Desiccant vs VCI
Published On:March 12, 2021 Revised On:March 16, 2023

Desiccant vs VCI

What is Rust?

Rust is the brownish or reddish deposits that collect over metal when it’s left under environmental conditions for over some time. The chemical composition of rust is iron oxide, resulting in the combination of iron and oxygen. Iron is a highly reactive metal and combines effortlessly with environmental oxygen. Hence, to prevent metal from rusting, measures have to be taken from contacting the air’s surrounding moisture. Protective packaging solutions such as Desiccants and VCI can help with it.

Rust Packaging Solutions

Desiccants and VCI are both protective packaging materials that use different chemistries to keep metals from corroding. Both are effective packaging solutions; however, they are not alike. They use different moisture inhibiting mechanisms and have advantages over the other, depending on the type of material, environment, and application.

Desiccants VCIs


Silica Gel is a desiccant that helps to absorb water vapour. Water molecules tend to adhere to the surface of the package under the presence of a desiccant. Just like how sand can soak up water, similarly, silica gel absorbs the water molecules towards the surface. These small packaging packs have millions of tiny pores that retain moisture. Furthermore, it adsorbs about 40% of its weight and reduces the relative humidity in a closed container. Desiccant Packs can be commonly found inside any packaging that has material vulnerable to moisture.

Since desiccants are not precisely toxic or harmful, they can be found packaged alongside food items. However, eating them might cause unpleasant health concerns that include nausea, vomiting, and headaches. When it comes to keeping things dry, Silica Gel works incredibly well. For this reason, its use is widespread. Apart from metals, it can protect paper from humidity, preserve art and display cases, slow down silver tarnishes, and much more.

VCIDesiccants VCIs

VCI or Vapor Corrosive Inhibitors are chemical compounds that inhibit the reaction of corrosion inside a package. These classes of compounds are highly efficient for ferrous and non-ferrous metals. The method involves the emission of rust-inhibiting chemicals into enclosed air space. Creating an enclosed space requires wrapping the metals with airtight packaging, typically consisting of poly film or paper. Once enclosed, the VCI molecules start to circulate the metals and inside the plastic bag.

They create an invisible layer around the metal that shares the thickness of a single molecule. Protection becomes imminent because the metal does not react to the surrounding air or moisture, the two components responsible for rust formation. Most importantly, the protective layer of the VCI compounds is not toxic or harmful during unpacking. Plus, they do not negatively affect the dexterity and condition of the metal; this makes them a better alternative to oils and grease.

Pros and Cons of Desiccants

Desiccants are sometimes used instead of VCIs as a protective solution. One of the main reasons is its diverse use. Unlike VCIs, desiccants can be used for different items apart from metals; thus, they have a universal application. Furthermore, desiccants are merely small amounts of Silica, making them much more inexpensive than the VCI method. Since they only work as dehumidifiers, you can use them if you seek a safe, clean and dry protective packaging solution. Replacement of the desiccant is required after it reaches its maximum absorption capacity. In this scenario, a desiccant becomes saturated and can release moisture back into the package space. As a result, instead of preventing corrosion, it can become the cause of corrosion.

Pros and Cons of VCIs

VCI packaging offers undeniably good prevention from corrosion, but it is only applicable to metals. Moreover, VCI products can last for years, so you do not have to worry about replacements. They are cost-efficient when comparing them to other protective packaging methods. The poly film packaging material of VCI compounds allows the metals to fit into any box or container without trouble. Besides, they do not alter or tamper with the physical properties of the metal. One can open and use the metal item right away after receiving a VCI package. Unlike oil or grease solutions, the invisible layer of the VCI compounds diminishes into the air, and it is not required to clean before using the parts.

Combination Method

VCI and Desiccants are two different protective packaging materials. Both have different functionalities and applications. However, the best method is to combine them so that they work hand in hand. The most effective packaging solution combines both products. Their independent mechanisms infuse together to create an incredible protective environment for objects. Therefore, instead of just opting for a single line of defense, you will benefit from infusing them both. The desiccant will help keep the moisture at bay. To further explain, the desiccant pulls the moisture towards the surface. By doing so, the circulating compounds have less moisture and contaminants to fight with. The outcome creates a robust and long-lasting packaging system that offers maximum protection from corrosion.

To Conclude

Protective packaging is a prerequisite for businesses and services that package and transfer material from one place to another. Protection against moisture and other corrosion-causing contaminants is essential to maintain the condition of a specific material. Metals, especially iron, are most vulnerable to corrosion (rust) due to overexposure to moisture. Therefore, choosing between VCIs and Desiccants involves certain considerations regarding the material, length of the package, and time duration. Nevertheless, the best protective measure is infusing the two products together.