Silica gel

What Does Silica Gel Do?

Silica gel is one of the most known materials that people remain unaware of what it is and its uses. These small packets are enclosed in numerous commodities starting from shoe boxes to vitamin bottles with the universal cautionary words ‘’Do Not Eat.” But just what does silica gel do? Through comprehensively discussing about what silica gel is, what it is made from, where and why it is typically used, this blog hopes to turn silica gel into a more familiar object.

What is Silica Gel?

Silica gel is a porous, sharply angular flaked vitreous variety of silicon dioxide or SiO₂, which is procured from sand. It is synthesised to incorporate a high surface area and thus, it is very effective in absorbing moisture, or what is commonly referred to as a desiccant. It is in the form of a gel which has tiny pores that can accumulate and retain moisture which is very essential in several uses.

How is Silica Gel Made?

Possibly the most common type, silica gel production involves the treatment of sodium silicate with sulfuric acid. This reaction produces a gel which is then washed and dehydrated to give the familiar rough granules of silica gel. Different sizes and pore structures of the silica gel can be achieved and this process can be altered to suit the destined use of the final product.

The Science Behind Silica Gel

  • Absorption vs. Adsorption

Silica gel’s main application uses include the regulation of humidity where it can be used as a desiccant. However, it can be said that silica gel interacts with the water molecule by adsorbing it. Adsorption is defined as a situation where one phase is enriched in a substance in question by having the substance penetrate its volume as with a sponge and water. On the other hand, Adsorption is characterised by molecules attaching or bonding themselves to the surface of a material. The material silica gel can literally hold or capture subcutaneous water and moist on the surface of the gel and allow it to remain locked in the gel pores.

  • Moisture Capacity

An ideal adsorbent such as silica gel has the capacity of holding 40 percent of its weight in water moisture. This capacity is a factor of the temperature and the relative humidity of the surroundings but is still manageable even in low RH conditions. This property makes silica gel to be very important in the conservation process of the integrity of various products.

Silica gel is widely used in the packaging industry due to its excellent characteristics of absorbing moisture/humidity and releasing it when needed.

Preserving Food and Pharmaceuticals

A major application of the silica gel is for food and drug packaging, but other applications include moisture control in sportswear and shoes, under tear-off lids, in salt packages, Humidity Indicator Cards, bird food and pet food packaging, fish food packaging where a special paper containing silica gel is often provided to control moisture content and many other potential uses. 

  • Protecting Electronics

Electronics are very delicate when it comes to issues to do with moisture, as this normally leads to corrosion and product malfunction. People commonly use small packets of silica gel for protecting their cameras, cell phones and other similar gadgets. In this way, it reduces the humidity level and thus – protects the expensive and delicate items from getting moist, which may be disastrous for them.

  • Safeguarding Collectibles

People with stamp collections, coin collections, and other valuable items such as gold coins preserve them using silica gel. They earm can cause oxidation, mold, and other forms of dampness to occur. With silica gel small items are stored in various containers ensuring their condition remains as their collectors wish.

  • Industrial Applications

It’s also used for specific applications such as drying of gases, liquids, and as filtering media in industries. It has the benefit of being able to absorb or retain moisture, which is beneficial in operations that may be threatened by water intrusions.

Environmental and Safety Considerations

  • Non-Toxic Nature

Surprisingly, the “Do Not Eat” notice that is usually placed near these packets is true because silica gel seems to be non-hazardous. The caution is mainly to avoid obstructing the airways and to avoid placing the beads in the mouth or ingesting it in large quantities because the beads have potential health hazards when consumed in large proportions. The major concern over safety is eradicating the possibility of children and pets getting a hold of the packets and popping them into their mouths.

  • Disposal and Recycling

On the use of silica gel, it was noted that responsible disposal of the product must be done. However, it still is not toxic, but in a better safe than sorry situation, one should follow they local dumps rules. At some he has observed that there are chances that the gel is collected in facilities where it can be reactivated and recycled for use in industries.

Innovations and Future Uses

  • Smart Packaging

However due to the enhancement in technology there is mostly use of smart packaging solutions that include silica gel. These packages can be designed to change colors to show moisture levels and this will help a person know that it is time to replace the desiccant. Silica gel is a significant material in several areas of production due to its optimal porosity and adsorption properties; this innovation realizes its optimization in use.

  • Silica Gel in Medicine

Current research has been conducted to identify uses of Silica gel in the medical field. The biocompatibility and non-toxicity of the compound points it to be a promising material for use in drug delivery applications and other biomedical uses. Specialists foresee employing the small pores possessed by the silica gel to drape medications and release them better within the body.


Silica gel is a useful and indispensable product in the present era because of its contribution in relation to maintaining the quality of a wide array of items. Ranging from basic necessities such as food, pharmaceuticals to semi-luxuries like electronics, collectibles; its property of moisture control makes it a must-have. It is so noticeable that tiny packs of silica gel play a great role in safety, durability, as well as functions of numerous objects people employ in everyday life.