Joe's Musings: Vapor Barriers

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Joe Richardson, Technical Sales Engineer


Everyone has heard of the term “turned inside out”, it may not be possible for that to happen to a human being, but I have seen what I think was the closest thing.

My wife and I, along with our three kids, hosted a foreign exchange student several years ago. I guess this was the best way we could think of infringing our redneck lifestyle onto an unsuspecting civilized European. This unfortunate student’s name was Jannek, from Hamburg, Germany. We lived in the country on a family place that had previously been a dairy farm.  There were 25 acres with a dairy barn, hay barns and other sheds of various dilapidated conditions necessary to support a 70-cow milking operation. Since we had shut down the milking operation, we bought a few beef cows to keep the grass grazed down. There must be something to Corb Lund’s song, Cows Around, as it pretty much encompasses the entirety of my last 51 years.

On occasion, I would buy a few pallets of feed for the cows and store it in a lean-to shed that connected to our hay barn. After all, as Corb’s song goes, “What else am I going to spend my money on?”. This shed had a good roof but was exposed on the sides to whatever could get through the pipe fence surrounding it.

Over the course of a few weeks, prior to us picking up Jannek at the airport, we had noticed evidence of critters breaking in to our sacks of cow feed and not only eating their fill, but also spreading about half a bag of feed all around the ground. I think just so they could find those just-right bites to satisfy their palate. Now for a penny-pinching miser such as me, this was truly a dastardly deed.

One night, a few days after Jannek settled in, we decided we would pay a little visit to the feed shed and throw a surprise scare into those gluttonous critters, hopefully sending them off to find a new venue for their nightly feasts. Jannek, my son, and I geared up with our high-beam spotlight and headed off for the feed shed. 

This seemed to me to be the perfect opportunity to train the next generation on stealth tactics for approaching unsuspecting no-good-doers. About half way to the shed we mapped out our approach route, agreed to vocal silence and proceeded to the shed in a quasi-hunched or squatted meander. I’m still not sure why a stealth approach in the dark requires such an awkward maneuver, but it was taught to me, so I’ll pass it on. We also agreed that once we were in prime position, which we determined would be about 20 feet from the pallets of feed, we would throw on the spot light and make the awfullest racket the three of us could muster.

We approached with my son carrying the spotlight and was shoulder to shoulder with Jannek. I brought up the rear, after all, I thought it would be best that they have front row seat to the ambush. Once in position I pulled the boys' shirts, signaling to stop. I patted them on the shoulder three times with the third pat ending in a squall of ruckus and instant flash of 2 million candle powers of light.

In all honesty, we were expecting a couple of opossums or maybe a raccoon. Unfortunately, the spotlight illuminated the backside of one big ole skunk who immediately raised his back feet into the most acrobatic handstand any gymnast could ever maneuver and then finished off his reactive performance with a puff of fine mist, like a quiet, subtle firework signaling the end of his brief performance. He then trotted off on his merry way.

For my son and me, this initiated an immediate involuntary response of two giant steps back as we contemplated what had just happened and what needed to happen next. Jannek stood straight up and casually turned his head and asked, “What was that?”. We replied simultaneously “a skunk”. “What’s a skunk?” Jannek asked. Who would have thought about skunks not existing in Hamburg, Germany? I replied, “It’s like a REALLY stinky cat”. To which Jannek responded, “I don’t smell anything”, as he began walking toward the feed.

Then, as if an explosion had occurred inside his body, turning him inside out, then outside out again, only facing the opposite direction, he bolted away from the ominous vapors. Though Jannek was extremely athletic, to this day I still don’t understand how his body contorted, then inverted to be instantly facing the opposite direction, and he has yet to duplicate the feat.

Now I’m sure your wondering what on earth a redneck encounter with one Pepe Le Pew has to do with bulk bags, but honestly, we have material that can contain the odors of even the most potent skunks. That story came to mind last week when a customer called in with a need for a package that could contain the strong odorous vapors of his product. The most common film that is used to line our Super Sack® containers is a polyethylene (PE) blend. However, when it comes to highly effective control or barriers for moisture or gases, polyethylene may not be the best choice. The next step up from PE, in moisture and gas control is an EVOH film. This film provides a gas barrier that is hundreds of times more effective than the equivalent thickness of a PE film, and provides a moisture barrier that is a little better than PE.

Now, if you’re going to be locked in a room with a highly potent skunk in a bag, then you will definitely want to spend extra money and opt for foil, or aluminum liner. A foil liner provides a complete gas and moisture vapor barrier with 100% effectiveness. Although these liners can be a more expensive, if your product deteriorates, oxidizes, or can be degraded by the migration of gas or moisture through a package, then it will definitely be worth the extra cost.

Our bulk bag liners, Super Sack® containers, along with an inventory of standard bulk bags are available through our online store for immediate shipment from our warehouse. If you need assistance developing an inventory stocking strategy, require a custom bulk bag solution, or have questions regarding liner options, you can speak directly to me, Joe Richardson, or one of our other expert sales representatives.


About BAG Corp:

BAG Corp is a bulk bag industry leader, innovating processes through experience. As a developer, manufacturer, supply chain and logistics provider, we move product around the world and meet customer inventory needs every day. BAG Corp services global brands, represented across a broad spectrum of industry verticals.