I think there’s hardly a person reading this who hasn’t come into contact with those weird tiny silica gel packets that absorb moisture. You’ll find them everywhere.
Bought a nice new pair of sneakers that you’ll jump into once the winter snow melts? There’s a silica gel pack inside the box. Received a new smartphone for work? There it is, snuggling up to the charger and silica gel. Got yourself some cheap dehydrated ramen to eat for lunch? Surprise surprise—there’s a gel pack next to the desiccated noodles waving ‘hello’ to you.
Our first instinct is to throw it out (or ‘yeet’ it, as the youngsters say these days) immediately and never think about it again. However, that might be a mistake. You see, silica gel packets are surprisingly useful and non-toxic, as one Reddit user, Beast667Neighbour, explained in a viral post. Check out their advice below, upvote your fave life hacks, and be sure to read our little warning about silica gel below (spoiler alert: even if it's not poisonous, you still shouldn't eat it). Oh, and be sure to read Bored Panda's full in-depth interview with the author of the post, Beast667Neighbour.
Put some of these in your toolbox - they will keep your tools free of rust.
Silica gel is a desiccant and that means that it pulls water out of the air. The gel is made from silicon dioxide, a component naturally founds in sand.
Healthline explains that silica gel is “chemically inert” and won’t break down in your body and cause poisoning. However, it can cause choking—that’s the primary reason for the “do not eat” warning printed on the front.
Swallowing silica gel shouldn’t make you sick and, in most cases, it’ll simply pass through your body without any negative effects. However, that really isn’t an excuse to go eating silica gel. Please, don’t do it. It has no nutritious value whatsoever and it can cause all sorts of obstructions within your body and cause actual problems.
They can help keep your makeup bag fresh. Also put them in with your jewelry so it won't tarnish as quickly.
The redditor's inspiration behind their post on the 'Life Pro Tips' subreddit was simple: they believe that trash and pollution have caused an environmental crisis and they want to be part of the solution, not the problem.
"So my advice is the best way to reduce waste by simply reusing the packets. The truth is, almost every day people are buying new products, and they create new trash. So, every action, no matter how small it is, is meaningful and makes a difference. Everyone should minimize the amount of trash they produce."
Beast667Neighbour didn't expect such a huge response and so much attention. However, they're glad that a topic that they care about, recycling and minimizing our impact on the environment, is getting its time in the spotlight online. "Many of the commenters wrote that they are already reusing silica gel packets in their daily life while other people were enthusiastic about the idea. Such a response is really encouraging and gives hope."
You’ll never have to wait for your windshield to clear up in the mornings again. Just put few silica sachets under your windshield. They will absorb the moisture, leaving your windshield clear.
According to the author of the post, we tend to throw away the silica packs because we simply don't think about reusing them. In their opinion, we're far too excited about the products that we buy to glance twice at the packets. Meanwhile, others don't believe that silica gel is effective or are just downright lazy.
"Some people throw it in the trash because they believe it is dangerous, especially those who have children and pets. Which is kinda understandable. The gel should be used responsibly. We do not take it out of the bag, we always keep it in the bag!" they said. "Silica gel is chemically inert. This means it won’t break down in the body. However, because it won’t break down, the gel or packet and gel can cause choking. That’s why manufacturers often label them with 'do not eat' and 'throw away after using.' They may cause nausea and vomiting in pets. Please make sure you keep silica gel away from children and animals!"
Throw them in your gym bag and you can prevent bacteria or mold from growing. It also gets rid of nasty odors.
The redditor had another life hack to help us out. They told Bored Panda that rice absorbs moisture the same way as silica gel. "Since silica gel should not be used directly with food, you can use raw rice grains instead. It can happen that the salt in the storage container/jar becomes hard and that the spices (garlic powder for example) can stick together in small lumps. My advice is this: add a few spoons of rice to the mesh of the jar that contains salt or spices. The mesh on top of the jar will separate the rice grains from the salt or spices when added to the food."
In less than a day, Beast667Neighbour’s post on the r/LifeProTips got more than 50k upvotes and we know that this number will keep on rising, so keep an eye on it. What’s more, the redditor got a whole bunch of awards for their helpful post. 164, in fact, but we’re pretty darn sure more of those will float their way.
Forget about rice, put a wet phone or other electronic devices in silica.
It’s pretty obvious why the redditor’s thread got so much attention: it’s simple, clear, to-the-point, informative, and inspired others to jump in with their own silica gel-related advice.
Beast667Neighbour pointed out that silica gel essentially helps prolong the life of anything that excess moisture or condensation would degrade over time. When you think about it, the list of things affected can be pretty long. It all comes down to your imagination.
Keep Dry Goods Dry - it can help keep foods like dried herbs, bread crumbs, crackers, and anything else that should be kept as crispy as possible from getting soggy. So, you can put some silica gel bags in the food wardrobe
The redditor suggested that you throw in a silica gel pack inside your gym pack to stop bacteria or nasty mold from growing there. This can also get rid of nasty smells. Anyone who’s ever owned a gym bag knows how unpleasant those can be. The same goes for keeping camera bags and makeup bags fresh.
Meanwhile, placing packs in your toolbox will keep your tools rust-free. They can also help preserve books, old photos, and razor blades. What’s more, they’ll help keep dry food goods, well, dry.
Two of the tips that really got our attention is throwing in some silica gel packets into your luggage if you’re ever packing wet clothing. Anyone who’s traveled their fair share will know that storms, a lack of a dryer, or even coffee-spilling accidents are unpredictable. The second one is that silica gel can help clear up your car windshield in the morning!
For photographers: Put some pockets in camera bag
In short, silica gel is pretty darn amazing. It bodes repeating that it’s non-toxic. However, it’s still not edible, so make sure that your kids and pets can’t reach these little moisture-absorbing overachievers.
Another redditor, AmishAbe, also suggested that if you’re serious about fighting excess moisture in your life, you could get packets with color-changing beads. That way, you’ll know when they’re saturated. And when they are, you can just plop them into the microwave for 7 minutes on ‘defrost’ mode and voilà—they’re ready to keep your condensation levels in-check once more.
However, another redditor, SteampunkBorg, said that heating the packets in the oven might be safer than in the microwave because it’s more controlled and there are fewer temperature spikes. Remember to stay safe if you decide to 'bake' soggy silica gel at home. Maybe just go buy some new packets if you're new to this. Play it safe.
If you ever have to pack moist clothes, especially when you are on holiday, just put some of these packets into the luggage.
Keeps the razor blades-sharp edges from rusting and dulling very well.
So, dear Pandas, what did you think of all the advice? Is excess moisture a big problem in your life? Are your tools rusty and does your windshield get foggy each and every morning? What do you do with your silica gel packets? (I keep all of mine in one box for no good reason, but I’m going to spread them around a bit in key areas now.) Tell us what you think in the comment section below!