Boveda as case dehumidifier

June 25, 2019, 11:04 AM · Are the Boveda packs worth it in the summer? Do they work in lowering case humidity? I know my case hygrometer is incorrect, by quite a bit (I did the saline test). I don't want another expensive luthier visit this summer due to environmental changes.

Replies (22)

June 25, 2019, 12:24 PM · Boveda claims their packs to work both ways. I'd really like to give them a try since I'm still on the hunt for the perfect in-case humidification system and it looks like they really could do the trick, but unfortunately they aren't distributed in Europe.
June 25, 2019, 1:42 PM · Poke a hole in your case and suck all the moisture out with a straw.

Works for me...

June 25, 2019, 2:20 PM · I had a look at their website (suspiciously lacking technical specifications such as absorption capacity and tolerance on humidity) and one of their patents.

The one for 49% humidity can probably absorb or release about 30% of their fresh weight in water (Based on their safety datasheet). They don't specify the humidity range.

That would be quite a bit better than silica gel, which would handle about +/-3% for a humidity range of 40% to 60% (starting from 50%).

On the downside, the Boveda packs contain a gel that you'd probably not want to leak onto a valuable instrument. They warn that the packs may leak if you attempt to regenerate a spent pack. They are not too expensive, though ($4 for a 40-gram pack).

June 25, 2019, 3:28 PM · Cotton, you almost made me choke on water when I read your response, you're incorrigible :-)

It's not an expensive experiment, but I think I will re-do the saline test for my case hygrometer to see if it is really as off as it seemed to be the last time I tested it. I know several who swear by it for the winter, if I don't go there now then I certainly will this fall.

Edited: June 25, 2019, 4:28 PM · Katherine, I would think they would reach their maximum water removal capacity rather quickly (so it might get rather expensive), but I have not tried them in enough environments to be sure.

At one time, D'Addario marketed them for use with violins, but then discontinued that. Rumor had it that there had been some concerns with leakage, along the lines of what Han was concerned about.

Edited: June 25, 2019, 4:33 PM · I've used them to add moisture - I live in a house which gets very dry in the winter when the central heating is on.

My case has a hygrometer and having the boveda in there defintely makes a difference - I'm sure it's just coincidence as I have no faith in the accuracy of the hygrometer but I used the 49% packs and my hygrometer reads 50%.

And you can get them in Europe:

You can get pouches to put them in so they cannot leak on the instrument. My latest pack has been in the case several weeks and is not showing signs of getting dried out yet.

Edited: June 25, 2019, 4:40 PM · Tony, what is the humidity level outside the case? In other words, is the Boveda bumping the in-case humidity up by 35 percent, or more like 5 percent?
Edited: June 25, 2019, 6:41 PM · Thanks David - it does sound like some type of cover would be called for. If my case hygrometer is 25% off like the last time I checked, then my case humidity is ~75%. Unsure I believe that, but Indianapolis and other parts of the US Midwest has received almost daily monsoons for a long time now. Thus my repeating the salt test to see if it is consistent.

My Dominants are much harder to tune than normal - and they are only about 3 weeks old - my Piastro Gold E is stable as always (all were changed at the same time) - so it's difficult to know if problem with the Dominants is from humidity or because they are relatively new.

June 25, 2019, 7:25 PM · I find they are good for a few months in the winter. No idea if they help in the summer, but between air conditioning and a good case, I don’t worry about too much humidity. A different region, I might rethink that.
June 26, 2019, 12:53 AM · @David Burgess Before I used the Boveda, the hygrometer read around 35%, so it's adding in 15%.

From what I've read, Boveda are able to tune their packs to achieve a specific humidity level so the outcome is not dependent on the prior environment. When I first went down this avenue, it was recommended to use a 72% pack in the case for a couple of weeks to bump up the moisture content and then scale back to the 49% as the long term solution.

And again, when I had the 72% pack in the case, the hygrometer read 70%, so maybe it is more accurate than I thought. I don't have an especially expensive case: but with the boveda, I can control the humidity levels in the case for the instrument and it definitely sounds better for it.

Edited: June 26, 2019, 4:08 AM · Tony, is sounds like the Boveda is doing the job for you.
The reason I asked the ambient humidity is that the packs can only absorb or add moisture at a certain rate, so they may not be able to keep up if the humidity is very low or high, or if a case is very permeable to water vapor. Your plastic-foam case is probably less permeable than a wood-shell case.

Catherine, Michigan (where I live) has high summer humidity similar to that of Indianapolis. Air conditioning will help mitigate that indoors, if you are using that. It hasn't been that warm here yet, so I've been using my room dehumidifier for about a month now. Without that, my indoor humidity would be averaging around 85 percent.

If you try the Boveda packs, please post again to let us know how that works out.

Unfortunately, I don't have any long-term information on how likely they are to leak a chemical-laced solution.

June 26, 2019, 6:21 AM · Hi David

I live in the rainy old UK - we don't ever really have extremes of humidity. Almost no homes in the UK, mine included, have AC as it's generally not necessary.

My main issue is that the internal atmosphere is very dry in the winter, which is why I started with the boveda thing in the first place. And it seems to have done the job. I can't really help you on what it would be like if the ambient environment was more humid and what you say makes sense with regard to the lifetime of the pack

June 26, 2019, 8:51 AM · I live in NYC (big swings in humidity). I like to keep my violin in an a/c controlled room, so that the humidity (and heat) does not negatively impact my instrument. That said, I have been using the same couple of Boveda packs for several months (I refresh them when the hygrometer says the case is below 40%), and have not had an issue with leakage. I keep mine in the bottom of the case, under the neck of the violin where the shoulder rest would normally be placed. When I travel with my violin (ie to lesson), I move the pack to the accessories cubby, or take it out entirely.

I also cannot help with regards to the ambient humidity being higher than one's case - as I'm paranoid enough to leave the a/c on to keep the humidity down.

June 26, 2019, 11:05 AM · I live in an apt so room based dehumidifier solutions really aren't a good option. I am going to order the Boveda and give it a shot.

My strings were far more stable this winter, regarding thier staying in tune, than now. This might be a good reason to move on from Dominants - even if 3 weeks old - the only difference from winter is the humidity. Piastro E is rock solid...but changing strings doesn't address the probable underlying cause...

I will post my observations once I try it out for a couple weeks.

Edited: June 26, 2019, 11:06 AM · I live in an apt so room based dehumidifier solutions really aren't a good option. I am going to order the Boveda and give it a shot.

My strings were far more stable this winter, regarding thier staying in tune, than now. This might be a good reason to move on from Dominants - even if 3 weeks old - the only difference from winter is the humidity. Piastro Gold E (changed at same time) is rock solid...but changing strings doesn't address the probable underlying cause...

I will post my observations once I try it out for a couple weeks.

June 26, 2019, 11:21 AM · "I live in an apt so room based dehumidifier solutions really aren't a good option."

Why is that? Why can't you use a portable dehumidifyer? Just curious.

June 26, 2019, 11:35 AM · Katherine, some apartments circulate air between the entire building, and others do not. Yes, a room dehumidifier is not up to the task, if there is air exchange with another 10 or more apartments.
June 26, 2019, 12:18 PM · Hmmm, this is a question for my maintenance folks. Given the age of my building I think the air exchange is between different units but there may not be that many. Something to check...
Edited: June 26, 2019, 3:22 PM · Surprise, surprise, a careful recheck of both room and case hygrometers have shown me that the case hygrometer is only off by 4% and my cheap room hygrometer is spot on. My earlier test must have been flawed by a container that wasn't air-tight enough. I repeated it twice in a row and got similar readings this time.

So no need for a room dehumidifier, but I do know that my apartment humidity fluctuates greatly - even in a 1 degree difference in the A/C setting. So will try the Boevda and see if that can help stabilize those changes inside my case. My case is a a good one, and my violin DOES now live in it rather than on a stand between practice sessions. I learned my lesson on that with my recent Luthier visit. My assumption is the case helps protect it from those changes in humidity, but can't full protect my violin from that.

The Luthier said I could leave it on the stand and it would probably be fine until the fall when the season changes again - but I am not willing to try that...

Are Dominants known for being sensitive to this - or is it too soon for the tuning to be stable (3 weeks since last change).All winter the tuning was rock-steady, surprising even my teacher, but I do not know how long those strings had been on my violin before I brought it home (used)

July 7, 2019, 5:12 PM · I use Boveda packs to calibrate my digital hygrometers. I also bought a calibrated one from David. In my case, I've noticed that the lining of my Musafia is absorbent and as lack of humidity is the problem here in the summer if I keep the humidifier topped up with water all the time, the humidity inside the case is almost always 55%. When I play the violin, I keep the case closed to preserve the humidity inside.
Edited: July 7, 2019, 7:21 PM · I'm keeping an eye on my case hygrometer, if it rises above a certain amount I will try it out. So far so good, now that I've been able to test it and know the relative margin of error for the case hygrometer. We will see. Thankfully the Boveda "for wood instruments" comes with a special pouch which I am assuming is meant to address any concerns about leakage.
July 8, 2019, 12:32 AM · Kypros, you make a good point: many higher-end cases have hygroscopic interior lining which helps maintain a more stable microclimate inside the case.

However for that to happen, the case must be left closed and only opened briefly and as necessary. If you use a humidifier and then leave the case open all day in a dry environment, you are defeating the purpose of the lining because the ambient air will dry it out.

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