Keeping metal parts clean and rust-free while they are in process, in storage, or in shipping and transport is a battle worth fighting. It can save a manufacturer the resources required to rework, scrap, or replace rusted parts and, in turn, save time, money, and reputation. The first step in preventing corrosion of metal parts is identifying the cause – most often, moisture, humidity, and condensation are at the top of the list. Desiccants are made of materials that remove moisture and humidity and they offer an easy solution to preventing the damage of rust and corrosion.

What is a Desiccant?

Desiccants are drying agents that are used to “trap” moisture and control humidity levels in an enclosed space such as packaging, boxes, totes, or shipping containers. They are made from hygroscopic substances such as silica, certain types of clay, or calcium chloride, that attract and hold moisture from the environment to create or maintain a state of dryness. These substances appear to have one solid surface, typically in the form of small beads, granules, crystals, or pellets. But, when they are magnified, you see that the surface of these drying agents is very porous, which explains why they can hold a large percentage of their weight in moisture.

How Do Desiccants Work?

Most desiccants work using adsorption, a process where moisture adheres to but does not penetrate, the porous surface of the desiccant. It’s like a magnet for moisture – when the surrounding environment is humid, the moisture in the air sticks to the surface of the desiccant like a magnet sticks to metal. In addition, a few desiccants do exist that operate through absorption (the process of a substance being drawn up or taken into the inner structure of an absorbent material) similar to a sponge, but they are less common.

How are Desiccants Used in Shipping and Storage?

Desiccants act as dehumidifiers; they adsorb excess moisture from the air and reduce humidity levels in an enclosed space. For metal parts packaged in boxes, bins, crates, or, shipping and storage containers, a desiccant can be essential to preserving their appearance and functionality. Desiccants ensure that metal parts remain in optimal condition and eliminate the expense of reworking or scrapping damaged metal parts or the need for additional rust-prevention interventions.

Desiccants are available in a variety of pre-packaged forms (packets, packs, pouches, bags) and sizes, making them simple to use. They can easily be placed directly into packaging or storage containers without special training or complicated instructions. Some of the most common uses of desiccant in keeping metal parts clean, dry, and rust-free include:

  • Packaging: Desiccant packs or packets can be inserted in the packaging of metal parts to maintain low humidity levels and help prevent moisture-related corrosion.
  •  Finished Parts Storage: Desiccants can be positioned within storage bins, covered racks, or shelves where finished metal parts are held before assembly or shipping to maintain a dry environment.
  • Pallets: Desiccants can be added to pallets of metal parts before they are wrapped to reduce the risk of rust during storage or shipment.
  • Shipping Containers: Desiccant packs or bags can be included to remove moisture and protect metal parts during transport, especially when shipments are exposed to differing climates and levels of humidity.
  • Warehouse Storage: Desiccant bags can be included in storage containers to control moisture while metal parts are stored – especially in manufacturing plants or warehouses with highly humid conditions.

ARMOR Desiccant Options

ARMOR offers several options to manage moisture, humidity, and the risk of damage due to corrosion that could threaten your metal parts or components. Take a look at ARMOR Shield® Desiccants and ARMOR’s exclusive VCI and desiccant combo, the SMARTY PAK™, or contact us to learn more about ARMOR desiccant products.