Do Gun Safes Need Dehumidifiers?

by Tim Chesonis | Last Updated:  June 9, 2019

Given the care required to maintain a gun to ensure that it functions properly and will last a long time, I got to wondering what other measures I could take to “maintain” my gun.  I was told I should use a dehumidifier in my gun safe.

If you want your guns to function properly, and last for generations to come, you absolutely need a use a dehumidifier in your gun safe, regardless of what climate you live in.  Even if you clean your gun every day, moisture will destroy it, but a dehumidifier will preserve it.

How problematic is humidity and what can be done to prevent it from damaging your gun?  Will it really prevent it from working, . . . . really?

The Problem of Humidity

In its simplest form, humidity is how much water is in the air. When the air can’t hold anymore water, what is left is what we call moisture. This is where water transforms as drops in the air causing clouds, mist or even fog.

A damp humid environment is a breeding ground for mold and mildew.

Like water carves its own path in a canyon, given time, moisture will slowly destroy any metal, jewelry and documents. It will even destroy the safe itself. It’s not uncommon to find a safe located in the back of a closet or perhaps in a damp basement. But a damp humid environment is an ideal place to find mold and mildew flourishing.

Needless to say, humidity is not the friend of items one might keep in their safe, like important documents, jewelry, and firearms. Unless addressed, humidity will cause mold and mildew which will literally destroy the contents within your safe.

Within the United States, Which State as the Worst Moisture Problems?

Regardless of where you live in the United States, you will have to deal with moisture. Obviously, wet climates, like the swamplands of Mississippi, are going to have a higher humidity level than a dry climate of Las Vegas, Nevada.

Did you know that between 4:00am and 6:00am, of all 50 States, Jackson, Mississippi averages the highest humidity level at 91%?

The higher the humidity, the more you will have to deal with moisture. The lower the humidity level, less you will have to deal with moisture. However, before making a judgement, I would encourage you to take a look at the average humidity levels for each state by clicking here. This link will show you the annual average relative humidity levels for each state within the United States.

Most major cities within the United States have an average humidity level of over 70%. For this reason, you will need to take preemptive measures to protect the contents within your safe from moisture. Humidity will be at its highest levels between 4:00 am and 6:00 am, and at its lowest level between 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm.

Did you know that Las Vegas, Nevada has the lowest average humidity level of about 40% between 4:00am and 6:00am?

Morning dew on the grass in your yard is from all the moisture in the air. That’s how much moisture you are contending with.

Do All Safes Have Humidity Problems?

As a safe owner, you need to be aware of the damage that moisture can do to your gun and what you can do to prevent that damage from taking place.

How do you know if your safe has moisture issues? Stick your head in and take a whiff. Does it smell moldy? When you touch your gun, does it feel clammy? Worse yet, when you wipe you finger across any flat surface on the gun, do you see condensation?

There are 4 major contributing factors that contribute to moisture problems within a safe. Let’s address the following 4 questions and discover why you may have moisture problems with your safe and what you can do to prevent humidity from occurring within your safe.

  1. What Climate you Live in?
    The climate you live in is a major factor in determining just how destructive the effect of humidity will have on the contents within your safe. If you live in Jackson, Mississippi, you are clearly going to have more humidity issues than if you lived in Las Vegas, Nevada, where it gets less than 5 inches of rain per year. Dry climates do have humidity, just less humidity, and still require that you take preventive measures to ensure that your safe is as dry as can be.Also, elevation does affect humidity levels. In short, the higher you live, the less humidity there is. The closer you are to sea level, the more humidity you have.
  2. How Often You Access Your Safe?

    The objective is to keep the safe humid free as well as the room that it resides in.

    When you open it, how long do you keep it open? Airflow helps keep humidity within a safe down, provided that the humidity outside the safe is not high. So, you may be in the safe all the time, but if the room that is located in is very humid, opening the safe won’t really make any difference.
  3. Where You Keep Your Safe?
    Do you keep it in the dry attic or the stale damp basement? These are two extremes, but where you place your safe within your house or place of business can have a huge impact on the humidity level within your safe, so do your best to keep it in a dry warm location within your home or place of business.
  4. How has the Safe has been Maintained?
    How old is it? Has it been properly maintained? Have you ever checked to ensure that the seals on the door to the safe are air-tight?  You can do this by placing a high-powered flashlight in the safe, pointing it at the door of the safe.  Shut the safe and lock it and then turn all of the lights out in the room so that it is pitch-black outside the safe.  If you can see any hint of light emanating from the safe, then you know that moisture will seep into your safe.Test this several times, pointing the flashlight in different directions within the safe, just to be sure.  If you find a “light-leak”, you will need to have the seals to your safe repaired.If your safe comes with a built-in sealant system, you can use either foam, silicone or caulking to seal out any moisture.  This will be incredibly helpful in keeping out moisture, and if you are in the market for purchase a safe, you will definitely want to consider getting a safe that allows for a built-in sealant system.

There are 3 Kinds of Dehumidifiers

Desiccant Bags / Silica Bags
Though not as effective as an electric dehumidifier, a desiccant dehumidifier will remove *some* moisture from within a closed confined area, without the need of running electrical chords to a wall outlet.  Desiccant dehumidifiers are available in all shapes and sizes.  They contain small packets that consist of pellets, and these pellets absorb moisture.

You could think of a desiccant dehumidifier as a sponge.  When placed in a confined area (such as a safe), any moisture within that safe will be pulled into those packets. Every couple of months, however, you can either place these packets in your kitchen oven at a low temperature and let it “bake” overnight, or simply microwave them for 3 to 5 minutes.  This will remove all moisture from these packets so that they can be used again.

You can tell when they are ready to be replaced by the color of the granular pellets.  When they are new and dry, they are usually dark blue, but after they start absorbing moisture, they start to turn purple.  When they are turn pink, they need to be replaced, as this indicates that they have absorbed as much moisture as they can.  These packets will absorb up to 1/3 of their weight in water.  If this is the route you would like to go, you can purchase silica bags inexpensively on  Amazon for about $8 for 100 packets.

DO NOT MICROWAVE ANY DampRid PRODUCT

If you want something with a little more kick, and don’t want to deal with baking or microwaving small packets that you have to collect throughout your safe every couple of months, you might want to try a product called “DampRid”.  You can find it on Amazon for about $10.  What I like about this product is that it does not just remove the moisture, but it leaves a fresh smelling scent as well.  Every time you open your safe, the smell reminds you that you are protected, and it requires no electricity or batteries to use.  You simply put it in your safe, close it and let it do its job.  One final note on the DampRid product.  Again, DO NOT MICROWAVE the DampRid products . . . ever.  They will react violently in your microwave and catch on fire.

AdvantagesDisadvantages
  1. Desiccant dehumidifiers are less expensive, and can be picked up for just a few dollars at the “Dollar Store”, or “Dollar General”.  You can even pick these up at Walmart.
  2. No chord required.  In other words, you won’t need to drill a hole in your safe for an electrical chord.
  1. It is not as effective as an electric dehumidifier.
  2. You have to remember to “bake” (or microwave them), every couple of months.
  3. It does not remove ALL moisture, so you may need another means of removing moisture, depending on the climate you live in.

Rechargeable Dehumidifier
Rechargeable dehumidifiers require no batteries or electrical chords to a wall-outlet.  Depending on the unit you purchase, it can last anywhere between 3 to 6 weeks before you need to charge it overnight.  If you go this route, you will definitely want to set a reminder on your phone to charge it overnight, (as often as required by the manufacturer).  They also have a life-span of about 10 years or so.

On the downside, they will generally decrease the moisture level within your safe by up to 10%.  A rechargeable dehumidifier may help, but it is not an all inclusive answer to removing the majority of relative humidity within a gun safe.

AdvantagesDisadvantages
  1. A rechargeable dehumidifier will usually indicate when it has reached its maximum moisture capacity.
  2. Less maintenance involved.  You don’t have to bother “baking” or “microwaving” pellets.
  3. They come in all shapes and sizes, but a generally compact for mid-size to large safes.
  1. Only removes up to 10% of moisture within the safe.
  2. You have to remember to recharge it, and if it’s not recharged, it won’t work, leaving you with a false sense of security.

Electric Dehumidifier
In effect, elective dehumidifiers basically evaporate any and all moisture within the confines of the safe itself, leaving no option for moisture to have any effect on the guns within your safe.  It is the ultimate solution as it lowers the relative humidity down substantially.

Not only does it lower the relative humidity from your gun safe, but it is a permanent, maintenance free solution.  Once installed, you literally never have to think about moisture issues within your safe ever again.  Just keep it plugged in, and your good to go.  If your power goes out for any reason, even for days on end, not to worry, when the power comes back on, it will heat up the inside of your safe removing any relative humidity that may reside within the safe within minutes.

AdvantagesDisadvantages
  1. Set and forget.  You never have to remember to replace or recharge the dehumidifier
  2. Provides a permanent, maintenance free solution.
  3. Resolves 100% of all moisture issues and is well worth the investment.
  1. Electric dehumidifiers require you to drill a hole in your safe for it to gain access to an electrical outlet for power.
  2. Can cost up to $100 or more

The 4 Best Bang for Your Buck Dehumidifiers for Gun Safes

Let’s start with the best dehumidifier available on the market for gun safes, and then work our way down.

Goldenrod Original Dehumidifier

It has a stellar reputation, receiving 4.5 out of 5 stars from 886 users on Amazon.com.  You can purchase them anywhere from 12″, 18″, 24″ or even 36″ in length, and offer coverage area of up to 500 cubic feet.  The great thing about them is their cost.  You can purchase the 12″ for $33.99, the 18″ for $32.80, the 24″ for $38.32, and the 36″ for $42.49.  In my opinion, this is a no-brainer, provided you either have a gun safe that is already pre-drilled, or you have the ability and know-how, to drill the holes yourself.  This is my number one pick because of it’s flexibility.  You can get this anywhere from 12″ to 36″and you can touch it without getting burned, and it has a lifetime warranty as well.

LOCKDOWN Dehumidifier Rod

This offers super-easy installation, (you can set it up in less than 10 minutes), and it comes with its own mounting brackets.  It also has a great reputation receiving 4.5 out of 5 stars from 578 users on Amazon.com.  It comes in only two sizes, the 12″ ($17.31), and the 18″ ($22.01).  The 12″ provide protection for up to 100 cubic feet while the 18″ provides protection for up to 200 cubic feet.  One really nice feature about this unit is that it only releases enough heat to keep things dry.  In other words, it does not keep the interior of the safe at the same constant temperature, and as a result, does not consume as much power as it’s competitors.

Stack-On SPAD-1500 Rechargeable Cordless Dehumidifier

At $43.50, it has received 4.5 out of 5 stars from 637 customer reviews on Amazon.com. What I like about this dehumidifier is that it is small and compact.  You can easily tuck this away, or put velcro strips on the back of it and place on the side wall of the inside of your safe. This rechargeable dehumidifier will last up to 6 weeks between charges, and can pull moisture up to 100 cubic feet.  The one nice feature about this unit is that it offers a moisture indicator, letting you know when if it needs to be charged again.

DampRid Refillable Drop-in Tab Moisture Absorber Fresh Scent

Remember, we are talking best “Bang for your Buck”.  This will eliminate odors and offers a spill resistant design.  You simply drop a “tab” in, and let it do its job.  There are no batteries or electrical chords to deal with and even offers a refill indicator.  It comes with one “tab” which will last for up to 2 months.  The refill pack comes with 2 tabs, and only costs $5.  The downside, however, is its bulk. Because of its size, this is really only going to work for larger gun-safes.

Closing Thoughts

If you care about your gun, you will make sure that it is protected so that it will function as designed.  Cleaning your gun after every use is expected, but you can ensure that it stays in tip-top shape when you are not using it by using both an electronic dehumidifier and a desiccant dehumidifier to ensure that your guns will stay free of moisture.  Sure an elective dehumidifier may cost anywhere from $25 to $100, but wouldn’t you agree that even at a $100 investment, that it would be worth preserving the lifespan, not to mention the functionality of your guns?

Tim loves writing and helping people succeed. He brings a wealth of wisdom and insight from an entrepreneur's perspective, enjoys tinkering with computers, and is a die-hard gadget guy, especially when it comes to cell phones :-) When he's not writing another article, he's probably binge-watching Suites or Breaking Bad, (again). To learn more about Tim, click here.