The shipping crisis – Let’s absorb the risk

Container shortages, increased costs, congested ports, delays … the pandemic has put untold pressure on traders, shippers, planners and the customers and supply chains that rely on them. What’s more, it looks like we won’t be getting back to normal until mid-2022. Unfortunately, there is no magic pill to remove these headaches. But there is a way to ease some of the pain and reduce your exposure to risk – moisture protection you can really trust.

Imagine the situation: you’ve spent a lot of time and effort putting in the groundwork for the shipment of your valuable goods. You’ve got your hands on the containers you need, found the optimal sailing, negotiated the best deal and everything’s going exactly to plan. But then the ship can’t dock and your cargo spends days sitting there in hot and humid weather or with condensation pooling in the container. And even when the container finds land perhaps it joins at the end of another line waiting for the backlog to clear. At times like this, you don’t want to be sweating on whether your moisture protection measures can cope.

Get peace of mind

We believe that you should never have to worry about the risk and costs of moisture damage to your goods. Especially at a time like this when there are more difficult shipping challenges to focus on. But we’ve got you covered – our Absortech range of calcium chloride-based desiccants and moisture protection solutions gives you over 10 times the effectiveness of traditional silica-based alternatives. And we have the know-how to make implementation quick, cost-effective, hassle-free and always tailor-made for the goods you ship – making use of Peace of Moisture Mind, our step-by-step process to audit, dimension, validate, implement and improve your ideal solution.

Switching to the future

We think you could do with a helping hand during this current shipping crisis. But we also know a switch now will pay off in the long run – and far beyond 2022. Not only does 10 times the performance help you better safeguard goods and deliveries, but it also means you can reduce the weight and cost of your moisture protection going forward. And, with a lower CO2 footprint all the way to fully carbon-neutral solutions, Absortech’s range helps you sustainably build for a brighter future and a new, better normal.

You haven’t got time to worry about optimal moisture damage prevention, but that’s pretty much all we think about. So just gives us a call – we’re here to help.

Silica gel desiccants for moisture absorption – Things you need to know

Silica gel desiccants for moisture absorption: things you need to know

They’re so common that few notice them. Bags filled with a few grams of silica gel are used for moisture protection in everything from shoe boxes to packaging for electronics. The popularity of silica gel desiccants has led to few people stopping to analyse if there aren’t superior alternatives for protecting their company’s products.

If that’s you, worry not!

In this insight, we’ve done just that for you, and by investing a couple of minutes, you’ll get a grip of how your company (and the environment too) can benefit from a switch from silica gel to calcium chloride desiccants to keep your goods safe and dry.

Let’s start by going a bit technical.

How silica gel desiccants remove moisture from the air

Silica gel and calcium chloride have different ways to remove moisture from the surrounding environment. Silica gel does it by adsorption, which means that the water molecules adhere to the surface of the silica gel. The silica gel is a very porous component with a high number of voids that may contain water when needed.

Calcium chloride, on the other hand, is hygroscopic and deliquescent which means that it absorbs moisture and turns into liquid. Hygroscopic materials can reach a balance with the surrounding environment and absorb moisture when the relative humidity is higher than the EMC, which stands for Equilibrium Moisture Content (we talked about it in this insight). Absorption means that the water molecules dissolve into the calcium chloride rather than cling to the surface of it, as it does to silica gel.

The different processes affect how they perform in different environments:

  • Silica gel works well at unexceptional temperatures, while it may lose the capacity to adsorb at higher temperatures. At high temperatures, it might actually release moisture into the air.
  • Calcium Chloride has a much better performance when the relative humidity is high.
  • Calcium chloride increases its capacity to absorb water over time because the absorption process makes the moisture dissolve into the calcium chloride.
  • Due to the physical characteristics of the adsorption process, silica gel desiccants may be full up quickly. If that happens, their capacity to remove moisture remains low and very constant.

Our first conclusion is that calcium chloride performs better than silica gel in tougher conditions, especially when the relative humidity is high. These are conditions where moisture damages such as mould, bad smell, peeled labels and collapsed packaging are more likely. Calcium chloride also improves its capacity over time, which makes it very suitable for long journeys and unpredictable shipment conditions such as longer transit times.

Absorption rate: calcium chloride outstanding performance

In other insights, we have talked about the differences in performance between calcium chloride and silica gel desiccants in both climate-chamber tests and real-life conditions.

Placed in an environment with 30 degrees Celsius and 90% relative humidity during 30 days, calcium chloride can absorb over 250% of its weight. In the same conditions, silica gel stops at 25-30%. This means that calcium chloride has 10 times the capacity of silica gel to remove moisture from the air when the relative humidity (RH) is 90%. At 50% RH, the difference is less, but calcium chloride with its absorption rate of ca. 100% in these conditions still outperforms silica gel by around 20%.

These results may affect the dimensioning of a moisture damage prevention solutions in different ways. To reach the same level of absorption, you may need 10 times more silica gel desiccants than if you’d choose calcium chloride. This means you can exchange 40kg of silica gel desiccants with approximately 4kg of 94% purity calcium chloride desiccants. This reduction of resources can also lead to significant benefits for the environment, which we’ll explain further down.

The absorption rate difference between these materials is a key factor to keep in mind when you plan certain types of shipments.

During journeys with extreme conditions such as long duration journeys, routes with high differences in temperature, shipments from the South Hemisphere to the North, transport routes during rainy seasons or from/to tropical weather conditions, calcium chloride desiccants offer a safe margin that silica gel desiccants don’t. That’s because calcium chloride’s capacity to absorb moisture increases over time, while silica gel desiccants’ capacity decreases.

Silica gel desiccants’ carbon footprint is 20 times higher than calcium chloride desiccants.

The carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide and methane) that are generated by a product. There’s no question that calcium chloride outperforms silica gel in this area (in a good way).

The carbon footprint of a desiccant varies depending on factors such as:

  • Source and quantity of the raw material
  • Type of production
  • Energy used
  • Source of the energy used
  • Transport of material to production

Calculating the carbon footprint of a product is a complex procedure. But the general figures point to calcium chloride’s carbon footprint being half of silica gel’s. This is due to differences in the process of obtaining silica gel and calcium chloride respectively.

On top of this, we have to add the fact that we need 10 times as much silica gel to reach the same level of absorption as calcium chloride. The result of this is that the carbon footprint of calcium chloride desiccants is 1/20 of that of silica gel.

There are additional factors that can affect the carbon footprint of a silica gel desiccant. The amount of plastic along with the source of the plastic is one of the most important things to consider. This is because all desiccants are made of plastic:

non-woven, PE and PP. Therefore, choosing alternatives made of recycled instead of virgin plastic or with optimized accessories can affect the carbon footprint.

Because you will need 10 times more silica gel desiccants compared to calcium chloride, you will also consume 10 times more plastic. Switching to calcium chloride would reduce the waste from your operation and your carbon footprint too.

Improve your moisture protection, lower your costs and carbon footprint with us.

The time has come to thank silica gel for its long service. Because its reign as the most popular and common desiccant over decades isn’t a good argument for sticking to it. Especially not when calcium chloride is so much more efficient and sustainable. Or simply put: a superior choice for your company.

At Absortech we recommend talking about your company’s moisture protection needs with an expert in the area before making another silica gel purchase. It will most likely lead to savings in several areas.

You’re always welcome to get in touch with us to discuss your needs further.

Sé O’Leary
Sustainability & Technical Sales
Mobile : 00353-87-1677282
Office : 00353-01-6978733

Horizontal vs. vertical desiccants

Absorbopak Moisture and Condensation Damage

A vertical desiccant can be hung in the lashing rings of a container — and then forgotten about. A lot of the time that’s fine, and sometimes vertical is the only way to go when there are no flat surfaces on top of goods. But, in most situations, if you want to lower the risk of moisture damage, be more sustainable as well as cut costs then a horizontal solution is the right choice.

Let’s start by saying that we all care about our goods and preventing moisture damage. And we all want reliable and cost-efficient moisture damage prevention. That comes as standard.

But the problem with “standard” is that it can become a one-size-fits-all answer. This is where the horizontal vs. vertical debate is now. Because nowadays, horizontal often performs better than vertical.

Figure 1: Horizontal vs. Vertical – Greater surface area shows the difference in surface area between horizontal and vertical.

Figure 2: Horizontal vs. Vertical – Compacted material means less breathability shows a side-by-side comparison of how vertical desiccants are more compact due to weight, and less effective due to breathable space throughout the material.

Horizontal solutions have 20% higher absorption capacity

There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, a horizontal desiccant has a larger surface area to absorb moisture (fig. 1). And secondly a horizontal desiccant lies flat, so the desiccant isn’t compacted like vertical solutions, which in turn means it is more breathable and effective at absorbing moisture (fig. 2). That all translates into 20% higher absorption capacity — and a large increase in your safety margin.

Choose horizontal when you can

Clearly, if you don’t have a flat, horizontal surface on top of your goods then a vertical desiccant solution is the way to go. But when you have the opportunity to go horizontal then you should take it — this is how you build your safety margins as well as being more cost-efficient and sustainable with your moisture prevention strategy.

Absortech Group Whitepaper Electronics Industry

White Paper

Electronics, Telecoms and Appliances

Why slow, wet and cheap is the optimal and most sustainable way to ship electronics

Electronics are both complex and fragile products. This fact plays a big part when companies in the electronics industry make decisions about the supply chain of everything from computer motherboards to the latest generation
smartphones. The primary priority of the decision making is often to protect products from moisture damage during transport. This is where the logic goes out the window, as many companies in the electronics industry choose outdated, ineffective, or unsustainable solutions.

In this report, we’ll take you through two client cases that show that ocean freight can be sustainable, safe and cost-effective. They can be due to our innovative moisture protection solutions, that keep your sensitive products dry and safe even in the wettest conditions. We’ve had the pleasure of helping companies in the electronics industry change to a more sustainable and effective moisture damage protection solution and hope this report will convince you to do the same.

A little context before we get to it

Historically the complexity and type of electronic products have played a big part in determining the mode of transport. But the method of moisture damage prevention has also affected decision making. For electronics, these decisions are critical, as they’re so sensitive to moisture. Just a little excess moisture could result in irreparable damage or ruined packaging to huge costs. There can also be invisible damages that come to light only when the products are put to use.

These are the typical damages in the industry:

In addition to this, the transport of electronic goods keeps increasing. During the last couple of decades the import and export of electronic goods stands at an 8% annual growth, while computers and consumer electronics grow by 9% yearly. This represents 829 billion¹ USD and 189 billion USD respectively in global imports.

¹Trade in electronic components drives growth in technology goods, UNCTAD, published 11 March 2019. Available here:

Figure 1. Global imports of ICT goods, billion USD, by product category

We’ve found that the product characteristics and some general beliefs have been allowed to dictate the choice of moisture damage prevention solution of electronic goods transport. This has led to solutions that are environmentally questionable or inefficient, such as air freight or to use silica gel pouches during sea freight. Let’s take a closer look at these alternatives:

Shipping by air: the unsustainable method

Products with a high value to weight or volume ratio are usually shipped by air. These are goods with a high capacity to bear the costs of air transport, such as semiconductors and other lightweight high-value electronics such as mobile phones. Shipping by air is also the most common solution when just-in-time material management and inventory minimization is prioritized.

According to the EESI, the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, aviation² produced 2,4 percent of total CO₂ emissions in 2018. If aviation were a country, it would rank number six in the world between Japan and Germany in terms of CO₂ emissions. The percentage is expected to triple by 2050, given the projected growth of air travel and freight.

Air freight generates 47 times as much greenhouse gas emissions as ocean freight. Therefore, shipping by air is an unsustainable way to transport goods. An electronic manufacturing company should replace air shipments with ocean freight to reduce carbon emissions and improve sustainability levels.


Shipping by sea with the use of silica gel pouches: the inefficient method

Consumer electronics such as computers and printers that have a relatively low value compared to the product volume, together with longer product obsolescence cycles, are most likely shipped by sea.

For ocean freight, those electronics are often protected from corrosion with silica gel pouches. Silica gel, as we explain in our Insight “Benefits of exchanging silica gel for AbsorGel®”, has less absorption capacity than other desiccant solutions. This fact makes it necessary to place larger quantities of silica gel desiccants in the container to obtain the right level of protection, which means more plastics and resources are needed.

The environmental impact of your decisions matter

To maintain activities and solutions with a high environmental impact, while the world is urging to produce, transport and live in a more sustainable way, isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. And some supply chain, export and sustainability experts from electronic companies are on the hunt for alternative moisture damage prevention methods. They’re looking for solutions that can help their companies reduce the environmental impact of their supply chain activities, in addition to avoiding moisture damages and saving on logistic costs.

Those companies share a couple of common concerns in their search for sustainable alternatives:

  • The alternative solutions are ineffective and excess moisture can damage expensive products.
  • Alternative products such as calcium chloride desiccants could risk damaging the products as liquids containing salt would cause corrosion.

The second concern is a general belief unfortunately widespread in the sector. Absortech has proven that AbsorGel® is an efficient and trusted solution to prevent moisture damages during sea transport of electronic and telecom products and appliances. It’s not a matter of belief but a matter of fact.

Read our two case studies to get a full picture of what your company can achieve with AbsorGel®.

Case Study 1

From silica gel in-box desiccants to AbsorGel® container desiccants

Big corporations’ decisions often follow guidelines set on a corporate basis when it comes to supply chain or logistics. Due to the characteristics of these companies, the guidelines are difficult to change and/or improve.

Regularly, we find well-known companies with transport guidelines 20-year-old, that recommend moisture damage prevention solutions that are outdated. These handbooks don’t incorporate the latest solutions, that are more efficient and offer a reduced environmental impact. It’s also common that no one is even responsible for researching better solutions.

To change an outdated solution such as a silica gel in-box desiccant to an AbsorGel® Blanket desiccant can help your company achieve:

  • 93% less carbon footprint
  • 40% less plastics used
  • 54% cost savings

Why silica gel in-box protection is not the best protection for electronics shipments.

Silica gel pouches are a common moisture damage prevention solution for companies that ship products via ocean freight. Silica gel might have been a good choice 30 years ago, when there were no alternatives in the market. Luckily, that is no longer the case.

Using silica gel (or clay pouches) to protect products from moisture damages requires installing small pouches of desiccants inside every single packaging. In some cases, this solution is the only possible and effective one. But in most cases, companies can exchange those individual pouches with a container solution. Of course, you could exchange silica gel pouches for calcium chloride pouches, but it’s good to look at the following picture to
understand why container protection helps keep a safer environment for your goods:

To exchange silica gel with a container solution is more efficient. But it’s also a more sustainable solution that can help reduce the environmental impact of the shipping process. Let’s see the impact in a real example.

One of the most important electronic companies in the world used to install silica pouches in every box of electronic products they shipped from Asia to America. Following their supply chain guidelines, they installed a 25 grams silica gel pouch in every box. That helped them absorb around 4 liters of water per container per shipment.

The silica pouches had to protect their goods for the 40 to 50 days that the journey took. However, they often found damaged packaging when the containers arrived at their destination. The silica gel did not provide sufficient protection for their shipments, endangering the proper functioning of their products

In-box protection vs. container protection.

The green area represents the environment where relative humidity is under safe levels.

Pouches help keep the humidity low inside the box. In-box protection does not avoid that the moisture level inside
a container increases, causing condensation and eventually damaging the packaging.

On the other hand, container desiccants absorb the excess moisture inside the container and create a safe environment for the cargo, making it unnecessary to use any in-box protection at all in most cases.


Easier installation and efficient moisture damage prevention

Absortech experts proposed that they replace their traditional silica gel pouches with a container desiccant solution, AbsorGel® Blanket-X 2,0. Two such desiccant blankets can absorb 10 liters of water. Together with the company’s logistics experts, Absortech performed an AbsorTest™ with the goal to check the desiccant performance and propose desiccant dimensioning tailored to their conditions. Several 20ft containers were loaded with electronic products and two units of AbsorGel® Blanket-X 2,0 were installed in each container.

The installation of the AbsorGel® Blanket-X 2,0 was fast and easy and allowed the company to continue to load their containers without interruption, since the blankets lie on top of the cargo.

The solution helps them prevent condensation and reduces moisture that can enter the packaging from the outside air. They kept the relative humidity at harmless levels for their products, and after a 40-day journey, the desiccants still had absorption capacity left to meet the challenge of unexpected delays, longer journeys or more challenging moisture conditions.

In addition, the container desiccants helped them prevent moisture and damage to cartons and other packaging materials.

But is it a more cost-efficient or more sustainable solution?

Yes, it is. Based on market prices for silica gel pouches and the cost of AbsorGel® Blanket-X 2,0, the costs savings for the protection of a 20 ft container is approximately 54%.

SILICA GEL 650 25 16,25 25% 4,06
ABSORGEL 650 4 250% 10 54%

But more important than the costs savings are the environmental savings. They’re measured by the amount of plastics saved together with the amount of CO₂ footprint generated by desiccants.

The amount of plastics and packaging materials used to protect one single container was reduced by 40%. Silica gel protection for a 20 ft container can amount to 480 grams of plastics, while an AbsorGel® Blanket X- 2,0 contains 288 grams of plastics.

A yearly shipment of 2 000 containers means saving 384 kg of plastic per year.

Two facts have an impact on the quantity of CO₂ emitted by each desiccant solution. The first fact is that silica gel desiccant has a CO₂ footprint 2 to 3 times higher than calcium chloride as a result of the way it is produced and sourced. The second fact is that you need less amount of calcium chloride than silica gel desiccant to get efficient protection for the cargo.

Considering that the CO₂ footprint of silica gel pouches is approximately 44 kg per single container protection, and the CO₂ footprint of two units of AbsorGel® Blanket-X 2,0 is 3,07 kg per single container protection, the environmental savings, measured as the carbon footprint – the CO₂ emitted to the atmosphere are up to 93%.

This means changing from silica gel in-box protection to AbsorGel® container desiccants lead to:

  • 93% less carbon footprint
  • 40% less plastics used
  • 54% cost savings

To sum up, why choose silica gel in-box protection when you can save 93% of the emissions of your moisture damage prevention solution per year?

Case Study 2

From shipping by air to shipping by ocean freight

As we stated in our introduction, air freight generates 47 times as much greenhouse gas emissions as ocean freight. It’s still the choice of many companies when shipping extremely sensitive electronic products, because it avoids all types of moisture damage.

But is there an alternative?

Of course there is. Ocean freight transport with the right protection from moisture damages. We have proved this alternative is safe through cooperation with companies that trust us with their sensitive and expensive products. The key in these cases is to find the right dimensioning and the right choice of desiccant for each product, packaging and shipment. This ensures that the relative humidity levels remain at safe levels for the products during the entire journey.

Shipping by ocean freight is not only cheaper – airfreight can be 6 to 12 times more expensive than ocean freight – but also more sustainable than shipping by air.

Imagine a company shipping 10 tons of goods from Shanghai to Rotterdam. Switching from air to ocean freight, the company could save up to USD 9 500 in direct costs – from 17 500 USD to 8 000 USD with only a small investment of 75 to 125 USD per container in AbsorGel® desiccants, to keep their cargo safe from moisture damages.

Even larger than the costs savings are the savings in the environmental footprint. The transport of 10 tonnes of goods by air generates 106 662 kg of CO₂ emissions that are released into the atmosphere. Sea freight only emits 2 912 kg of CO₂ for the same weight of goods and the same journey.

AbsorGel® is a win-win solution for companies and for the environment. AbsorGel® can help reach approximately:

  • 97% less carbon footprint
  • 54% cost savings

To sum up

For many years, companies that ship electronics, appliances or telecom goods have chosen transport modes like air freight and moisture damage prevention solutions such as silica gel in-box desiccants to prevent moisture damages. These solutions have shown to be inefficient and have a high environmental impact. Eventually, companies have begun to look for new solutions.

Absortech Group has helped companies switch from air freight to ocean freight without risking moisture damage to their products thanks to AbsorGel® container desiccants. We’ve also helped companies switch from traditional in-box desiccants to AbsorGel® container desiccants. The benefits of that switch has been better protection, costs savings, logistics and the reduction of CO₂ emissions and plastics use.

Changing from a traditional solution or airfreight to AbsorGel® container desiccants is good for your company and also a relief for the environment.

Would you like to take the step?

Contact us for Peace of Moisture Mind®.

Absortech helps you prevent moisture damage during transport. Our promise is to protect your brand, increase your savings and lower the environmental footprint of your logistics processes. We are a pioneer in moisture damage prevention with headquarters in Sweden. Since 1996, we have been offering a wide range of inhouse developed and produced desiccants made from calcium chloride. Peace of Moisture Mind® is our moisture damage prevention
concept, which includes steps like audits, tests and global supply chain solutions. We are committed to base our operations on sustainable principles and help businesses like yours implement sustainable solutions to prevent moisture damage.


The First Carbon Neutral Desiccant

Absorpole is the first carbon-neutral container desiccant made with recycled plastic and low CO2 footprint calcium chloride. The sustainable choice for your company.

How do our products help?

Moisture Damage

Did you know that approximately 10% of all containerised goods are discarded by moisture related damages? This is an incredibly large amount that goes to waste, not only causing large economic losses but also affecting our nature.

Container rain?

Container rain is caused by changes in temperature, which occur when vessels pass different climate zones. A container that is loaded in a tropical environment, for example in Hong Kong, where the air is warm and humid, and then shipped to, for example, Scandinavia, where temperatures are far cooler, will most likely suffer from cargo damage caused by container rain – if the container is not protected against moisture.

How do our products help?

Our desiccants are designed specifically to be used in containers, and we offer an extensive range of products that cover almost any kind of moisture control requirements. All of our products are adapted to the harsh treatment a container goes through; such as temperature and humidity fluctuations, rough handling, and long transport times. For quality assurance, we rigorously test all our products to ensure they can stand up to these adverse conditions.

Some of our Products


Absorpole is based on the proven ability of calcium chloride to aggressively remove moisture from the air.

Absorpole is easy to use and is designed to hang within the corrugated recess of the container wall. Its flush fitting means minimal space is occupied and accidental damage from forklifts during stuffing and un-stuffing is avoided.

More Info


Absortop is specifically designed for use in bulk containers and fully loaded containers. Its high performance and long lasting absorption rate offers efficient protection for long shipments.

More Info


The Absorgel – Blanket is a simple and safe product in the form of a gel pad. It absorbs moisture. Cover (the product) is made of recyclable PE-film which prevents moisture release. Material is non aging and heat resistant. The absorbed water is bound into a gel so no liquid water is formed, which prevents leakage.

More Info

Click the Shop tab above to view our whole range!

Why use AbsorboPak?

How effective are different desiccants?

  • Different desiccants are based on different substances with different capabilities to absorb moisture.
  • When choosing your desiccants it is important to know that different substances have different characteristics.
  • One important factor is the ability to absorb moisture in relation to its own weight which is shown in the graph
  • Other factors are absorption rate at different levels of relative humidity and the risk for re-evaporation.

What Causes Moisture Damage?

Moisture damage is caused by:

  • Condensation
    • In the ceiling and the walls of the container (Container Rain)
    • On the cargo (Cargo Sweat)
  • Prolonged periods of elevated humidity
  • Condensation takes place on the coldest available surface, often in the container ceiling
  • Liners protect against container rain, but not against humidity

Moisture damage destroys up to 12% of shipped cargo

No matter what anybody else tells you, if you are storing any items in a standard shipping container that is placed outside and exposed to the normal European elements, you are susceptible to condensation occurring inside the container, which will more often than not collect on the ceiling. What causes this? A standard shipping container is just a metal box which is quickly affected by ambient temperature changes. When the container is warm, the atmosphere inside the container can become humid. This humidity can materialise from a variety of sources such as water or moisture being trapped in the cargo.

From rust and mould, to damaged packing and odour; the effects of moisture damage are unpredictable – and costly. It is estimated that moisture damage directly affects up to 12% of all ruined cargo. However, it can be prevented. ABSOROPAK offers a range of products to protect your cargo from the effects of moisture damage. Minimise RISK and PROTECT YOUR INVESTMENT with ABSORBOPAK. We provide products to meet your needs, we have moisture control for many different types of container and cargo. With AbsorGel, AbsorPole, AbsorBlanket and more we can eliminate the 12% of product you are losing during shipping. Long or short haul, our range of products will protect your cargo. With only 4 poles in a standard 20 foot shipping container, or 6 for a 40 foot container it is incredibly easy to remove the moisture from the cargo. These will need to be replaced periodically. Expiration varies depending on the type and condition of the goods/equipment you are storing, the weather conditions and the number of times you will open and shut the doors.

Watch this video on how easy it is to install the Absorpole