External vacuum sealers that employ the basic clamping mechanism rely on special bags with channels or textures to create an effect air vacuum. And given their competitive pricing, it’s no surprise that these appliances are so popular among home users with occasional sealing requirements. In that respect, getting a better understanding of the following two aspects should help you find the right vac-packer for your specific needs.
- Vacuum Cycle – Realistically, the idea is to suction the air from the bag until a certain air-pressure is reached inside the container. The same result may also be achieved by calibrating the vacuum pump to operate for a specific time. Manufacturers term this as ‘Vacuum Cycle’. So, a machine that offers two different settings for solid and liquid package merely translates to it having two different vacuum cycles.
- Sealing Cue – The trigger for the start of the sealing process in high-end vac-sealers is when the preset pressure has been achieved in the package container (pouch, bag, jar etc). Conversely, for simpler and less expensive models, the sealing process starts after a certain amount of time has elapsed.
- Seal Time – All vac-sealers employ some kind of heating element to heat seal the bag/pouch after the vacuum cycle. Now, the ideal seal time will vary depending on the material and thickness of the bag. In commercial appliances, this seal time can be adjusted whereas retail grade sealers come with 1-5 seal time settings, meaning you can only use a limited type of bags.
- Seal Cycle – Most home-specific, vac-packers feature longer seal-cycles, meaning you’ll have to let the appliance cool-down before starting with the next batch. Not doing so not only leads to improper seals but can also damage the heating element, rendering it irreparable in extreme cases.
What Features To Look For in Clamp Vacuum Sealers?
Commercial vacuum sealers can clear out up to 99.9% oxygen (or air) from a vacuum-able bag. But, you really don’t that kind of vacuum efficiency for your personal storage needs. Instead what you should look for are the different features offered in the machine. The most useful ones are mentioned below.
- Drip Tray: When trying to vacuum pack sauces, soups or other items with reasonable liquid content, these fluids can also get drawn towards the mouth of the bag or worse into the machine along with the air. The drip tray feature might not stop the former but it sure can ensure against the latter.
- Bag Roll And Cutter: Depending on their size, textured bag rolls can cost anywhere from 8%-15% less than pouch packets. Plus, with an inbuilt bag roll tray and cutter, you can create bags of varying lengths to suit different packing needs.
- External Vacuum System: Some models come with a hose that can connect to the vacuum pump through an outlet provided on the machine. This can be then be attached to different proprietary vacuum systems for vac-sealing cans, jars and canisters.
- Seal Features: The seal bar generally produces a half-inch wide seal along the length of the bag’s neck. A longer seal bar, say 12″ will let you vacuum seal two 6″ or less wide bags in a single pass. Some advanced models even come with two seal bars for packages that require the extra air and moisture barrier. Besides, when the main seal bar goes bad, it can be easily replaced with the other seal bar.
- Vacuum And Seal Settings: Changeable vacuum setting lets you choose the right vacuum strength you need for a batch. In the same light, different seal time settings come very handy when dealing with different kinds of pouches. Plus, they also extend the overall life of the impulse heating element.