Desiccants are most effective when used within a sealed moisture barrier package or in a rigid, sealed container. A controlled environment is essential to allow for the optimal absorption of any trapped water vapours inside the packaging.
In the event with a large amount of new moisture from the outer environment starts getting inside the container or packaging, desiccants as moisture control products will not ensure the best results. For optimum humidity control, it is advisable best to use a humidity indicator card in conjunction with desiccants.
The humidity indicator card placed inside the packaging helps the user to monitor the humidity levels. Once there is a change in colour, it is an indication to replace the desiccant. There are a wide variety of products that helps with moisture control; therefore, it is crucial to pick the right desiccant.
Different Desiccant for Different Conditions
The quantity and type of desiccants required will depend on the volume of the sealed container. The packaging material used is also a factor to decide on the type of desiccants that will be most effective.
Apart from choosing these considerations, the most critical component is the quantity of moisture that requires absorptions and the rate of the absorption process in the packaging. Overall storage and shipping conditions impact the results as well, along with humidity and temperature requirements of the product.
Generally, the type of desiccant can significantly impact its absorption rate capacity and cost. Activated clay has a lower absorption, offering 28% by weight absorption capacity. Silica gel, on the other hand, is a moderate desiccant with a medium absorption capacity by weight at 38%. Molecular Sieve Fast is an active desiccant offering the highest absorption rate capacity by weight at 20%.
There are various desiccant products in the market, including activated carbon, silica gel, molecular sieve and calcium sulfate. All of them are effective for different places and different purposes. However, the trick is in exactly knowing which desiccant is the right kind for use in each scenario.
For example, salt is a conventional desiccant; however, in metal objects, it can lead to corrosion issues when contacted. Therefore salt is not recommended for use together with metal objects.
How Are Desiccants Used?
The desiccants operate on the single principle that is to absorb moisture from the atmosphere. The term absorption refers to weak intermolecular forces. They are also known as drying agents that can work to facilitate multiple layers of absorption by attracting thin moisture molecule layers from the air to their surfaces. Some of these products follow the mechanism of capillary condensation with small pores. These pores eventually get full of water molecules.
The Utility Of Desiccant Products
Desiccants are great to use in conditions with low evaporation rate and high humidity in the surrounding atmosphere. Desiccants are also well known as dehumidifiers because they are excellent in absorbing an excessive quantity of moisture present in the air, helping to keep the air dry.
Transportation of Goods
There are commercially developed desiccants that are often used together in the packaging while shipping products. Products shipped over long distances often faced with temperature changes and moisture-related issues.
Activated Carbon Desiccants
Carbon is well known for its characteristic to extract impurities. One of the several significant qualities of using activated carbon as a desiccant is the elimination of any foul odour in the enclosed container or packaging, such as basements, garages, and storerooms.
Desiccants are useful in commercial setups, and they are equally crucial for protecting any of the domestic products. For example, pulses, spices, and other food items that may get rotten if exposed to moisture. If these items come in contact with any moisture, it can lead to the generation of germs and the formation of lumps.
Many people have been using rice as one of the natural desiccant sources to prevent damage to the food items. Putting a small quantity of rice in a spice jar will protect the spice from getting soaked in moisture for a longer duration. Similarly, salt is another effective natural desiccant.
Some highly sensitive chemicals will react to form compounds if they come into contact with moisture. Therefore, it is critical to use the right desiccants for storage of chemicals.
Five Everyday Uses of Desiccants
Here are five of the most common uses of desiccants for everyday life.
Drying Out Electronics
If by accident a phone is damaged by water, using desiccants is an option alternatively to a hairdryer. The intense heat from the dryer may damage the electronics. Remove the memory card, SIM card, and battery out of the device and put them in an airtight container filled with as many desiccants as possible. Seal the packaging tightly and leave it overnight. Silica gel or molecular sieves are recommended desiccants for such scenarios.
Desiccants can be used in gym bags as they prevent odours, mildew, and mould. Gym clothing and towels can smell after prolonged use. Keeping a small quantity of desiccant in a gym bag will help improve this problem.
Slowdown Silverware or Jewelry Tarnishing
Although using a desiccant will remove moisture from the air, it cannot prevent the tarnishing of silver jewellery or silverware. Still, it will slow down the entire process drastically.
Preventive Measure against Rusting
Rusted tools are the worst nightmare for mechanics. A desiccant can help absorb moisture in the surrounding atmosphere that may otherwise harm the tools.
Storage in Basement
Basements are notoriously known for being the dampest places in a house. Therefore if a household has a storage area in the basement, having a couple of container desiccants in the storage compartments will protect it from moisture present in the air.