Did you know there are a ton of weird uses for those little silica gel packets besides keeping moisture out of your shoe boxes and keeping medication fresh? Check out these 12 surprising uses for silica gel and help keep those little packets out of the landfill. Plus, learn how to reactivate desiccant packs so you use them again and again.
Table of contents
- What are silica packets used for?
- Is silica gel toxic?
- What happens if you do eat silica gel?
- How long do desiccant packets last?
- Can silica gel only be used once?
- Weird Uses for Silica Gel Packs
- More Home Hacks You Might Like:
- How to Re-activate Desiccant Packs
Today I'm sharing my secrets for those little desiccant packs you find all time in different packing. Check out the video below and read on to learn how to re-use and reactive desiccants in the oven!
What are silica packets used for?
Little packets of silica gel are found in all sorts of products. I find them in everything from the packs of seaweed and beef jerky we buy, to empty gift boxes and medications. The silica gel beads are actually the same stuff as what's used in some types of 'crystal' cat litter.
Silica gel is a desiccant -- it absorbs and holds water vapor. Silica gel can adsorb about 40 percent of its weight in moisture and can take the relative humidity in a closed container down to about 40 percent. This makes it an ideal substance to pack with items that need to stay moisture-free and fresh. Most desiccant packs contain silica beads but some have small clay beads made out of bentonite clay. Both work the same way.
Is silica gel toxic?
Despite the dire warnings on the packet, the little silica beads don't really tend to be poisonous, although some toxic chemicals could be added in the mix.
Alone, silica gel is non-toxic, non-flammable and chemically non-reactive. However, some of the beads may include a moisture indicator such as cobalt chloride, which is carcinogenic. This is the reason most silica gel packets are labeled as dangerous or poisonous when eaten.
Desiccant packs that contain clay are not poisonous either- but you should not eat those either obviously.
The biggest danger, however, is a potential choking hazard, so you should keep them away from kids, pets and anything that might accidentally ingest it.
While silica gel is biodegradable and non-toxic, often times the packets contain materials that do not biodegrade over time, which is a great reason to re-purpose these pouches for another use!
What happens if you do eat silica gel?
The silica gel should pass through your digestive system intact. That said, it may contain toxic chemicals that are hazardous to health. It also hasn't be regulated for consumption, so it could be contaminated. Same with the bentonite clay. So in short, don't eat it and if you do- stay calm and call poison control for medical advice.
How long do desiccant packets last?
It is recommended that the beads are not left open to the atmosphere for longer than 15 minutes. Larger sachets should not be removed from their packaging more than 1 hour before they are required for use. The shelf life of silica gel in a sealed environment can safely be said to be between 4 and 12 months.
Can silica gel only be used once?
No. You can recharge your desiccant packs by putting them in the oven to draw out the moisture. Store them in an airtight container when not in use. Learn more at the bottom of this post.
Weird Uses for Silica Gel Packs
Save your phone from water damage
If you accidentally drop your phone in some water, immediately place it in a sealed Ziplock bag with enough packets to cover it on both sides. Leave it alone for 24 hours. You can also use this to help protect your phone when you are going to be in an area that is prone to excess moisture. This isn't a waterproofing technique but can help prevent moisture damage.
Defog your windshield
Never wait for your windshield to clear up in the mornings again - instead, simply place a few of these bags under your windshield on the inside and they'll keep it dry and clear regardless of the weather.
Extend the life of your razor blades
Excess moisture with dull your blade quickly. Place the razor in a small plastic container when it isn't in use with a few packets to help keep the moisture away from the blade.
Keep your gym bag fresh
You can avoid mold and bacteria stinking up your sweaty gym gear by adding a couple of these sachets to your gym bag.
Protect your old photos
Many of us store our old photos in attics, cellars, or other equally damp places, which can lead to the pictures sticking together and deteriorating over time. Keep them in a box with a few silica sachets and it should keep them dry and intact for longer.
Prevent Silver Tarnish.
Keep a silica gel packet in your jewelry box to keep moisture away from your jewelry.
Moisture causes tarnish, which not only makes jewelry look less attractive, but also means you have to spend time polishing it.
Place some gel packets in the bottom of the jewelry box to keep the moisture out. This is especially good with plush-lined boxes, as it will keep the fabric moisture-free, too.
For this, you’ll actually need to open the packet!
Tear open a silica gel packet or two (or more, depending on the size of the place you’re trying to scent) and pour the beads into a small bowl or container.
Add a drop or two of your favorite essential oil for instant potpourri.
Also, make sure you keep the beads far from the reach of children and animals.
Put them in your shoes
If you have sweaty feet that make your shoes smell, then drop a few sachets in your shoes after you take them off. It will help prevent funky smells and bacteria from growing.
Prevent rust in your toolbox
Toss a couple of silica gel packets into your tool box. The gel will absorb excess moisture and help keep your tools rust-free.
Protect Your Electronics
Keep a silica gel packet wherever you store any electronics with a lens or a screen. These items are particularly sensitive to moisture and condensation, so storing a gel pack with them can be a cheap insurance policy against moisture damage.
Keep Books Dry
Keep your book collection dry and less musty smelling by storing them with silica packets. You can distribute a few around your bookcase, or even store a packet within the pages of your most treasured old book.
When You Travel
Keep luggage dry while it’s in storage by tossing a silica gel pack in each suitcase. Toss a few silica gel packs in a Ziploc bag if you can’t dry your bathing suit before packing it.
More Home Hacks You Might Like:
How to Re-activate Desiccant Packs
- Desiccant packs
- Aluminum foil
- Oven-safe dish
- Set the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit,
- Line the oven safe dish with aluminum foil.
- Open the packets and pour the contents into the dish.
- Bake until the color of the silica beads has changed or 2 hours if you are using clay beads.
- Store in an airtight container until you are ready to use.
A salt shaker is a good place to store them if you are using them in a fridge or pantry to reduce moisture.