I'm looking to upgrade to a chamber vacuum sealer. Can I get by with using 3mil bags for salmon/halibut? Or, do I need to go with 5mil for fish? How about size of bags? I'm going to stock up so what's the most popular size(s) to have? Thanks.
I like the thicker bags. Much better protection for a small price increase.
As for size I bought several different sizes to accomodate different things. It really depends on how much you want in each package.
If you are a single guy a 2# package is way more than a meal. A family of 5 or more could easily eat that much halibut or game meat in one sitting.
Also need to look into what size sealer you are going to buy. Some will do a whole salmon fillet others you will have to cut and/or fold the fillet to fit in your sealer.
I use the pre-made bags that Alaska Butcher Supply sells. What thickness the plastic is has never crossed my mind. I have a few sizes but my most used size is 8x10. I got some bigger bags last time, like 10x12. I don't use many of the smaller bags. I'd recommend buying a few sizes and seeing what you use. That's what I did. I have a lifetime supply of small bags now but quickly ran out of the bigger sizes.
I use the 8x10 the most. I buy the bags at Alaska Butcher Supply. About $120 / 1000 for the 8x10 4 mil. The other sizes I use (10x13 and 6x12) I buy in the 100 packs. I've purchased thicker bags but found 4 mil is plenty adequate (fish and meat) from my experience. If you move your frozen product around alot, the thicker bag probably would be better. If I have something (generally not food product) that I think might puncture a bag over time or use, I just double or triple bag it. I keep my machine (Minipack MV31) right on the counter. Use it all the time.
I like the heavier bags myself and generally use 6 x10 or 6x12 and 8x 10. My goal is when i get bags it’s worth it to me to get a product that will seal if it doesn’t seal the meat will be wasted so it not worth scrimping on a few cents. Not knowing what sealer you are getting you may need to play with different bags to determine which work the best for you.
The only time I've had a seal failure in my chamber machine was because I overstuffed the bag. Not necessarily with volume but by shape of the product inside the bag, too. That supports my original post about using more larger bags than smaller.
I doubt heavier bags make much difference to guys like me who package and transport to our own freezers. If I was a commercial packer who shipped around the country in I'd be more concerned. For a private user a chamber machine and 4 mil bags is pretty much top of the line already.