Introduction: Reusing Desiccant Packs

Picture of Reusing Desiccant Packs

Silica gel is handy to have around to keep moisture at a minimum in packaging. It can be used to try to save wet cell phones, keep salt, sugar, and spices from clumping, and keep tools from rusting. Tackle boxes, camera cases, the possibilities are endless. But once it soaks up so much moisture, they become fairly useless. But they can be rescued!

Step 1: Wow!

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I got this big honker at work. I work in a hospital laboratory and these are used in a part of an analyzer to keep the reagents at a certain humidity. After a while the desiccant absorbs too capacity and can't keep the humidity stable and the machine requests new ones. It doesn't come into contact with an biohazardous waste so I thought I'd take a shot at rejuvenating them. I've always felt bad just throwing all ten out.

Step 2: Drive That Moisture Out

Picture of Drive That Moisture Out

You could probably do this in a microwave for smaller packets. Maybe a few 15 to 30 second bursts. I had nearly 2 pounds of these things so I decided to put them in a low oven (250F) and let them go for an hour and a half.

After baking for that time they were noticeably lighter. I honestly don't know what I'm going to do with them though. Quite large. Maybe put them in my tool boxes. Desk drawers. Tape them to the lid of the container I keep sugar in. I don't know. At least they aren't landfill.

Comments

SHOE0007 (author)2016-04-28

You know this is very useful too. I usally use these bags to make a cheap dryer for wet chemicals.

CaseyCase (author)2015-06-09

FYI--Crystal kitty litter such as "Mimi Litter" are essentially dessicant. I keep a 4 pound bag in my gun safe. Pretty sure I paid around $4 a bag. I imagine that it can be reused if you wanted to drive off the accumulated moisture as this instructable suggests.

dlewisa (author)CaseyCase2015-06-09

That's very helpful. Thanks.

43totheN (author)2015-06-09

Just be careful with the temperature. Heating these too high will result in the beads melting/disintegrating and make a huge, possibly uncleanable, mess. Don't ask how I know this. :(

dlewisa (author)43totheN2015-06-09

Oh. Ooooooh. Okay.

gravityisweak (author)2015-06-09

Nice tip. I wonder if these would dry out just by leaving them in the sun. My problem is knowing when to recharge them, and where to get those huge ones.

dlewisa (author)gravityisweak2015-06-09

I don't know where you could get the big ones. Hmmm. I bet you can buy the silica crystals and make your own packets for them.

BeachsideHank (author)2015-06-08

These pouches are great to have, you can also get them from electronic items, shoes, etc. You are correct, they have an indefinite useful life if dried out, your low oven technique seems appropriate, after all it's just a simple dehydration routine.

Great post!

dlewisa (author)BeachsideHank2015-06-09

Thanks! I just need to figure out how I want to use them. I can get a bunch of the tiny ones too.

BeachsideHank (author)dlewisa2015-06-09

The uses are unlimited, I put a tampon (pouch) of it in with my dry shellac flakes in a glass jar, and keep it in the back of my fridge, it extends the nominal 1 year shelf life by about 3X, moisture is the enemy of the flakes, so this is a no- cost solution for me. Then too, all my ferrous tools such as drill bits, etc. get a packet also.

Edbed (author)2015-06-09

Great instructable!

dlewisa (author)Edbed2015-06-09

thanks!

ChrisAu (author)2015-06-08

cool, I can get the big ones from work as well. nice to know how to dry them. I put them in with the filament for my 3d printer.

dlewisa (author)ChrisAu2015-06-09

3d printer. Lucky duck.

mole1 (author)2015-06-08

If you garden, put them in with saved seeds in an air tight container. Thanks for posting this, I've always wondered how to dry them.

dlewisa (author)mole12015-06-09

That's a good idea. Thanks.

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