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  • Writer's pictureKubepac

Learning about Oxygen Absorbers

Recently, we have received many questions regarding oxygen absorbers. “What are they and how do they work?”, “How long do I have to use them after opening?”, “How do I know they are working?”, “How many do I need to use?”, “Are they safe?” are just a few examples.

We understand you want to be fully confident about the food you are preserving and trust us, no one wants to open a container or bag to find spoiled, moldy, or even bug-infested food.

So, what are oxygen absorbers and how do they work? Oxygen absorbers contain an iron powder formulation that becomes iron oxide in the presence of oxygen, chemically trapping available oxygen from the surrounding environment. They should not be confused with desiccants, which absorb moisture, not oxygen.

An oxygen absorbers is like a sponge that will continue to absorb oxygen until full and needs to be kept sealed prior to use to unsure it will absorb its full capacity.

This leads us to the next question; how long do you have to use them after opening them?

It takes about 2 hours for an absorber to become full and at that point they will not absorb anymore. We recommend you either use them or store them within 10 minutes of opening them, but realistically you do have a little more time, just don’t let them become exposed longer than necessary.

Now that you know HOW they work, you may be wondering if they're even working...

and the answer is most likely yes, they are working. Oxygen absorbers use a very simple technology and there is nothing to "fail" or not work. They contain iron powder and that iron becomes iron oxide in the presence of oxygen; in other words, it rusts!

Iron will always rust and the only reason it will not is if it has already completely rusted by being exposed to the air.

You can feel the rust inside an exposed oxygen absorber. It feels hard and crunchy instead of soft and powdery. If it feels soft and powdery, and the bags have been properly sealed, it will always work and you can feel confident. One of the biggest questions regarding this topic is, “The oxygen absorbers feel hard. Are they bad?” If you have not yet opened the oxygen absorber package, then they will feel very hard in the package because they are vacuum-sealed. They are filled with an iron powder that is all smashed together under vacuum. We have never seen a factory sealed package with exposed oxygen absorbers in it unless the package was damaged.

What size oxygen absorber do you need?

There is a variety of different sizes of absorbers and sometimes it is hard to determine how much is needed for the container you plan on using. If you like to keep things simple, please get in touch with Leigh – she will be more than happy to assist you determining what size of oxygen absorber you need.

Now that you know all this great and useful information, you may be wondering if they are safe.

O’Buster’s Oxygen Absorbers are rated by the FDA as "GRAS". (Generally Recognized As Safe) They are safe for direct food contact and all of the materials used in their manufacture are non-toxic.

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