A while back, I wrote a couple of articles that addressed the problem of humidity insofar as guns and ammunition are concerned, and how desiccants can solve that problem. The first article, How to Protect Your Guns from Humidity, provided a brief overview of common humidity-mitigation approaches. The second article, Long Term Ammunition Storage, addressed my preferred method of protecting ammunition during long term storage. In response to these articles, a reader named John recently sent me an email, suggesting that I mention the fact that desiccants can be reused. John also provided tips for recharging used desiccants:
You mentioned in your articles on protecting guns and ammo storage using desiccant but the implication is that these devices are discarded. During “The Great Ammo Shortage” a lot of people were buying the desiccant devices for long term storage and most dealers were out of stock of these devices as well.
I found several companies on-line that sell reusable silica gel and bought some sachets from my local Wally World to hold them. 6 teaspoons to a sachet, one sachet to a surplus ammo can, and inspect about every 30 days, replacing those sachets whose contents have turned pink. I then dump the saturated silica gel in an aluminum pie pan (dedicated for this purpose only) and place the pan in my oven, set the oven to 425 and when the stove has reached that temperature, all of the silica gel is blue again. The same for the few sealed aluminum devices. I let them cool down in the oven and recycle the silica gel into the large plastic jar that they came in or place the sealed aluminum device back into the gun case or ammo can once cool to the touch. This worked very well in Florida and continues to work well in S.C.
Also: commercially available reusable desiccants
John is very correct – desiccants can generally be recharged and reused a great many times. In the case of my long term ammo storage, I just use disposable packets since the cannisters mainly stay sealed, meaning that the desiccant packages will last for years and years without the need to be recharged or replaced (and I’m too lazy to recharge them). However, I also use larger rechargeable desiccant devices to protect the guns and ammo in my gun safes:
The above product, which is available from Amazon.com, contains silica gel beads, and absorbs moisture from the air. When the desiccant is nearly full of moisture, the beads turn from blue to pink, alerting the user. The entire device is then plugged into an electrical outlet for about 12 hours, and a heating element in the device warms up the silica gel beads, causing them to release their stored moisture into the air. I usually recharge the device in a part of the house far away from my gun safe, so as not to put humidity back into the air that I am trying to keep dry. Once the device is recharged, it is placed back into the gun safe or ammo container. I’ve used a few the above rechargeable desiccant devices in my gun safes for a few years now, and am quite happy with the results.