Quick question: What is the most common threat to your firearms?
Is it theft? Fire? Flooding? Getting dropped and lost in the woods?
While these are all legitimate threats, the most common problem many guns face is corrosion.
Rust is the eternal enemy of any steel object, and most firearms are at least partially made of steel. Even modern wonder guns with aluminum and polymer still use steel barrels, bolts, pins, and so forth.
Properly cleaning your gun can help prevent corrosion, but unless you live in the desert, humidity is eternal. That’s why the best companion for your guns tucked away in a safe is a dehumidifier.
What is a Gun Safe Dehumidifier?
A dehumidifier is a tool that takes moisture out of the air. This lowers the amount of humidity, thereby making the air drier.
A gun safe dehumidifier is just a dehumidifier that’s small enough to fit in a gun safe. There’s nothing particularly unique about gun safe dehumidifiers. My first one was a generic rechargeable desiccant bag.
Why is a Gun Safe Dehumidifier Necessary?
Gun safe dehumidifiers are a good idea for any rifle cabinet, handgun vault, or gun safe that’s in an area of even moderate humidity.
If you live in Arizona then you may not need one, but most people will benefit from it.
Moisture in the air will gradually react with the iron in your gun’s steel components and over time, this will cause rust. This rust will increase in volume and eat away at the steel.
At best, rust spots look ugly and can lower the resale value of the gun. At worst, rust can damage the structural integrity of the firearm and make it unsafe to fire!
It’ll take a long time in a high-humidity area before this will happen, though.
So, generally, a dehumidifier’s primary benefit is keeping your firearms looking nice and reducing how often you need to oil the gun.
Keeping the firearm oiled will help lower the chances of corrosion but no rust-proofing solution is perfect. Gun safe dehumidifiers help.
Types of Gun Safe Dehumidifiers
Dehumidifiers can take several forms.
The cheapest ones are basically big piles of desiccant, which is the term for a material that absorbs moisture from the air and stores it in the material. You know, those small silica gel packets that say, “DO NOT EAT.”
Gun safe desiccants tend to be a pound or so of silica gel in a fabric bag.
More advanced desiccant dehumidifiers, like the high quality Hornady Security Rechargeable Gun Safe Dehumidifier Can, or the new and improved Eva-dry E-500 Renewable Mini Dehumidifier cost plug-in , are designed to be “recharged.” They use desiccant crystals that change color when they can no longer absorb any more moisture. They’re effective but require maintenance.
You can also buy specially designed automatic dehumidifiers that use a thermo-electric process to draw the water out of the air.
If you’ve ever noticed condensation on an air conditioner, that’s basically how these work.
An example of this type of dehumidifier is the Lockdown Compact Automatic Dehumidifier.
Thermo-electric dehumidifiers do require power to operate. They will only work in gun vaults with internal outlets, like the Steelwater Gun Safes SWSD16GUN-EMP.
It is also important to note that thermo-electric dehumidifiers collect water they extract from the air inside of a tank. That tank needs to be emptied out periodically so you need to be sure and check on it frequently. And make sure you put it at the bottom of your safe so it doesn’t leak on anything.
There are also “dehumidifiers” that work by increasing the temperature inside your safe.
They don’t actually remove any moisture from the air. Instead, the increase in temperature does two things:
- It increases the dew point, which is the temperature at which moisture is drawn out of the air onto objects
- Warming air without introducing more water vapor lowers the relative humidity
The total amount of water in the air stays the same but your firearms are less likely to get moistened and thus corroded.
The Lockdown GoldenRod Dehumidifier Rod is a classic electric dehumidifier that is reliable and has great reviews by thousands of users.
How to Install a Dehumidifier in Your Gun Safe
Installing a dehumidifier in your gun safe is just about the easiest thing you can do.
If you have a desiccant dehumidifier in a bag then toss that bag into the safe! It doesn’t matter where, so just plop it on the floor.
Rechargeable canister dehumidifiers are similarly easy. Though you don’t want to literally toss them into your safe.
Thermo-electric and electric dehumidifiers require an internal outlet, so if you want one of these then you’ll need to have a gun safe with that feature already built-in.
They can generally be placed on the bottom floor of the safe. I wouldn’t place one high on a shelf because they collect water which can get heavy. Also, you don’t want to spill the water on your guns!
There are also self-draining dehumidifier models. You’ll need to install a drain outlet for those, which may involve drilling a hole in your safe.
Those will come with instructions on how to position this hole properly. Each model is different.
Dehumidifiers which raise the safe’s temperature also require an outlet. They should be placed at the bottom of the safe, as hot air rises.
Gun Safe Dehumidifier Maintenance
It’s easy to maintain your gun safe dehumidifier, although the level of maintenance depends on the type.
Self-draining types are the easiest. You just need to check in on them occasionally to make sure they’re still working.
Thermo-electric dehumidifiers pull the water out of the air and store it in a bucket. This will eventually fill up, at which point the dehumidifier will turn off.
All you need to do is remove the bucket and pour out the water. It’s not potable, so don’t drink it!
Rechargeable desiccants are a bit more complicated.
Most of them have some sort of color indicator that shows when the silica gel or water glass crystals are reaching their absorption capacity. When this happens, you place the desiccant in an oven at a low temperature for several hours.
The heat will bake the water out of the desiccant material and leave it open for more dehumidification.
You can also buy desiccant dehumidifiers with power cords, like the Eva-dry E-500 Renewable Mini Dehumidifier, so they bake themselves and recharge that way.
Don’t leave these in your safe while they’re plugged in. When a desiccant recharges, it’s putting water back into the air.
A gun safe dehumidifier costs less than the price of ammo for a single range visit.
The effects keep your guns in good shape with less maintenance.
Owning a gun involves a lifetime battle against rust, and installing a gun safe dehumidifier in your safe will give you an edge in this constant battle!