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What is the Difference Between Oxygen Absorbers and Silica Gel Packs?
As you start your Prepper Pantry journey, you’ll hear about Oxygen Absorbers and Silica Gel Packs, but which one should you use to best protect the items in your long-term food storage? In my latest video, I talk about when to use these items, as well as when not to use them.
Oxygen Absorbers for Long-Term Food Storage
When placed in a sealed container, Oxygen Absorbers remove oxygen from the trapped air, leaving nitrogen essentially behind.
The left side of the picture above shows a single Oxygen Absorber package with an air indicator underneath. Notice that the color of the exposed air indicator is not pink. For this brand of Oxygen Absorbers, the indicator in the sealed pouch is still pink. The pink color indicates that it has not been exposed to air. Once you open a package of Oxygen Absorbers, you’ll want to quickly use them in your food containers before they lose their efficacy.
In my comparison video, I discuss the types of foods that you could store with Oxygen Absorbers. These foods would need to have the following characteristics:
- Low Moisture (10% or less moisture content)
- Low Oil Content
Examples of these Oxygen Absorber friendly foods include:
- White Rice
- Rolled Oats
- Some Whole Grains
For more detailed information, be sure to read the Latter Day Saints web page about Oxygen Absorbers for Longer-Term Food Storage. Their website includes important information regarding foods that can’t be stored using Oxygen Absorbers because of the threat of the development of botulism, which is a poison. So take great care to make sure that you are storing the correct foods when using Oxygen Absorbers.
Silica Gel Packs for Long-Term Food Storage
When placed in a sealed container, Silica Gel Packs help remove moisture from the container to help preserve your contents for long-term storage.
The picture above shows a single Silica Gel Pack on the right-hand side next to a package of them on the left.
In my video, I talk about some of the items that you could use with Silica Gel Packs. The FDA web page provides more specifics on how to use Silica Gel Packs (also known as Silicon dioxide).
Silica Gel Packs are best used when storing certain moist foods, including jerky (dried meats) and dried fruits. Dehydrated fruits and vegetables also benefit from being stored with Silica Gel Packs, especially when they are dried to the point where they are still moist, such as with sun-dried tomatoes.
Other types of foods best stored with Silica Gel Packs are white sugar and salt, as well as foods that tend to sprout, such as potatoes and onions.
What About Brown Sugar?
When it comes to storing brown sugar, neither an Oxygen Absorber nor a Silica Gel Pack will work. You can’t use an Oxygen Absorber because brown sugar is a moist food. And you can’t use a Silica Gel Pack because if you pull out all the moisture from brown sugar, it will become rock hard.
The best way to store brown sugar for long-term storage is to keep it in the original plastic bag you purchased it in. (See below if you want to make your brown sugar homemade.) Once you open the package, seal it in an airtight container, but without an oxygen absorber. You also want to make sure that you store the container in a cool, preferably moist area.
Traditional Options to Keep Brown Sugar Moist
To create a moist environment for your brown sugar without causing all your other foods to spoil from moisture, you can try a few creative traditional options. One way is to place a piece of food-safe terra-cotta into your brown sugar container. You will often see these sold in kitchen stores in cute shapes.
The other option for keeping brown sugar moist is to place a piece of bread on top of the brown sugar in its storage container. The brown sugar will draw moisture from the bread so it will stay soft, and the bread will stale. Once the bread becomes stale, replace it with a fresh piece of bread.
If you create your own homemade brown sugar, try one of these traditional options to keep your brown sugar moist.
Using Silica Gel Packs with Make Ahead Mixes
Using a Silica Gel Pack with your Make Ahead Mixes is a perfect example of how to use these packs to protect items in your long-term storage.
In the picture above, I’m placing a Silica Gel Pack in one of my Make Ahead Mixes. You can learn how to create your own Make Ahead Mixes in the following videos.
Oxygen Absorbers and Silica Gel Pack Resources
For more details on how to use Oxygen Absorbers and Silica Gel Packs, consult the following:
- Long-term food storage (Latter Day Saints)
- Preserve the Harvest (Utah State University Extension Service)
- A Guide to Food Storage for Emergencies downloadable booklet (Utah State University)
- Silica Gel Packs (Silicon dioxide) (Food and Drug Administration)
Download a Free Pantry List for Your Prepper Pantry
Are you just starting or in the process of building up your Prepper Pantry? If so, be sure to download my free 36-page Pantry List. This eBook contains detailed lists of foods that you can store in all areas of your Four Corners Pantry:
- Main Working Pantry
- Extended or Prepper Pantry
More Prepper Pantry Videos
The following videos will get you started with your Prepper Pantry and give you more advanced ideas to grow your long-term storage over time and within your budget.
Stay in Touch with Mary’s Nest
- Subscribe to My YouTube Channel for Traditional Foods Videos (Free) - When you subscribe, be sure to click on the notification bell that will let you know each time I upload a new video.
- Subscribe to Mary’s Traditional Foods Newsletter (Free) - Get a free 36-page eBook for signing up: How to Stock Your Essential Traditional Foods Four-Corners Pantry.
- Join the Traditional Foods Kitchen Academy (Optional Paid) - For more detailed videos, live streams, and exclusive members-only perks, join my YouTube membership community.
- Order The Modern Pioneer Cookbook (Optional Paid) - Get a printed book of Mary's nourishing recipes from a Traditional Foods Kitchen. This bestselling cookbook is published by Penguin Random House with their DK imprint.
I look forward to having you join me in my Texas Hill Country Kitchen!
Shop for Items Mentioned in This Blog Post
Favorite Food Storage and Prepping Supplies
In addition to the Oxygen Absorbers and Silica Gel Packs, these items will help keep your items fresh for long-term food storage.
- 5 Gallon Buckets with Lid
- Bucket Lid Opener Tool
- Gamma Lids
- 5 Gallon Mylar Bags
- 1 Gallon Mylar Bags
- Zipper Mylar Bags
- Half Gallon Canning Jars
- Leak Proof/Air Tight Jar Lids
- Handheld FoodSaver with Docking Port
- Handheld FoodSaver
- FoodSaver Jar Adapter Kit
- FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer
- Terracotta Brown Sugar Savers
Amazon Shop and Shopping Guide
- Visit Mary’s Nest Amazon Shop
- Visit my Shopping Guide page
Get up to 15% off for stocking your Traditional Foods Pantry and equipping your Modern Pioneer Kitchen, including discounts from US Wellness Meats, Farmhouse Teas, Lehman's, Masontops, Cultures for Health, Survival Garden Seeds, Redmond Real Salt, Plan to Eat, and More!
Favorite Kitchen Supplies
You’ll find these items in my kitchen for making bone broth, fermenting, and more!
- 10-Piece Glass Bowl Set
- Cast Iron Dutch Oven
- 8-Quart Slow-Cooker
- Fat Separator (Clever device to decant bone broth)
- Flour Sack Towels
- 2-Cup Glass Storage Jars with Lids
- Masontops Fermentation Kit (promo code below)
- Mockmill 100 Stone Grain Mill (promo code below)
Use promo code MARYSNST for a one-time 15% off Masontops and Breadsmart products on Amazon.com.
Learn more about Mockmill electric grain mills for making fresh flour and their Flake Lover's Flaker that flakes whole grain in minutes.
*Affiliates note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. My content may contain affiliate links to products and services. If you click through and make a purchase, I’ll receive a small commission. It does not affect the price you pay.
**Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor, a medical professional, a dietician, or a nutritionist. All content found on the MarysNest.com website, including text, images, videos, eBooks or eGuides, social media, or other formats, were created solely for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or proper nutritional advice. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have watched in a video or read on this website. Use caution when following the recipe in this video. The creator and publisher of this video and website will not be held responsible for any adverse effects that may arise from the use of this recipe and method or any other recipe and method on this website or corresponding video channel.