Do Vacuum Sealers Need Special Bags?

A vacuum sealer is a popular kitchen device but what about vacuum sealer bags?  Do you need to use special bags when using a home vacuum sealing machine?  We found a common misconception that it is okay to use any bag to vacuum seal food, but that is not the case.  

Most bags will work to a degree, however, if you are looking for long-term food preservation special bags will be required.

You won’t realize how useful these food preserving machines are until you purchase one.  In fact, this versatile gadget is fantastic for all your food storage needs. 

Use them to seal meat and processed food, reseal an open pack of snacks or to prepare emergency foods.  Vacuum sealers have made food preservation an easy and fun task and will prolong the life of most produce. 

So, what about those special vacuum sealer bags?  We have done our research on this question to solve your sealer bag worries.

A Vacuum Sealer Removes All The Air 

When you’re preparing food for long-term storage you must remove as much of the surrounding air as possible.  This starves any microbes of oxygen which they require to re-generate.

Everyone will have tried the most common “squeeze out every last bit of air” method.  This is inherently flawed as it’s impossible to remove ALL the air from an ordinary bag.  Vacuum sealers pull out air in the bag via vacuum suction prior to creating an air-tight seal

This prolongs the shelf life of food without breakage or crushing and helps prevent freezer burn.

The Need For Proper Vacuum Sealer Bags

Ordinary food storage bags made from poor-quality plastic will leak and rip easily.  In fact, they are very tricky to seal if you are using a vacuum sealer machine.  Also, standard bags are not stable in extreme cold and heat. 

You need a bag that is strong and leak-proof and that seals securely when used with a vacuum sealer.  Using the correct vacuum sealer bags will allow you to keep food fresh longer.

The biggest reason to use proper bags is they have a patterned-surface and texture designed for vacuum sealing.  This patterned-area allows space for all air to be sucked out before sealing.  

Air extraction occurs through the ridges when the vacuum sealer lid is closed. However, using a normal plastic bag with a vacuum sealer will only provide the hot sealing function.  Your food will be sealed  using the heat strips without all the air being removed.   

Some vacuum sealing machines may remove most of the air, however they will potentially crush the food inside.  For best results, it is imperative to use designated vacuum sealer bags for use with a vacuum sealer.

best vacuum sealer bags

Embossed/Channel Bags 

Embossed or channel bags are the popular type of vacuum sealer bags. They feature an uneven surface that is specially designed for use with home vacuum sealer machines.

The texture creates channels for the removal of air from inside the bag.  Moreover, an embossed surface provides a 5x better oxygen and moisture barrier to significantly improve the shelf-life of sealed food.

 

Can I Use Zip-Lock Bags In A Vacuum Sealer?

can you use ziploc bags instead of vacuum sealer bags

The short answer is yes.  However, zip-lock bags are not designed for long-term food storage.  Without the textured interior of proper vacuum sealer bags, you will not get total removal of air.  This allows microbes to breed over time and makes them less than ideal for home food preservation.  

Zip-lock bags are ideal to freeze portions of meals or meat or to keep food fresh in the fridge or pantry.  But, they will not stand the challenge of keeping contents fresh over long periods.

To use them in any way in a vacuum sealer, you need to first remove the zip-lock seal.  We believe that this defeats the purpose of buying these types of bags. 

8 Benefits Of Using Proper Vacuum Sealer Bags 

1.  Fresher Food 

Using a specific vacuum sealer bag keeps your food 70% fresher than a regular bag.  Fresh berries sealed in a this type of bag will keep up to 2 weeks compared with a few days in regular storage.

Meats, fish, vegetables, coffee, soups, stews and bread will freeze perfectly for 2-3 years if sealed correctly.

Vacuum bags lock in the freshness, flavor, and most importantly all the nutrients.

 

2.  Made From Food-grade Materials 

Standard bags made from synthetic, cheap-quality materials falsely claim to be suitable for all food storage applications. 

Most vacuum sealer bags are top-grade polyethylene (LLDPE) and nylon materials that are BPA, phthalates and lead-free. 

100% non-toxic so your food is safe from chemicals!

do you need specific vacuum sealer bags

3.  Secure Airtight Seal 

Since they maintain a tight-seal, no odor, moisture or air can penetrate through bags made for a vacuum sealer.

So, food remains secure and fresh for months to years.  It also allows you to store processed or raw food safely and easily.

 

4.  No Tearing or Punctures

the best vacuum sealer bags for meat

Unlike regular bags that are prone to punctures and tears, vacuum sealer bags are 100% leak-proof and heavy-duty.  Indeed, most of them have multi-layer protection. 

They are made of 2 layers of plastic to protect food in the freezer, fridge or pantry for longer storage time. 

This is the reason you can store both wet and dry food in vacuum sealer bags.  Think meat, veggies, fruits, nuts, lentils, juices, soups, sauces and more.

Plus, some come with specialised bone guards that prevent puncture or piercing by any bones.

5.  Perfect For Sous-Vide Applications

Vacuum or texture bags are capable of resisting extreme cold and heat.  This makes them perfect for the refrigerator, freezer or microwave and to boil or simmer.  

They are great for Sous Vide cooking as you can place these embossed bags in water up to 90-100°C. 

Thanks to an air-tight seal, the food won’t float and water can’t penetrate through the package. Your ingredients remain safe and cooked to perfection.

 

6.  No Freezer Burns 

Ordinary long-term freezer storage in regular bags will often result in freezer burn

Over time the food becomes discolored and may be mushy on defrosting due to
cell-damage. 

The patented sectional channels of vacuum sealer bags are designed to
prevent freezer burn.  

No food wastage meaning saving money and reducing landfill.  Furthermore,
loss of nutrition and flavor!

7.  Create Your Custom Length

You can buy vacuum sealer bags in pre-cut sizes for time efficiency, or in large or small rolls.  

This allows you to create your desired size depending on food quantity and seal chamber width.

In fact, using vacuum sealer rolls reduces wastage and will save you money in the long run.

vacuum seal bags for beginners

8.  Easy To Use 

Vacuum sealer bags are very easy to use in most modern home vacuum sealers.  It really is as simple as cutting them and adding your food. 

The vacuum sealer machine does the rest and your airtight, vacuum-sealed food package is ready for storage. 

Embossed bags are compatible with almost all clamp style vacuum sealers.

Wrap Up

Vacuum sealer bags are the best option for use in home vacuum sealing machines.  Store your food securely while locking in all the nutrients, freshness and flavors for months.  

You CAN use other bags in your sealer, but you will not get the proper seal needed for long-term food storage. 

Our advice is to buy specialised vacuum sealer bags when using this home food preservation method.  Make sure they have an embossed texture and will work in your machine.  

If you are looking to buy a vacuum sealer to use in your kitchen check out our home vacuum sealer reviews.