Best Vacuum Sealers of 2020
Don't have a vacuum sealer in your kitchen? Find out why you need one and which one to get in our shopping guide.
Best Vacuum Sealers for At-Home Use
A statistic provided by the United Nations suggests that 1.3 billion tons of food goes to waste around the world each year.
Nothing can completely halt food waste, but vacuum sealing can certainly reduce the amount of food you lose to spoilage.
A vacuum sealer encapsulates your food in plastic. Before sealing the plastic, the machine removes nearly all air from the bag. Because air exposure causes food to spoil faster, a vacuum sealer allows food to last longer. In turn, this typically results in less food spoilage and waste.
If you're interested in preserving food with a vacuum sealer, we at BestReviews stand ready to help. We pride ourselves on the detailed research we perform on every product category we cover, including vacuum sealers. What follows is a detailed shopping guide that provides the information you need to make a smart vacuum sealer purchase.
If you're interested in buying a vacuum sealer now, please check out our product recommendation matrix at the top of this page. Through the course of our product research, we identified three top machines that we're proud to endorse as the best on the market. And because we never accept free samples from manufacturers, you can be assured that our recommendations are completely bias-free.
Vacuum Sealer Types
Two types of vacuum sealers currently exist on the market: chamber vacuum sealers and external vacuum sealers.
Chamber Vacuum Sealers
Most of the time, chamber vacuum sealers are used in commercial or business settings. This is due, in large part, to their steep price tags. However, some people do buy them to use at home.
Chamber sealers pull more air from the bag than external sealers. They're also a lot larger. To use this type of sealer, you place the entire package of food in the chamber. The device then seals the package.
External Vacuum Sealers
External vacuum sealers are more commonly seen in residential settings. These devices cost less than chamber sealers and are also smaller.
Because external vacuum sealers are the most popular type for at-home use, we'll focus on them going forward.
External Vacuum Sealer Options
Under the external vacuum sealer umbrella, two types of sealers are found: pistol vacuum sealers and countertop sealers. They're called external sealers because the plastic bag doesn't go inside the sealer machine as it does with a chamber sealer.
Pistol Vacuum Sealers
Handheld and battery-powered, this type of sealer often resembles a cordless drill. And like a cordless drill, it runs on rechargeable batteries.
- Place the food in the bag.
- Close the plastic zipper.
- Place the end of the sealer into a valve on the bag.
- Depress the trigger on the handheld unit. This withdraws air from the bag.
This type of vacuum sealer does not use heat to seal the bag.
Countertop Vacuum Sealers
A countertop vacuum sealer is the most common type found in residential settings.
- Place the food inside the bag.
- Position the opening of the bag inside the vacuum sealer.
- The machine pulls air from the bag.
- It then uses heat to seal the bag.
Common Vacuum Sealer Problems
Vacuum sealers are relatively simple pieces of equipment, but they do experience problems from time to time—many of which you can address yourself.
Problem #1: Melting Bag
If you leave a bag inside your vacuum sealer for too long, it could melt. So be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions to avoid melted bags.
A bag could also melt if the sealer's heating element grows too hot from repeated use. In this scenario, allow the unit to cool down for a few minutes before resuming activity.
Problem #2: Air in the Bag
If the sealer fails to remove all air from a bag, inspect the bag's edges for holes or other damage. Avoid using damaged bags.
Wrinkles on the edge of the bag at the sealing point could also prevent air from escaping properly. Try to smooth these wrinkles before you begin the process.
Problem #3: Improper Seal Due to Moisture
If you're sealing liquid inside a bag and moisture seeps into the edges, it may not seal correctly. Handle any bag that contains excess moisture with care.
Other Uses for Vacuum Sealers
Vacuum sealers are great for storing leftovers and bulk groceries. But those aren't the only applications of this versatile household tool.
- Camping: If you plan to camp in an area where items could get wet, seal them. For example, you could seal toiletries and matches to ensure they stay dry. While you're at it, you could also vacuum pack some food for the trip.
- Emergency Kit: FEMA suggests that you keep a three-day supply of food on hand in case of emergency. Many foods, when sealed, lend themselves to long-term storage in an emergency kit. You could even seal cash and clothing to place within the kit, thereby protecting your non-food items from the elements.
- Hunting: If you hunt, you can use a vacuum sealer to protect your ammunition from damp conditions. And, if you plan to harvest your hunting meat, you can preserve it longer by vacuum sealing the extra portions.
- Mailing Food: If you're sending food to your son or daughter at college, vacuum sealing it will keep it fresher during the trip. And you won't have to worry about leaky contents if the package gets dropped or crushed en route.
- Marinade: You can marinate food in a vacuum-sealed bag. Simply place your meat or vegetables in a bag, add marinade, seal it, and place it in the refrigerator for a couple days. The meat remains fresh, and your food will be ready to cook when you are.
- Silver: Storing your silver (silverware, silver pieces, and so on) in a sealed bag helps protect it from tarnish.
Vacuum Sealer Costs
Vacuum sealers for at-home use cost anywhere from $25 to $250.
- Larger units cost more than smaller units.
- Battery-powered sealers are usually cheaper than countertop sealers.
Commercial sealers (like the chamber vacuum sealers mentioned above) can cost several thousand dollars.
Your initial investment isn't the only one you'll make with a vacuum sealer. You should also budget for supplies.
You will have to purchase bags for your vacuum sealer, and some sealers only accept their own brand of bags. Thankfully, this is not true of all sealer products.
Bags that use vacuum valves cost a bit more than heat-sealed bags.
Do Vacuum Sealers Save Money?
Certainly there is some expense involved in using a vacuum sealer. But if you save as little as $20 per month on food that you don't have to throw away, that's almost $250 per year. Most people save even more.
When you own a vacuum sealer, you may also find it worthwhile to buy more food in bulk—and bulk food often sells for a cheaper price. You can split up a package of food, freezing and sealing part of it while cooking the other part.
Vacuum Sealer FAQ
Q. Why does vacuum sealing preserve food longer than regular storage?
A. It's all about air exposure. If you place food in a plastic container with a lid, air still exists inside the container. But if you vacuum nearly all of the air out of the package, you minimize air exposure, thereby protecting the food from spoilage for a longer period of time.
Q. What are some other at-home sealing options?
A. People have been sealing cans of food for centuries. The food to be preserved is placed in a glass Mason jar topped with a metal lid, some wax, and a screw band. The jar is then boiled, sealing it.
To seal a Mason jar without boiling, you can use a device called a jar sealer. A jar sealer works like a bottle stopper, fitting over the mouth of the bottle and pulling air out before sealing it.
Q. How can I seal soft foods like berries without crushing them?
A. It's possible that your vacuum sealer could crush certain foods during the packaging process. You have two options to avoid this.
- You could freeze the food for a few hours before sealing it.
- If you don't want to freeze the food, you could place it in a small plastic container. The container should be nearly full so as to push out as much air as possible. You could then vacuum seal the plastic container and refrigerate it.
Q. How do I know I'm receiving a reliable vacuum sealer?
A. You want your vacuum sealer to perform its job perfectly so you don't end up with spoiled food. The best advice we can give is to stick with well-known brands. Using a model from a manufacturer with a proven track record is a smart idea.
Some of the top brand names in vacuum sealers include the following: