silica gel packs

Silica Gel Packets (dessicants)
How does silica gel work and does a prepper need them

Warning to preppers: not all silica gel packets were created
equally! Preppers can use silica gel packets for both food and
equipment if they are wise about the differences. This article
about silica gel packets should help you gain an understanding of
how to use them in prepping for anything that may be affected by
moisture.

What is silica gel? How does silica gel work?
Silica is a chemical derived from silicon dioxide. It's essentially
the same stuff used to make glass (sand and quartz); however,
the blue ones have added chemicals making them toxic. Below is
a well-done explanation of silica gel from Brain Stuff, which
explains how these little packets are "nearly harmless":

















Those pesky little "do not eat" packets that come stowed in your
food are an artificial form of silicon dioxide (usually non-toxic).
The blue ones are not food safe,* so don't taint your food with
them. While most  silica gel packets are not harmful, they
certainly are not edible, which is why they often come with a
warning.

    * NOTE: The blue ones are not food safe and could cause
    nausea and vomiting. They have an additional chemical,
    which turns them from blue to pink when fully absorbed with
    moisture. The color changing magic is the addition of non-
    food safe chemicals (cobalt II chloride -- an inorganic
    compound of cobalt and chlorine). Cobalt poisoning is rare,
    but certainly you don't want to taint your food!

Silica gel has many prepper uses
Silica gel packets are "dessicants," which are materials designed
to eliminate moisture.  Uses of silica gel packs may include:
  1. Keeping your dried meats dry!
  2. Preserving your vitamins in a fresh, moisture free state.
  3. Preventing rust on metal.
  4. Averting mold with leather products.
  5. Reducing condensation in electronics.
  6. Acting as a dehumidifer for gun safes, and
  7. Saving a wet cell-phone (see the video at the bottom of the
    page).

Are silica gel packets the same as oxygen absorbers?
No! Preppers often wonder about silica and the difference
between oxygen absorbers. The difference between the two is
really very simple:

  • Oxygen absorbers - iron based, oxygen absorbers remove
    oxygen from your food, so that it stays fresher longer.
    Oxygen begins to decompose your food (as does light, heat
    and moisture).

  • Silica gel packets - made of silicon dioxide, these aim to
    wick moisture away (read more below about what is the
    purpose of silica gel packets) through the process of
    adsorption. Some non-toxic silica packets on the market are
    completely inert and are not harmful if swallowed
    accidentally; however, some are toxic. As mentioned above,
    stay away from the toxic blue ones for food.

What's the purpose of silica gel packets?
The purpose of silica gel packets is to "adsorb" (yes, the 'd' is
there on purpose). Inside the gel packs are little beads, which
adsorb moisture, so stuff won't rust or get moldy. Adsorption is
an adhesion of a thin layer of molecules. It's like the water sticks
to the beads.  Through the process of adsorption, the molecules
adsorb 40 percent of its weight in water.

How to save a wet cell phone:

















Top Uses for Silica Gel Packs
The main use of silica gel packets aiso to absorb moisture and
keep things dry. To that end, here is a list of practical uses
preppers have for silica gel packs:

  • Ammunition and firearms. Probaly the primary purpose of
    silica gel packs for preppers is to protect firearms. Be sure to
    tuck some silica gel packs with firearms in storage. Your a
    rifle, pistol, or other portable gun will benefit because the
    silica is a rust inhibitor. Living in a humid environment
    makes this a necessity for a prepper!

  • Razor blades. The damage to razor blades is moisture. If
    you make it a regular routine to wipe your razor blades after
    use and then store them with silica packs , you'll help wick
    away the moisture and keep your razor blades sharp and
    ready for next time. This is one of the more ususual uses for
    silica gel packets. Incidentally, you can also use vodka or
    rubbing alcohol to clean and dry out the razor blades so that
    they don't get rusty.

  • Silver. Preppers love stashing silver for the day when cash is
    not accepted and only precious metals will do. Keep your
    silver collection in pristine condition with help from those
    little silica gel packs. They will prevent oxidation. This won't
    increase the value of the silver, which is why preppers stash
    the precious metal, but it will preserve the collectible value.

  • Tools and toolbox. Prevent items in your toolbox from
    rusting too! Stash packets in with your favorite wrench,
    screwdriver, pliers and socket set to keep your gear as rust-
    free as possible.

  • Important documents. Treasured marriage and birth
    certificates, copies of deeds, insurance policies, wills and
    power of attorney, even passports, vehicle registrations and
    immunization records could benefit from being stored with
    silica gel packets.

Other uses for silica gel packets

  • Preserve your historical family photos and documents.
  • Store vintage books.
  • Keep cameras dry and eliminate condensation of your GoPro
    used under water.
  • Keep silver dry

There are many other uses for silica gel packets. Just about
anything that needs to be rust free and moisture free can benefit
from silica gel packs.

Important information about Silica:
The warnings are clearly labeled, "Do NOT eat," and "Throw away"
because they can present a problem in the throat of a small child
or animal if eaten, according to the
Carolinas Poison Center. Do
no be mislead, because they are toxic in the long run.

While it is non-toxic in the short run, it's important to know that
silica may cause lung cancer, pulmonary tuberculosis, and airways
diseases in the long run. It may also cause Silicosis, an
irreversible but preventable disease caused by exposure to silica
dust.

Again, the biggest danger is that kids may mistake the packets
for food and choke on the substance! Another concern is that
dogs ingest them. Don't store silica with food. Instead choose
oxygen absorbers.

  • WARNING: Silica is a known toxin: cobalt chloride, which is
    a known toxin Just keep silica gel packets out of reach of
    children who may think they are seasoning of sorts. Remind
    children that they are toxic and not for eating!

Concerned about a child or dog who has ingested silica gel
packet?

If you have concern of ingestion: Call the American Association of
Poison Control Centers at 1.800.222.1222
There are two kids packets and you'll need to know which has
been ingested:
  1. Granular silicic acid resembles sand
  2. tiny gel beads. Silica gel is non-toxic (not poisonous) if
    eaten.  

The main concern is the package that says "DO NOT EAT"
because:
  • it's not a food (and kids often mistake it for food and
  • it could be a choking hazard (because the granules, or beads
    may become lodged in the throat of a small child or animal).

Finally, don't reuse silica gel dessicant packs!
You should not reuse silica gel packs. Here's why you should not
re-use silica packets....

While generally preppers are a thrifty bunch and have a "make do
or do without" attitude, when it comes to silica gel packets, the
old ones may no longer be functional because they've become
saturated. While it's possible to reactivate the packets by heating
them in an oven, it's just easier to use fresh packets.

What's more, silica gel packs are inexpensive, so do what the
packet says, "throw away" after use!

Happy endings...
While annoying to most, silica gel packets can have a happy
place in the prepper household. Certainly they help with the
"Make do or do without" philosophy. With proper use, including
keeping them away from children, those silica packets can be
useful in many ways.

Related articles

Aren't you glad you're a prepper? The Bheestie Bag, pictured
immediate left, can help you save your phone if it becomes wet,
but it's costly and it looks like it's nothing more than a mylar bag
with silica beads inside. Preppers could easily make a cell-phone
saving bag, using ordinary prepping stuff:

  • Mylar bags (skip the oxygen absorbers for saving a cell
    phone)

  • Silica gel packets to wick away the moisture.

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This article on silica gel packets was first archived by the waybackmachine.org on 09-13-2015. Do
not copy this work.
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