Battling Humidity? One Tool to Help

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2015 • all rights reserved

Got stale food from all the humidity aboard? No more!

The past month has been brutal for heat and humidity here in the Florida Keys (yes, I know . . . cruiser problems).

Without AC, cereal and crackers seem to go stale almost immediately. And the electronics I don’t use every day were getting little rust and mildew spots on them. YIKES!

Luckily, I’d recently been given some rechargeable desiccants to try out and review. Obviously, the fact that I said “luckily” means that they worked well.

Called Dry Top, they’re little plastic containers that can be placed in any larger airtight container to absorb the moisture from the air, so that other items in the container – food, paper, electronics – don’t get damaged by the dampness.

Stale food from all the humidity aboard? No more!

They’re made of food-grade components and are safe to use in food containers. Some silica gel desiccants use a color changing chemical that is NOT safe to use around food; Dry Top uses one that is.

The silica starts out as an orange color and slowly changes to green as it absorbs moisture (the non-food-safe kind turns from blue when dry to pink when full of water). Then, you can simply recharge them (dry them out)  in the microwave.

We put one each in Lock & Lock containers that held our “open” cereal – just opening it every day to pour our cereal out had been letting enough humid air in that the cereal was noticeably stale in three or four days. Not a problem after we started using the Dry Tops.

I also put them in pasta containers, bags with cracker sleeves, Dave’s pretzels (I use a bag sealer on the bag, but again, just opening it to get some out was letting in enough moisture that the salt on the pretzels was getting sticky) and other chips and snacks. Suddenly, no problems!

I also have a box of electronics – external hard drives, spare memory cards and the like – that I worry about in humidity. Items that I use every day generally aren’t a  problem as charging keeps them warm enough to drive off any water vapor. But the things that I don’t use all the time can pick up bits of rust or mildew on the connections, making them not work when I do need them. Again, with Dry Top, no problems!

While I just tossed the ones that Jeff Collins (the inventor) gave me into the packages (you have to put them into an airtight container with the items to be protected), he also has two other types: ones that come as part of a canister lid and ones that you can “stick and clip” into existing canisters. I love the idea of being able to retro-fit all my Lock & Lock containers with these! I haven’t seen the Dry Top canisters in person, but they look like they’d be good for coastal cruising, too (I prefer latching seals to screw tops for going offshore).

Okay, not every boat has a microwave available to recharge the Dry Top pods. I usually don’t, unless we’re at a marina with a community one. So I asked Jeff if I could recharge them in the oven. He suggested that I try it at about 250 degrees F.

Well, I’ve tried it twice now and both times I managed to melt the pods before the silica gel was fully orange again.

Stale food from all the humidity aboard? No more!

For the record, it still works, although not quite as well.

Bottom line: ONLY RECHARGE IN THE MICROWAVE, not in the oven.

P.S. One of the packages that Jeff sells is specifically designed to dry out a drowned phone. Luckily, I haven’t had need to use it (my waterproof cover is working well) but that could be another good use – as long as the phone wasn’t on when it went in the water.

Learn more on Jeff’s website (including videos) or purchase in his Amazon store:

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  1. Thanks

  2. Gloria Rooney says:

    Carolyn —

    What is your experience about how often these need to be dried out an reactivated? Any difference between the products on this aspect?

    • It totally depends on three factors:

      – How humid it is (we’ve been mostly 90%+ — today is 81% and it feels “dry”)
      – How big the container is that it’s trying to keep dry
      – How often you get in the container (and let in fresh moist air)

      Cereal containers that we get in every day I need to recharge about once a month with this high humidity. The electronics that I have in Ziploc bags with most of the air out (and haven’t gotten into) are still orange after 2-1/2 months.

  3. Sounds great!

  4. I knew you could dry silica gel in a 250 degree Fahrenheit oven but I didn’t know you could do it in a microwave. Will have to try that with some of the desiccant jars I made a few months ago for my tool and electronics storage containers. Thanks!

    Most plastics will melt if they get warm enough, and over-microwaving those canisters might also melt them. For your damaged ones, you can always make a replacement cover with another small plastic container (drill small holes in an old pill bottle or whatever) as long as the plastic didn’t melt around the gel beads in the ones pictured. A removable lid would also allow you to pour the contents out into a shallow pan and let you dry out the gel without risk to the container. Just a thought if those semi-melted ones aren’t working as well.


  5. Nancy Hussna says:

    Hi Carolyn,
    Your website and book are the most resourceful sources that I have found! Really thankful that my husband found your website.
    Is there a product to keep in the lockers? We have cedar lined lockers and have pulled shoes out with mold on them.
    Thanks for all you do!

    • The best thing to do is to try to improve air flow. It’s tough; we’ve taken a lot of clothes and shoes out of lockers this year and are keeping fans on all the time. I’ve also used a spray called Concrobium (available at Home Depot in the paint department, not in cleaning) and it seems to be helping — you can use it on almost any surface, including fabric and leather. I’m still searching for the perfect solution!

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