Introduction: $2 Vacuum Sealer Life Hack

I entered this Instructable into the "First Time Author" contest on .If you feel that this post deserves to win, click 'Vote' button at the top-right of the screen.

Check out the contest here -

Lets get started!

In this quick life hack, I'll show you how to make a super cheap vacuum sealer that you can use to vacuum seal just about anything!

Here's what you'll need

  • Ziplock (Freezer) Bags
  • Clear packaging tape
  • 1 x Syringe
  • 2 x aquarium check valves
  • 2ft aquarium air line tubing
  • 1 x 3 way aquarium air line 'T' connector

Step 1: Watch the Video!

The easiest way to follow along with this Instructable, is to watch the video above or on my channel by clicking this link -

Step 2:

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Grab your air line tubing ,and a pair of scissors, and cut off three pieces of tubing about 2 inches (4-5cm) in length.

Step 3:

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Attach one piece to each end of the 3-way air line connector.

Step 4:

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Attach the INPUT side of one check valve, to the center of the 3-way connector and the OUTPUT side of the other check valve , to any other side.

If you're not sure which end of the check valve is the INPUT or the OUTPUT, just take a closer look at each check valve for markings that say IN and OUT.

Step 5:

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You should have something that look's like this.

Step 6:

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Attach the leftover air line tubing to the check valve that you installed last, making sure that both check valves are in the correct orientation.

You should also go ahead and attach the syringe to the side of the 3-way connector that doesn't have a check valve.

See images for how it should look.

Step 7:

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Grab a toothpick and pierce a hole on ONE side of the bag.

Use caution. Do not pierce the back through both layers!

Step 8:

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Place the items that you want to seal, into the bag. I used lemons, just for this demonstration.

Step 9:

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Grab those scissors again and cut the end of the air line tube at an angle. This will make it easier to push through the hole you made earlier, without any hassle at all!

Step 10:

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Push the air line tube into hole and seal the bag completely.

Step 11:

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Pump the syringe several times, until you remove all of the air from the bag.

Step 12:

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All that's left to do now is place a piece of packaging tape over the hole and pull out the airline (at the same time)

If you've made it this far, congratulations!

If you'd like to see this vacuum sealer in action, just watch the video here -

Subscribe to my channel by clicking here:

I entered this Instructable into the "First Time Author" contest on .If you feel that this post deserves to win, click 'Vote' button at the top-right of the screen.
Check out the contest here -

Step 13:


ThisIsMyNameOK (author)2015-09-15

Thanks for posting this. I am going to have to take a trip to the local aquarium shop as soon as I can. I have wanted a vacuum sealer for a long time but they are too spendy. This is the perfect solution for short term, small scale storage.

Laral (author)ThisIsMyNameOK2015-09-18

Actually you can get FoodSaver machines cheap at Goodwill and other thrift stores. I have gotten good sized units that were practically unused for $8-$12. I have rolls of bags I got for a few dollars each. The only thing you have to watch out for is a bubble in the electric heat sealer strip. It will cause a void in the seal that will leak.

ThisIsMyNameOK (author)Laral2015-09-19

That's a great tip. For some reason I never thought of looking for a second hand one. I just don't usually bother with the appliance section when I go to the thrift stores. I'll keep my eyes open and see if I can spot one. I still want to make this though, just so I can say I did, even though it will probably cost about the same. I can probably find some other uses for it, if I think about it.

Laral (author)ThisIsMyNameOK2015-09-22

I have gotten all kinds of incredible bargains at Goodwill and Savers. A classic all-metal chrome plated Vitamixer, like new, for $8, missing the dome for the stainless steel canister, which I got on craigslist for another $8. A Cuisinart DLC 10 like new with extra disks and a disk caddy for $8. Calphalon pans for $8-$10. Many other items for a fraction of the cost when new.

ThisIsMyNameOK (author)Laral2015-09-24

That's awesome. I should go shopping with you. ;-)

I have an aunt who is the best bargain hunter ever. She lived on welfare most of her life, due to a disability, but you would never know it to look at her, or her apartment. One time I remember she came up to me and said "here, try these" and dumped a huge pile of clothes in my arms. Everything was exactly the right size, in perfect condition, all good high end stuff. And this was after I had already looked through all the clothing racks myself and found nothing. I don't know how she does it.

Laral (author)ThisIsMyNameOK2015-09-24

It's not that hard to find bargains. But you have to go early, before the good stuff is picked over. When you see an employee bring out a new load of stuff to put on shelves, go immediately to the cart and look for the good stuff. If you're polite, they don't mind. You have to look at every shelf in the sections that interest you and look carefully for good items. They are sometimes hidden behind/under other junk. Test all electrical appliances. They can be bad. Savers is better than Goodwill. They have high end stuff, often mis-priced low. Occasionally you will get burned on something but you have 7 days to bring it back.

ThisIsMyNameOK (author)Laral2015-09-25

You just described all the things that I can't do, starting with going early. On a good day, I can muster up the patience to look carefully for a short time, provided the store is in good order and not too messy or cluttered or crowded.

Pretty sure we don't have Savers in Canada. Never seen one anyway. The only store close to me is Value Village, and you won't find any high end stuff that has been mis-priced low there. More likely to be the opposite, low end stuff that is over priced. I haven't been to Goodwill for awhile, but I remember getting into an argument with one of the staff last time because they had jewelry set in the "boutique" section priced at $50 that I knew for a fact was only $16 new. The best places for bargains used to be the not-for-profit stores, like Salvation Army, but they have all been driven out by the bigger, for-profits like Goodwill and Value Village. People started going there to shop, and to "donate", because they saw the ads on TV, and they just couldn't get enough stock or business at the little stores anymore.

Laral (author)ThisIsMyNameOK2015-09-26

It is better to go early but the staff keeps putting new stuff out during the day. If you can stay awhile, you might luck out. At the stores I go to, I've never encountered any fighting or negativity. One time I was at Goodwill with my neighbor and this woman had a big oriental carpet in her cart that looked like it was brand new and of very high quality, marked $12, and asked us if we thought it was worth it. We took it out and unrolled it and found it was perfect and on the back a price of $350! She was thrilled and everyone standing around looking seemed happy for her. One thing I forgot to mention, wear gloves. After going through all that stuff, your hands feel violated if you don't. I thought Goodwill was not for profit. I know Savers is a business. Their pricing seems almost random. High end things cheap and low end things very high sometimes.

ThisIsMyNameOK (author)Laral2015-09-26

My mistake, Goodwill is technically a nonprofit. But they came into town and opened up about 4 massive stores almost simultaneously, taking away a lot of the business from the little stores. Then Vallue Village came along and blew Goodwill out of the water.

It wasn't really so much an argument over the jewelry set as calling them out on overpricing it, which got me a nasty and rude response from the employee. I pushed the matter a little because I actually wanted it, and was willing to pay the full $16 that it was worth new, which was more than fair. When she refused to budge on the price I might have said something about never shopping there again. Which turned out to be an easy promise to keep since the store closed a couple of months later.

Gloves are a good idea. I usually just use lots of hand sanitizer. I can't spend too long there anyway, due to allergies. Vallue Village has really put a lot more effort into keeping things clean lately though and it's much better. Either that or my tolerance to dust is getting higher.

Anyway, I still want to get to the Aquarium store to buy the stuff I need to make this vacuum sealer someday. I almost made it last Sunday, but ran out of time. I might have to look at some of the stores closer to home to see what they have that would work.

Yes. Short, term and small scale is just what I created this for. It's a hack, not pro sealer.

Yes, that's what I meant. It's perfect for someone like me who only has a small family. Just enough to be able to keep the groceries fresh a little longer. And the price is right. :)

Amrchnd (author)2015-09-15


brett the pharmacist (author)2015-09-15

Brilliant re-purposing of some very common items. That is some very inventive science and engineering indeed. Bravo sir!

Bugseyb (author)2015-09-15

Wow ! ! What a great idea for us hobby farmers when putting food by (putting it in the freezer). Gotta show your video to a few friends and cheese makers.


: D

lbrewer42 (author)2017-01-17

I built this and use it for airtight storage of some of my collectables that exposure to a humid atmosphere can damage. Since this is highly portable, I can take it with me anywhere.

Thanks for posting!

fredfx (author)2016-12-20

This is really terrific. I can't wait to try it!

obillo (author)2016-11-22

Nice piece of work, but I just use a plastic soda straw. I close the bag 99% with the straw inserted in the opening, preferably in the middle of the closure. That lets me press both sides of the bag for a close fit against the straw. I usually press down on the bag to expel most of the air, then suck out the rest, pulling out the straw and sealing the rest of the closure simultaneously. It's a little tricky (esp. getting 'traction' with which to extract the straw), but a little practice yields excellent results. As for cost of materials (straws are free for the asking at any deli) and ease of storage, the benefits are obvious.

zencuke (author)2016-11-18

Very nice. Simple, cheap and easy to do. Perfect instructable. I'll definitely try it.

Another way you can use it for small things is to install this on a bigger bag, maybe permanentlly with glue or something. Then put the item in a smaller ziplock bag. Close thecseal partly and put it inside the big bag. After pumping the big one finish sealing the inside bag through the sides of the big one. When you release the seal on the outside one the inside one will stay sealed. This way there is no tape covered hole in the small bag to accidentally pop open if something goes wrong.

I mostly use this trick for things I want reseal after using some of it. I don't trust tape in the freezer.

GuyM42 (author)2016-10-04


TedoP (author)2016-07-26

what's the purpose of the hole that you poked ?

TimK10 (author)TedoP2016-09-30

It took me a minute to figure that out too. The tube is threaded through the hole (not the ziploc like it looks like). When the air is removed the tape is put over the hole with the tube still in it so it can be closed quickly when the tube is removed.

galwayspud (author)2016-08-06

This looked interesting, so I gave it a shot. While buying the parts, I asked first for the T-connector. $3.99. That's when I stopped. How did you manage to make this for $2??

JamesP304 (author)2016-07-31

Hey, I use a brake bleeder tool from Harbor Freight Tools. I believe I get a better vacuum seal with it, then can be gotten from a syringe. I use it with plastic bags and mason jars. Just a couple of pumps of the handle and it's vacuumed out.

jakspak07 (author)2016-07-29

Greetings, Nice idea however how do you suggest I keep the bag from being sucked into hose end before sealing is complete?

LilliC (author)2016-07-26

This is GREAT! I am going to make it today!

JavedH (author)2016-07-25

This is good one.

I do the sealing using the zip log bags and a bowl of water. Simply put the items in the bag, seal it but leave a small opening. Then put the bag in a bowl but keep the zip area above the water and slowly squeeze the air out while the bag is in water and then seal the opening completely. You got the air out and a vacuum bag. It works very good.

JosephB38 (author)2016-07-25

It's a great idea. I may have to build one. For years I have been using a drinking straw stuck into the zip end of the bag. It works pretty good if you are fast enough at closing that little hole before air leaks back in.

General Lee 450 (author)2016-07-24

If the Electricity goes out, This would be Handy.

karlbamforth (author)2016-07-24

Excellent instructable and ingenious use of materials.

FergusG1 (author)2015-09-15

Great idea, but I assume the tape seal is not sous-vide friendly.

moosetooth (author)FergusG12016-05-16

I was interested how this would work with sous vide too. Would be nice to use regular zip lock bags as opposed to dragging out the vacuum sealer. This looks like a more durable tape...

karlbamforth (author)moosetooth2016-07-24

I use ziplock bags for sous vide. Put your food in the bag and zip the lock most of the way but leaving maybe 1 inch open. Slowly lower the bag into water allowing the air to escape. Once all the air is out, seal the zip. I tend to use heavier duty bags but have never had any leakage during cooking.

Vijster1 (author)FergusG12015-09-20

You could use a heat gun and to fuse the plastic near the hole.

MadScienceHacks (author)FergusG12015-09-15

Unfortunately not.

FergusG1 (author)MadScienceHacks2015-09-16

In that case, I might be tempted to "double-bag" - use a second, outer bag evacuated by submersion in water.

Could you place a very small piece of plastic bag on the tape that would contact the hole so the adhesive doesn't touch the contents? The tape would still provide the seal. Just a thought...

Kittish (author)2016-07-24

I like this idea. It occurs to me that it could be combined with the heat sealer part of a vacuum sealer system maybe. Just pull the tubing most of the way out of the bag and apply the heat sealer below it. Should give a much better seal than using tape.

HariKarier11 (author)2016-07-24

I've been using a commercial one for years that cost me 4 or 5 dollars back in the 70's, it's called a, Pump and Seal, and it works great. The pump sits directly over the hole and it has a 2 way seal that allows you to remove the air and then it seals itself. It can be used on bags or mason jar lids. I've seen similar ones at stores that sell for 2 to 3 dollars and are a lot simpler to operate. Keep on creating, we need thinkers and doers instead of takers and fakers.

ryanjohnlenz (author)2016-07-24

Great idea.

It looks like very little air is able to infiltrate through the tape-sealed hole--but that step looks a bit vague (at least in the video). It looks like you put the tape over the entire bag-tube-hole assembly, while the tube is still in place, then pull out the tube and quickly press the tape down? Could use a tiny bit of clarification (or another angle of video) of this step.

I also wonder if one could find a larger volume syringe to make the evacuation process a bit more efficient.

Anyway, great idea and nice instructable.

It sure will, this does a soso job. You can buy a good sealer and a sued one from good will then depending on use you can really use different things.

First off this system is a fail as it will not evac all the air due to the method used, I have a hand pump and electrical pump and seal a mealer. If you want to store say grain use a jar you can buy well made valves and install on the lids of jars, Or super el-cheapo valves you make. Then use the hand pump or the battery one to evac the air. THIS IS NOT A REPLACEMENT FOR CANNING. It is NEVER shelf stable for stuff

How to make a cheaparoo valve, easy take a square of electricians tape say 1/2 inch square now take a piece of plastic bag less then a 1/4 inch square, place it dead center of the tape. Take the bottle and make a tiny hole in the lid using an awl/punch/push pin/nail. place the valve plastic bag side to the hole rub fingers on 3 sides of the tape. Use you evac pump on the lid around the valve. The air will come up, go under the non stick part and then the stuck part, when you are done remove pump, and rub all 4 edges. I like to double the cost by putting a bigger sqaure of tape over it.

Seal a meal sells a lid extension that will allow you to take a mason jar fill it, put a lid on it then this collar. You evac it and the jar will be air tight rings may be re used.

King-Edward (author)2016-07-24

One note, if you want to keep the hole in the plastic bag really small, attach a basketball needle to the end of the air tube. May require a few more pumps to evacuate the air. Just an idea.

King-Edward (author)King-Edward2016-07-24

Also if you can find the rubber piece the use in basketballs etc, you can use canning jars, glue the rubber piece permanently into the lid and vacuum out the air simple, reusable, great for packing survival gear. Been using this method for a few years, never thought about posting it here though, great post.

jeweledsunshine (author)2016-07-24

I love this idea - I have a food vacuum sealer machine, but the amount of time that the food I'm trying to preserve will be staying in the freezer doesn't match up to the hassle of using it. This manual system seems like a much better option for the way I work in the kitchen.

nkjall398 (author)2016-07-24

I like the fact that this procedure doesn't need the use of electricity

lzang46 (author)nkjall3982016-07-24

Yes, straws are just as good as you describe. No extra equipment, simple home use.

chefspenser (author)2016-07-24

Very good idea. Even if there's a small bit of air still inside, it's better than not using this at all. Thanks!

TonyF65 (author)2016-07-24

Finaly one of these Instrucables that is clever...

wazalac18 (author)2016-07-23

this is one good hack; it it made me think.....

had anyone tried using 2 different sizes of Ziploc?

small one would be the "real" container to be vacuum sealed and be inside the
bigger one that would be the one you'd be applying this hack.

when it flattens then you could press-lock the inner Ziploc.... ;)

meswanson (author)wazalac182016-07-24

Sounds like a good Idea, especially if you have liquids. We vacuume seal bulk all the time for the freezer. This would work great for water cooking. A deep vacuume is not as criticle

About This Instructable




Bio: I am a photographer and ex-Engineering Student with more than just a curious mind. I use my knowledge about photography and basic engineering to create ... More »
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