Are silica gel packets really toxic? Why we cannot eat it?

You’ve probably seen silica gel packets in many products you buy with a warning label that says “Do not eat”. But why we can’t eat it? And what would happen if you ate them?

Is silica gel toxic?

Silica gel is a substance that can absorb moisture from the air. It is often used as a desiccant, which means a drying agent, to prevent damage caused by humidity. The good news is that silica gel is usually non-toxic, meaning that it won’t harm you if you swallow it. The bad news is that it is a choking hazard, especially for small children and pets. Silica gel packets are often labeled with “Do not eat” because of the risk of choking. The whole packet, granules, or beads may become lodged in the throat and block the airway.

In rare cases, some silica gel packets may contain cobalt chloride, a toxic compound that changes color when it absorbs water. Cobalt chloride is a dark blue when dry and pink when wet. It is used as a moisture indicator to show how much water the silica gel has absorbed. However, cobalt chloride is not usually used for consumer products, and it is easy to spot because of its color. If you accidentally eat cobalt chloride-coated silica gel, you may experience nausea and vomiting.

Toxic Silica Gel

Picture: Toxic Silica Gel

Silica gel is a substance that can absorb moisture from the air. It is often used as another type of silica gel packet is orange or yellow when dry and turns green when saturated with water. This silica gel is coated with an organic dye that is non-toxic and pollution-free. It is designed to avoid the use of cobalt chloride, which is harmful to the environment and human health. Therefore, orange silica gel is safer and more environmentally friendly than blue silica gel.

Non-toxic Silica Gel

Picture: Non-toxic Silica Gel

What should you do if you eat silica gel?

If you or your child accidentally ingests silica gel, don’t panic. Most of the time, it will pass through your body without any harmful effects. However, you should drink some water to help the silica gel go into your stomach. You should also contact your local poison control center or your doctor for advice. They can help you determine if the silica gel is coated with cobalt chloride or if you need to take any other steps.

If you notice any signs of choking, such as difficulty breathing, coughing, or wheezing, you should call 911 and seek emergency medical attention. Choking is a serious and life-threatening condition that requires immediate intervention.

How to prevent silica gel ingestion?

The best way to prevent silica gel ingestion is to keep the packets away from children and pets. You can also throw away any silica packets you come across so they don’t end up in the wrong hands (or mouths). You can also talk to your children about how the packets are not for eating and encourage them to bring any packets they see to you to dispose of.


Silica gel packets are useful for keeping products dry and fresh, but they are not meant to be eaten. They can cause choking or poisoning in some cases. If you ever eat silica gel, don’t worry, but do seek medical advice. And remember, the packets are there for a reason, so don’t throw them away unless you have to.