Vacuum packing machines can be a real game changer for many businesses. Whether you’re a smaller enterprise or are using your vacuum packaging machine in a large-scale commercial kitchen, these handy devices are safe and effective. Vacuum sealing removes one of the primary causes of food spoilage – air – so that you preserve food and keep it fresher for longer.


A vacuum sealer is invaluable for helping you store large quantities of food more effectively or keeping separate ingredients or sauces on hand until they’re needed such as with sous vide cooking. No matter the model you choose or the size of your machine, a vacuum food sealer is typically safe and easy to use. That said, improper use definitely has its risks. Here’s how to get the best from your vacuum packaging machine.


Get familiar with the instructions


Different machines will have different functions and operations, so, even if you’re already familiar with vacuum sealers, it’s worth taking the time to familiarize yourself with your particular model. The truth is that vacuum sealers are extremely safe provided you follow the typically simply instructions for use.


Failure to exercise proper care may result in spills, leaks or contamination, or worse – injury to the person using the machine. Food that is improperly sealed could cause a mess or allow food to spoil, which is a health and safety risk. Though this sounds rather serious, a few simple precautions are all it takes to ensure your machine is working just as it should.


Read the instructions completely before use and make sure that any staff that use the machine are properly informed on its use, too. Chamber sealer machines are more common in the commercial catering industry and require a little more know-how than so-called bar sealers, which are more common in domestic settings.


Know what you can and cannot vacuum seal


Common sense can go a long way when it comes to proper vacuum seal use, but it’s worth double checking if you’re attempting to seal something unusual. Naturally, you want to avoid sealing foods that are still very hot, in case they burn through or melt the packaging (or you!). Also avoid the temptation to seal food that is already less than fresh or close to its expiry date in an attempt to prolong its life. This can be risky; the last thing you want is to mistakenly serve food made with spoiled ingredients.


Contrary to what you might first think, it is safe to vacuum seal liquids, although with some caveats. For sauces or soups, it may work to freeze the liquid first and then seal the solid block afterwards. Creamy desserts or puddings can also be vacuum sealed, although you need to take care.


The same rules apply for liquids as they do for solids – leave ample room at the top of the bag (around 8cm) or you may risk spilling or creating an improper seal, defeating the purpose. Always avoid allowing liquids to splash into the machine itself, which could cause significant damage.


Use the right bags for your machine


You need to make sure that you’re only using bags that are appropriate for your specific machine. Using the wrong kind of bags could leave you with an improper seal or even damage your machine. Bags should be clean, smooth and undamaged to work properly – a wrinkled, dusty or torn bag is obviously not going to get the job done.


When you’re sealing, leave as much empty space at the top of the bag as possible. It’s tempting to overfill the bag to try and save time and money, but in the long run the reverse could happen, especially if you end up spilling bags or getting a poor seal and have to try again. Avoid letting the bags encounter anything sharp or abrasive, before or after they’re filled and sealed, whether from the inside or outside.


Keep your vacuum sealer in a safe place


Vacuum sealing machines are typically low maintenance and will do their job reliably so long as they’re used with care. One final consideration is to keep your sealer in a safe place where you know it won’t get damaged. Avoid storing or using your sealer close to any water or liquid, as getting it wet can shorten its lifespan considerably. Avoid having the machine used by people with wet or dirty hands, or placing the machine next to sputtering pans, sinks, or heat sources.


Clean your sealer after use with just water and mild soap and dry it thoroughly. With just a little common sense and consideration, a vacuum packaging machine is a very simple, perfectly safe appliance to use.