Drying Agent

You may be familiar with the small packets that prevent moisture and are commonly found in packages and boxes wrapped for shipping. They are called drying agents or desiccants, and they are virtually ubiquitous items in industry and commerce, not to mention everyday life. Although undoubtedly essential in our day-to-day activities, the use of a drying agent requires adherence to a few basic principles.

The drying agent definition

A drying agent in the form of a desiccant is a hygroscopic substance that works to dry a limited area in its immediate vicinity. They are commonly used in a container that is sealed to a moderate degree. The desiccants that you find in packages are typically in solid pellet or grain form, and they work on the principle of either absorption or adsorption in dealing with moisture. In some cases, you may also encounter a drying agent that performs a combination of the two actions.

The purpose of a drying agent

The main purpose of the pre-packaged drying agent is to remove excess humidity that would usually cause a degradation of products that are sensitive to moisture. Some of the most commonly used drying agents are:
Aside from packages, a drying agent may also be used in insulated windows where it is commonly placed inside the area between the air space and the edge of the window. When used in this manner, a drying agent can help reduce incidences of condensation between the window panes.

Drying agent qualities

There are many qualities of a drying agent that determine its feasibility for specific applications. Some of the factors that have to be taken into consideration are:
A particular drying agent may be chosen for a specific task not only for its effectiveness at drying, but also for its toxicity. In this regard, a drying agent may be deemed suitable for the job if it has the ability to repel or eliminate bacteria, fungus, and/or other contaminants. In the same way, a drying agent can be chosen because of its non-toxicity to humans. A drying agent that has all these qualities is ideally suited for use in packaging food products.

A drying agent may also be chosen based on its chemical reactivity–or non-reactivity–for that matter. Since a drying agent is normally used for food preservation purposes, the most suitable types for this application are those that are chemically stable or inert. The typical drying agent that falls into this category is typically made of silica gel, chalk or clay-based materials.

A drying agent may also be chosen based on its performance. For determining these qualities, the efficiency of the drying agent to store water is measured in terms of ratio or percentage relative to the mass of the drying agent material.

Finally, the choice of a particular drying agent is commonly determined based on the relative humidity of the immediate environment. This will allow users to determine which drying agent is best suited for a particular package.

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