You open a package, and there’s a little silica packet. You buy a new purse or a backpack, and there’s another one. Rather than tossing the packets in the trash, you can use them around your home.
What Are Silica Packets?
The whole reason you find them in the packing of so many products you purchase is that silica gel (those little pebbles inside the packet), is extremely hygroscopic—that is, it just loves to absorb moisture. It can absorb a staggering 40 percent of its weight in water.
The packs are inserted in everything from purses to electronics to containers of food and vitamins to ensure those items stay dry during shipment.
I got tired of throwing away the silica packets that showed up in things I purchased, so I started putting them in my storage bins, in my toolbox, and in other places where they could absorb moisture. Why buy the packs, after all, when you come across dozens of them for free every year?
Where to Use Silica Gel Packets
Your reused silica packets will work best in small areas—they don’t have enough absorbing power to keep an entire room dry and free of moisture. If you need to keep your whole basement dry, for example, that’s a job for a dehumidifier.
For small spaces though, especially containers you don’t open often, they’re a great fit. Here are some places to toss them into:
- Storage bins (including those with clothing and paper in them)
- Fire safes
- Camera bags
- Seed storage
- Spice drawers and containers
- Pet food containers
Before you drop a packet in with anything edible (even the pet food), make sure the packet doesn’t have any rips. You don’t want loose silica getting into your food. The granules/beads are completely non-toxic but incredibly unpleasant to get in your mouth; so effective at absorbing moisture, they actually stick immediately to the inside of your mouth and throat.
Keep Using Your Gel Silica Packets by Recharging Them
Using the silica packs to keep your tools or camera gear dry is great, but you must do a little maintenance here and there. The silica beads do an excellent job absorbing the moisture, but they don’t readily give it up, which means you have to take an extra step to recharge them.
Thankfully it’s really easy to recharge them. You can put packets or loose silica in the oven at 275 degrees Fahrenheit, for up to 12 hours. How long it takes depends on the size of the packets. The recommendation is one and a half hours for every 30 ounces of silica. Be sure to place the silica on a baking sheet covered in aluminum foil before placing them in the oven.
You can also dry your packets in the microwave in a microwave-safe container. This usually takes three to five minutes.
Once they’re bone dry, just toss them back in your storage bins, toolboxes, or wherever you have items to keep dry.