Does Cardboard Absorb Moisture?

does cardboard absorb moistureIt’s a common selling point for corrugated packaging that cardboard offers good protection against moisture. But why is this the case? Does cardboard absorb moisture? It’s an important question to answer. Understanding exactly how cardboard interacts with moisture can help you make packaging decisions that will better safeguard your products during shipping and delivery.

This is especially the case when you can expect your packaging to come into contact with moisture during various stages of the delivery process. Exposure to weather, humidity in storage facilities, and condensation from refrigeration are only a few examples. So, does cardboard absorb moisture? Let’s find out!

The Composition of Corrugated Cardboard

Corrugated cardboard consists of three different layers. The innermost layer, called the corrugating medium, is the wavy inner layer that is usually made from fluted paper or corrugated fiberboard. This layer is sandwiched between two outer layers, called the linerboards, which is usually corrugated cardboard made from paper pulp that comes in different weights and grades.

The corrugating medium is more resistant to moisture than the linerboards, but prolonged exposure to humidity or direct contact with water can lead to softening and weakening of the flutes. On the other hand, the two linerboards are capable of moisture absorption but, similarly, when exposed to high humidity or direct contact with a liquid, it can weaken and lose its strength.

That being said, it’s important to understand how the entire box reacts to various moisture-related conditions.

Does Cardboard Absorb Moisture: A Breakdown

Corrugated Cardboard in Humid Environments

Corrugated cardboard does tend to be susceptible to humidity. When exposed to high levels, corrugated material can absorb moisture and lose some of its structural integrity. In order to mitigate this, it’s important to store corrugated packaging correctly. Controlled environments with stable humidity levels are a must. If you don’t have access to this type of storage area, vendor managed inventory is a fantastic solution for preserving the quality of your packaging and preventing damage due to moisture.

Utilizing moisture-resistant coatings is also a good preventative measure. Water-resistant barriers and wax coatings act as a barrier against moisture and provide better protection for the products inside.

Corrugated Cardboard and Liquid Moisture

Direct contact with liquid moisture poses a significant risk to corrugated packaging material. It can lead to immediate damage, weakening the structure and causing the box to lose its strength. Because corrugated cardboard does absorb moisture, it can warp and swell as a result.

Again, optimal storage and water-proof coatings are the best ways to prevent this. In addition, if your boxes are branded with custom graphics, it might be best to look into the use of waterproof inks to prevent the print from running or smudging.

Cardboard and Condensation

Condensation occurs when warm, moist air comes into contact with a cooler surface. This is particularly a concern when you need to refrigerate products during shipment, such as in the meat packaging and pharmaceutical industries. Like other forms of moisture, condensation can have a negative impact on the performance of your corrugated packaging.

These issues can be mitigated with the same solutions as above: coatings and good storage. However, good ventilation can also help you avoid condensation by preventing the build-up of moist air inside and around the package in the first place.

Mold and Mildew on Corrugated Packaging

Anyone that stores their own corrugated packaging knows that mold and mildew can be a major problem. Mold and mildew are the result of high levels of humidity, poor ventilation, and dark and damp storage environments.

In order to prevent the growth of mold and mildew, take advantage of moisture-resistant coatings and find a packaging partner that provides storage solutions.

Axis Corrugated Container Has the Expertise You Need

At Axis, we’re the corrugated packaging experts serving businesses in North Carolina and the surrounding areas since the 1980s. With fully equipped facilities located in Butner, NC and a dedicated team of highly skilled professionals, we’re here to provide you with the customized corrugated packaging solutions that meet your exact needs. Whether you need boxes designed to fit certain parameters, standard packaging, or corrugated boxes fully customized with high quality graphics and printing, we have the capabilities to deliver.

Plus, our vendor-managed inventory programs and JIT-shipping capabilities enable us to provide you with the packaging you need, when you need it.

Ready to get started? Get in touch with our team today.