How to use a vacuum sealer


Vacuum sealing perishable food can vastly extend its shelf life. It does this by extracting air, which prevents bacteria and mold from growing on the food and spoiling it.

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Methods for using a vacuum sealer

With the myriad of household gadgets and appliances available these days, there’s little you can’t do to keep items in your home protected and extend their shelf life. With a vacuum sealer, this is true of many items, including foods that usually only last a couple of days.

Even if you already have a vacuum sealer sitting on the kitchen counter, there are a few useful methods of using it that you might not have tried yet.

What is a vacuum sealer?

A vacuum sealer is an appliance that applies a hot seal to a special plastic covering so you can wrap items tightly and securely. This helps to vastly extend the shelf life of perishable food, both when they’re vacuum-sealed for the refrigerator or the freezer.

Types of vacuum sealers

Both types of countertop vacuum sealers work essentially the same way. You place your food into the plastic bag or sheeting, and the vacuum extracts air before applying a seal to the package to keep it fresh. The only difference is the way the sealer performs the task.

Chamber vacuum sealers

With a chamber vacuum sealer, you lift a lid and place the plastic bag containing the food into a hollow space (the chamber). Making sure that the top of the bag is placed between the sealing bars inside the chamber, you simply close the lid, and let the vacuum do its work.

External vacuum sealers

With external vacuum sealers, you perform a similar process but with the bag sitting outside of the machine. Place the food in the plastic bag, and insert the top of the plastic bag into the sealer. Once you switch the sealer on, it extracts the air from the bag and seals it closed. External vacuum sealers are typically much smaller and slimmer than chamber vacuum sealers. 

Best way to use a vacuum sealer

Prepare your vacuum bag

vacuum bag

The first step is to cut enough vacuum bag material to make sure it covers your food. This is essential as you don’t want to waste bags or material and find that your vacuum sealer is essentially pointless. What’s more, you need to make sure that you add at least 2.5 inches to spare at the end of the vacuum sealer bag to make sure that it can be fully sealed.

 A top tip is to measure your bag out by laying it out across the food you aim to seal. This will ensure that not only is the bag filled, but the 2.5 extra inches needed is easy to identify.

Prepare your vacuum sealer

Next, you’re going to need to set up the vacuum sealer. This will include plugging it in and ensuring that there’s enough room to lay the bag out in front of it. 

You should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. But generally, you put the top of the bag— the bag you cut in the previous step — across the top of the vacuum sealer. This usually means that you need to open one end of the vacuum sealer up. Typically vacuum sealers have a sealing bar that you run the top of the bag across. If your load is in the wrong position, your bag will not seal correctly. Finally, close using both hands, making sure you hear a clicking sound that tells you that the machine’s lid is fully down.

Operating the vacuum sealer

Next, it’s time to press the seal button. Depending on what machine you use, sealing can take a few seconds or even a few minutes. This is why it’s essential to pay attention to the manufacturer’s instructions. Generally, a light indicates sealing in progress when this light is red or blue. It means that the air is being sucked out of the bag. However, when the light turns green, it means that the bag is fully sealed. 

Once the sealing process is complete, press the buttons on each side of the vacuum sealer to release the pack.

What you need to buy for using a vacuum sealer

Weston Pro 2500 Stainless Steel Chamber Food Vacuum Sealer

Weston Pro 2500 Stainless Steel Chamber Food Vacuum Sealer

This highly efficient chamber vacuum sealer removes air evenly from all sides of the package for optimal storage space and total sealing around the food. It’s ideal for sealing up heavy and wet food items securely.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Home Depot and Wayfair

Wevac Vacuum Sealer Bags

Wevac Vacuum Sealer Bags

This plastic for vacuum sealing comes in rolls, so you can cut to whatever length you need and provide two different widths. It’s compatible with any model of vacuum sealer and is durable and thick for longer food storage.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Lauren Farrell writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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