2 absorbers. And, I must admit that I simply have a constitutional preference for low-tech solutions that I understand and that I can visually confirm. Rather than fuss with calculating whether a given dessicant packet will be adequate for the presumed residual airspace, and ambient humidity, adequate flushing with N2 can be visually confirmed with a kitchen match. Any residual O2 would be resolved with the O2 absorber.
Now, I’ve got fruit to can, in glass mason jars, with the traditional water bath method. If it’s OK with y’all, I’d rather do than talk about it.
Follow-up on bag sealing failures -
Out of the 277 buckets and bags sealed we had 8 that needed to be resealed. 2.8% failure rate based on one data set. Not sure if this is high or low or to be expected when using a clam shell sealer.
If anyone else out there with experience sealing bags can add any more info it would be appreciated.
...and do the dry-goods food-storage thing on our own. I waited for months thinking one (or more) of our friends would come around and be up for a Food Storage Extravaganza (and we could therefore buy in greater bulk and save money) but nobody has -- and considering how wobbly things feel these days, I don't want to wait any longer.
Thanks DIAP and all the other contributors to this thread -- your experience helped make my moving forward w/this a lot simpler. Have now ordered buckets, O2 absorbers/dessicants, etc. When they arrive I'll get the bulk items and do it up. And that'll be another item off my "to-do" list.
(Next up, Berkey filter and generator [hopefully by end of June...we'll see how the money goes].)
Again, thanks for blazing the trail, ya'll.
Well, it's funny how simply moving ahead on one's own can be the kick-in-the-pants somebody else needs.
My wife & I will be ordering our long-term-storage food later this week. And at a dinner party on Sunday, one dude and a husband/wife team both approached me about joining in. Noice!
We're going to be putting up 260 pounds of varied grains and whatnot. Order this week, receive in on the 25th, store it immediately -- cross it off the list! Sweet!
Thanks again to the pioneers of this thread. Following the trail you blazed makes it so much easier.
My seal failure rate with a clam shell sealer is considerably higher. If my memory serves me of 80-7gallon buckets 12 failed to seal. This happened with all manner of food stuffs from corn to wheat to potato flakes to rice and beans. I never could tell if it was my technique or bad oxygen absorbers. I just made sure I had plenty of extra 2000cc O2 absorbers around, cut the bag back open and resealed them.
I am also of fan of the Mormon dry canneries located all around the country: http://www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id=00082Y These canneries are open to the public on certain days during the week. Sometimes you have to call and make an appointment sometimes not. Here is a list of the items available: http://www.providentliving.org/pfw/multimedia/files/pfw/pdf/122384_Jan20... At these prices they are basically giving this food away. All of these canneries are equipt with at least one #10 canning machine as well as the cans, lids and O2 absorbers necessary to #10 can all of these dry good items. I have personal experience with the hard red and white winter wheat, I much prefer the white, the dehydrated apples, onions and carrots, all delicious and the dehydrated potatoes which taste like KFC. You do not have to be Mormon to use these canneries. The guys at the one I go to could not be nicer and have never brought up religion once in the four times I have been there.
I have also used Honeyville farms extensively: http://store.honeyvillegrain.com/ I have personal experience with their freeze dried strawberries, blueberries and pineapple which are all delicious as well as all of their white, blue and yellow corn which we use to make tortillas. I feel the yellow made the best tortillas. What I like about Honeyville is that they are a crackerjack operation and will ship everything you order anywhere in the lower 48 for 4.49$. I highly recommend this company.
If you are interested in making tortillas then you will need food grade hydrated lime. This is the best that I found: http://www.mississippilime.com/products/hydratedlime/vitacalhcalciumhydroxide which can be order from a supplier at this link: http://www.mississippilime.com/salesCustomerService/sales
I also use the buckets that JAG shows in the picture of his pantry. In my case they are commercial peanut butter buckets used by local schools, bakeries and prisons. I just introduced myself and asked if instead of throwing them away they would give them to me. Within two weeks I had to stop taking them. These buckets are excellent, they seal great and stack well. Good luck in your efforts, Nacci.
Perhaps this is a silly question from someone who has not done food storage...but, DIAP & Nacci...how does one discover that the food they stored didn't seal? What is your indicator? Again, this probably has to do with the fact that I haven't done it, and so I have no visual gauge on how one would tell. Can you fill me in here?
Thanks, as always.
Thanks so much to all of you who have contributed to this thread.
Cloudfire - I am really relieved at your post about the phthalates not being associated with the mylar bags after all. After watching the you tube vids put up by cat and how that bag sealed - I was sold on mylar. My question to you Cloudfire is about the N2 flushing. (note, please excuse my ignorance about all of this). How do you flush the mylar bag with nitrogen ? And where would you buy nitrogen from ?
Other general questions: Do oxygen abosrbers come as a given with the mylar bags? Is it usually the same people who seel you the bags who seel the o2 absorbers too ? I am in New Zealand and have google searched but can't seem to find any body selling these mylar bags here so might have to order them straight from US. Would anybody be able to put up a link for a good place to purchase these bags? Also not sure where I would source that sucky thing that sucks all the air out of the mylar bag - hopefully the same company that sells the mylar bags.
Thank you very much for any clarification on these points.
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