Silica gel is a desiccant, a substance that absorbs moisture. Despite its misleading name, the silicate is actually a very porous mineral with a natural attraction to water molecules. Manufacturers utilize the gel to keep goods from spoiling, molding or degrading due to humidity. The gel itself is nontoxic, but can have a moisture indicator added (cobalt chloride) which is a known toxin that turns pink when hydrated and is otherwise blue in its dry form.
Then I discovered several great suggestions for using these packs around the house and keeping them from the landfill just a wee bit longer.
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