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.
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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
Learn where I buy my Beef Bones, Wild-Caught Fish, Sprouted Grains, and more…and learn about Special Discounts for Mary’s Nest visitors, including from US Wellness Meats, Vital Choice, Masontops, and Breadsmart.
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)
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