Friday, June 8, 2012

Plastic Bag Thickness - What Hell is a Mil?

So you thought buying wholesale plastic bags for your business would be an easy thing. How complicated could it really be? You’ve determined the size needed and you’re ready to order. Then you’re presented with one more choice; what mil thickness do you prefer? What the hell is a Mil? Aside from the dimensions of the bag, the mil thickness is another critical component in selecting the right plastic bag for your needs.

A Mil is a unit of measurement used to measure the thickness of film in thousands of an inch; 1 Mil = 1/1000 inch. While simple in principle, it’s very hard to visualize 1/1000 of an inch. Look around; is there anything that you can relate to 1/1000 of an inch? For example, paper is about 9 mils and a human hair is about 2/1000 of an inch or 2 Mils, but try visualizing two hairs stacked upon each other as a 4 Mil bag. This is where most people get lost; there are few things that we understand as being 1/1000 of an inch.

The best way to understand the thickness of a Mil is to use some perspective. Here are some common everyday bags and their associated Mil thicknesses:
  • A grocery store bag is 0.5 mil
  • A dry cleaning bag is 0.75 mil
  • A bread bag is 1.5 mils thick
  • A freezer bags is generally 1.75 mils
  • A retail shopping bag is usually 2 mils
Mils are sometimes listed in decimal as thousands of an inch; a 2 mil bag may be listed as .002. To convert the decimal to actual mils, simply shift the decimal over by three, .004 to 4 mils.

Choosing the Right Mil Thickness

How thick of a mil needed is dependent on the application. If you’re product is heavy or has sharp corners, it would be a wiser choice to go with a heavier gauge than lighter. Vice versa, you would not want to place food items; fruits, vegetables, etc… in a 6 mil bag. Keep in mind that the clarity of a bag is affected by the thickness. A 4 mil bag would not be a clear as a 1 mil bag.

Suggested uses;

  • 1 MIL - Economical short term storage.
  • 1.5 MIL - Lightweight protection from dirt and moisture.
  • 2 MIL - Protection for shipping and storage.
  • 3 MIL - Additional protection for hardware, nuts, bolts and industrial parts.
  • 4 MIL - heavy duty protection when packaging nails, screws, heavy sheet metal parts, etc...
  • 6 MIL - Extra heavy duty protection against punctures and tears on bulky items or items with sharp corners.

We are Plastic Bag Partners, national wholesale distributors of industrial and commercial grade bags, poly tubing, poly film and sheeting; serving both the U.S. and Canadian markets. Our goal is to provide consumers with an unsurpassed selection of top quality bags and related materials for their business needs; superior in quality while remaining extremely cost effective.


  1. Does anyone know what the relationship between a plastic bags Mil is to its recycled content--or if there is one. I'm trying to determine whether the recycled content of a bag will impact its strength.

  2. how about the thickness of vegetable oil flexible bag?


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.