As I get more involved with personal disaster preparation and I store more dry bulk foods, I keep looking for ways to make what I am doing simpler and easier while still being cost effective. One sure way of making your food storage program expensive is to allow waste. I absolutely hate throwing out food. Unfortunately, when I use an iron to try to seal a Mylar bag sometimes I don’t get a good seal. If gone unnoticed this is a major source of waste. A small needles sized hole will waste a perfectly good 02 absorber, while a large hole can (and has) spread sugar or beans all over your closet.
I have been searching for a solution to holding a full Mylar bag over the edge of a board while I try to juggle the bag, the iron, and the board while not dumping everything, burning myself, or taking to long with the seal so I won’t exhaust the absorbers. Commercial sealers are a clamp with a nichrome heating wire so they both hold and seal the bag. I have to compromise since I don’t want to spend the cash to buy a commercial sealer so I am going to stay with the iron for sealing. That means I need a clamp.
While demolishing an old set of built in shelves I noticed one of the 2×4 boards had a mitered edge. I Thought to myself that this would be perfect to fold a bag edge around. I seal both 5 gallon and 1 gallon Mylar bags, so I cut two sections of 2×4 that were a little longer than the open end of a 5 gallon Mylar bag. Using a simple hinge from my scrap box I connected the two 2×4 sections together.
If I have a full bag, I can come over the top of the boards, and clamp the top of the bag between the boards. If I am going to make smaller bags, say for individual ration packs, I can put the entire empty bag in the clamp and fold the portion I am sealing over the top of the clamp.
By clamping the open ends of the boards together, it holds the bag, which makes it MUCH easier to iron. By facing the mitered edges of the board together, the “sharp” point also makes a crisp seal. I have noticed that when sealing using a board edge, its easy to get the bag crinkled, which does not seal very well.
Since I made the boards longer than needed, later I plan on drilling a small hole between the two boards, so that I can insert a vacuum sealer hose inside the bag so that I can partially evacuate the air before sealing so that I can use a smaller and less expensive 02 absorber.
This was a first attempt, and basically a proof of concept idea, but it works well, and since I only seal bags a couple times a year, I don’t plan on building a tighter better constructed version unless the good idea fairy visits me again and I get a better idea.