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Using silica gel to protect cameras alone may not be enough

For those who are passionate about photography, or for a professional, the care with which photographic equipment is stored is a fundamental element. Preserving it carefully in its case, perhaps with a couple of sachets of silica gel inside, so as to keep it protected from knocks and unaffected by humidity and mold is often the practice.

But this operation is not said to be sufficient to protect the lenses and the camera body in the long term.

Leaving all photographic equipment inside the bag or carrying case for long periods when not in use can prove to be a common but rather detrimental mistake for the optics. The bag itself, in fact, could release any moisture that may be forfeited which is slowly poured onto the equipment contained inside.

If we store bags and backpacks in wardrobes or drawers, even if the air exchange is minimal, the camera and the lenses will remain exposed in a closed environment with too high a relative humidity.

The damage is done and the result is the formation of mold and spores on the lenses and possible corrosion on the metal parts of the camera body.

Moisture on optics creates mold and mildew

Even the creation of dedicated environments, obtained inside well-lined furniture or cabinets to protect the optics from possible knocks, does not guarantee protection from humidity and condensation, with the risk of mold and mildew formation.

Let’s see what are some small but useful tricks that can help protect lenses and machines together with the use of silica gel desiccant sachets.

Use suitable containers

The best solution, when you don’t use your own equipment, is always to remove it from the bag and place it in a plastic box with a lid together with the silica gel bags. The more airtight the box is, the better the dehydrating action of the desiccant sachets will be.

Use sealed boxes together with silica gel sachets to protect lenses and machines

In some cases, the use of simple glass jars with a spring cap and rubber seal (commonly used for preserves or food) has been reported to be used to insert objectives of not excessive dimensions (type 55-300). They are truly excellent because they guarantee an optimal seal.

Use new or regenerated silica gel correctly

Sometimes the silica gel sachets do not seem to work adequately in protecting the camera and lenses from humidity, or they seem to run out immediately. This depends mainly on two factors:

  • The insulation of the environment is not optimal: the boxes or bags in which the equipment is stored are not adequately insulated from external humidity and the air that continues to flow reintroduces humidity, depleting the dehydrating capacity of the bags very quickly.
  • The desiccant sachets are already used up before using them: often for convenience the sachets, especially those in small weights, are recovered from other packaging such as bags, shoes, etc..

It is essential that the silica gel sachets, before being reused, are checked and, if necessary, regenerated. What does it mean? If we use sachets that are already exhausted, i.e. already completely “loaded with humidity”, they will no longer be able to dry or keep the environment in which they are placed dry.

To verify their condition, we will have to weigh them to verify how much the weight is higher than the initial one (they are depleted at about 20% more than the original weight), and if necessary, regenerate them in a normal or microwave oven. On the other hand, if the sachets are new and sealed, perhaps with the addition of a humidity indicator that signals the status as in the case of indicating sachets, we can directly place them in the container together with the lenses or camera body to be protected from humidity.

Envelopes of silica gel indicating protects lenses and cameras from humidity and condensation

Use the right amount of silica gel

For small, well-sealed containers with single objectives, small sachets of silica gel can be functional, for example 5 g, which take up little space and have to work in a very limited space. In reality, it is always advisable to overestimate the quantity and size of the desiccant sachets to be used in sealed containers in order to truly have the certainty of an adequate dehydrating action and protection from humidity.

We are in fact talking about a “drying” action, which is based on the silica gel’s specific ability to bind and keep the water molecules to itself, but which by its nature has a saturation point beyond which its action is runs out.

For this the greater the amount of silica gel used, the longer it will take for it to run out, always in optimal conditions (i.e. no passage of air from the container in which it is inserted to the external environment). For small or medium-sized containers, standard silica gel sachets from 20 to 60 g may already be sufficient.

Standard silica gel pouches to protect lenses and cameras from moisture

Check often, at least initially, how well the sachets work

Once the boxes or jars are well sealed sides, and positioned lenses, camera bodies and silica gel sachets it is important, at least in the first period, to check how much they are absorbing by weighing them. This makes it possible to understand if the solution found is correct, and allows us to intercept the envelopes before they have exhausted their action, and then replace or regenerate them.

If, on the other hand, you choose to use the Indicating sachets, it will be sufficient to check the color of the silica gel contained in the sachet, which will turn from yellow to blue once its absorption capacity is exhausted. The color variation is easily understood through the texture of the sachet. All Indicating Disidry desiccant sachets are Cobalt and DMF Free.

Disidry bulk silica gel with color indicator

Silica gel, a useful ally even in action

Sometimes particular climatic situations, very harsh or with humidity and rain, can generate condensation problems in the equipment with the change in external temperature. A way to minimize some of these problems could be to place the machine in a bag together with silica gel bags, obviously not saturated, close well and leave them for a few hours to absorb the condensation linked to the sudden change in temperature.

The silica gel comes in two types of bags: Standard and TYVEK®

With the same absorption capacity, the silica gel sachets can be packaged with different materials, mainly we can find them in TYVEK® or Standard material.

TYVEK® is a certified material for the production of desiccant material sachets with dust emission equal to 0. This makes it suitable in those particular situations in which it is necessary that there is not even the most microscopic release of dust as in the protection of material technical, optical, high fashion etc…
Standard pouches are still equally performing given that the dehydrating material is always silica gel, but they can release an infinitesimal amount of dust given by the rubbing of silica gel crystals, not perceptible in practice but which in certain particular areas must not be present.

Do you want to buy directly or see all the variants of desiccant sachets? visit the shop www.silica-gel.it