• QA 004
    Should desiccants (or dry-sacs) be used in containers or not ?
    Some receivers prohibit the use of desiccants or dry-bags in containers, yet others do permit them. Shipping lines sometimes use desiccants on their own initiative.
    Asked by:
    An exporter in the Caribbean

    If a desiccant packet (dry-bag) breaks and the contents spill over the bags, then a chemical analysis of the desiccant may be required before the coffee can be accepted as fit for human consumption.   Some desiccants may contain chemicals that should not be used in combination with foodstuffs as coffee. Or, they may contain too much of a particular chemical, for example Calcium Chloride. Also, some types of desiccants may leak if full absorption capacity is reached.

    But, there are areas in the world where humidity is high and some receivers then stipulate the use of specific types of desiccants in their purchase contracts, for example for shipments during the European winter season.  Some shipping lines also use desiccants for LCL (less than container load) shipments of coffee in bags, basically for self-protection.

    To note that the term 'drying agents' is also encountered but this is factually wrong in that desiccants do not dry things: they absorb moisture from the atmosphere.

    Desiccants are rarely used for bulk shipments where the risk of condensation damage is very much lower.

    Go to 05.02 for more on condensation issues, particularly 05.02.03 (Link below)..

    Visit for example www.desiccant.com for more information on desiccants or dry-bags.  Visit also www.containerhandbuch.de  for a general overview of containers and how to use them.   Other useful information is at www.maersk.com.

    Posted 3 December 2004

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