If you recently bought new clothing, shoes, or even electronic devices, then you surely came across those white packets that say “Do Not Eat”? Like most people, you are tempted to toss them away with the rest of the wrappings, and by doing so you actually throw away one of the best allies you could have in your fight for survival.
What Are Silica Gel Packets, Anyway?
The small bags, which seem stuffed with tiny salt grains, are in fact filled with silica gel – a chemical desiccant. This is a substance that can absorb and hold moisture.
Due to its porous surface area, a single bead can absorb up to 40% of its mass in water. That is why we find them in many products that can be damaged by water.
They are perfect for reuse and, even if toxic, the only caution you should take is to keep them out of the children’s (so they don’t end up opening and swallowing it).
There are many uses for silica gel beads, and we encourage you to try them out, because silica gel is more or less harmless. They are marked with “do not eat” and you really shouldn’t. And if you were to, the side-effects are not that big of a deal.
Nevertheless – please don’t! Instead, how about you try these 50 uses for silica gel packets below?
#1. Keep your seeds dry
Your pantry should contain generous amounts of various seeds from vegetables and fruits alike. They are a great source of vitamins, and their preservation is essential for long-time survival. To guarantee them dry storage, place a few packs of silica gel in and around the containers where you store your seeds.
#2. Prevent meds from deteriorating
If you are taking prescription medicine or just regular vitamins, it is crucial that you keep them dry. Place some silica packs in the bottle, and your problem is solved. This tip is especially useful if, like most people, you keep your aspirin in the bathroom cabinet.
#3. Keep your razor blades sharp
Using a razor blade multiple times is not that big of a deal, more so if it’s made from good quality material. However, even these blades tend to rust in the long term. To prevent that, place the razor into a Tupperware box and add some silica gel bags to it.
#4. Dry out your cellphone
We’ve all been there: browsing randomly on our smartphone and a millisecond of clumsiness sends our expensive device to the bottom of the swimming pool, a puddle, or even the toilet bowl.
It may seem like everything is lost, but actually, there is a straightforward solution to getting your phone working again. Take out the battery and memory card and place it in a box with plenty of silica gel packs. Leave it there overnight, and the next day it should function properly.
#5. Keep pet food fresh
It doesn’t matter if you have a dog, a cat, a parrot, or all of them together. Buying bulk food is always a cost-effective solution. The only downside is that over time, the food pellets might get soggy.
By adding silica gel to the bulk bags, you can keep the food fresh and dry for an extended time. The only thing that you will have to remember is to keep them out of the scoops you add to the serving bowl.
#6. Protect important documents
Having legal papers in poor condition can get you in trouble when you least expect. To avoid this situation, keep a few silica gel bags in the drawer where you keep legal contracts and other important files.
#7. Keep your silver shiny
The biggest problem with silver jewelry is that it attracts moisture and gets covered with a sleazy layer of corrosion. To keep it from tarnishing, add a silica gel pack to your jewelry box. The same tip is useful for your silverware drawer, as well.
#8. Keep your windows from getting condensation
During the colder months of the year, it is common for glass windows to become covered with condensation. This happens when there is a more significant difference in temperature than usual between your house and the outside weather. To prevent your windows from permanent damage, keep a few silica gel bags in your windowsills.
#9. Maintain your tools rust-free
A true prepper keeps tools handy. It is one of the reasons why a toolbox is rarely closed. However, this often leads to many utensils developing rust, which destroys them over time. To keep the humidity in the toolbox at the lowest level, place some silica gel among the tools and you will never have to worry about them rusting away.
10. Protect your shoes from getting muggy – There is a good reason why we find a couple of silica gel packs with every new pair of shoes we buy. Most of these items are either wholly made from leather or contain small patches of it.
Leather is one of the most absorbent materials used in wearables and without the silica gel the shoes would attract a good deal of humidity while being in storage. To protect those pairs which you rarely wear, keep them in their original boxes without removing the silica gel that came with them.
#11. Protect your camera from moisture
Most photographers know that handling a camera in diverse weather conditions can create condensation on the lens, which can damage the device.
To prevent damage to the lenses or your camera in these conditions, remove the battery and separate the lenses, and then place some silica gel together with the camera in the bag where you usually store it.
#12. Perfect protection for underwater cameras
Speaking of cameras, if you possess one which is capable of functioning underwater, repeat the same steps used for a standard camera as soon as you return to the surface.
This will keep away any moisture that could remain around the equipment. You can also add silica gel inside the case with the camera to help avoid fog up of the lenses while you are using it underwater.
#13. Preserve old books
Not everybody loves the smell of an old book. Actually, many old volumes have been stored in terrible conditions and developed an equally lousy scent. To get rid of the awful stench, place it in a bag with silica gel and very soon the odor will be gone.
#14. Dry flowers faster
Many people like to dry flowers and keep them pressed or in boxes. If this is one of your hobbies, then here is a tip that will make you even more passionate about it. Break some silica gel packs and pour the beads over the flowers that you want to dry.
This method will speed up the process of dehydration, and the petals will also maintain their natural and vibrant colors. Make sure that you are using a small container however, as a bigger container will require more silica.
#15. Protect engines from moisture
If you have seasonal vehicles such as snowmobiles or ski jets, then you know just how vital their maintenance is during those months of inactivity. When storing them for summer or winter, take the carburetor out and place one silica gel pack inside. This will keep the humidity from damaging it.
#16. Dry your wet clothes
If you come home after a long walk in the rain, and don’t have the ability to dry your clothes using a clothes dryer, you can store your dampened clothes than with a few silica gel packs carefully placed in their pockets or inside the fabric.
#17. Preserve Christmas decorations
We only use Christmas ornaments once a year. Keeping some silica gel in the same box will make them look as new every time you take them out.
#18. Dry out fishing flies
This is an excellent tip for fly fishermen who usually have to deal with waterlogged flies. Before going fishing, take some time to crush a few silica gel pellets and store the powder in a small jar.
As soon as you find that your fly is overused and soaked, put it in the jar and mix well. In just a few seconds the fly will regain its freshness.
#19. Protect your weapons and ammo
Careful storing of firearms and ammunition is essential for any gun owner. Put some silica gel bags in the ammo box or the gun cabinet to keep ammo viable.
#20. Boost your garden
If you have a small vegetable garden, but you find it hard to acquire the necessary compost, pour some silica gel pellets into the ground. This will help the natural growth of plants by ensuring there is moisture available in the soil. It can also help to keep rodents and some insects away.
#21. Prevent condensation from forming on automobile windows
Driving in cold weather can cause that dreadful condensation to form on your windshield. This issue affects not only the glass but also the wipers which tend to be overused and damaged in this situation. Throw some random bags of silica gel near the windshield to prevent condensation. Save your windshield wipers from overuse
#22. Preserve old photographs or collectibles
By adding a pack of silica gel to the box of old pictures, they will maintain the colors vivid for a longer period. This also works for memorabilia like basketball trading cards or just regular postcards.
#23. Prolong the Jack-o’-lantern’s life
Ever wondered how your neighbor’s Halloween pumpkin lantern lasts all through the winter, while yours rots even before Thanksgiving? The secret is not that complicated. All you have to do is to pour some silica gel beads into it, and all the moisture will stay away from the pumpkin flesh.
#24. Protect your hearing aid
If you live in a damp climate, your hearing aid might suffer damage from the constant exposure to moisture. They can also collect moisture from sweat and other sources. To prevent this, store your device into a box with silica gel bags every night. Many of the expensive “dry boxes” that are available for hearing aids contain the same silica gel found in the packets.
#25. Keep your gym bag odor-free
The awful odors that sometimes come from your gym bag are actually the result of bacteria forming on the fabric. With just a few silica gel packs thrown in there, you will never have to worry about opening that bag in public again.
The same is true for your gym locker as well, a few packets should keep everything fresh, just remember to change them out from time to time.
#26. Maintain your makeup
Keep just one small silica gel bag in your makeup box, and you will never have to deal with cosmetics that could easily be ruined by moist conditions.
#27. Create your own potpourri
If you are tired of buying new potpourri fragrances every month, you should know that there are cheaper and more effective solutions.
Take some silica gel beads and crush them to a powder. Next, mix them with essential oils and store in small, open jars placed around the house. The scent will last for months, and you will never have to worry about buying potpourri ever again.
#28. Preserve your kitchen spices
When cooking, steam can get inside your spice cabinet and wreck them. To prevent this, tape some silica gel bags on the container tops. Make sure they are not pierced so that no beads will fall inside.
#29. To keep your luggage dry
One of the worst nightmares that can happen during traveling is to have your spare clothes damp and even moldy due to humidity. With just a few silica gel packs placed between them, you will never have to experience soggy shirts.
30. As an ant repellent – One of the less known uses for silica gel is its effect against household parasites. If you are struggling to get rid of ants inside your home, just locate their nest and pour some crushed silica gel beads into it. In only a matter of days, your house will be ant-free.
#31. Keeps fishing hooks sharp and rust free
Storing a few silica packs with your fish hooks will help prevent rust, which can affect how sharp the point stays. Often when you buy hooks at the store, there will be a small silica ball in the package.
#32. Set the ink on Polaroid and other instant films
The colors on any instant film will change over time. If you store the already exposed film with some silica gel for at least a month, it will help to “set” the colors and keep them from fading as much.
#33. Prevent laundry and dishwasher powder from clumping
If you use powdered detergent in your laundry or dishwasher, you have probably experienced the clumpy, hardened powder. This is due to excess moisture from the air being absorbed into the powder. Add in a few silica packs and it will keep the powder dry and free-flowing.
#34. Remove musty smell from books and documents
If you have any old documents or books that have an awful, musty smell to them, you can remove it. Just store the books or documents in an airtight sealed bag with some silica gel, and the smell will disappear.
#35. Protect packages from moisture
If you are shipping a package with moisture sensitive items inside, you can add in silica gel packets as an added protection. If the package is breached by water or moisture during transit, the silica will help protect the item and also help dry everything back out.
36. Protect precious metals- If you store precious metals as part of your long term preps, you can add silica gel to help prevent any tarnish or discoloration that may impact their use later on.
#37. Dry out wet outdoor gear
If you get caught out in the rain and have soaked gear there are ways to help dry it out before storing it away. You can take a tote or container and lay silica gel packs along the bottom.
Put the wet gear in the tote and cover with the lid. The silica will absorb the water and dry the gear out. If the gear is still damp, replace or recharge the silica gel and try again. This approach is great for things like backpacks that can be difficult to dry naturally.
#38. Safe loft, garage, and basement storage
If you have items stored in these locations they will have a higher chance of being affected by excess moisture. You can add silica gel packs to totes and bags to help reduce any excess moisture and protect your belongings.
#39. Add them to Geocaches, or survival caches
If you are into geocaching then you know how many caches deal with excess moisture. Including silica gel will help prevent problems, and adding them to a soaked cache will help dry things back out.
If you have survival items hidden, especially things that are metal and go bang, then storing silica gel inside the sealed cache will make sure they are rust free and ready to use should the need arise.
#40. Keep unused vehicles fresh
If you have a vehicle that you don’t use every day, such as a dedicated bug out vehicle or your old beat up 4×4, you can add silica gel packs around the interior of the vehicle to keep mold and dry rot at bay. It will also help remove and prevent any musty odor or condensation from forming inside.
#41. Prevent mold
if you have areas in your home that are prone to mold, you can use silica gel to help combat unwanted flowering of mold. Just put packets in the corners or walls and floors to reduce the overall moisture in the area.
#42. Protect musical instruments
Moisture and musical instruments do not mix well, especially things like guitar strings or drum snares. Placing silica gel packets in the cases will help divert any moisture away from the instrument. Some people also say you can tape them inside of a guitar body to help stop warping.
#43. Keep sewing kits and needles dry and sharp
Tossing a couple of silica gel packets into your sewing kit will keep the needles from rusting.
#44. Save your cheese
Keeping a few packets of silica gel inside the container with your cheese will significantly slow the growth of any mold and make your cheese stay fresher, longer.
#45. Protect removable memory
If you carry portable memory cards or zip drives silica gel can help prevent corrosion on the pins and contact points. Add them to your SD card wallet or in a pouch with your zip drive to make sure they stay functional.
#46. Keep welding rods dry
You can toss a few silica gel packets in with your welding rods to keep them nice and dry.
#47. Make a personal cooling device
If you are often outside in the hot weather and would like a way to keep cool while you are working, you can make a “cooling pack” using silica gel.
Place the loose silica beads inside of a sewn tube, usually about 18 inches long and an inch wide. close up the other end, but make sure the beads are not packed in the tube too tightly so the pack will remain flexible.
Before heading out in the heat, soak the pack in cool water and then place around your neck on your bare skin. As you heat up, the pack will absorb heat and the water in the silica will evaporate, dissipating heat and keeping you cooler.
48. Keep tobacco fresh
If you keep tobacco as part of your preps, or if you use it for yourself, you can keep moisture away by using the silica gel packets. Toss them into your bag with the tobacco, or store them in the container that the sealed bags are packed in, and you will know that your tobacco will be usable when you need it.
#49. Make insect repellant
You can crush the silica gel beads into a powder, and use it as an insect repellent or as an insect killer. I would not recommend using it on flying insects, however, placing the powder along or under baseboards or other known entry points will stop the bugs in their tracks.
You can also pour it into a nest such as a yellow jacket hole, and it will kill them. It works by sticking to their body and dehydrating them until they die, which is generally fairly quick. It will also kill eggs in most instances.
#50. Keep DVDs and other discs safe
DVD and other media discs will eventually “rot” and become unusable from excess moisture. Store silica gel packets in the DVD cases or in whatever container they are stored in to help reduce moisture. This is especially important for DVD’s that contain your old photos or backups of your important documents.
So, there you have it! I know we went over a lot of silica gel uses, but can you think of even more that you’ve tried yourself? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to pin this for later on Pinterest.
updated by Steven Hensley on 04/08/2019
Born and raised in Kentucky, Steve grew up deep in the mountains on a family farm. After college, Steve spent over 15 years working in public service and has experience in Fire, EMS, and Law Enforcement. He has also worked with training and deploying search & rescue and service dogs for utilization in a variety of services.
Steve is also a Scout Leader with the Boy Scouts of America, and works to teach preparedness to the next generation. Steve has worked with and taught firearms and self-defense in multiple venues, from tactical applications to long range shooting, and also has extensive training in first aid and wilderness first aid.
An active prepper, Steve has devoted hundreds of hours to mastering and teaching skills and techniques for use in survival, homesteading, and general preparedness.