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In the realm of kitchen gadgets, the humble vacuum sealer machine often finds its (well-deserved) place as a reliable ally in food preservation. However, beyond its role in preserving food, it proves to be a versatile tool with applications reaching far beyond the kitchen. This article explores some surprising and innovative non-food uses for your vacuum sealer, from preparedness to enhancing organization to facilitating travel and unexpected DIY projects.
It’s time to reimagine it as a multi-functional tool!
How to Select a Vacuum Sealer
If you’re in the market to buy, check out our article about how to choose the best vacuum sealer for your purposes. Remember to think about the non-food uses, too. Let’s get into those now.
What I’ve Vacuum Sealed So Far
We’ve got a whole mess of ideas for you coming up, but first, here’s what I’ve done so far.
A purse-size emergency kit
Back when I lived in Phoenix, I made an appearance on Good Morning, Arizona, a local morning news show. My job was to show what items could be included in a Survival Mom’s purse-size emergency kit. It was a fun challenge to see how much I could fit into an old sunglasses case.
I knew I wanted to include money but I needed it to be somewhat inaccessible to me, the free-spending adult in the family(!) and also waterproof. So after folding up about $50 in cash, I used my Food Saver to vacuum pack the emergency cash. I trimmed the edges so it fits nicely in the case, and voila! Waterproof and Lisa-proof emergency cash!
A beach trip
Now that I’m packing suitcases for another trip, I decided to use my Food Saver to vacuum pack a few other items:
- Travel-size packages of Clorox wipes. The airtight seal will keep them nice and moist.
- Ditto for packages of baby wipes and makeup remover wipes.
- This is a beach trip, so I vacuum-packed a dry t-shirt and pair of underwear per person.
A couple of camping trips
For a couple of camping trips, I used the Food Saver to seal up rolls of toilet paper (after removing the center cardboard tube first). I also:
- Sealed a box of Strike on Box matches approximately 3 years ago. I have always been concerned that the pressure may have compromised the matches, but after cutting the package open and pulling the matchbox open, I found them to be in perfect condition! I re-sealed the matches for a future camping trip or emergency.
- Vacuum sealed batteries. Due to the hot and humid climate we live in, packing these items in this manner made sense.
Ok, now on to those ideas…
Non-food Uses for a Vacuum Sealer
Keep important papers water and stainfree. Such a great way to protect from water damage due to natural disasters.
Having dry clothing is a moral boost and potentially life saving. Plus, the clothes shrink down once sealed. Keep a set for each family member in the appropriate emergency kit.
Fire Starting Kit
Buy or make an emergency fire starting kit, then vacuum seal it to protect it.
Seal it for an extra layer of protection against moisture.
Homemade Gel Ice Packs
Love this idea! Combine 3 parts water and 1 part rubbing alcohol in a vacuum seal bag. Close using the Seal function. The rubbing alcohol keeps the water from completely freezing. You can make large or small ones and refreeze them as needed. Add fun food coloring for the kids if you want!
This is a great idea for hiking and camping to protect paper maps from the elements until you need them.
Anyone out there tried this? I haven’t and it isn’t really prepping-related, but it’s so cool I had to include it. I mean, who among us hasn’t dealt with trying to keep a paint brush wet until the next painting session? Next time, vacuum seal the paintbrush!
Condiment and spice packs
Want to keep some puzzles in your emergency kits but don’t like the big boxes? Cut the picture from the box and seal it up with the pieces. (Ok, I admit, you could do the same thing with a zippered baggie, but it lacks the “cool” factor.)
Some people seal duplicate copies of their most essential reference materials to protect them. I could see first aid and medical reference material being good candidates for this strategy.
Remember an opener!
Whatever you decide to vacuum seal, remember to include a tool to open the bags. Scissors, multi-tool, pocketknife, whatever it is, be sure it’s going to be accessible when you want to open those handy sealed bags.
The versatility of a vacuum sealer extends far beyond the realm of food preservation. From safeguarding important documents and clothing to organizing travel essentials and DIY projects, there are a lot of possibilities for the prepping-minded person!
What non-food items have you sealed in a vacuum bag?
Originally published January 30, 2013.