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Silica gel packets – keeping your preps safe from moisture

The disaster is here! But you aren’t worried, because you are prepared. You have food, tools, ammo, and more. Only to open up your preps to find that moisture has destroyed them! Tools have rusted closed, food has spoiled, and you don’t dare shoot that ammo for fear of exploding in your face. If only there was something you could have done… There is my friends! 

Enter the Silica Gel Packets! Remember those little bean bags that you got with your new TV that says “DO NOT EAT”? That’s them.

I bought a package of 50 reusable food safe silica gel packets on Amazon back in 2018 . These had the included feature of having a clear window on the little packet and color changing beads inside so you could visually tell when they had absorbed their limit and needed recharged. The packets that I got are a bright orange color when they are dry and unused, but will change to a green color when they are saturated with moisture.

New vs Used labelled

I used these silica gel packets in with my electronics, photo albums, tool boxes, ammo, gun storage, and anything I could think of that I didn’t want moisture buildup. And when I got into that item again and saw that it had changed to a dark green color, I replaced it with a new bright orange pack. Now that I have used up all my packets, it is time to test reactivating, and see if paying extra for this reuseability really was worth it.

There are two ways you can reactivate. Putting it in the microwave for 7-12 minutes on Defrost, or baking it in the oven for 30 minutes – 2 hours. 

I started out trying the microwave method. I placed them on a piece of cardboard because I didn’t know exactly what would happen. I didn’t want to have melted plastic all over my wife’s nice dishes.

BEFORE:

Microwave before

After one minute in on the defrost setting, I noticed that the packets were expanding like they were about to explode! 

Microwave 1 minute in 2

All the moisture in the silica gel was escaping from the beads and was trapped inside of the packet and was visible on the clear plastic window.Microwave 1 minute in

There are little perforation holes in the packets though, and this is how they are designed to be recharged, so I decided to keep them going, but watched them a bit more closely. I didn’t need exploded plastic all over my microwave.

After the recommend minimum time of seven minutes, they still had moisture buildup on the inside of the packet so I kept them going in the microwave at two minute increments until the maximum recommended time of 12 minutes. At 12 minutes, they no longer had any visible moisture on the inside of the packet and were no longer a dark green color but now were a dark orange. Still not the bright vibrant orange color like a brand new packet though.

Microwave before and after

Maybe the oven would fair better. Again, I didn’t want my wife to kill me when I melted plastic on her nice cookie sheets, so I lined it with aluminum foil.

oven before

After 30 minutes at 200 degrees, the packets looked a brighter orange than the 12 minute defrost from the microwave and I did not see any moisture on the inside. 

Oven After 1 hour

But some of the packets still were not that original bright orange color.

I contacted the manufacturer and asked what I could do to get the silica gel packets back to the bright orange color that they originally were at. Their recommendation was to bake them in the oven at 250 degrees for 2 hours, and that should get the silica gel packets back to almost bright orange. The manufacturer also said that they wanted to send me out a package of their newest silica gel packet for free. My email wasn’t complaining or anything, but they just wanted to do something nice for me. A+ customer service.

In hopes to get the packets back to a bright orange color, I put all of them from the oven and microwave test onto the cookie sheet and threw it back in the oven. In my impatience, I turned on the convection setting on my oven, which just blew warm air around the oven during the normal bake setting, thinking this would dry them out faster.

This was a mistake… 

crispy

In summary, I highly recommend silica gel packets as part of everyone’s preps. Keeping your gear dry and protected is important to increasing it’s life and function when you need it most. If you get the reusable kind, follow the instructions and use the oven over the microwave.

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  • Comments (3)

    • 2

      I use these desiccants, as well as oxygen absorbers in most of my stored goods.  I only use desiccants with stored garden seed.  All of my stored goods are sealed inside mylar bags & placed inside 6 gallon sealed plastic tubs.  Since the bags are sealed, I really don’t have the option of recharging the packets.

    • 2

      TOTALLY agree about desiccant packs – they belong in any container or bag closed to the outside elements – uber super cheap insurance preservative …..

      and the best desiccant packs are DIY – sized to meet the usage …

      silica gel >> best bulk source I’ve found is the Fresh Step Crystals brand cat litter – 100% silica gel crystals – around $10 for a 8lb bag at your Big Box store chain pet department – that’s alot of DIY desiccant packs ….

      best pack build around are coffee filters – strong enough to make sturdy pack but air permeable for good air/humidity flow >> I use both the home coffee maker size and also the larger commercial Bunn coffee filter size – use a wire twist tie for long term use and good resistance to the oven rejuvenating heat treating ….

      another good DIY container are perforated poly pill bottles – like the coffee filters the pill bottles are food grade and usable for just about any prepping usage ….

      occasionally you could have the large volume storage requirements like a 30 or 55 gallon drum >> best I’ve found is the newer poly coffee cans (28-32 ounce) – perf the cap with holes and fill about 1/2 to 3/4 full ….

      I oven heat rejuvenate the coffee filter packs without unwrapping – shallow tray heat the loose silica gel – use the lowest heat setting and keep the door cracked slightly ….

      I check the rejuvenating by putting the warm packs into a zip lock bag – any telltale moisture residue will gather on the bag …. 

      • 1

        That is a really great idea! Especially for those larger areas that require a bunch of silica gel. Thank you for sharing your experience!