Silica gel packets can be found in a number of household items. Used as a desiccant, the purpose of silica gel packets is to absorb moisture and keep the insides of containers dry. These tiny packets can be found inside brand new storage containers, water bottles and even inside food items that need to be kept dry.
These packets can also be found inside jars of protein supplements and even a few sneaker manufacturers toss them in new shoes to keep them from getting damp.
A common trait among these packets is that they come with a warning that says ‘do not eat.’ Some of these packets even have a skull and bones printed on them. So will you die if you accidentally eat silica gel?
Absolutely not! The most common misconception about these packets is that they are poisonous. Silica gel is a form of the naturally occurring mineral silicon dioxide which is a completely non-toxic substance that is essentially harmless and indigestible!
Silica gel can absorb 40 percent of its weight in water and it passes through your body and comes out looking pretty much the same as when it went it. The pellets bloat up a bit and even crack when they absorb too much water.
So why does the packaging of these packets make it seem that they are hazardous if consumed? Because a surprisingly large number of people and especially children mistake these packets for food! According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, around 38,000 people reported ingesting desiccants in 2009 out of which 34,000 were children under the age of six. In most cases, poison control officials tell the parents not to worry. While the contents of the package don’t have any significant damage, the packet itself if eaten whole can choke you.
But there is a catch. While most food grade silica gel is non-toxic, a few varieties are spiked with cobalt chloride which can cause nausea and vomiting. So if you accidentally swallow silica gel and feel weird, consult a doctor for further guidance.