How Do Vacuum Sealers Work?

by Véronique Raymond
vacuum sealer

If you’ve just bought a vacuum sealer but haven’t used one before, it’s important to make sure you’re using it properly to avoid improperly preserved goods or damage to the device. No matter which type of vacuum sealer you’re using, the rules are generally the same, but we’ll go over every one of them and provide advice on how to get the most out of your vacuum sealer, whether it’s for commercial or home use.

But why is it so important to use a vacuum sealer the right way? Isn’t it foolproof?

Well, not really. If you don’t follow the proper steps for preparing your food or using the vacuum sealer, your food storage goals will be spoiled because the way you’re preserving food is causing food waste due to spoilage, broken or squished foods, reduced shelf life due to failed seals, freezer burn, and more.

We’ll help you use your vacuum sealer the right way to prevent any mistakes with your Foodsaver to ensure proper food preservation of everything from stews to veggies to cuts of meat.


How Do External Vacuum Sealers Work?

When using an external vacuum sealer, only the edge of the bag at the sealing end goes into the machine. First, you’ll line up the edge with the sealing bar where you want the seal to be. When you start the machine, it will suck all the air out of the bag. Then, it will use heat to fuse the two sides of the plastic bag together to create an airtight seal. These sealers work optimally with dry goods.


How Do Chamber Vacuum Sealers Work?

A chamber vacuum sealer works very similarly to an external vacuum sealer. The main difference is that the bag sits inside the chamber. This type of vacuum sealer machine pumps the air out of the entire chamber, making that much of a better airtight seal. A chamber machine is useful for all types of food but is most effective with pouches of wet goods like soups and marinades. This is because they seal bags better for sous vide cooking, marinate cooking, and storing wet foods since the seal is lifted a bit higher than it is on external machines, keeping liquid away from the seal.

vacuum sealer

How Does a Handheld Vacuum Sealer Work?

A handheld sealer is the most portable of all three types. They are used primarily when it is more convenient to bring the sealer to the package rather than the other way around. With handheld vacuum sealing machines, you’ll need a zipper bag instead of a bag roll since they don’t have a seal bar. Instead, they’ll suck air out through a valve in the bag after it is sealed. This is the best vacuum sealer for things like camping, compressing clothes and other belongings for moving or storage, and other non-food related vacuum packaging tasks. They cannot be used for wet goods, however, and are only to be used on dry foods.


How Does a Pistol-Type Vacuum Packaging Machine Work?

Pistol-type vacuum packagers are a more portable alternative to the external and chamber vacuum sealers, and are one of the most popular types of handheld vacuum sealers. They work with special zipper bags with a built-in valve. This type of vacuum sealer is ideal for larger bags that won’t work with other types of vacuum sealers, or for non-food goods like clothes. The pistol-style grip allows for a pulse mode similar to that on countertop sealers, which is their one main benefit over other styles of handheld sealers since they work better on delicate foods.


How Do The Different Seal Bars Work?

When using traditional vacuum sealers, there is more than one option for the type of seal bar that may be used. Some edger sealers have more than one sealing bar, usually two. Vacuum sealers with multiple sealing bars create a better seal since they actually create two separate seals. For sealing wet food vacuum sealers with two sealing bars are the ideal choice since they double the effectiveness of a single seal. Multiple seal bars work the exact same as single seal vacuum sealers as they both seal at the same time.

vacuum sealer

How Do Vacuum Sealing Accessories Work?

There are many accessories that can be used with traditional vacuum sealers, and they greatly increase the versatility of the machine with many more options for the sealing process when vacuum sealing food.

Difference Between Zipper Bags and Bag Rolls

There are two options when it comes to packaging your food: zipper bags and rolls of bags. Rolls are by far the preferred option for chamber and external vacuum sealers because you can customize the size of your vacuum sealer bags to save money and get more packages per roll. This also means that vacuum sealing in bulk is more efficient since there is less empty space and air that the sealer has to suck out before the package can be sealed.

Zipper bags work like Ziploc bags in that they seal manually and easily, but there is one major difference. Zipper bags designed for use with a vacuum sealer have a valve in them for sucking out the air from the package. These bags are useful for dry foods, non-food items, and large packages that won’t work with a chamber or edge sealer.

How to Use a Built-In Bag Cutter/Roll Storage

Many external vacuum sealers have built-in storage for your bag rolls as well as a cutter for sizing your bags. Luckily, they are very easy to use. The roll storage opens from the top so your roll can be placed inside. The size of this storage box may differ, but usually a 25ft roll will fit no problem. If you have a larger 50ft roll, you will most likely need to find another storage solution. To use the cutter, pull the bag through to size it for your food, then slide the cutter across to slice the bag. It’s that simple!

How To Use a Vacuum Pump

To use a vacuum pump, you must have an accessory port on your vacuum sealer. It can be used on zipper bags, canisters, jar sealers, and other accessories and tools for sealing just about anything. It operates very similarly to a vacuum hose in that you simple attach it to the valve and turn it on. It will suck out the air in just a few moments.


Canisters are essentially Tupperware that has a valve in the top. These are ideally used with easily damaged, delicate foods or liquids. To vacuum seal them, you’ll need to use a vacuum pump/hose.

Bottle Stoppers

Bottle stoppers are designed to be placed in the neck of a wine bottle where the cork would normally be. Using a vacuum pump, you can suck out the extra air to keep your wine in top condition for ages.

Jar Sealers

Jar sealers are available in multiple sizes and connect to a vacuum pump. They are similar to the lids of canisters but can be used on jars you already opened to keep the food fresher than their own lid can accomplish.

Filler Plates

Filler plates are extremely useful accessories when you want to make personal serving sizes using a chamber vacuum sealer. They are placed inside the machine so that sealing small packages is more efficient. When you need to seal larger bags, they can be picked up and removed easily. They come in multiple sizes to adjust the size of the chamber space.

vacuum sealer

How Does Vacuum Sealing Liquids Work?

Using a chamber vacuum sealer is the best option for vacuum sealing wet foods since the pressure inside the bag remains the same as the exterior of the bag. When you use an external sealer, the liquid could fly out of the opening or mess up the seal. The liquid should be cool before you attempt to seal it.

If using an external or handheld vacuum sealer, it is still possible to seal liquids. It simply requires a bit of extra preparation. First, place your food inside the vacuum bag and place it upright in the freezer. Once it is frozen solid, you can proceed to seal it like normal.


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