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Foodsaver Successes, Failures, and Tips

I’m sure I’ve said it before but I NEVER use my FoodSaver to seal leftovers or for any foods whatsoever. I use it exclusively to prolong the life of supplies and gear that I want to better protect from oxygen and moisture. That was the plan anyway. I’ve done so for years and rarely had a problem but for some reason I found a bunch lately…

The other day I got into a bin of supplies that were meant as an off-site cache (though I haven’t quite done that yet) because I was looking for something in the bin… I think it was some N95 masks but what I was looking for doesn’t really matter.

What I noticed, however, was that some of the items I’d sealed in foodsaver rolls were NOT sealed! Note: I typically use 11″ foodsaver brand rolls which is what these are. I wasn’t too concerned until I started uncovering more and more items that were not properly sealed. What was going on, I wondered? Honestly, I’m still not sure but I figured I would share what I found below.

I should briefly point out that I sometimes go overboard with things like this and wind up “protecting” all sorts of stuff that probably didn’t need it. 😉 For the most part I wanted to seal items that could be damaged by moisture, though oxygen was a secondary concern. In some cases I also wanted to help prevent leakages as I have had supplies spoiled because of it, specifically a bottle of isopropyl alcohol that leaked.

My Foodsaver Successes and Failures

With that in mind, there are two photos below: the top one is of my foodsaver successes and the bottom is of my foodsaver failures. Here’s my successes from the off-site bin:

foosaver-successes

As you can see there are various pill bottles, including OTC and antibiotics, a box of matches, granola bars, some hydrogen peroxide and isopropyl alcohol. There’s also a package of toothbrushes and flossers, an assortment of medical supplies (like gauze), as well as a jacket wrapped up in the background.

Now for my foodsaver failures…

foodsaver-failures

As you can see there’s a package of OTC medications, a can of shaving cream and razors, a package of disposable lighters, candles, and another jacket in the far back. There’s also a disposable camera (because I thought I might need to document something) and a package of needle and thread and safety pins. Like I said I can go overboard sometimes. 🙂

Though not everything that’s been sealed is shown, by and large most packages of pill bottles were still in tact. Honestly, I can’t make heads nor tails out of what’s going on. That is, there is no pattern that I can see.

Some Tips to Increase Success

After doing some research online it seems that even though the foodsaver rolls are not paper-thin they can be easily punctured, in particular, from items on the INSIDE. As such, you should be wary of sealing anything with sharp edges or pointy ends. Of course, I did have some items shown above that shouldn’t have ANY sharp ends, such as the jacket in the “failures” photo and possible the camera as well because all the corners and edges of the camera are rounded.

I can see how the shaving cream and package of needles may cause a sharp edge due to the packaging. Perhaps the candle bottoms and lighter ends could cause a sharp edge too. To remedy this, others suggested placing some sort of barrier between the items and foodsaver rolls, such as a Ziploc bag. I figured most anything would work including a few sheets of paper but I haven’t tried anything yet.

It might also be wise to leave the items out and wait 24-48 hours before putting them away to ensure that they stay sealed.

I would imagine that if the bags are so potentially fragile then they can be abraded from the outside as well so you should be careful what they’re placed next. Similarly, avoid removing them from their container often as well.

Though I wasn’t consistent I did occasionally double-seal the roll ends just in case one failed but I noticed that I had both single-sealed and double-sealed successes and failures.

My Final Thoughts

Ultimately, I don’t have a perfect answer as to why this failed. Visual inspection won’t help unless there’s a big hole or tear. Though I didn’t look real hard I didn’t notice any obvious holes. Since the end seals looked in tact I had to imagine that they failed away from the seals but that’s just a guess. As such, I’d say I’m having an abrasion problem.

To remedy this I simply cut off an end of the failed foodsaver bags/rolls and stuffed the contents along with the failed rolls into a new roll and re-sealed them. Doing so placed a barrier between the contents and the new foodsaver roll. After waiting a day everything looked fine so I’m really leaning towards the abrasion problem. Granted, perhaps it possible that the rolls failed days or weeks later. Seems I’ll have to check on them again to see if I’ve had a long term success or not.

What about you? Have you had any similar failures? If so, what have you done about it? Thanks!

By Damian Brindle

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15 replies on “Foodsaver Successes, Failures, and Tips”

We use our food saver for almost everything. Have very few problems, anything sharp will puncture and should be wrapped in something or double bagged. Always double seal. We use reseal able bags a lot, batteries, seeds before they are refrigerated, medications. Powder will get in the seal but if you put a coffee filter between the powder and the seal it won’t. Leave powdered foods in original package and just snip a corner to vacumn it. I do noodles, macaroni but must have buffer or will puncture bag. I have never had problems with meat if I put a paper towel or couple of coffee filters between the meat and the seal, if you get juice in the seal it will not hold or if a bone rubs it will not hold.

Glad to know you’ve had so few problems. I’ve never tried using a coffee filter to keep powders out… I’ve always placed them at the bottom of a mason jar. When you say “always double seal” do you mean to place two seals on the end of a bag?

I have been using my Food Saver to package a lot of interesting things also. And, I have learned a few lessons along the way. First, is that the ‘factory sealing’ is generally good. But, they cheat. Their seals are 1/4 to 3/8 of an inch wide. If the roll material is being used, the person making the bag has to use their machine to seal the roll material into a bag and seal it on each end. The Food Saver seal is only about 1/8 inch wide. Guess which seal is the better?

Every time I seal a bag I double seal it. Not sealing the same spot twice but two independent seals. If the bag is vacuumed, which most of mine are, I have a bout an inch or so of material past the first seal. This is where I seal the bag again. Too many times I have sealed a bag and had it leak. With close examination I have found ‘something’ in the seal strip my machine made. Be it powder from the item in the bag, a flake of pasta, etc. So, I now seal every bag twice. Few problems have shown up since.

I notice in the pictures that you seal batteries. Good idea. But, even batteries sealed in the bags can/will weep. When one starts weeping it spreads to them all. I vacuum/seal a few single batteries, a few duals, and a few triples. That way if one starts to weep it won’t affect more than the ones in that bag.

Anything that has air, or nitrogen, in it will eventually ‘leak’ into the vacuumed/sealed bag. Even the aspirin bottles. Do not seal the bottles before vacuuming/sealing them. Loosen the top of the bottle just enough to allow the pump to suck out the air in the bottle.

BIC lighters. They leak, period. I’ve never had one hold pressure very long. If you need them, I would just seal them and hope they work when you need them.

The best advice: Inspect every seal you do. If there is anything in the seal, seal the bag a second time, next to the original.

I have also purchased bags, from a well known ‘you can find everything here’ web site, that were advertised as ‘just like Food Saver’. They ain’t. They are cheap chinese copies. Stay with the original Food Saver bags/rolls and you’ll do a lot better. They are a bit more expensive, but worth not having the headaches.

Interesting thoughts. I have, on occasion, double-sealed bags myself but with mixed results. I will take some of your other thoughts, such as those about batteries, into consideration. Thank you.

After a few days they appear sealed well, clip the corners off or tape them down so they don’t poke the other bags. I had to start doing that and I have had few problems since.

Sam, I also did 125 chickens this year, and shrink wrapped them. On the Wiz-bang chicken plucker site they sell the shrink wrap bags. Quick and easy and no freezer burn.

I am not impressed with my Foodsaver either. Some meat stays sealed others do not. When you butcher over 100 chickens you have to find a way to save them for the year and I had hoped this would do the trick. It did not. I have canned some meat but have not been brave enough to try eating it. Working up the nerve. I know it sounds crazy. I’ll get there eventually.

I can see your point about off-gassing, but the problem I have had is with meat. You check it after a month and the inside is full of frost and starting to get frost-bitten. The same meat in another bag that did not leak maintains the seal and freshness and looks great. But 50% failure on expensive cuts does not cut it. With veggies, I don’t care if I get a frost build-up as it usually does not affect the quality. Most veggies you buy frozen are not vacuum sealed.

You’re welcome. Don’t know if I made clear what I was trying to say. The contents could have released some of their internal pressure into the foodsaver bag, making it appear that the seal had failed, but instead the bag just filled with this released internal pressures. Once the vacuum surrounding the contents was gone, the leak stopped. At least that is my theory. Doesn’t explain all of the items, but some.

I can see a possible explanation for some of the failures. For example, the lighters. Small leaks in the lighters could have out gassed and made it “appear” that the seal had failed. Same with the shaving cream. Anything that is pressurized to start with, could have seal failure due to vacuuming around it. Other things like candles and so on could present the appearance of failure if kept where it is warm enough for out gassing of their chemical make up. Large containers (like OTC med bottles) could also release their contained air later and make it appear that the bag seal failed, especially if you made sure the caps were really tight before you vacuumed them. Just something to think about.

Interesting. I’d never considered that off-gassing or anything pressurized could cause these problems. That said, are you saying by “appearance of failure” that the bags are still in-tact but because they’re no longer tight around the contents that they “appear” to have failed? That would explain most of the troubles I was having but not quite all of them. Thank you for the thoughts.

I have never had much luck with “foodsaver”. fully 1/2 of food items for the freezer did not remain sealed. I finally gave up on the idea and now plastic wrap and butcher wrap on top of that. Problem solved.

I had several failures and wasn’t the bags. Turned out it was the sealing strip on the machine itself. I even tried rotating the bag to seal it from the other side, same end and that didn’t work.
Had to buy a new machine…not a happy moment, wasn’t in the budget.

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