Silica Gel: 7 Surprising Uses for the Small White Packets

Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay - Ann San

Did you notice a small white bag in the box with your last purchase? Though they look deceivingly like little salt sachets, they are actually silica gel packets. Before you throw them out, check out these clever uses for silica gel.

What is Silica Gel?

Silica gel is a desiccant which means it absorbs and holds water vapor. That is why the most common use for silica gel is found in storing and transporting goods: Manufacturers use silica gel to keep goods from spoiling, molding, or degrading due to humidity. This is why silica gel packets are commonly found in the packaging of electronic devices, food, shoes, vitamins, or leather goods. 

Did You Know: Though silica gel packets usually say “Do Not Eat” – the gel is not poisonous. It is made from silicon dioxide which is naturally found in sand. 

Why You Should Keep Silica Gel Packets

If you normally throw these packets away, it’s time to break that habit. There are so many uses for silica gel around the house. Silica gel is incredibly absorbent with the ability to absorb over 40 percent of its own weight in water. The materials surrounding the bag are well protected against the penetration of moisture.

Tip: Collect silica gel packets in an airtight container and leave them in a dark and dry space so that you always have a small supply when needed.

Household Uses for Silica Gel 

One of many uses of silica gel packets: They can help protect both photos and cameras. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay - congerdesign )

Silica gel packets have numerous uses for practical household hacks:

  1. Drying Cell Phones: place your wet phone in a container filled with silica gel packets as soon as possible and the gel will gradually remove the moisture from the device. (Read on: How to Clean Your Phone)
  2. Protecting Tools: metal tools are susceptible to rust, especially when stored in a garage or basement – use silica gel to extend the life of your tool by placing some sachets in your toolbox.
  3. Minimizing Odors: pop a few silica gel packets into reusable shopping bags, sports bags, or shoes to counteract the development of bacteria and fungi which causes musty smells.
  4. Drying Shoes: drying wet stuff is an obvious use for silica gel. It also works for shoes: Most shoes are not meant to go in the dryer, so place a couple silica gel packets in your shoes overnight for drier shoes by morning.
  5. Protecting Photos and Documents: add a few silica gel bags to your storage box or file folders to keep accidental moisture at bay

Other Uses for Silica Gel include:

  1. Defogging Windows: place silica gel packets on the dashboard of your car to keep the windshield from fogging up, or by any window in your home that has condensation issues.
  2. Crafting: silica gel is great for drying leaves and flowers for arts and crafts.

How to Reuse Silica Gel 

Using an oven will draw all the moisture out of the silica gel beads so they can be reused. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain /Stocksnap - Andrew E Weber)

There aren’t just many handy uses for silica gel – the packets can even be used over and over again, even after they have become saturated with moisture. Once you have used silica gel packets, simply place the loose beads in the oven on a lined baking sheet. Leave them in for a half an hour at 275˚F, mixing them once or twice while they dry. 

You can also reactivate them in the microwave. Remove the beads from their packaging, and place them in a microwave-safe container. Microwave them on medium heat, stirring the beads every couple of minutes until they are dry. 

Tip: Try and collect as many silica gel packets as possible before trying to dry them in order to limit your energy usage. Remember to remove the beads from the paper packaging before baking. If the beads are in cotton bags, you can bake them as is. 

Note: Be careful not to overheat the gel as that will render it useless.

This article was translated from German by Karen Stankiewicz. You can view the original: Silica-Gel: Warum du die weißen Tütchen aufbewahren solltest

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