Jan302013

33 Comments

Your vacuum-packing machine can pack a whole lot more than just food!

With photos and tips from RightWingMom.

image by RightWingMom

image by RightWingMom

Last year I made an appearance on Good Morning, Arizona, a local morning news show. My job was to show what items could be included in a Survival Mom’s purse-size emergency kit. It was a fun challenge to see how much I could fit into an old sunglasses case.

I knew I wanted to include money but I needed it to be somewhat inaccessible to me, the free-spending adult in the family!, and also waterproof. I folded up about $50 in cash and then used my Food Saver to vacuum pack the emergency cash. I trimmed the edges so it fit nicely in the case, and voila! Waterproof and Lisa-proof emergency cash!

Now that I’m packing suitcases for another trip, I decided to use my Food Saver to vacuum pack a few other items:

  • travel-size packages of Clorox wipes. The airtight seal will keep them nice and moist.
  • Ditto for packages of baby wipes and makeup remover wipes.
  • This trip will be spent at a beach, so I vacuum packed a dry t-shirt and pair of underwear per person.

For a couple of camping trips last year, I used the Food Saver to seal up rolls of toilet paper (remove the center cardboard tube first).

RightWingMom says, “Lisa asked me what other uses could there be for a Food Saver machine.  It dawned on me, I’ve used mine for at least two other uses.

  • I used it to seal a box of Strike on Box matches approximately 3 years ago.  I have always been concerned that the pressure may have compromised the matches, but after cutting the package open and pulling the match box open, I found them to be in perfect condition! I re-sealed the matches for a future camping trip or emergency.
  • I’ve also vacuum sealed batteries.  Due to the hot and humid climate we live in, packing these items in this manner made sense.
  • Other items that might do well with a sealer are feminine products and some clothing items.

What other items could be used using a vacuum-sealer machine, Food Saver or otherwise?

There may be links in the post above that are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission, which does not affect the price you pay for the product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 

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I'm the original Survival Mom, and have been helping moms worry less and enjoy their homes and families more for 5 years. Come join me on my journey to becoming more prepared to handle everyday emergencies and worst case scenarios.

(33) Readers Comments

  1. I always pack my medication bottles when I travel, so that they do not come open in my suitcase and get dumped allover. Also pack my toiletries so shampoo and liquids don’t spill in my clothes. If you fly it makes the TSA folks much happier too.
    I do the battery thing as well. My matches get stored in my big empty pill bottles along with a s trip of sandpaper to strike them on.

    • Sandpaper? Why didn’t I think of that when the strips on the box wear out?

    • Love the sandpaper idea. Never ever thought of it!

  2. Seal important documents like birth certificates, deeds etc. They will last a long, long time

    • This is a wonderful idea. I know before I got organized I would look all over the place for these very important documents. Having them vacuumed sealed back then would have saved me a lot of looking. As you can put them in one place that you know is safe and secure and they would be there when you need them. Passports would be a great thing also.

  3. Great idea with the shampoo, etc Colleen!

    I didn’t think about sealing up the money we keep in our car. It’s a good way to ensure that we won’t sneak a few dollars here and there!

    I have sealed up changes of clothing to keep them clean and dry. It also takes up less room in the Go Bag when they are sealed.

  4. Also parents of babies might seal a few “emergency diapers” for the trunk of the car, or go bag. Exposed to air for long periods of time they absorb humidity and get “grainy” feeling. I found some when I sold my old car last fall that had gotten this way. (my last “baby” is four, so they were in there awhile)

  5. Vacuum sealing extra cotton balls and cotton circles save a lot of space. I have several packages packed away in my long term storage. They’re compact and protected from moisture until I need them.

    Also, I keep panty liners and maxi pads in our first aid kit sealed in Food Saver bags. They can be used to help stop bleeding on serious cuts and will be dry and clean when I need them.

  6. First aid supplies, both bulk for at home and small packages for “grab and use” (dressing, tape, antiseptic wipe, etc.). Seeds. Packages of dog and cat treats – broken down after buying in bulk. Sewing supplies – thread can deteriorate over time. Same with string and twine. Candles – if they melt you can remake candles with the melted wax. Same with paraffin. Canning lids and bands – high humidity can lead to rust. I know I use it for more but can’t think of anything else off the top of my head.

    • tharley,
      Don’t vacuum seal seeds. They need oxygen to maintain their germination properties.
      At the MOST, place them in a mason jar or seal them in a mylar with a desiccant pack ONLY.
      This will keep them dry and dark. Make sure to keep them in a cool environment too.

      Like your other ideas. :)

      • RightWingMom,
        I did a lot of research before starting to save seeds about 5 years ago. The best book I found is Seed to Seed which states “Lightweight plastic bags are not moisture proof and make poor storage containers. However, seeds can be put into Self Seal T-Bags|, Seal-A-Meal| bags, Zip Lock bags, small drawstring bags or paper envelopes, before being stored inside of a large, airtight jar.” According to research done by the National Seed Storage in Fort Collins, Colorado it is moisture, not oxygen, that may cause seeds to “die”. I put my seeds in a small envelope, then “foodsaver” a bunch of those and then put them in a large jar with a desiccant pack. The seeds I used from 4 years ago germinated this past spring with only 2% loss. I think that is about par for germination using same season seeds but I can’t find my notes for that.

        • tharley,
          Thanks for your research! I was going of what an old gardener told me. ;)

          • RightWingMom,
            Wish I had an old gardener to ask. No one in my neighborhood really gardens – pre planted pots and landscaped “green areas” – Yuck. Another garden tip I have yet to try is putting ready compost (the nice fine stuff) into food saver bags to use in starting seeds in early spring. I’m thinking that when I retire this food saver I will use it solely for that kind of stuff where I wouldn’t have a chance of contaminating food. Little late this year – 8 inches of snow and 2 degrees out :(

  7. I keep about 6 cups of cat food sealed for those times when you don’t realize that you’re out until it’s the most inconvient time to get to the store – like getting set to go out of town for the weekend.

    Keeping a dry change of clothes sealed is a great idea for the beach. When we travel, I keep a set of underwear, a t-shirt, and a toothbrush for each of us in my carry on bag in case our luggage doesn’t get there when we do. I’m going to seal the clothes this time. When the kids were little I used to take ziplock bags and put a t-shirt, a pair of socks, shorts, and underpants in it for each day. That way they could dress themselves. I think that might get expensive to be sealed but it works great with the ziplock bags.

  8. I sealed some water in them. I made little packets with a package of coco on one side with the water on the other side for a cup of hot coco. I’ve also put dried milk on one side and water on the other for a cup of milk. I love my food sealer. You could seal just about anything.

    • I’ve always wondering about sealing water. Did you have to freeze it first? Did it get into the machine? I’ve been afraid to try for fear of damaging my Foodsaver . . .

      • No I didn’t freeze it first. I held my food saver up and just sealed water in it. I didn’t suck the air out. I tried to suck the air out and it did suck the water out into the machine. I stopped it before it did any damage. I tried to seal ice cubes but by the time they melted I had more bag than water. So I held my machine up and just sealed the bag. I seal and sucked out the air of the instant milk and coco bags. I just like to experiment and try everything. Have fun!

        • Thanks! I’ll give it a try.

  9. I ALSO VACUUM SEAL ALOT. GOT MINE AT A YARD SALE WITH A GRINDER FOR 20.00. WHAT A FIND. ONE THING I ALSO SEAL IS 12 GAUGE SHOT GUN SHELLS AND BLACK POWDER. TWENTY SHELLS PER BAG. CANNON FUSE TOO. KEEP ON PREPPING. GOD BLESS.

  10. I need to replace my food saver pretty soon. What brand and model would you all suggest?

  11. omg sealing clothes? genious never in a million years would i have thought of that that would be perfect for securing clothes in my hiking bag its waterproof but that only applies if kids you know close it and all

  12. We use vacuum seal to store (unloaded) firearms after they’ve been cleaned and oiled. These are the ones we don’t practice with often (mostly collectibles). We also vacuum seal the accessories. This protects them from dirt and rust.

  13. If it’ll fit in a FoodSaver bag, sooner or later I’ll vacuum seal it — ground coffee, matches, hygiene products and medical supplies, gummy bears (still good a year later, just a little misshapen), socks and t-shirts. I vacuum seal “like” items for ease of use during an emergency — If I see a bag with thread, I know that it also contains a variety of needles, dental floss (great for heavy items needing sturdy thread) and small scissors. If I see band-aids, I know it also contains latex gloves, antibiotic ointment, and pain killers. Nearly everything in our BOBs has been vacuum sealed, with a few Ziploc freezer bags for use after the other bags are finally opened.

  14. Don’t forget that everything you seal must be opened at some point. FoodSaver bags are pretty tough, so make sure you have a knife or a pair of scissors. Be a shame if you had everything nice and sealed up and no way to open them. Just thinking ahead for my next vacation or camping trip … ;)

    • Both Wal-Mart and the Dollar Store sell packages of 4 paring knives. I use them regularly in my kitchen, so they’re actually decent little knives in spite of the 25-cent price tag, but I’ve added one to each container that has vacuum-sealed bags just in case we need them on a day when no one can find their pocket knife. If they get lost or broken, it’s no great financial loss.

  15. I have worked in Iraq for years, and travel quite frequently while ‘in country’. When I am home (and have access to my sealer), I seal things like crazy. I seal small packets of laxative tablets, QTips, sunscreen, facial cleanser, etc. – it helps to carry travel sizes as much as possible yet carry more quantity in the small, soft packets. I can travel with a bottle holding 5 days of shampoo if that’s how long I expect my trip to take, but will take a sealed packet of another 3 days shampoo ‘just in case’. If the bottle runs dry, then I transfer from the packet to the bottle. Saves a ton of space. I have made micro-packets of shampoo and conditioner that are ‘single use’ if I know I am going to use a disgusting communal shower so I am not unpacking a larger bag, bringing a lot of things into the shower room with me, and will not be bringing bottles with germs back out with me and contaminating the rest of my things. I save my pre-used bags (washed and dried), for making the ‘disposable’ bags. Boil the bags up, dry them, and they are fine for things like shampoo or QTips. My hairdresser sells me bottles of hair color supplies and it’s easier to make up packets for single-use, avoiding the hassle and mess of measuring it out later. Just seal the color separate from the other stuff. There have been incidents of ‘incoming’ as well as a flood that prevented me from getting back to my room at times – I always have kept a bag with extra underwear and travel size packets of the necessities with me in the office. I have sealed socks and undies and can tell you it has been great to have them when you need them. I’ve also sealed the packages of anti-bacterial wipes so I never have to worry about whether or not they will still be moist when I need them (as in the case of a bug out bag).

  16. There’s a lot of great ideas here! I make my own MREs using the vacuum sealer and they usually last about two years depending on what I put in them.

  17. I’d also love to hear what model Food Saver everyone likes! Thanks so much SM for all you do!

  18. Pingback: Pack a Whole Lot More than Just Food! | Food Vacuum Sealers

  19. Pingback: Pack a Whole Lot More than Just Food! | Munro Direct

  20. I’ve vacuum sealed a lot of the items in our home emergency kit, such as matches, a small am/fm radio, and even Folgers Singles (because coffee is very important, even during, ESPECIALLY during an emergency!) and Power Bars. I sealed a week’s worth of the cat’s dry food for the kit, and am going to seal the sets of extra clothes for both the home and car emergency kits. It will help them take up less space in the home kit, and make certain they don’t get wet/smelly in the car trunk,…such a good idea,
    I never realized how many things it could be used for!

  21. I just got the VacMaster Pro 305 which is a little pricey but I just love it. It’s made to last and works great.

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