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How To:  Vacuum-Seal Cheap Ziploc Bags

Really great tip from Make: reader cashsale, who didn’t want to shell out the money for a purpose-built vacuum sealer and dedicated vacuum bags for his home sous-vide cooking:

  1. Put whatever you want to seal in a smaller Ziploc bag that’s open just a bit.
  2. Then, put that bag in a larger Ziploc bag.
  3. Insert the business end of a cheap hand-operated vacuum pump (maybe a sink aspirator would work, too?) into the larger bag, and close the seal tightly around the hose.
  4. Pump out the air, which evacuates both outer and inner bags.
  5. While it’s pumped out, seal the inner bag the rest of the way with hand pressure through both bags.
  6. Finally, open the outer bag and take out the inner one.
  7. It may not hold as long as a pricey purpose-made bag, but cashsale reports that it works just fine over sous-vide timescales. Nice work!

22 thoughts on “How To: Vacuum-Seal Cheap Ziploc Bags

  1. Save the hassle…

    0. Put precious item in small bag.
    1. Mostly close the smaller bag.
    2. Put your mouth over the small opening left in the smaller bag.
    3. Suck and Seal.

    I’ve been doing this for years with my cellphone while I’m out in the rain.

  2. Save the hassle…

    0. Put precious item in small bag.
    1. Mostly close the smaller bag.
    2. Put your mouth over the small opening left in the smaller bag.
    3. Suck and Seal.

    I’ve been doing this for years with my cellphone while I’m out in the rain.

  3. If you use a purpose-made -outer- bag, you can still use the cheap inner bag while managing a very good vacuum, and they allow the use of a standard vacuum cleaner for your source of vacuum.

    Amazon://”vacuum bags storage”

    1. Oooh, like those storage bags? I have some for under my bed. And they’re big, too, so you could do a bunch of stuff at once. Great for a big sous vide barbeque. 

    2. Oooh, like those storage bags? I have some for under my bed. And they’re big, too, so you could do a bunch of stuff at once. Great for a big sous vide barbeque. 

  4. you know there IS an easier way.  Put the item in the bag, and then dip the bag into a container of water.  The water squeezes the air out, simple!

    Obviously the seal isn’t perfect, particularly for irregularly shaped objects, but good enough for sous-vide and far less fiddly than the method above

  5. you know there IS an easier way.  Put the item in the bag, and then dip the bag into a container of water.  The water squeezes the air out, simple!

    Obviously the seal isn’t perfect, particularly for irregularly shaped objects, but good enough for sous-vide and far less fiddly than the method above

  6. I love tools and hacks and all, but nothing is really as clean, fast, or green as my own mouth vacuum to quickly suck the air out of a bag. it even works on individually packing meat for the freezer – you can just use a short straw to avoid touching your lips to the bag-zip if you are worried about contamination with raw meat. 

  7. I love tools and hacks and all, but nothing is really as clean, fast, or green as my own mouth vacuum to quickly suck the air out of a bag. it even works on individually packing meat for the freezer – you can just use a short straw to avoid touching your lips to the bag-zip if you are worried about contamination with raw meat. 

  8. Good idea but if one uses one of those Vacumm ziplos with a small pump you can pull out all the air and it will not return to the outer bag then seal the inner bag and remove the outer (which can be used over and over again. Also because the zipper seal sometimes leaks over time it might be a god idea to heat seal the bag containing the produce.

  9. I recommend buying a cheap fuel transfer pump (I like the plunger kind, but the ‘pistol grip’ vacuum pump kinds are the best/most expensive) at Harbor Freight, an auto shop, or any big box store probably. You could also rig up an electrical one out of those portable $5 car tire pumps and some tubing, but that’s more noise and effort.

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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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