When packaging products, manufacturers have to consider all variables. It’s not just about delivering the product in one piece but also protecting it from destructive elements like heat, gasses, and perhaps most importantly, moisture.
Whether it’s water, vapor, melting ice, or any other type of liquid, packaging systems must be built to protect against them while maintaining lightweight structures and a great user experience for customers.
In this article, we’ll discuss why moisture is such an important factor in packaging, what effective barrier options are available, and what measures can be taken to ensure that products maintain maximum quality at every step of the shipping and storage journey.
Why Is Moisture Important?
To say that moisture is always a negative would be inaccurate from the perspective of producers, shippers, and consumers.
Instead, it’s the right level of moisture maintained over a certain duration that matters most and why manufacturers should always know the upper and lower limits of moisture for particular products and packages.
For instance, dried food products must be kept free of moisture to the greatest possible degree, while perishable foods require a moderate moisture level to ensure quality.
Furthermore, some non-consumables can be subject to a wider range of moisture variation with virtually no consequences for the end result, making it less of a priority for producers.
Manufacturers must therefore determine the exact specifications of each product, figure out how much moisture it can withstand (and in what durations), then choose a packaging system that ensures the upkeep of those strict standards from the moment of shipping to the hands of the customer.
What Is Moisture in Packaging?
Moisture in packaging can come in many forms, and cause different problems depending on their concentrations and the products in question.
The most common is water, which can negatively impact food products, medical materials, mechanical devices, fabrics, plastics, and countless other products.
It’s not just water that can seep through packaging and cause damage to products during shipping. Gaseous elements and vapors can permeate through these barriers and condense on the interior of the packaging, causing a slower but equally damaging result.
Factors like temperature and light exposure also have an effect on how moisture behaves in relation to packaging, accelerating the condensation process or preventing moisture from forming at the wrong place and time.
Even in trace amounts, liquid in food or commercial products can have devastating consequences for producers and buyers, leading to waste and a negative impact on the business’s bottom line.
What Causes Moisture Issues in Storage and Packaging?
The main cause of moisture issues in storage and packaging is the direct exposure to liquids from precipitation, washing or cleaning, or other conditions that allow liquid to permeate directly through barriers.
Despite the best efforts of logistics coordinators to limit the exposure of packages to the elements, moisture can still make its way into these products in humid environments, even with all protocols followed to the letter.
Knowing this, there is always some risk incurred when shipping, and manufacturers must calculate these risks while taking all necessary measures to protect their products.
In some cases, executives may choose the wrong packaging system for their needs and encounter issues in the supply chain that could have otherwise been avoided.
For example, shipping food products in perforated cardboard rather than plastic containers with better moisture barriers can lead to damages and lost revenue.
Problems can occur with metals, glass, laminates, and other packaging forms. However, the top-rated materials tend to be far stronger and more reliable in terms of moisture-blocking properties. This goes for sealants and child-resistant features as well.
Finally, the possibility of malfunction or tampering is always possible with packaging systems across the board, which can bring in moisture by accident. This is worsened by the failure of seals, caps, corks, and lids, which can represent a weak structural point through which moisture can leak and wreak havoc.
These all serve as reminders that many things must go right to ensure protection against moisture in packaging and storage, from high-level decision-making to structural problems with individual package components.
As always, manufacturers must assess all options concerning packaging systems, accounting for the performance and limitations of barrier properties in all possible scenarios.
Why Is Humidity Control Important for Packaging?
There’s no hiding from humidity in many parts of the world, and packaging systems must be deployed to protect products from these high-moisture environments.
There are multiple levels of humidity control, from large-scale shipping methods down to how individual products are packaged for maximum air moisture protection.
Some materials are better suited as strong barriers to moisture, particularly thin sheet metals, thermoplastics, and laminates that combine the best properties of multiple polymers. Glass also forms a reasonable barrier but comes with other concerns during the shipping and handling process.
How Does Moisture Content Affect Storage?
It’s not just during shipping that moisture content can damage certain products. This can also happen in storage, adding another dimension of strategy to the packaging and planning process.
Storage centers may be temperature regulated with limited exposure to light. Still, humidity controls are not always guaranteed, and the possibility of direct exposure to water and other liquids is always present.
The biggest factor in storage, however, is time. Extended durations spent in storage can lead to moisture buildup in even the most resilient products, especially as liquid accumulation is more likely to occur when materials are kept in place.
Certain materials are prone to degradation over long periods, weakening barrier properties that may seem impenetrable when first tested.
Time spent in storage is a great equalizer for moisture-protective materials, and brands cannot overlook the importance of longevity when designing and packaging products.
Why Quality Packaging Helps Control Moisture
Two materials that appear similar at first glance can have drastically different outcomes in the long term, based strictly on the strength of their moisture barrier properties.
Quality packaging materials are not about pure barrier strength, however. They also include layered structures that allow products to maintain a lightweight look and feel that will draw in customers and encourage sales.
Moisture protection must also be ensured throughout the customer experience, even after the product seal is broken. Resealable containers made from durable yet ergonomic materials are ideal for balancing customer satisfaction with the best optical and mechanical properties.
The most effective packaging covers all these bases, creating products that withstand moisture and all other elemental threats, plus shelf appeal and user experience.
In all industries, moisture protection is a concern when packaging, shipping, storing, and when goods finally end up in the hands of buyers.
Discover what package systems offer the best balance of barrier properties and give your products a modern, marketable look and feel.