Have you ever wondered what happens if you eat those silica packets marked “Do Not Eat”?
For those who have wondered, read on and you will not have the need anymore to experiment on your own. Even if you have never wondered, now you can find out so you know and can share this potentially intriguing, potentially useless trivia with someone who would appreciate it.
What Silica Is
The packets typically contain silica gel, and this is known as a desiccant, or a substance that absorbs the water vapor in its surroundings. The pockets are intended to maintain the quality of the product they are found in. This is because during shipping, products can get wet.
That would ruin the product and make for very unhappy recipients. The silica gel can become saturated and be reheated at 300 degrees Fahrenheit and reused. This makes it a useful substance. It is also nearly harmless. This is why it is usually in food products.
There are different types of pellets within those packets. Some are clear while others are translucent white and bigger to absorb liquid and still others are translucent and used in the production of silica gel cat litter. These go through an additional drying process.
The use of Silica Gel to keep products from retaining moisture and being ruined was actually patented in 1918. However, silica gel was around in the 1640’s, when it was considered a curiosity for those who were interested in science. During World War I, it became useful as it was used in gas mask canisters to absorb vapors and gases.
What Silica Would Do to the Human Body
Eating a silica packet would cause some uncomfortable conditions in your body. While not life-threatening, the silica would take all the moisture out of your mouth. If you swallowed it, you would then have dry eyes, a dry and irritated throat, an upset stomach and dry mucous membranes and a dry nasal cavity.
However, in order to put you in danger by sucking all of the moisture out of your body, you would need to consume 10 pounds of silica just to absorb four pounds of water.
Since your body is 70% water, for a 201-pound man, it would take 367.5 pounds of silica to withdraw all moisture from his body. It is highly doubtful that anyone would consumer that much silica ever.
Also, the packets of silica are each only 0.1 ounces, so it would take 58,800 packets to suck the moisture out of the body of a 210-pound man. Very doubtful that you would attempt that.
Now you know what Silica Gel is, how it works and how unlikely it would be to cause harm to yourself by consuming one, that does not mean run out and start eating every gel packet you find. They can be useful for many things. Just remember what they are there for every time you discover one.