What are Oxygen Absorbers/Scavengers?
Oxygen absorbers have wide usage in the food and beverage industry where it is employed to remove excess oxygen from food packages. The presence of oxygen in packages/containers holding food items does not bode well for the latter. This is due to the following reasons:
1) When exposed to oxygen over a period of time, food products turn stale and therefore, inedible.
2) Oxygen provides the perfect environment for the growth of micro-organisms like fungi, bacteria, which are harmful for the packed items.
It is thus to remove excess amount of oxygen from closed spaces that companies make wide use of oxygen absorbers. The oxygen absorber or scavenger (as it is sometimes known as) will suck in all the extra oxygen present in the atmosphere thus leaving behind nitrogen, which is conducive for the long shelf life of products.
The functioning of the oxygen absorber is explained as follows: The oxygen absorber sachet contains iron particles, which will react with the absorbed oxygen to form iron oxide. Ideally, one needs at least 65% relative humidity in the atmosphere for the oxidation process to begin. As the oxidation process continues, all the oxygen in the packages will be removed and come down to below 0.01%. When all the oxygen has been taken in, the sachet gets “saturated” and will not be able to take in any more oxygen.
Iron is mostly used in oxygen scavengers because of many reasons. Firstly, it does not react with the packed food items. Secondly, it does not release odor like sulfur or aluminium compounds.
The Right Way of Using Oxygen Absorbers
Now that one has decided to use oxygen absorbers, they must also know the proper way of using the absorbent. First, one must keep all the jars/vacuum sealing bags in the table. Next, with the help of gloves place all the food items, which are to be preserved, in the jars and vacuum bags. The usage of gloves is recommended as it protects the food items against the ill-effects of moisture and oils.
After all the food items are placed in the containers, open the bag of absorbers and place one as fast as possible into the jars. The jar lids must be kept nearby so that as soon as the oxygen absorbers are placed one can seal the jars/containers. This is important as it will prevent any outside air from getting inside the container. Please note: Keep the unused oxygen absorber sachets sealed for further use.