Gelatin capsules: How to prevent product loss through humidity control

If you’ve ever held a gel cap in your mouth too long, as you frantically search for a glass of water to wash it down, you know how quickly moisture can break apart the capsule.  

Now, imagine you’re trying to produce millions of nutraceutical-grade gelatin capsules and humidity is doing the same thing to your product during production. Not. Good. 

Dan Dettmers, an applications engineer at Quest Dehumidifiers, has spent years helping everyone from food processors and pharma companies to cannabis cultivators and nutraceutical producers eliminate humidity problems. The reason: 

“At its core, controlling humidity can improve production time and eliminate costly product loss for anyone using gelatin capsules. It’s that straightforward,” Dettmers said. “There are a variety of factors that make humidity control important, including safety issues, but it often comes back to production efficiencies.” 

Why humidity affects gelatin capsules 

It’s important to understand why humidity control is such a big deal for nutraceutical producers, before talking about how to fix the problem. With gelatin capsules, it’s generally best to keep your production facility at 40-50% relative humidity, Dettmers said. When that doesn’t happen, issues arise. 

Issues that arise when humidity spikes, include: 

  • Degraded or sticky gel caps. Moisture causes gel caps to become sticky, making them difficult to work with and slowing production. If humidity is bad enough, the gel caps will be ruined, not just stopping production but also causing product loss. 
  • Clumping. When humidity gets too high the product inside begins to clump. That makes it challenging to pack into the gel caps, leading to quality issues. 
  • Increased drying time. Once manufactured, gel caps need to dry. If that drying time is lengthened, it slows down processing and also contributes to gel caps becoming sticky. 

“With gelatin capsules, the most important factor is maintaining consistent conditions,” Dettmers said. “As soon as capsules are made they’re dumped into hoppers and are ready to be filled. If humidity is too high, you’re going to have issues when it’s time to use them.” 

Get humidity under control 

 With humidity control, Dettmers always starts with identifying any points of infiltration. That means he’s looking for small holes, cracks, poorly sealed doors and other spots where outside air may be entering the production room. 

Once those spots are located, Dettmers said to focus on sealing and repairing any issues and then measuring your relative humidity several days later. 

If humidity levels remain too high it may be time to consider using a dehumidifier. For nutraceutical production. Dettmers recommends using a desiccant dehumidifier. 

Why a desiccant dehumidifier? They allow for precision control, letting you maintain a precise humidity level, which is your top priority when working with gelatin capsules and ingredients negatively affected by humidity.  

“Refrigerant dehumidifiers are wonderful but they have cycles, meaning humidity levels could fluctuate slightly,” Dettmers said. “When minimal variance in humidity is your top concern, a desiccant unit, like one from the Quest Trotec series, is your best option.”

Want more information? Don’t hesitate to reach out with your specific needs and questions. Call us at 1-877-420-1330, or email Sales@QuestClimate.com

About the author 

Dan Dettmers is an applications engineer at Quest Dehumidifiers. With more than two decades of experience, Dettmers has solved nearly every humidity issue a nutraceutical manufacturer may face.