You find those little white packets in all kinds of purchased items these days. They're packets of silica gel used to absorb moisture. Instead of throwing them away, you can reuse the packets in many hobbies and activities. Reusing them can solve storage problems or save time.
Silica gel is really not a gel; it comes in little beads sealed into the packet. Silica gel has the ability to absorb water that causes mould or moisture damage. It can absorb up to 40 per cent of its weight. Silica gel is non-toxic and non-flammable. It doesn't create any environmental hazards.
Have any old photographs or papers you want to preserve? Put a silica gel pack in a Ziploc bag or airtight box and add your old photos to store them indefinitely. You can even put in keepsakes, such as your wedding favours or collectibles including baseball cards.
If you save your own seeds for planting next year, storing them so they don't mould is important. Add a silica gel packet to your container, making sure it's airtight. Store the different seeds in small envelopes and then put them all in an airtight container together with the silica gel packet. You only need one per shoe box-sized container.
Boating and Fishing
When you're out on the water, you need to protect your cell phone, your car's keyless remote, or maybe an iPod from getting wet. You can buy watertight containers for this, but small amounts of moisture can get in when you have it open. Humidity isn't good for electronics. Add a packet of silica gel to keep your items as dry as possible.
In the Home
Silica gel will keep silver from tarnishing, so add a packet to a jewellery box or cupboard where you store silver dishes and platters. Do you store leather shoes or boots for the summer? Put them in airtight bags/boxes with one or two silica gel packets to ensure they don't mould. This is particularly helpful in Southern climates, where the long, humid summers can affect closets that don't have air conditioning vents inside. The same works for linen closets. Because silica gel is odourless, you can add something for a nice smell like lavender or potpourri.
Storage and Recharging
Because silica gel absorbs moisture, store extra packets in an airtight container or zip lock bag until you need them. Silica gel can be recharged by drying it out. Put the packets on a tray in a warm oven, about 79.4 to 93.3 degrees C, for about 15 minutes. This reactivates the silica. Note that microwaving doesn't work to recharge the packets. You have to use a traditional oven. Silica gel is not considered an environmental hazard so when you're ready, it's OK to throw it in the trash.
- Erica Winston