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Keeping Your Stuff Dry

March 29, 2018

By Joan McDaniel                                     March 29, 2018

Learning How To Eat

This blog tells the story of my regained health from the food I ate and the things I learned. Over time, I slowly recovered, regained my health and strength and kissed my bedridden days good-by.  Along the way, I had to learn not only how to cook but how to eat. I started feeding the wildlife, grow a garden and returned to enjoying life again. I had a long way to go, but could support myself again and was getting stronger a day at a time.

I spent the next several years exploring natural food, natural nutrition and how to preserve it all. The Internets access to homeopathy, and naturalist writing help but so did my remembering what my Grand Parents use to say.  For this type of learning isn’t taught anywhere or at least it wasn’t back in 2012.

Time passed my experience grew from learning how to boil water without a microwave and how to grow and use the foods I grew in my garden or got from the local farmer. Summer passed then came the Winer Harvest.

Winter Harvest

The approaching autumn meant winter was coming. Now Kale is a hardy plant but even it freezes during the winter.  I would have to learn how to eat seasonally.

I had an extremely limited budget. I had some savings and was on sick leave but both were running out.

I bought freezers and cooked up food dishes ahead of time,  I learned how to sprout, and ferment (pickle with brine) food. Canning looked to labor intensive so I avoided it.

The Farmers began to sell winter squash.  Mother Nature provides winter squash also known as the pumpkin as an excellent winter food.  If kept in a cool place the pumpkins and squash will last to the spring.

But my biggest problem was what was I going to do with the Herbs and dry Tea leaves I had accumulated?  I found if you want to restore health you need a good understanding of herbs and spices.

Now What Do I Do With My Herbs and Spices?


Dried Herbs ad Spices

When most people think of herbs for supplements, they think of a bottle of pills.  But in this modern monopoly world, I don’t trust the finished product and the added ingredients so I had to learn to make my own. Freezing doesn’t really work so I learned to make my own capsules from dry herbs.

Storage of Herbs 

Herbs must be kept fresh and dry, free of milder, moister, and mold.  They will not freeze.  The herb’s cell wall is destroyed when you freeze them, they lose their taste and texture, and become limp and completely tasteless.

Humid East Coast

I live in the East Coast next to the Hudson River.  It is always humid summer, or winter.  My house was built in 1914 and like all things that have weathered time –  it strong but leaky, and extremely humid. Sometimes I think it is more humid inside than it is outside.

Dog shake


There were days so humid, I thought I could do this also!!!Dehumidifiers

What I needed was a dehumidifier, but my limited budget made an expensive electronic dehumidifier out of the question.  I also doubted their efficiency or if they would even work,  I had to find a better way. I started looking around I realized I didn’t need to treat the whole basement I just needed a small corner with a small table or shelf.

I guess that is why they call it shopping because one day while browsing the hardware store I noticed a product called DampRid.

It is a temporary and inexpensive manual dehumidifier sold at retail outlets and refillable. It works using naturally occurring chemicals in a self-contained unit. There are now several products like DampRid Available



“DampRid is a room dehumidifier that doesn’t need expensive equipment or electricity.  It is a convenient, all natural way to absorb excess moisture in the air or dehumidify.  Excess moisture in the air can cause stale musty odors, and cause damage to your possessions from mold and mildew.

DampRid uses calcium chloride Crystals which are highly soluble in water.  “It also acts as a desiccant (a hygroscopic substance used as a drying agent) which removes water from the air.”.  The small unit above does an area of about 1,000 square feet.

I Also Used Himalayan Sea Salt Lamps

I also Himalayan sea lamps for the house, and got himalayan sea salt blocks.


Bag of Peppermint

I got a couple of DampRid’s, my block of Himalayan Sea salt, a big bag of dry peppermint leaves and a small portable table.  Peppermint was very useful with my illness for it help improve digestion, fight fungus, Yeast and parasites.  It also helps reduce anxiety, inflammation and pain. I would take a small amount and add to my daily hot tea.

I took out about a month supply of the peppermint and double bagged the rest, sealed it with a rubber band, and put it in a box on a small table in the basement with the Damp Rid alongside.

After about a month, the herb was still dry and full of fresh smelling mint.  As time passed, I gathered other herbs but them in on the same table.  I used these herbs mostly for tea’s – healing teas.

Then one day I ran into an article about holistic living that talked about a Silicon Gel Pack.



Gell Silica Packs 

I’m sure unless you just fell off a pumpkin truck, or wasn’t born yesterday, you have seen some of these little packets in things you buy.


Cat-nip truck 

They at first reminded me of the prize I would get as kid from a box of Cracker Jacks.

Silicon Gel Packs

The printing on the package when in English simply says, “DESICCANT SILICA GEL THROW AWAY DO NOT EAT”.

The packets looked harmless enough, I never really thought much about them except they seemed to get in the way but they must me in there for some reason and never thought about it again.  The manufacture put them there.  I did get the impression they were very dangerous or toxic.

The Big Surprise 

From my research, I found these little packets are anything but trash.  They are extremely useful and harmless and should never be thrown away.

They have unlimited uses and you can use them just about anywhere with anything.  Except don’t eat it, more about that later.

They can absorb water.  Up to 40 percent of their weight.  Silicon Gel is extremely porous.  They were exactly what my herbs needed to stay dry and fresh free of mold.

DampRid removed large amount of moister from the air and these gel packets would remove the smaller moister from the actual product.  Something a large dehumidifier could never do because the product is so small.

Don’t Throw Them Away 

Rather than throw these packets away, why not keep them handy?  I started tossing them into jars and taping them to lids of things I wanted to keep dry like flour, rice, salt, sugar, and many other things.

Once the packets become saturated or become less efficient they can be restore them by drying them out in the oven (Note remove the paper packaging first) or microwave.

I now use them everywhere.

Now What Exactly is A Silica Gel Packet?

I don’t know why they are called a gel? They don’t look anything like a gel. They are hard and tough little beads. Silica gel is a granular, vitreous, porous form of silicon dioxide made synthetically from sodium silicate.  It is a natural occurring mineral made from silicon dioxide which is better known in its granular form as sand or crystals as quartz. It is purified and processed into granular or beaded form.

Silica is a desiccant (used as a drying agent) and is normally available in a small paper packet.  In this form, it is used to control local humidity to avoid spoilage or degradation of some goods. It can absorb 40% of its weight in water.

Beyond that I don’t quite understand, I’m a little light in chemistry.   The more I try to understand how these little beads work the more confused I get. But all I can say is they really work.!! Let’s talk about what I do understand and that is how extremely useful these packets are.

It’s from material of the Earth

Silicon dioxide is obtained by mining for quartz and/or sand. Quartz sand (silica) is a raw material used for commercial glass production. Chemical processing is required to make a purer or otherwise more suitable (e.g. more reactive or fine-grained) product. Some product have chemicals added to them to absorb odor like Cat Liter, and some have chemicals added to help determine saturation level.

How Does Silica Gel Work?

Many useful things come from the Earth

I am finding a lot of things from the earth are extremely useful and healing.  Like clay for clay detoxing, diatomaceous earth as an absorbent for liquids, insecticide, anti-bacteria, anti-fungus, and anti-viral (I use it in my garden, on me and on my cats for their flees),  Citric acid which comes from a lemon. Actual citric acid is useful.  Its like having a fresh lemon around all the time.

Citric acid – is found in citric acid fruit like Gooseberry, Grapefruit, lemon, limes, oranges, pineapples. It is mostly found in sour fruits like lemons.  It also is great to help prevent falling asleep while driving.  It has antioxidant properties, it acts as an acid buffer to help regulate acidity in the body. It lowers the pH of food and beverages.  It has a very sour tart flavor. It is a popular food additive to help form jams and jellies, stabilize dairy among other benefits.  It also help put the shine in glass and enhance cleaning. It even helps keep you awake especially while driving.

Back to Silica Gel

Silica gel is a form of the naturally occurring mineral silicon dioxide  better known in its granular form as sand or crystals as quartz. The most important notable trait is its porous meaning it can adsorbs up to 40 percent of its weight in water.


  • It’s a natural product (like clay)
  • It comes from the Earth
  • Plant materials that contain silica are important to grazing animals
  • silica is the major constituent of sand and is the primary ingredient in the production of most glass.
  • Silica is a common additive in food and used to make other products production and for human consumption. From Tooth Paste, to diatomaceous earth (used as a natural insecticide)
  • Used in Libraries and museums
  • Used to guard against rust on anything like scissors or razors
  • Reduce tarnishing, mildew, mold and spoilage

The most popular use of Silica Gel is as a desiccant or drying agent.  It comes in the shape of beads wrapped in a permeable packet and normally placed inside a closed container with the product. These tiny beads act as de-humidifier and chemically absorb moisture and stay dry to the touch.

Silica Gel Packets adsorps Moister – A Lot of Moister 


Adsorption vs Absorption.  

Whats the difference? A D and a B. Absorb means on the surface, Absorb means the molecules of the substance in penetrated in to the interior.

Silica Gel Packets hold the water on the surface not inside.  This makes them easy to reconstitute by simply drying up the water with heat and re-using them all over again.

How to Use these Packets

Place packets and your desired items you want to keep dry in a tightly closed container and things stay dry from surrounding moister.

I find using a re-seal plastic bag an ideal container.

Don’t Throw them away 

I have reused this packets over and over and they haven’t gotten saturated yet.  But here is what you do to reactivate them.

How to Reactivate these Packets

When the beads no longer absorb moister, it means they are probably saturated and need to be reactivated.  To reactivate, remove paper covering and place the loose beads into an oven proof container and bake in the oven for 0.5 to 2 hours at 200-250F, or Microwave for about 10 Minutes at DEFROST. Don’t use over 250F in the Oven. Depending on beads’ condition, they may take shorter than the recommended time.  Don’t let the beads spill, they are a pain to pick up and make walking hazardous.

List of Things You Can Keep Dry or Dry Out.

Ammo, Bags with wet clothing like swim suits, Beef Jerky, Books,  Bottles of medication and pills or vitamins, Cameras, Camera Equipment, Camera Lenses, Canisters, Cat Litter, Clothes, Collectables,  Cookies, Cosmetics,  Decorations, Documents, Electronics, Electronic Equipment, Expensive Equipment, Fertilizers, Food, Sprouting foods like Onions, potatoes, Guns, Gym Bags, Dry Flower arrangements, Dried Food., (like dried beans, jerky, pet food (dry Kibble), Seaweed)), Hand bags, Herbs, Jewelry, Military Equipment and Supplies, New Leather Products, Nuts, Pet Food, Protect Photos, Safes, Seeds, Snacks, Shoes, Spices, Sprouting foods like Onions, potatoes, Tool Boxes, Travel Bags, Valuables, Watches, Foggy Windshields, and Wet cell Phones.

And whatever else you can think of.  I use them in just about everything food or non-food.

Risk Assessment

Now we are at the Don’t Eat Part.

Contrary to the hard-hitting warnings, Silicon gel is an inert nontoxic substance that’s essentially harmless.

Of course, you don’t want to swallow or inhale them and you want to keep them away from babies and any pets but what happens if you do accidentally eat them or something? The best answer is Nothing.  Since these little pearls adsorbs moister, they could cause dehydration but that would have to be a large amount and since they are like eating sand you can’t swallow that much. If they are swallowed they can’t be digested and simply pass through.

Added Chemicals

Watch out for sometimes chemicals have been added to the silica gel.  Sometimes, these things are added intentionally and packaged silica gel might have a bit of fungicide or pesticide added to it. Things like Cat Litter have odor packets added.

Another additive to watch out for is cobalt(II) chloride, which is toxic. This is added to the gel when a visible indication of absorption is needed. The cobalt(II) chloride makes the granules blue when they’re dry and turn pink when they’re saturated.


Silica gel isn’t exactly new, it was in existence as early ant the 1640s as a scientific curiosity.  It was used in World War I for the absorption of vapors and gases in mask canisters. In 1918, Walter A. Patrick a chemistry professor at Johns Hopkins University was granted a patent on the synthetic form of silica gel. During World War II, silica gel was used for many things including keeping penicillin dry, protecting military equipment from moister damage, and as part of the production that supported the synthetic rubber program.

Till Next Time


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