What is the Difference Between an Oxygen Scavenger and a Desiccant?

There is a wide variety of sorbents available for use in packaging and the manufacturing process in general, but most of them fall into one of two categories: oxygen scavengers or desiccants.

Depending upon the application, the optimal sorbent is chosen according to its purpose and production necessities. Here is an overview of each:

Oxygen Scavengers

Oxygen scavengers or oxygen absorbers are added to sealed packaging to eliminate or minimize the amount of oxygen in that environment. They are utilized to assure product safety and increase shelf life.

How Do Oxygen Scavengers Work?

Oxygen scavengers are a formulation of natural materials that react with oxygen and eliminate it. Oxygen scavengers harness the dissolved oxygen in an inert chemical reaction to lock up the oxygen and make it unable to damage other products within the package.

Oxygen Scavenger Formats

Oxygen scavengers are available in a range of formats, each designed to address specific applications or manufacturing challenges. They include:

  • Oxygen Absorbing Film Additives
    These are resins created for film-based situations, eliminating the need for incorporating oxygen scavenging sachets, labels or cards into the packaging.
  • Oxygen Absorbing Packets
    Reduces shrinkage and spoilage, thereby preserving both product color and flavor.
  • Oxygen Absorbing Canisters
    A simple and effective solution that resides within the packaging, instead of just the product itself.
  • Self-adhesive Oxygen Absorbers
    These carefully conceived Adhesive-backed products offer a flat, flexible format with an exceptionally thin profile.
  • Multi-functional Oxygen Absorbing Support Cards
    Eliminates the need for preservatives with their associated expense.


A desiccant is a hygroscopic material that serves as a drying agent. A hygroscopic material readily attracts moisture in its immediate environment, through absorption or adsorption.

Desiccant Formats

Desiccants are available in a variety of formats for use according to the requirements and production strictures of the job at hand.

  • Desiccant Packets
    Desiccant Packets balance the moisture content within packaging, eliminating the chance of over-drying.
  • Desiccant Canisters
    These are small, rigid, cylindrical containers filled with desiccants such as a silica gel, with the purpose of adsorbing moisture.
  • Desiccant Adhesive Labels
    Desiccant Adhesive Labels address humidity-related problems in a wide variety of packaging applications. This format requires little space because of its ultrathin profile. They are virtually invisible and highly adaptable moisture absorbers.
  • Desiccant Papers
    Features a clean, adsorbing paper composed of silica gel. This technology facilitates rapid drying and outstanding versatility in packaging design.
  • Liquid Solidification
    These packets quickly absorb up to 400 times their own weight in aqueous solutions. This format provides easy infectious waste fluid containment in suction canisters.
  • Injection Molded Desiccants
    They deposit desiccant properties directly into a product’s thermoplastic component. Products adsorb moisture in their own inviolable interior space.
  • Custom Shaped Desiccants
    Desiccants can be insinuated into cavities in a product or its housing. They are formed or pressed desiccant solutions for special applications.
  • Desiccant Vial Caps
    A product that in built into the cap itself, protecting products from moisture adulteration, and requiring no additional intervention on the production line.

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