What To Do With Your Silica Packets
Last Updated on April 2, 2021
Stacks of Packs
You know those little packets of grains, gel, or balls that seem to appear in every package you purchase? Yes, of course you know the ones I’m talking about. Whether it’s in that new pair of sneakers you bought, or the freeze-dried food package that you took on your last hike. Silica gel is found in so many of our day-to-day products. Yet many of us don’t know what it is, or more importantly, what to do with it other than throw in the trash.
What is Silica?
Silica is a desiccant or drying agent. It absorbs moisture right out of the air! Silica has actually been found to hold up to 40% of its own weight in water. They come in a gel or bead form held in permeable packets that allow air to pass through.
When placed in a closed container, they will absorb whatever moisture is in the air. That’s pretty important for cloth fabrics or food items. Moisture in the air can lead to mildew or rot. Silica packets help keep products fresh and dry, increasing their shelf life and contributing to a safer long-distance delivery.
I’ve Heard Silica is Toxic, is That True?
Contrary to what many people believe, silica gel is not actually toxic when ingested. The packets will all read “do not eat,” but that’s only because they can become a choking hazard for children. According to Healthline, silica is a biologically inert chemical compound that is composed of silicone dioxide.
Silicone is actually one of the most abundant mineral elements on earth! It makes up approximately 27% of the earth’s crust. In other words, silica is not a chemically-threatening substance for our body. It can however, cause choking or digestive issues due to the body’s inability to break it down.
If your dog or your toddler happen to eat that little packet that came with your new clothing order, don’t be too alarmed. Ensure that they haven’t choked on it of course, and let their body take care of the rest.
Can Silica Be Recycled?
Have you ever wondered what to do with all those little packets? Fear not, we have the answer for you! The good news is that silica gel isn’t especially harmful to the environment.
In order to keep it from ending up in the landfill however, it certainly helps to find alternative uses for it. So once you’ve saved up a few of them, what good are they for? Well, there are actually a number of safe and brilliant uses for those silica packets that you might not have considered before.
1. Dry Out Your Phone
This one might be a lifesaver one day. Have you ever jumped into the lake with your phone in your pocket? Or dropped it in the bathtub while scrolling through your social media? You probably scrambled to get it out and dry it off in a panic. Newer phones are relatively water resistant, but it can still cause problems if they’ve been submerged completely.
The go-to remedy is usually putting it into a bag of rice to dry out. This has been a fairly popular solution for a while now. But according to The Verge, it’s not actually as effective as people previously thought. Because of its high moisture retention, it was silica that was initially used for keeping camera equipment dry. Rice was only considered as an alternative if silica gel wasn’t available.
So instead of dropping your phone into a bag of rice (after you’ve accidentally dunked it in water), try a Ziploc bag with a few of your collected silica packets inside.
2. Prevent Rusting & Tarnish
This one is for the handyman or women of the house. Whoever the toolbox belongs to will probably find this beneficial. Because silica packets will absorb moisture from the air, if you place a few of them in your toolbox, it can actually keep them from rusting. Your hammer and wrench set will stay shiny for much longer.
Additionally, try putting your shaving razors in a bag with some silica gel. It will extend the life of your razor and keep them from rusting as well. This can work with anything that is subject to rusting over time. If you have a nice set of silverware for instance, a silica packet can keep them from becoming tarnished.
3. Gym Bag Starting to Smell… Off?
If you’re a gym goer, chances are you own a bag for your shoes and workout gear. And, chances are this bag also tends to hold a bit of an odour. A lot of that odour will be attached to moisture molecules.
Fortunately, your stash of silica gel is the perfect solution to freshen your gym shoes and bag in between workouts. As it absorbs the moisture and sweat, it will also improve the smell.😉
4. Preserve Papers, Photos, and Books
This one’s helpful for just about anybody. Silica gel is perfect for keeping papers and photos from moisture damage. Place a couple in your filing cabinet at home or in the office. If you happen to have old photo albums, you probably know that they can be susceptible to moisture in the air.
Yep, you guessed it, drop a couple silica gel packets between your photos to better preserve those memories. If you’ve really collected a lot of silica packets, start putting them between the pages of books on your bookshelf to keep them dry as well.
Rethinking the Process
Creating a more sustainable life means challenging yourself to reconsider the habits that we’ve inherited. This can be something as small as not throwing away a tiny silica packet and saving for another use! By repurposing items, we keep them out of landfill.
Of course, refusing items that will immediately be thrown away is still the most sustainable route, but reusing is the next best option. If you get the chance to try any of these alternative uses for silica packets, drop us a comment below and let us know how it works!