Many of us have been using vacuum sealers for a long time. For those who are just now beginning or thinking of beginning to use this form of packaging your smoked products and sausage you will soon discover that the cost of the machine is small in comparison to the cost of plastic bags over a short period of time.
I have put together a discription of the criteria I have found useful for myself trying to balance quality and price. Original FoodSaver bags are a great quality product but the last box I purchased was 47.00 from Wally World. If you figure the price per foot that comes to about 80 cents a running foot for rolls of bag material.
Quality: Unless you have a very expensive commercial vacuum packaging machine, the kind that holds the bag entirely enclosed in a chamber you have a channel or snorkel type home use machine. All home use machines I have seen or used require a textured feature in the bag material to fully pull a vacuum. Some generic bag rolls have just a center strip of texture material while others are fully textured on one complete side of the roll. The completely textured side is the most desirable as air pockets which must be manually pressed to the center are less likely to occur. Material thickness should be at least 3mils and 4 mils will resist tearing from sharp corners like bone better and are most likely going to allow you to wash and recycle them several times. Of course the plastic material should be FDA approved for home use. No home use machine material is approved by the FDA for packaging for resale. You may get away with it for awhile out in Podunc Nowere but sooner or later you will be looking at hefty fines so don't do it.
You will find that most home use machines can handle roll material from 6-11 inches wide. Many commercial machines will take a bag widths up to 15 inches plus.
When figuring price add in the shipping and figure your cost per foot of material. You will soon discover that what may look like a great deal isn't. This is sometimes the situation with large bulk size rolls. A 50 ft roll of 8 inch wide material may look like a good price until you add in shipping and figure the actual cost per foot. I recently bought eight 20 ft rolls of material at 27 cents a foot. Three 50 ft rolls with shipping would have cost me 34 cents because of shipping.
Some links you may find useful and don't forget to check out the auction sites.
Edited by ShooterRick - 12/6/10 at 3:38pm