Cargo ship

The Dangers of Moisture Damage When Shipping Cargo

When shipping cargo internationally or domestically, there are many things that can cause damage to your items. One of the least obvious, no matter what you are shipping, is moisture.

Moisture can ruin dry food goods, corrode metals and render electronics inoperable. Knowing where moisture comes from during shipping as well as methods to protect your cargo will ensure that your shipment arrives undamaged.

Causes of Moisture During Shipping

There are several ways that moisture can be introduced into your shipment. These things can happen even if a shipment is not traveling by sea.

  • Improperly Sealed Shipping Containers – The most obvious reason that moisture gets into your shipping containers is that they were sealed improperly. Seals can be damaged; this may only be noticed if they are deliberately inspected.

The bottom seals on a shipping container are particularly vulnerable to this type of leakage. All seals on your containers should be inspected prior to shipping.

  • Wet Shipping Container – Shipping containers are washed before they are used. If this washing process happens shortly before loading, your container may not have had time to dry thoroughly. Be sure and check the container as lingering moisture can result in damage to your goods.
  • Shipping Container Condensation – Temperature changes and exposure can affect humidity levels in your container. Some goods may be dry when they are first loaded into your container, other products can contain moisture. A change in temperature can bring out the moisture from your goods and cause it to collect in places that will cause damage.
  • Moisture Introduced While Loading – It is also possible for moisture to be introduced to the shipping container during the loading process. Work boots with snow or water on them due to inclement weather and worn while loading can inadvertently carry moisture inside of a sealed container.

Ways to Minimize or Eliminate Shipping Moisture

There are several ways to avoid introducing moisture to your shipping containers.

Desiccants – Desiccants are chemicals that are added to your shipment that will pull the moisture out of the air. They come in several different forms such as powders, gels beads and in packages. Indicating desiccants can be used in order to get a feel for how much moisture that your shipment has been exposed to. Some common desiccants are Silica Gel, Clay, Calcium Oxide and Calcium Sulfate.

One thing to remember when using desiccants is that some of them can swell as they absorb moisture. If your shipment is packaged tightly then this might cause damage. Be careful when using desiccants that swell to leave room for this increase in size.

Container Seals – Checking all of the seals on your shipping container before and after loading is good practice to ensure that unwanted moisture is kept out. Shipping containers at the very least should have a rubber seal around all openings to the outside air.

If these look cracked, dry or are missing then you could be at risk. Replace these before using the container. External seals could also be used after containers are loaded and closed up in order to add protection.

Temperature Control – This method can take two forms, either using a temperature controlled container or making sure that when loaded your shipment is the same temperature as the container that it is being placed into.

Utilizing a professional with experience in the field of shipping and packaging is also one of the best ways to ensure that your goods arrive undamaged. Cratex Group offers a wide variety of moisture control services for your industrial shipping needs.