According to one major manufacturer of vacuum sealers the average household can save up to $2,700 a year by buying bulk food items on sale and by eliminating waste, due to spoilage when you use a vacuum sealer. Vacuum sealers can extend the life of certain perishable foods up to 5 times longer (FoodSaver, 2015).
The claims are made, but you would have to decide if they are actually true or not. However, there are other uses for vacuum sealers besides sealing up foods for the freezer.
First, choose your sealer carefully and consider a vacuum sealer that has a “PulseVac™ Button” that allows you to seal delicate foods and other items without crushing them. The pulse feature allows you to control how much oxygen is extracted so you can seal up breads, muffins, cookies and other soft items without crushing them. This feature would also come in handy when sealing up certain other items such as important documents and maps.
Certain sealers have an attachment that allows you to vacuum seal specially designed Ziploc bags that can be reused. These bags would be ideal for snack bags that will be opened and closed more often.
Many sealers today also have a jar sealer, which by the way, is not a replacement for the canning process. The jar sealer is ideal for when you want to store dry rubs or dried herbs and spices along with grains, salt, pepper and so on in glass jars. The jar sealer simply pulls all of the oxygen out of the container.
Waterproof important documents such as passports, insurance policies, and deeds. However, you cannot seal the bags as you would food items, because the ink on the documents can transfer to the bags if they are sealed tight to the bag. The pulse button would be ideal for this. If you do not have a pulse button on your sealer simply use the heat sealer to seal off the bag after you have pushed as much air out as you can by hand. You do not want the bag to bubble up as you seal it.
Seal up clothing such as socks, undergarments, shirts, bandannas and other smaller clothing items. When you need the item cut away just below the seal so you can reuse the bag.
Vacuum seal bags can be used for water collection and for cooking foods. The bags can be submersed in hot water with contents inside the bag. The bags are a perfect way of heating up soups, rice, and other foods that are difficult to heat over open flames.
Seal up matches but make sure the match heads are not touching each other by arranging them head to end in the bag. To make arranging the matches’ easier place them head to end along a thin strip of duct tape, so they maintain their positions (do not place the match heads on the tape). Strike anywhere matches could ignite if the heads rub against each other when placed loose in a jar for example, and regular safety match heads could wear off if the heads rub together.
Seal up tinder for fire starting so you know that even if you are caught in the rain, fall in the river, or drop your bag overboard the tinder is always dry if it is sealed in a vacuum bag.
When sealing up dried food items it is recommended that you place oxygen absorbers inside the bags. The absorbers will absorb any oxygen not extracted by the sealer.
You can buy bags on a roll so you can make the bags as big or as small as you want. Simply cut to size, and then seal one end using the heat sealer. This is ideal for making small pouches to seal up spice mixes for the trail, for sealing your own MRE’s, for jerked meats and for individual snack bags of trail mix for your bug-out or survival bags.
Seal bandages and other medical supplies to keep them dry and to extend the life of certain items. Use the sealer to seal emergency medications still in their bottles to keep them as fresh as possible. Label all bags, because you may not be able to read the labels on the medicine bottles once sealed.
Sealing certain foods that contain liquids can be difficult, but one way to do it is to place the foods in the bag and chill or freeze to solidify the food product. Make the bag slightly bigger and heat seal without using the vacuum before chilling or freezing and then simply cut the seal off after the product has set up enough and then vacuum and seal.
Freeze or chill in the bag you will seal the food in so you are sure it will fit. Flatten the product slightly as it freezes so it is not one big chunk of food.
Make small or even large ice packs by sealing up small blocks of ice or even ice cubes and then place them in your cooler or use for treating sprains. Once thawed the bags can be refrozen for use again or cut the seal and reuse the bag after thoroughly drying the inside.
Seal fresh coffee beans or ground coffee, flour, sugar and other dry food items for long term storage. Keep in mind even well sealed bags will lose their seal after several years.
Seal up loose items such as change to keep it from rattling. Make small pouches and seal up and then label how much is in the bag. Paper money, gold, precious stones, and silver can be sealed up as well for supply caches.
Keep in mind a vacuum sealer will seal clothing items so they take up less room in a backpack, but once the bag seal is broken the clothing will take up more room, so make sure you are aware of this if you seal up bulkier clothing items for your pack.
It would make sense to seal clothing and other items for supply caches, because it is assumed once you get to the cache you would be taking items out, and using them, so you could stock more items in a supply cache by vacuum sealing them.
Seal maps and place in your caches as well. Be careful you do not seal to tight, and make sure the map stays flat as it seals. In most cases when waterproofing documents you would place them inside the bags and not use the vacuum feature, only the seal feature, unless you can control how much air is removed.
This article is not going to discuss vacuum sealing loose ammunition in any great depth because it is an unproven practice. You could in theory seal the ammunition in the original box by placing the box inside of a bag and then sealing it. As far as sealing loose ammunition this is something you would have to decide to do to see if it works for you.
Tools and certain other pieces of equipment can be protected from the elements by sealing them such as knives and other metal items that are susceptible to oxidation. Place oxygen absorbers inside the bags when sealing any item you want protected from corrosion.
FoodSaver. (2015). Retrieved 2015, from http://www.foodsaver.com/vacuum-sealers/