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The Types and Uses of Desiccant in Businesses Who Package ESD Sensitive Products

Each year, billions of pounds worth of electronics are manufactured, packaged, and shipped to retailers around the globe. Every step of this process must be handled as carefully as possible to avoid damage or loss. This is why companies use a wide range of packaging materials and desiccant bags to reduce the risk of damage from moisture and humidity.

What Is Desiccant?

Dessicant Bags | Bondline

A desiccant is a material that absorbs moisture. As it attracts and absorbs moisture, it has a drying or dehumidifying effect. When this happens, moisture in the surrounding air is removed, which prevents it from damaging other objects in close proximity.

Most desiccants have the appearance of small crystals or stones, but they are typically placed inside small, secure bags to ensure they do not leak or cause damage to surrounding items.

Desiccants are used for a wide variety of purposes, but they are routinely added to packaging to prevent the goods in transit from being damaged by humidity or moisture. By placing a desiccant bag inside packaging, moisture from the air is absorbed by the desiccant, rather than negatively affecting the product. Desiccants are typically used in the pharmaceutical, electronics, food and manufacturing industries.

Similarly, desiccant bags provide protection from humidity and moisture when products are kept in storage. An electrical item might be manufactured and packaged before being shipped to a warehouse or retailer, where it will remain in storage for weeks or months until it is sold and dispatched to a consumer. During this time, moisture in the air could cause significant damage to the product, but the presence of a desiccant bag prevents this from happening and ensures the product remains in optimal condition.

Popular Types of Desiccants

As there are many different types of desiccants, it’s important to choose the right desiccant bags to protect your products. Here, we take a look at some of the most popular types of desiccants used in packaging for product protection:

Silica Gel

Made from silicon dioxide, silica gel is a popular desiccant and is often placed in packaging alongside clothes, accessories, electronics, and even food items. Silica gel typically has a good rate of absorption, which makes it an effective way to protect products in transit or storage. However, it has a relatively low absorptive capacity at low H20 concentrations compared to other desiccants.

Silica gel can be used alone in desiccant bags or coated in cobalt chloride. This added coating acts as a humidity indicator; it changes colour to indicate when water has been absorbed. Alternatively, standard silica gel can be used alongside a humidity indicator card to determine the moisture content of the surrounding air.

Silica Gel Desiccant Bags - Bondline


Clay desiccant bags typically use either bentonite or montmorillonite to absorb moisture, both of which are non-toxic and relatively eco-friendly. Activated clay desiccants are highly effective at removing moisture from the air and can be used to dehumidify and protect a wide range of products, including electricals, machinery, military equipment, clothing, and accessories.

As clay desiccants will release moisture back into the air at high temperatures, they can effectively be reused. For example, heating clay desiccant will enable it to release the moisture it’s previously absorbed. The desiccant can then be re-used in average temperatures to once again absorb moisture. While this offers advantages in certain applications, it should be noted that it makes clay less effective as a desiccant at temperatures exceeding 50°C.

Clay desiccant is widely used in military industries, precision instrument machinery, electric and metal products, pharmaceutical, clothing and foodstuff leather. Some types of clay desiccants are packed in cleanroom compatible, sulphur-free Tyvek bags for use in the electronic industry.

Molecular Sieve

Also known as synthetic zeolite, molecular sieve is a highly effective desiccant and is capable of absorbing moisture at a slightly higher rate than either silica gel or clay. Furthermore, its performance remains stable when there are relatively low humidity levels or when the temperature rises. Due to this, molecular sieve can be an effective desiccant when items are transported or stored through extremes of temperature.

However, the fact that molecular sieve is synthetically produced means that it’s typically more expensive than silica gel or clay. As most products don’t need to be protected from excessively high temperatures, few businesses choose to use molecular sieve desiccant bags due to the enhanced costs.

Which Desiccant Should You Use?

There are many factors to consider when determining which desiccant to use but, for most purposes, it comes down to clay desiccant vs silica gel. As both of these desiccants have similar absorption rates at regular temperatures, good performance can be achieved with either silica gel desiccants or clay desiccant bags. As clay desiccant contains bentonite clay, it is a more economical type of desiccant than silica gel or molecular sieves.

When you’re deciding which desiccant to use in product packaging, consider where these packages will be stored and/or transported to determine what temperatures they’re likely to be exposed to. This will enable you to determine whether silica gel, clay, or molecular sieve is the most appropriate choice.

Of course, businesses and manufacturers must also ensure that the desiccant bags they use are cost-effective and economical. For this reason, clay desiccant is often the most popular option. Generally, clay desiccant bags are more cost-effective, which enables companies to protect products from moisture and humidity at a lower cost. When combined with its enhanced performance and reliability, it’s easy to see why clay desiccants are routinely used in product packaging.

Where to Buy Desiccant

If you’re looking for desiccants that can be added to product packaging to protect items from moisture and humidity, our range of desiccant bags is exactly what you need. Capable of absorbing up to 30% of their weight, our clay desiccant bags offer an effective and inexpensive way to protect products from moisture and mould. Furthermore, its efficacy as a static desiccant makes clay an ideal choice for ESD packaging.

Combining our desiccant bags with humidity indicator cards provides an effective way to protect products, reduce moisture levels, and monitor performance. By giving you the resources you need to safeguard ESD sensitive and electrical products, we make it easy to find the most effective desiccant bags for your needs.

To learn more, explore our range of desiccant bags now, get in touch with our team on +44 (0) 1793 511000 or email us at sales@bondline.co.uk.

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Chloé Warlow
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