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!
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
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.