Thursday, December 15, 2016

Non-Food Uses for Vacuum Sealers

Food isn't the only thing you can use a vacuum sealer for. Since the basics of preserving anything include isolating stuff from air, water, and insects, vacuum sealers can be handy for plenty of jobs.

A while back I needed to ship a set of BDUs to a friend. By using my sealer, I was able to get them into a medium USPS flat rate box with room to spare for other items. The clothes were hard as a board and took up a lot less room once I removed the excess air.

When I can find them,  I like to stock up on strike-anywhere matches. They're useful for lighting oil lamps and campfires, but are susceptible to moisture. The boxes crumple a bit when you pull a good vacuum on them, but that makes it easy to tell when you have most of the air out.

Book matches come in packages about the size of a book. Perfect for handing out , they are cheap and easy to find in grocery stores. The packaging tends to curl when you pull the air out of the bag, so they don't store perfectly flat.

Other fire starting materials like steel wool, cotton balls, and drier lint also store well in vacuum sealed bags, but will compress down to a very small package. Expect to have to fluff it a lot before you can use it.

I like wool for cold weather, but the biggest problem with it is the fact that moths love to lay eggs in the material. Vacuum sealing my extra wool blankets protects them and they take up less space.

Here is a before and after of a wool blanket in a bag.

 This is actually a wool scarf, folded and vacuum sealed.

I have a few reference books that I consider essential. I have duplicates of these sealed in plastic to protect them.

Baking Soda
Baking soda is great at absorbing odors and will absorb odors through the cardboard box. Vacuum sealing a box takes a few minutes and keeps it fresh for years. Activated charcoal has the same problem and is also a good candidate for storing in plastic. 

I like my cheap FoodSaver vacuum sealer -- it's a good tool because it has so many different uses. Check your local thrift stores and make sure you test it before taking one home.

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