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What would happen if one eats silica gel?

What would happen if one eats silica gel?


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What happens if one actually does go about eating the beads in those "do-not-eat" packets?


Usually, nothing happens if you eat silica gel. In fact, you eat it all the time. Silica is added to improve flow in powdered foods. It occurs naturally in water, where it may help confer resistance against developing senility. Silica is just another name for silicon dioxide, the main component of sand. Mayby you think if silica is harmless to eat, why do the packets carry the warning? The answer is that some silica contains toxic additives. For example, silica gel beads may contain toxic and potentially carcinogenic cobalt(II) chloride, which is added as a moisture indicator. You can recognize silica containing cobalt chloride because it will be colored blue (dry) or pink (hydrated). Another common moisture indicator is methyl violet, which is orange (dry) or green (hydrated). Methyl violet is a mutagen and mitotic poison. While you can expect most silica you encounter will be non-toxic, ingestion of a colored product warrants a call to Poison Control.


I don't think it would harm you: apparently silica gel is a widely-used food additive. According to Wikipedia:

Silica gel, also referred to as silica aerogel or hydrated silica, has FDA GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status, meaning it can be added to food products without needing approval. Silica is allowed to be added to food in the US at up to 2% as permitted under 21 CFR 172.480. In the EU it can be in up to 5% concentrations.

Listed uses include: anticaking agent, defoaming agent, stabilizer, adsorbent, carrier, conditioning agent, chillproofing agent, filter aid, emulsifying agent, viscosity control agent, and anti-settling agent.

However, obviously, you shouldn't plan on eating lots of it.


I did research on whether or not silica gel was poisonous, because I wanted to use a bunch of the silica gel beads as an abrasive method to clean out a bottle that was dirty. I added a bunch of silica gel beads and a bit of water into the dirty bottle to be cleaned, I put the lid back on and tilted the bottle back and forth and used the beads as a way of scraping the inside of the bottle clean. This did work well, but I found that upon adding water to the silica beads, quite a few of the silica gel beads cracked, this was from the silica gel beads absorbing water fast. The silica gel beads are designed to absorb moisture slowly from the air. The result of the silica gel beads breaking, were tiny slivers of sharp silica, so even if silica gel itself is not poisonous, eating them could be dangerous, because some of the silica gel beads will shatter into sharp pieces, and could cause cuts in the digestive tract, so avoid eating silica gel beads.


What would happen if you ate one of those silica gel packets?

Well, for one thing, you'd be eating a misnomer. Silica gel isn't actually a gel, but a granular form of silicon dioxide (SiO2), a compound formed when silicon is oxidized. Â Silica gel is synthetic but SiO2 is also commonly found in nature (I trust you've heard of sand and quartz.)

But before we discuss the consequences of ingestion, here's a quick history lesson. Silica gel has been around since at least the 1600s, but was a scientific curiosity until its absorbent properties were put to use during World War I in gas mask canisters. Walter Patrick, a chemistry professor at Johns Hopkins University, patented silica gel in 1919 and joined with Grace Davison, a Maryland-based chemical company, to further develop it. Davison began selling silica gel in 1923 but it didn't take off until World War II.

Silica gel can absorb a lot of water—about a third of its weight—without undergoing a chemical reaction or changing shape. Even when they're saturated, the granules stay dry to the touch and can be reused after heating at 250 °F for two hours. These properties make silica gel extremely useful for controlling moisture and humidity, and during the war it was used to keep medicine, military equipment and supplies dry.

Today it's packaged with leather products, pepperoni, electronics and vitamin pills and used in museums and libraries to guard against rust, corrosion, tarnishing, mildew, mold and spoilage.

Risk Assessment

So what happens if you decide to defy the warning on the packet, defy the social norms of polite society and munch on a few granules? I hate to be anti-climactic, but most likely, the answer is "¦nothing! (Of course, there are some caveats, which we'll get to in a minute.)

If you think about it, silica gel is basically man-made sand. It's non-toxic and chemically non-reactive. People who have eaten anywhere from a few beads to a whole packet have reported no ill effects. If you're curious, it's reportedly almost tasteless, like licking a postage stamp.

Why the Skull & Crossbones?

Why the warnings, then? Well, silica gel isn't completely dangerous, but it isn't completely safe. Here are a few reasons the packets come with stern warnings:

Dehydration "“ Silica gel's job is to absorb moisture, and it's going to keep doing that as you digest it. You'd have to eat an awful lot of it to dehydrate yourself, but if you did, it would dry you out in no time.

Silicosis "“ This lung disease, also called Grinder's disease and Potter's rot, is caused by inhaling silica dust and causes symptoms like scarring and nodular lesions in the upper lobes of the lungs, shortness of breath, fever, and cyanosis (blue tinted skin).

Foreign vapors and toxic additives "“ You don't know what the silica gel was exposed to between Point A and Point B. Eating a packet that came in a box of cockroach traps is definitely not recommended, but the gel could have absorbed other nasty stuff during manufacture or shipping and absorbed it. Sometimes, these things are added intentionally and packaged silica gel might have a bit of fungicide or pesticide added to it.

Another additive to watch out for is cobalt(II) chloride, which is toxic. This is added to the gel when a visible indication of absorption is needed. The cobalt(II) chloride makes the granules blue when they're dry and turn pink when they're saturated.

And the biggest reason? Lawsuits! "“ Even if the contents of a packet are plain old silica gel with no cobalt(II) chloride, and there's no silica dust present and there aren't enough granules to cause dehydration, companies have been sued over far stupider things. They're just covering their butts.


Why Is Silica Gel Used?

Since Silica gel is porous in nature, it can absorb 40% of its weight in moisture . It is used in packaging items to retain water content from the atmosphere. If there is moisture content in the packaged box, it will lead to the growth of mold and fungus inside. Hence, to reduce spoilage, silica gel is used. Also, it is non-deliquescent which means that it will not change its shape or size.

This is the main reason why it is used in the packaging of items like medicine, electronic items, water bottles, etc. Once its purpose has been fulfilled, silica can be reused by simply heating it to 300 degrees Fahrenheit so that it loses all its moisture.


What Happens if a Cat Eats Silica Gel?

If your cat doesn’t choke with the packaging, the silica gel will likely pass right through his gastrointestinal system.

Since this material isn’t easily absorbed by the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, you will probably find it in their poop a few days later.

Nonetheless, if your cat ate silica gel beads, they may draw moisture into the GI tract causing vomit or diarrhea, so be vigilant to ensure your cat will be okay.

Dry Mouth

Your cat may get a dry mouth if they have eaten a freshness packet. The symptoms of dry mouth are saliva that is very thick and goopy.

They may also have bad breath and possibly a dry and cracked tongue. Their oral mucous membranes and tissues may become inflamed or infected.

The feline may also have difficulty chewing or swallowing. If your cat has a dry mouth, offer foods with a high-water content. You can also get your veterinarian to prescribe mouthwash, which is specifically designed for your cat. Brushing their teeth may also help.

Abdominal Discomfort

Due to the silica gel passing through the intestinal tract, your cat may feel some abdominal discomfort.

The cat may not enjoy being picked up, especially around the abdomen. The feline might also not want to be touched on the stomach and may appear lethargic. Other symptoms may include a decrease in their appetite, along with vomiting and diarrhea.

Try not to handle your cat as much, and contact your vet. Abdominal discomfort may be symptomatic of a worse condition like an intestinal blockage.

Diarrhea

Diarrhea occurs when a cat has loose bowel movements that increase in frequency and amount. Fecal matter passes quickly through the intestine, causing a decreased absorption of water, nutrients, and electrolytes. It often involves inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract.

If your cat has diarrhea, try your best to encourage your feline to drink more water and electrolytes. Make sure their bowls of water are regularly topped up and even leave some diluted chicken or beef broth out to increase your cat’s fluid intake.

If the condition persists, you can even try probiotics or anti-diarrheal medications, so your cat’s delicate GI tract returns to normal.

Choking

If your cat ate a silica gel packet, one of the major problems that may arise is choking. Choking occurs when your feline has the pack stuck in its throat.

There are two steps you can take if your cat is choking. The first is to try to remove the obstruction with your finger. Open the cat’s mouth gently and sweep the back of the kitty’s throat with a finger. Make sure you look into the mouth so you don’t accidentally push the blockage further down the cat’s throat.

If you cannot see anything blocking the passage, and the cat is still choking, move onto the cat Heimlich maneuver. Hold your kitty with their back against your chest. Let their legs hang down and then push on their belly with five upward thrusts. If the packet is still lodged in the throat, hang the cat with head down and back hips up.

Pat your cat’s back firmly and sweep the mouth again. If this dislodges the packet, take your cat to the vet for a follow-up.

Intestinal Blockage

Not only is it harmful, but intestinal blockages in cats can quickly become life-threatening if not caught right away. Intestinal blockages occur when a material has lodged into the intestines or stomach, forming a hard lump that is hard for an animal to pass through their digestive system.

When a cat has a GI obstruction, it will become weaker as the flow of nutrients stops and may lead to death.

If your cat ate a silica bag you can spot a blockage by looking out for the following symptoms:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Refusing to eat
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Swelling of the abdomen
  • Lower body temperature
  • Crying
  • Refuses to lie down

If your cat ate a silica gel packet and he or she requires a trip to the vet, there are several actions your veterinarian may do.

If your cat becomes dehydrated, they may use intravenous fluids to rehydrate him. They may also use medications like laxatives to help pass the blockage.

There are also more intensive treatments like an endoscopy, which is where they put a little camera down your cat’s throat to check the stomach for obstructions. They may also complete an x-ray or ultrasound. And, if they find a blockage, they may even have to perform surgery.


Silica gel vs oxygen absorber.

Many people mistake silica gel for oxygen absorber. Both silica gel and oxygen absorber come in small packets labeled “Do Not Eat”, but are very different things.

Not only they can’t be used together, but oxygen absorber is actually poisonous for your dog.

Silica gel is natural and non-toxic. It’s made from a compound called silicon dioxide , a combination of silicon and oxygen. It is found naturally in quartz, glass, and sand. The silica beads can be considered a sort of ‘man-made’ sand.

Silica gel is added to packaging because of its absorbing ability. In fact, the beads can absorb up to 30% of their weight in water, so they help reduce moisture inside the package and keep the content fresh and dry.

On the other hand, oxygen absorber contains iron and uses moisture to activate and prevent oxidation, keeping the food fresh longer. If silica gel absorbs moisture, the process cannot activate.

What should you do if your dog ate an oxygen absorber?

If your dog ate an oxygen absorber, they will most likely need a medical check-up to decontaminate the body from the iron.

Iron can be very toxic to dogs even in small amounts. Oxygen absorber can cause GI obstruction and also has a corrosive effect when ingested.

Early symptoms of iron poisoning in dogs are:

  • Swelling in the abdomen
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Hyperactivity (panic)
  • Seizures

Iron poisoning in dogs can sometimes be misinterpreted in the first few hours, but the symptoms can reappear even after weeks. However, by then there could be already damage to the liver and other organs, so it’s important not to overlook the early stages of poisoning.

If you suspect that your dog may have eaten an oxygen absorber, call your vet immediately.


What happens if you eat it

Unfortunately, children can mistake a packet for food, candy, or a chew toy and eat the silica gel or the entire packet. Sometimes, adults may mistake silica gel packets for salt or sugar packets.

Silica gel is chemically inert. This means it won’t break down in the body and cause poisoning. However, because it won’t break down, the gel or packet and gel can cause choking. That’s why manufacturers often label them with “Do not eat” or “Throw away after using.”

Eating silica gel shouldn’t make you sick. Most often, it’ll pass through your body and exit without any harmful effects to you.

Although silica gel isn’t likely to harm you, this isn’t a license to eat a lot of it. The gel doesn’t have any nutritious value and has the potential to cause intestinal obstruction if eaten in large quantities.


What Happens if You Eat One of Those Silica Gel Packets?

What happens if you eat one of those silica gel packets that come in the pepperoni you ordered online, your Jimmy Choos, or your new leather coat?

We’re not sure why you would, but if you’ve eaten one by mistake, you’ll likely be fine. According to Mike Yudizky, a recently retired paramedic and the public health educator at the North Texas Poison Control Center, “It’s nothing more than a type of sand. Despite the big-time warnings, it’s completely nontoxic.” Even if you were to eat a shoebox full of packets, the only result would be “an upset tummy. But the same would happen if you drank too much water.”

The grains of what looks like clear caviar in the tiny packets are a desiccant. That is, they absorb moisture. You find them in food products that will have a longer shelf life if they stay dry. That could include pepperoni, dried nuts and fruits, or vitamins.

So why do the packets include warnings, occasionally including a skull and crossbones? To avoid product liability cases, says Yudizky. The packets are “harmful if swallowed by an infant or pet, as they could choke or aspirate on the silicon gel packet,” explains Michelle Musallam, a certified physician’s assistant in Dallas, Texas.

In some cases, the stuff is coated with a moisture indicator such as cobalt (II) chloride, a toxic substance that may be carcinogenic. But Yudizky says even that wouldn’t be a problem because of the incredibly small amount involved.


That doesn't seem so bad&mdashwhat's with the "DO NOT EAT" scariness?

Don't worry: silica gel is not toxic, according to the National Capital Poison Center (NCPC). Phew.

Basically, that scary label is slapped onto silica gel packets because it's considered a choking hazard for small children, says the NCPC.

Depending on the packaging and product needs, silica gel packets don&rsquot contain more than five grams of silica gel, and it&rsquos all FDA-approved, Clemens says. That means it&rsquos &ldquonon-toxic, is not absorbed or digested, passes through the gut and is subsequently eliminated.&rdquo

So, you shouldn't be eating it necessarily (why would you want to?) but if you did accidentally, it's not the end of the world.


What Happens if You Eat One of Those Silica Gel Packets?

What happens if you eat one of those silica gel packets that come in the pepperoni you ordered online, your Jimmy Choos, or your new leather coat?

We’re not sure why you would, but if you’ve eaten one by mistake, you’ll likely be fine. According to Mike Yudizky, a recently retired paramedic and the public health educator at the North Texas Poison Control Center, “It’s nothing more than a type of sand. Despite the big-time warnings, it’s completely nontoxic.” Even if you were to eat a shoebox full of packets, the only result would be “an upset tummy. But the same would happen if you drank too much water.”

The grains of what looks like clear caviar in the tiny packets are a desiccant. That is, they absorb moisture. You find them in food products that will have a longer shelf life if they stay dry. That could include pepperoni, dried nuts and fruits, or vitamins.

So why do the packets include warnings, occasionally including a skull and crossbones? To avoid product liability cases, says Yudizky. The packets are “harmful if swallowed by an infant or pet, as they could choke or aspirate on the silicon gel packet,” explains Michelle Musallam, a certified physician’s assistant in Dallas, Texas.

In some cases, the stuff is coated with a moisture indicator such as cobalt (II) chloride, a toxic substance that may be carcinogenic. But Yudizky says even that wouldn’t be a problem because of the incredibly small amount involved.


Silica Gel

Silica gel is a drying agent, meant to remove moisture from an enclosed space. Silica gel packs may be found in boxes containing electronics or new shoes and inside purses or medicine bottles.

The packets contain either granular silicic acid, which resembles sand, or tiny gel beads. Silica gel is non-toxic, meaning that it is not poisonous if eaten.

The package says "DO NOT EAT" because:

  1. It is not food,
  2. It could be a choking hazard.
  3. The whole packet, granules, or beads may become lodged in the throat of a small child or animal.

Tips to remember for silica gel safety:

  • When bringing new items such as shoes, purses, or electronics into the house, look for silica gel packets and throw them away immediately.
  • Before disposing of a silica gel packet, break it open, so it cannot be swallowed whole.

Call NC Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 or chat from this site for further treatment advice.


Watch the video: SILICA GEL IN WATER EXPERIMENT (December 2022).