People often confuse Silica Gel desiccants with VCIs (Volatile Corrosion Inhibitor). In truth, a desiccant is a type of corrosion inhibitor, using similar technology as VCI paper, plastics, and breathers. Both are used to prevent corrosion during shipping and storage. The chemistries of both, however, work differently. Depending on the application, environment, and length of protection, companies need to figure out what type of corrosion inhibitor they need the most. Silica gel desiccants work better in small confined spaces or sensitive metal corners.
What are Desiccants?
The function of desiccants or silica gel bags is to absorb and retain moisture from its confined environment and prevent it from reacting with any metal surface. This is basically what all desiccant products do, and that is, absorb the moisture in its airspace. As more moisture passes into the space that is being protected, the desiccant will eventually become saturated and can no longer inhibit corrosion by moisture.
When a desiccant has reached its capacity and is fully saturated with moisture, the desiccant must be removed and replaced. The full desiccant can be placed under the sun to dry it out so it can be reused again. Desiccant silica gels are usually orange or red and will change to green when the gel is saturated with moisture. The colour change is easily observed because each silica gel desiccant bag comes with an observation window.
Advantages of Using Silica Gel Desiccants
- They are inexpensive – Silica gel desiccant bags can come in small sizes such as 100g, and can also be in 500g and 1 kg bags. Not only are they very affordable, but they can be reused over and over again.
- They are clean, dry, and environmentally safe – Silica gel is harmless because it is just silica or silicon dioxide, the same material found in quartz. It is essentially just porous sand.
- They are easy to use and can save on labour costs – Just place the silica gel bags where they are needed and leave them there. No need to use anti-rust oils or tapes that need to be applied and removed with much labour and time.
- They present no health concerns – Silica gel is just solidified silicone dioxide in granular form. It is known to be harmless, which is why you see it used with food products and medicines.
Other VCI Products
VCI products such as paper, plastics, and breathers slowly emit a corrosion preventative compound that protects metal surfaces. With VCI plastics and VCI paper, the surface of the product itself is already an inhibitor when wrapped around metal. Although more practical and inexpensive than using anti-rust tapes or oils, there could be metal parts or nooks that the paper or plastic cannot reach, such as small spaces, tool boxes, etc., and accessible only by silica gel bags.
Omni-tuff VCI Products and Silica Gels
The good news is that Omni-tuff, the leader in maintaining and preserving products and materials in transit or storage, has silica gel desiccants available, as well as VCI paper and long-term plastic. For instance, a load of metal equipment parts can be wrapped in VCI plastic, and inside or in between the packs, silica gel desiccants can be placed. Whatever product you choose, Omni-tuff can help you with any corrosion prevention needs. Omni-tuff can analyse your current state of corrosion management and work with you to implement the best and most cost-effective solution. For more information or to request for a full quote, visit Omni-tuff at https://omnituff.com/.