What is silica gel?
Silica gel is a desiccant - also known as a drying agent. The small beads inside each sachet are able to absorb moisture or condensation.
You might be wondering what the purpose of silica gel is for manufacturers. Silica gel sachets can be found in anything from packets of pepperoni to a shoe box. As these products can be in warehouses and stores for quite some time, moisture can easily build up and spoil the goods. Instead, the packets absorb any moisture and prevent mould growth.
Uses for silica gel
1. How to dry out a phone
Ever dropped your phone in a pool - or worse - down the toilet? We've all heard about how rice can be used to dry out a wet phone, but the grains can get stuck inside the headphone jack and charging port.
To dry out your phone quickly, without risk of damaging the ports, use silica gel. Take a bowl and fill it with the packets of gel. Bury your phone inside so that it's completely surrounded. Try to wait for at least 24 hours before turning your phone back on.
2. Camera lens condensation
The plastic housing of your waterproof camera should be completely watertight. This isn't always the case, and condensation can start to form on the inside. This could damage your camera if left, and will almost certainly impact the quality of your photos and footage.
To keep your camera in good condition, take a silica gel sachet and carefully place it inside the plastic housing.
3. Safe loft & basement storage
Photos, VHS tapes, and other memorabilia can easily be damaged when stored in lofts or basements. This is because the air in these storage spots can be full of moisture.
To keep your belongings safe, store them in secure plastic containers with several sachets of silica gel.
4. Rusty razor
Razer blades would last for so much longer if they didn't rust! We've got the answer. Take a small plastic container and put 4-5 sachets of silica gel inside. After using your razor, carefully dry off excess water with a towel and then put it inside the container.
5. Seed storage
Are you a seasonal gardener? Keep spare seeds in an airtight container with some packets of silica gel. If they are stored in moist conditions, you could see rapid mould growth.
6. Silica gel in medication
If you have a bottle of vitamins, you might find a packet of silica gel inside. This is there for a reason! It will keep your medication or vitamins free from moisture. Moisture can degrade tablets, so it wouldn't hurt to pop one into your medication if there isn't one already.
7. Keep them in your makeup bag
If you have liquid makeup that's prone to leaking in your cosmetic bag, pop a couple of silica gel packets inside. They'll keep the bag nice and dry.
8. Keep luggage dry & mould free
Luggage is another item that we tend to store in basements and lofts. If yours aren't frequently in use, it's worth putting some silica gel packs inside to prevent mould growth. You could seriously extend the life of your suitcases!
9. How to store important documents
Some documents are with us for life and can be a real pain to replace. You never know when disaster could strike, so it's important to take preventative steps to keep them safe.
Protect documents like birth certificates by placing them in large plastic sandwich bags. Put a silica gel sachet in each sandwich bag and then store them inside a fireproof box.
10. How to stop jewellery from tarnishing
Have you ever opened up your jewellery box and found that your favourite bracelet has begun to tarnish? This is most likely due to excess moisture in the surrounding air.
Put a couple of silica gel packets in amongst your jewellery to protect it from damage.
11. Keep leather shoes dry
Your leather shoes probably already have a couple of packets of silica gel inside the box. If you keep them stored in their box, leave in the silica gel sachets to prolong their life.
12. How to stop condensation on car windows
Have you noticed condensation forming at the bottom of your dashboard? An easy fix is to scatter several packets of silica gel along the edge of the glass. You can also do the same on window sills in your home.
13. Preserve flowers
Do you want to preserve flowers that have a special memory associated with them? You could press them, but the best way to retain their natural shape is to dry them out with silica gel beads. To do this you'll need a lot of sachets, or you could buy a big bag.
Line a container with about 1 inch of silica gel beads. Place the flowers into the beads with the petals left uncovered on top. Seal the container and wait a week before revealing your beautiful, dried flowers.
14. Store them in your gun safe
If shooting is your thing, you'll know all too well how easily guns and ammo can rust. Storing your equipment alongside a few packets of silica gel will stop this from happening.
15. Put them in Geocaches
If you aren't familiar with Geocaching, you need to get clued up and join the world's largest treasure hunt. Geocaches are hidden out in nature all over the world.
Because the caches are often exposed to the elements, it's a good idea to do all you can to keep the inner contents as dry as possible. Next time you find or hide a cache, put a few silica gel sachets inside.
16. Dry pet food storage
Storing pet food in bulk? You should really think about removing excess moisture so that it can stay fresh for as long as possible.
Place the food into an airtight bin or container. Tape some silica gel bags to the lid. You don't want to completely cover the sachet with tape, but you also want to make sure they stay secure and don't end up in your pet's dinner bowl.
17. Prolong the life of a pumpkin
Once carved, you'll find that pumpkins rot pretty quickly. You can actually slow down mould growth by placing silica gel sachets inside the cavity.
For best results, take a small glass and fill with silica gel sachets. Take a battery operated candle and place it on top. That way your pumpkin will still have an ominous glow!
18. Stop your gym bag smelling
Smelly gym bag? We've got the answer. Throw a couple of silica gel sachets into your bag to quickly absorb any excess sweat from your gym wear.
19. Remove smells from old books
You might love the smell of musty books but, if you'd rather it went away for good, there is a solution! Place the book in a sandwich bag filled with silica gel packets to absorb the odour-causing moisture.
20. Keep your Christmas ornaments safe
The last thing anyone wants is to rescue their beautiful ornaments from the loft and find that they're tarnished - or even mouldy. Keep moisture out by storing them alongside silica gel packets.
Are there any dangers with using silica gel?
Some silica gel packets contain toxic additives that are harmful if consumed.
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.
Can silica gel only be used once?
No. You can "recharge" your silica gel sachets by putting them in the oven at about 90 degrees for an hour. Store them in an airtight container when not in use.
What is silica gel cat litter?
As it's so great at absorbing moisture, silica gel can also be found as a type of cat litter.
What happens if you put silica gel in water?
When you empty a sachet of silica gel beads into water, they absorb so much moisture that they crack apart - a bit like when you drop ice into a glass of water.
Where can I buy silica gel?
You can buy silica gel in large quantities through online retailers like Amazon.
Can you make your own silica gel bags?
Yes! It's actually really easy. Buy a bulk bag of silica gel beads and place them inside organza bags. Seal the bags tightly so that they don't spill out.
Do you know any other uses for silica gel? Let us know in the comments below!