Keeping food fresh and safe to eat is a priority of every mum or homemaker. Proper storage techniques, like vacuum sealing, are one way to do this. But how do vacuum sealers work and preserve our food’s quality and shelf life?

In this article, let’s discover the science behind vacuum sealing and understand how manufacturers incorporate it into vacuum machines.

How Vacuum Sealer Works

Vacuum sealing works by removing air from a plastic bag and then sealing it close. A food vacuum sealer achieves this through its suction and heat mechanism.

The suction feature draws the air out of the vacuum bag first. Afterwards, the heating feature follows, melting the plastic edge to create an airtight seal.

The Effect of Air on Your Food

Now, you might be wondering, why store your food in a vacuum or airless environment? What is in the air that makes your food spoil?

Spoilage-causing microorganisms like bacteria, moulds, and yeast need air to live and grow. So, if you remove the oxygen, none of them will thrive, and your food stays safe.

However, there are other reasons why air removal and vacuum sealing works. For instance:

  • It helps retain moisture. Vacuum sealing locks in juices that keep your food flavourful and moist. Without air in the bag, vacuum-sealed meats, fruits, or vegetables won’t dry out.
  • It protects food from freezer burn. Exposing your food to freezing temperatures extends its shelf life but affects its taste and texture. Freezer burn can drain out the juices and cause discolouration of meat products. Vacuum sealing protects the meat exterior from the frigid air while keeping all its juices and flavour intact.
  • It prevents dry goods from clumping. Flour, sugar, and salt tend to absorb moisture from the air, causing them to harden or form clumps. You can avoid this by storing dry staples in a vacuum.

Vacuum Sealed Burger Patties

Types of Vacuum Sealers and How They Work

While all vacuum sealer models have the suction-and-heat mechanism, they still come in various machine designs.

Some are compact, while others are massive and can seal multiple items in one go. Here are a few types of vacuum sealers available in the market.

Note that this section centres on the general mechanism of how each type of sealer works. Check your product manual for specific buttons and indicators to operate it.

1. Edge Vacuum Sealer Machines

This countertop model is perhaps the most familiar as it caters to home users. Edge sealers have a lid that you can open and close. They also have a built-in compressor.

Most edge sealers require channelled or embossed vacuum bags. These plastic bags have a textured surface for optimum air suction and protection.

How edge vacuum sealers work

  1. After putting your food item inside the vacuum bag, open the lid and line up its open end on the sealer.
  2. Close the machine lid, then press the button to make it remove the air out of the bag and seal it.
  3. Once the machine tells you the process is complete, open the lid to get your vacuum-sealed bag.

Our article on how to seal your fool with an edge vacuum machine has more detailed steps and tips.

2. Pistol Vacuum Sealers

Pistol-type sealers are ideal if you prefer non-electric devices.

Some models may look like regular hand-pump vacuum sealers, like the ones you use to inflate balloons manually. Others are battery-operated or rechargeable.

They also require specially designed vacuum bags that look like resealable bags. However, these have built-in valves for air removal.

I like this type since you can unseal, wash, and reuse the bag.

How pistol pump vacuum sealers work

  1. After putting your food item inside the vacuum bag, use the zip tool to close it.
  2. Position the pistol pump on the vacuum bag valve, then press the button (or pull the trigger) to remove the air. Note that manual models require an air-pumping action to do this step.
  3. Once done, label and store your sealed item.

Woman Learning How Pistol Pump Vacuum Sealers Work

3. Snorkel or Nozzle Vacuum Sealers

Nozzle-type sealers are bulky machines for industrial or commercial use. They have a retractable nozzle and a built-in external compressor for air suctioning.

These machines give users high control over the sealing process. However, because of the thin nozzle, this type does not work well in powdered products or items with lots of liquids.

How nozzle vacuum sealers work

  1. Insert the nozzle in the vacuum sealer bag after putting your food item inside.
  2. Once ready, press the foot pedal to lower the sealing bar and allow the machine to start removing the air.
  3. Air suctioning stops when you stop pressing the foot pedal. When you do, the nozzle retracts, and the sealing wire heats the bag to seal.
  4. Once complete, the seal bar lifts to release the vacuum-sealed bag.

4. Chamber Vacuum Sealer Machines

Chamber-type sealers are the largest among all types of vacuum sealing machines. Because of their size and cost, these suits commercial use more.

Also, chamber models can seal several bags in one go, making them ideal for mass production.

Models under this type typically have digital controls that let users set the desired level of air suction.

As you can lay vacuum bags on the chamber surface, these machines are perfect for products with or filled with liquids.

How chamber vacuum sealers work

  1. Open the chamber sealer lid after putting your food items inside several vacuum bags.
  2. Then, insert as many bags that fit inside the chamber. Some models have bag clips along the sealing edge to keep the bag edges in place. Make sure to follow machine instructions.
  3. When ready, close the chamber lid, then press the button to exhaust the air and seal the bags.
  4. Open the lid to retrieve your vacuum-sealed packages.

Chamber Vacuum Sealer in a Food Manufacturing Facility

Final Thoughts

The suction-and-heat function of a vacuum sealer makes it an excellent tool for storing your food and preserving its freshness longer. Without oxygen, spoilage-causing organisms cannot thrive in your food.

Also, the plastic vacuum bag protects it from moisture and frigid temperatures, keeping its good flavour and texture intact.

While you should learn how vacuum sealers work, knowing which type of sealing machine to use is equally vital.

So, research and invest in a vacuum sealer that suits your space, purpose, and budget. Our food vacuum sealer reviews and buying guide have more information to help you choose the best model.