You’ve seen these packets, they fall out of new shoe boxes, purses, electronic equipment packaging, clothing pockets, food packages, anything that might be damaged by moisture. And if you have small kids or pets you hurriedly pick them up if they fall onto the floor because they have “THROW AWAY. DO NOT EAT” written on them. The message seems ominous, threatening. A warning that you must heed.
But have you ever wondered what would happen if you DID eat one?
First things first, silica gel is not toxic and is actually used to keep things dry. Its most notable trait is its porousness, which allows it to absorb up to 40 percent of its weight in water. Since at least the mid-20th-century, it has been widely used as a desiccant, placed inside containers to prevent the contents from getting damp.
Why is it not toxic?
Silica gel is a form of the naturally occurring mineral silicon dioxide, better known in its granular form as sand or in crystals as quartz. Contrary to the warnings—it’s an inert, nontoxic substance that’s essentially harmless. Indigestible, it passes through the body and comes out looking much the same as when it went in. At least one manufacturer even markets a modified form of silica gel as a dietary supplement, complete with “new citrus taste.”
What should you do if you actually consumed silica?