15 Alternative Uses for Silica Packets
In this day and age of disposability, there are many common items that are routinely discarded that could easily be put to other uses. One of these items is the common silica gel packet. You know, those tiny little packets labeled “Do Not Eat” found packaged in a variety of things – from shoes to electronic gadgets to vitamins and dietary supplements.
These little packets contain silica gel. Silica is a desiccant, which means that it absorbs and holds water vapor extracted from the air. Silica gel can absorb about 40% of its weight in moisture. This makes it an excellent choice for removing moisture from items and keeping things dry. Here are some alternative uses for those packets, instead of automatically ending up in the trash.
Keep your car windshield from fogging up. Place several packages of silica gel on your dashboard, along the bottom of your windshield to prevent condensation from building up and fogging up your windshield from the inside. This can save you valuable time by not having to wait for your windows to defrost when you are in a hurry on a cool or humid day! Be sure NOT to cover your defrosting vents, though. With enough packets placed around the inside of your car, you may never have to worry with fogged up windows again!
Protect your underwater camera. If you have ever noticed the condensation that can accumulate on the lens, you can prevent that by storing your camera in a case with a couple of silica gel packets. The silica gel will absorb the excess moisture and prevent the accumulation of moisture, thus eliminating the fogged lens issue and saving your valuable equipment!
Extend the life of your manual shave razors. After use, rinse the razor thoroughly with plain water, blot dry, store in a plastic container with a snap lid along with a several silica gel packets. The packets will absorb the moisture and prevent oxidation, thus preventing dulling of the blade and extending its usefulness.
Dry out a wet phone. If you drop your cellphone or smartphone into water, remove from the water immediately and dry off as much water as possible. Remove the battery and memory card from the phone. Place the phone, battery and memory card in a plastic container with a snap lid, along with several silica packets. Leave for at least 12 hours. This is a much better solution than trying to use rice to dry your phone.
Save those old photographs. Keep a few packets of silica gel in your box of photos and the silica will prevent the photos from sticking to one another.
Clear up double pane windows. If you notice a build-up of condensation between the panes of glass, place a few packets of silica gel along the window sill. After a short while, you will notice the condensation is dissipating and will eventually be gone completely. The length of time it will take for this to work will be dependent of how much condensation is present, as well as the ambient humidity levels and temperature.
Keep dry pet food “Just Opened” fresh. If you have ever noticed that your dry pet food seems to get soggy and lose its crunch, you can prevent this by storing the pet food in a plastic container with a snap close lid. Tape a few silica gel packets to the underside of the container’s lid. This tip not only works for pet food, but it works equally as well with people foods such as cereal, chips, crackers, cookies, etc. Additionally, you can place a couple of the silica gel packets in the cabinet, cupboard or drawer where you store your spices to help reduce moisture and preserve the freshness of your spices.
Preserve freshly harvested seeds. If you are a gardener and harvest seeds to keep for next year’s planting, keeping those seeds from molding is very important. Store the seeds in an airtight container and add a packet or two of silica gel to prevent mold.
Keep tools rust free. Place packets of silica gel inside the drawers of your toolbox to prevent oxidation and keep your tools rust free.
Freshen smelly items. Placing a few silica gel packets in your gym bag or locker can reduce dampness and eliminate odor causing bacteria. These packets work the same way in gym shoes or other shoes in need of some refreshing.
Keep your makeup dry. Most ladies apply their makeup at the bathroom sink. At some point, it is inevitable that a few drops of water may get splashed into your makeup bag. Not removing this water may allow bacteria and mold to grow, which can ruin expensive makeup. Keep a packet or two of silica gel in your makeup bag and they will eliminate any small drops of water that may find their way into your bag. For larger splashes or spills, it is best to remove the contents, pat all contents dry, and let everything thoroughly air dry before replacing in the bag.
Keep a memento of a special occasion. Silica gel is a well-known way of quickly drying out flowers. Place the flowers into a plastic bag or air tight container with several packets of silica gel. This tip works best with a single flowers or a small group of flowers, like a corsage, preferably with those types of flowers that naturally feel dryer and have low moisture content. Flowers with high moisture content or a large bunch of flowers will probably mold before becoming sufficiently dried.
Protect your silver flatware and serving pieces. Tarnish is a chemical reaction between the silver and various chemicals found in the air. This is a form of oxidation. Humidity hastens the process and results in your silver pieces turning from being shiny to being black. Keep silica gel packets in with your silver to absorb any moisture in the air while being stored.
Remove musty smells from old books. While some people love the way old books smell, many other people do not. The musty smell comes from the pages being exposed to the humidity in the air. To freshen up the book, place it in an air tight container or zip top bag with several silica packets and seal it. The silica will absorb the dampness and the musty odor. The length of time it will take to freshen up the book will depend on the age of the book and the amount of humidity it has been exposed to. Keep in mind that you probably will not be able to totally rid the book of the musty smell, but you can greatly reduce the scent of it.
Damp swimming suits. If you are away form home and go swimming, there is always the issue of what to do with your wet suit for the trip home. If you can, air-dry the suit as much as possible. If time does not allow for air drying, squeeze out as much water as possible. Wrap the suit tightly in a towel and blot out as much water as possible. Place the damp suit in a plastic bag along with several silica gel packets. The packets will not be able to absorb enough moisture to actually dry the suit, but they should be able to hold the moisture in the plastic bag and away from your other dry belongings.
Now that you have all of these wonderful alternative uses for the silica gel packets, what should you do with them once they have done their job of removing moisture and no longer feel dry? You should be able to feel the difference between dry silica gel packets and damp ones. Once they have absorbed moisture and feel damp, you can simply dry them out to be re-used once again!
The most economical way to dry them out is to place them in a single layer in a box or on a plate and set them outside in the sunlight for a day or two, depending on how sunny it is and how much moisture the packets have absorbed. You will know if it has been long enough if the packets feel dry, like they did to begin with.
A faster method for drying the packets would be to put them in your microwave. Place one or two packets at a time on a small microwave safe glass plate and cover them with a small microwave safe glass bowl. Microwave the packets for about 90 seconds to 2 minutes. Let cool completely and then feel the packets. If they feel dry, you are done. If not, turn the packets over and microwave for another 30 seconds. You do not want to over-dry the silica.
CAUTION: Silica gel gets very hot during the drying process. Do not attempt to handle silica gel, or the container, until it has cooled to a safe temperature. It is not recommended to move hot silica gel. If you must move it while it is hot, use a hot pad. Be aware that glass may shatter if it is of the wrong type, is too thin, or is unevenly heated. Do not overheat the gel. If you overheat the gel you may ruin it, and it will take longer and longer to re-dry the gel. It is better to under-heat it, than overheat it. It is better to re-dry small batches than large batches.
Silica gel packets come in varying sizes, depending on the amount of silica gel contains within the packet. Very small packets generally contain about 1 gram of silica gel. These small packets are usually found in things like, dietary supplements, vitamins and pain relievers. Larger packets can contain as much as 10 or more grams per packet. Most silica gel packets that you may find in a handbag or in a box with a pair of shoes are most likely closer to the 10 grams weight. Naturally, the larger the amount of silica gel that is present in any given area, the faster the moisture can be removed, as well as the larger the volume of moisture that can be removed.
As you can see, there are many alternative uses for silica gel packets. If you don’t want to wait until you have collected enough of these packets on your own to try out some of these tips, that’s ok. You can purchase silica gel packets very inexpensively on Amazon.