Silica gel comes in lots of consumer packaging and is used to absorb moisture and to keep it away from foods, medicines, clothing and even electronics.
Silica gel bags often come with warning labels “DO NOT EAT” and you may be wondering is silica gel dangerous to touch or can you safely touch it?
Is it poisonous to humans? Should you be concerned if a pack breaks open and you need to pick up the little beads?
NO, Silica Gel is NOT dangerous to touch, it is extremely safe to touch. It is basically a synthetic version of sand that adsorbs water. Colored silica gel has chemical coatings on them which can be a mild skin irritant in some people.
But overall you don’t need to be stressed about coming in contact with silica gel.
The white/clear silica gel you can touch with your hands and skin without any problems and if you’re going to be handling the colored silica gel then it is advised you use protective equipment.
I’ve personally been looking into some of the different uses of silica gel and if silica gel expires or not and I wanted to make sure I was being safe when handling it.
So i’ve done my research to try and find out what are the risks of having silica gel come in contact with my skin for short or long periods of time. Should I be worried or is this stuff safe to handle and hold?
What Is Silica Gel and Why Is It Safe To Touch?
Silica Gel is a form of silicon dioxide, SiO2, which occurs in nature as sand.
You don’t see people taking strolls along the beach and feeling the sand between their toes and then having their feet swell up and dying. That just doesn’t happen.
This is because silica gel and sand are non-toxic.
The difference between sand and silica gel is that silica gel is non-crystalline and highly porous whereas sand is crystalline and non-porous.
These pores or tiny microscopic cavities are what allow silica gel to adsorb water.
So silica gel is basically a different version of sand and is very safe to touch.
Is Colored Silica Gel Dangerous To Touch
While normal white/clear silica gel is completely safe to touch colored silica gel does pose some hazards. However, in small amounts and for short periods of time touching colored silica gel shouldn’t pose any major health risks. But avoid touching it with your skin where possible
When you see blue or pink silica gel this means it has likely be coated with cobalt chloride. When you see orange or green silica gel it has likely been coated with methyl violet.
Cobalt chloride is blue when dry, however the presence of water changes it’s color to pink. This allows you to see when the silica gel is full of water and when it’s dry.
This is useful in applications where you need to see if there has been water present or not.
IHC World says cobalt chloride is a possible carcinogen (cancer causing) and that it is very toxic and a skin sensitiser.
Methyl violet is orange when dry and turns green in the presence of water.
Fisher Scientific state that it can cause eye irritations as well as skin irritations and may cause irritation of the digestive tract if swallowed. It actually has a variety of medical uses due to its antibacterial and anti-fungal properties and has even been used for oral fungal infections.
Kitty litter is a common place you’ll find colored silicon gel. You’ll see that the majority of the kitty litter is just regular silica gel and just a small portion has the colored silica gel beads.
This minimises the overall health risk, especially if your cat happens to eat any of the silica gel beads.