While opening or examining your purchases you might of noticed white pouches inside different boxes, purses, etc. that say "Do Not Eat". Maybe in the past you asked yourself what they were, or maybe you still don’t know. The following article will give you more information related to these small packs.
Confused to find these white packets that say “Do Not Eat” and have no idea of what the purpose of having that tiny bag inside the package?
The tiny bags are called desiccant packs. More often, they can be seen in shoe boxes, but also widely used on almost all packages that need to have a longer shelf life. These desiccant packs preserve the product’s quality while still inside the enclosed packages or boxes.
In every package, fighting moisture damage and odors of the product is a potential problem. Desiccant packs absorb moisture and fight any bad odors to preserve the product. Odor is often accompanied by moisture and condensation. Moisture causes the product to corrode, form molds, and/or to be contaminated with fungi and bacteria. Because of these occurrences, it may greatly affect the quality and eventually lead to product damage or food spoilage which causes in the end, revenue loss.
There are different types of desiccant packs depending on their purpose. It is very important for you to understand the types as they are all meant for different purposes.
1. Silica Gel
The most common desiccant packs type is the silica gel desiccant. Silica Gel is the one which is very frequently found on different food and pharmaceutical products as it is the only desiccant approved for direct contact with such items by the FDA. We can find it purified and processed in beaded or granular form but silica gel is actually a naturally occurring mineral known as silicon dioxide (SiO2).
Silica gel packets can drop the relative humidity from 90% RH down to 40% RH and performs best at room temperature but will absorb moisture at high temperatures up to 220°F (105°C).
With its vast range of pore sizes, silica gel has the ability to absorb not only water but other compounds like alcohol, ammonia, aromatics and olefins too.
2. Indicating Silica Gel
A similar desiccant type is the indicating silica gel. Indicating silica gel is almost the same with the normal silica gel desiccant but the difference is that it is not chemically inert and it has the color-changing ability to indicate the amount of moisture it already absorbed. Having been washed with a concentration of heavy metal salt, cobalt chloride which has a deep blue color when dry. It will turn into purple as the concentration of moisture rises, turning into pink when saturated indicating it is time to be replaced.
Because of the cobalt chloride addition, indicating silica gel should not be used in contact with food, pharmaceuticals or other consumption products
3. Molecular Sieve
The molecular sieve is a synthetic desiccant, porous crystalline aluminosilicates which has a great affinity for moisture molecules. It is different from other desiccants by its uniformity of the pore sizes openings.
4. Montmorillonite Clay
Montmorillonite clay is a good basic naturally occurring desiccant which works best at a temperature below 120°F (49°C). At temperatures above 120°F there is a great possibility that it will give up moisture instead of absorbing it. This makes montmorillonite clay great for fast repeated successfully regenerations. It is also the least expensive desiccant on the market.
5. Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal is a great desiccant because of its immense network of tiny pores. It has the ability to absorb not only water but toxins, pollutants, and unpleasant scents. It is used as a desiccation around the house but also in medicine and agriculture
Not all types of desiccant packs are recommended to be used with foods safely. You can find silica gel packs for foods that are FDA approved, so you can use them to store grains, dried foods, etc.
Putting desiccant packs on soaked gadgets will absorb the moisture and water inside them. This option is better than blow drying (which is not advisable). Just make sure that you have removed visible water inside the gadget as much as possible, put the gadget inside a bowl accompanied by desiccant packs and cover. Let it stand overnight.
There are so much more to state on how these small packs will be helpful for you so if you are interested, try the links from the left side menu for more information. Just always remember that when it comes to moisture-removal problems, having a desiccant pack should be at the top of the list.