What is Silica Gel?
Silica Gel is a dry solid, not a slick or wet substance as the name might suggest. Inside the white packets are beads of this dry solid material that remain dry to the touch even when fully saturated. The Silica Gel beads absorb moisture through the porous packet material.
The Silica Gel, made from sodium silicate, is a highly porous substance that can absorb up to 40% of its own weight, which makes this the highest absorption capacity of any commercially used Desiccant. Most Silica Gel products can be reused by reactivating the Silica Gel contents (contact your Silica Gel manufacturer or retail partner for specific reactivation instructions for their products).1
Why Use Them?
Desiccant Products (Silica Gel and Clay) are drying agents used to combat humidity or moisture degradation. Products vulnerable to moisture damage need special protection during transportation, storage, etc. to ensure that it remains effective. Silica Gel Packets and Clay Desiccant's provide a simple, dependable, and economical solution for preventing moisture damage in sealed packaging.2
Is Silica Gel safe?
Silica Gel is non-toxic and recognized as a "GRAS" (Generally Recognized As Safe) product by the FDA. The industry standard for Dry Food packaging is Silica Gel packaged in Tyvek, Tyvek is a more sturdy and tear resistant material then Cotton.
Some types of Silica Gel, which they consider Indicating Silica Gel, have been impregnated with cobalt chloride, which is blue when it is dry and turns to pink when it is saturated. There have been some significant health and environmental risks attributed to the use of cobalt chloride within the Silica Gel including possibly causing cancer, along with skin and respiratory irritation. We, along with several other retailers, offer a safer alternative which is Indicating Silica Gel that goes from orange to green and does not contain cobalt chloride.3
What is Indicating Silica Gel?
Indicating Silica Gel is beads of clear Silica Gel that have been impregnated with a chemical that changes color when it comes into contact with moisture. When the color has changed, it means that the Silica Gel is saturated and needs to be replaced or reactivated. This can be useful when long term humidity control is needed, like in a display case.
Some types of Indicating Silica Gel (not ours) have been impregnated with Cobalt Chloride (II) (normally a Blue or Pink color of Silica Gel) which is classified as a IARC Group 2B carcinogen. Our Cobalt Chloride FREE indicating Silica Gel beads will turn from Orange to Dark Green when the Silica Gel is about 60% absorbed with moisture.4
What are some uses for Silica Gel?
Silica Gel has many uses, many of which fall under the category of preventing moisture damage. Many manufacturers include Silica Gel packets in their electronics packaging which helps protect the electronics from moisture damage. Silica Gel has also been known to assist in drying electronic devices that have gotten wet by placing device in an airtight container with some Silica Gel, thus removing most if not all of the moisture from the device more effectively than air drying and more safely than applying heat. Leather goods are often transported with Silica Gels to help protect them from moisture damage. Storing leather goods with Silica Gel packets can also help protect them from moisture and make them last much longer.
If you have ever seen dried flowers and wondered how they managed to dry them and maintain the colors and shapes, they probably used Silica Gel. Covering the flowers with loose Silica Beads while they are still vibrant and firm dries them quickly, which helps maintain the color and shape of the flowers. Silica Gel can also be placed in a gun safe to help prevent moisture damage to both guns and ammunition.
For people who use dry bags or dry boxes while participating in water sports adding Silica Gel packets to dry bags or dry boxes absorbs any moisture that may have gotten in. Adding a Silica Gel packet to an underwater camera case can help absorb any moisture that may have gotten in when the camera was being put in the case. For scuba divers, the changes in pressure and temperature as they descend can cause any moisture present in the waterproof case to condense - the Silica Gel packets prevents this condensation from collecting on the camera. Vitamins and pills are often packaged with Silica Gel packets to prevent the damage or decomposition due to moisture in the bottle. Silica Gel packets are also used to help keep dried food, like beef jerky and pepperoni, fresh.5
How should I dispose of these Silica Gel products?
The Silica Gel packets that are found with products you purchase, like electronics and leather goods, can simply be thrown away in the trash. If the Silica Gel has come into contact with a toxic or hazardous material, it could potentially become toxic from the absorbed material. In this event, the Silica Gel should be disposed of in the same manner as the hazardous material that contaminated it.6
What's the difference between Silica Gel and Clay desiccants?
While both Clay (also known as Bentonite Clay) and Silica Gel are both desiccants, there are some key differences between the two. Bentonite Clay produces dust where as Silica Gel emits minimal dust particles and when packaged in Tykek®, it is practically dust free. This makes Silica Gel the best choice to be packaged with items that could be negatively impacted by dust particles like electronics or food. As a result of the dust it produces, Bentonite Clay typically needs to be packaged in Tyvek® in order to contain the dust. Silica Gel is found packaged in Tyvek® as well as cotton and perforated plastic.
Silica Gel is absorbent up to 220°F (104°C), which is the point at which it releases absorbed moisture. Bentonite Clay is absorbent up to 120°F(49°C) at which point it begins to release any absorbed moisture back into the air. Both Silica Gel and Bentonite Clay can be reactivated for reuse. Bentonite Clay and Silica Gel are used in industrial settings, but Silica Gel is also commonly used in commercial and residential settings as well. Silica Gel's absorbent capacity is 40% of its weight; Bentonite Clay's absorbent capacity is only 25%. Silica Gel's high absorption capacity, which is the highest available to consumers, combined with its low dust emissions, and ability to absorb at higher temperatures, it is easy to see why it is the most popular desiccant on the market.7
Does your Silica Gel contain Cobalt Chloride?
Our Indicating (Orange) Silica Gel and Non-Indicating (White) Silica Gel does NOT contain DMF or Cobalt Chloride (II) (normally a Blue or Pink color of Silica Gel) which is classified as a IARC Group 2B carcinogen. Our Cobalt Chloride FREE indicating Silica Gel beads will turn from Orange to Dark Green when the Silica Gel is about 60% absorbed with moisture.8
Do you offer customized packaging including packaging by the Pail or Drun?
We can package the Silica Gel per your specs including by the Carton, Pails, and/or Drums. Please email us for a quote.9