Storage Bags vs Freezer Bags: What’s the Difference?

Freezer bags vs Storage Bags

I was storing some chicken thighs in the freezer the other day when I realized the only sealable bags I had left were storage bags and not the usual freezer bags that I would typically use. 

Initially, I figured oh well, I’ll just use storage bags this time and everything will be okay. But then I got to thinking… What’s the difference between storage bags and freezer bags? Have I been wasting my money this whole time? Or do freezer bags make a difference when it comes to keeping food fresh when stored in the freezer? 

I felt like I had so many questions and hardly any answers, so I figured it was time to do some research to figure out the difference between storage and freezer bags. 

Here’s what I found out.

Storage Bags vs Freezer Bags

There are many different ways to preserve food. There are glass containers, plastic containers, silicone bags, cling wrap, tin foil, and many other protective layers you can cover, wrap, or surround your food with to extend its shelf life.

The simplest method for storing food, however, is to place it in a storage or freezer bag and call it a day. While storage bags are typically used for storing food outside of the freezer, freezer bags are (obviously) used for storing food in the freezer. 

However, both types of zip-top bags essentially do the same thing, they provide a thin layer of protection against the air and moisture outside of the bag. They also lock in a necessary amount of moisture to help keep your food in its natural state.

If you want to find out the difference between storage and freezer bags then continue reading below.

What’s The Difference?

Before we examine the differences between storage and freezer bags, let’s first start with the similarities. To start with, both types of zip-top bags are primarily made from polyethylene plastic, with some zip-top bags being made from multiple forms of polyethylene plastic.

For instance, Ziploc freezer bags are made from both Polyethylene-Low Density and Polyethylene-Linear Low-Density plastic. And while I won’t pretend to be an expert on the subject, I imagine that the combination of the two forms of plastic creates a stronger and more durable bag. 

Polyethylene is also considered safe for food storage by the FDA, which is good news for health nuts like myself as I don’t want to store food anywhere that will negatively affect my health. 

Okay, now here’s the difference…

Freezer bags have close to double the thickness of a regular storage bag. While an average storage bag has a thickness of around 1.5 Mil, freezer bags typically have a thickness of close to 3 Mil. Having double the thickness offers more protection from air and moisture and lessens the chance of any sharp object tearing or puncturing through the bag. Most freezer bags also come with a better-designed top-seal to help prevent any air or moisture from seeping in or out of the bag.

So, in short, freezer bags are better suited for storing food in the freezer, and storage bags are a cheaper alternative for storing food outside of the freezer. Although, freezer bags can still be used to preserve food outside of the freezer if you want to extend the shelf life of your food as much as possible.

Well, as much as you can expect from a sealable bag. 

Do Freezer Bags Make a Difference?

We now know that freezer bags are twice as thick as regular storage bags and come with a better top-seal, but does this make a difference?

Yes, it makes a huge difference. Meat that’s frozen in a freezer bag will have a much longer shelf life than meat that’s frozen in a storage bag. Even though the bag itself is only twice as thick (1.5 Mil to 3 Mil), the improved design of the top-seal greatly prevents air and moisture from getting in and out of the bag.

Unfortunately, not all freezer bags are built the same. While some freezer bags are virtually air-tight and can prevent 99.9% of moisture from entering the bag, others seem to fall apart at the seams and can barely hold it together. Here’s a great video below from America’s Test Kitchen that shows the difference in quality amongst freezer bags on the market.

If you don’t have time to watch the video, the best freezer bag ended up being the Double Seal Ziploc® Freezer Bags.

Freezer Bags

Pros

  • Offers better protection than storage bags (twice as thick)
  • Great for storing food in the freezer
  • Takes up less space than other food storage containers
  • Some freezer bags are 99.9% airtight 
  • Less likely to puncture or tear than storage bags
  • Approved by the FDA
  • Free of BPA

Cons

  • More expensive than storage bags
  • Not as environmentally friendly as reusable bags
  • Not as airtight as other forms of food storage containers (glass, silicone, etc)

Storage Bags

Pros

  • Less expensive than freezer bags
  • Great for storing food outside of the freezer
  • Takes up less space than other food storage containers
  • Approved by the FDA
  • Free of BPA

Cons

  • Unlikely to do a good job of keeping out air and moisture
  • Not as environmentally friendly as reusable bags
  • Easy to puncture or tear

Can You Freeze Food In a Storage Bag?

Food can be frozen in a storage bag, just don’t expect the same results that you’d receive when using a freezer bag. Even though most storage bags are designed to be safe for use in the freezer, this doesn’t mean it’s going to offer the same amount of protection that a freezer bag would.

So are freezer bags really that much more effective than storage bags?

Yes, I believe they are. Now, I don’t have any real data to back up that claim, but I can tell you from experience that when I’ve run out of freezer bags in the past and tried to use a storage bag to store my meat in the freezer it didn’t end up working too well. My meat ended up suffering way worse freezer burn than it would’ve normally when stored in a freezer bag. 

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