A packaging gas is used to pack sensitive materials such as food into a modified atmosphere environment. The gas used is usually inert, or of a nature that protects the integrity of the packaged goods, inhibiting unwanted chemical reactions such as food spoilage or oxidation. Some may also serve as a propellant for aerosol sprays like cans of whipped cream. For packaging food, the use of various gases is approved by regulatory organisations.
Their E numbers are included in the following lists in parentheses.
These gas types do not cause a chemical change to the substance that they protect.
Specific kinds of packaging gases are aerosol propellants. These process and assist the ejection of the product from its container.
These must be used with caution as they may have adverse effects when exposed to certain chemicals. They will cause oxidisation or contamination to certain types of materials.
Hydrocarbon gases approved for use with food need to be used with extreme caution as they are highly combustible, when combined with oxygen they burn very rapidly and may cause explosions in confined spaces. Special precautions must be taken when transporting these gases.