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How to reactivate silica gel.
In today’s environmentally consensus times you can help the environment and your wallet by reusing many items, silica gel desiccant is no different. If you have a use for silica gel but don’t want to spend a large amount of money, used silica gel is always an option. Within this article I intend to give you all the information you need to reactivate silica gel and silica gal packets. There are many sites that can give you this info. Sites such as ehow.com, jakesmp.com, and many others. However, I intend to tell you the step by step process that I have personally used to successfully reactivate my own gel packs for resale on eBay. If you don't know what silica gel desiccant is or don't know where to get it. Click Here to see my Article "What is silica gel, and where do I get it?"
Items for use in the reactivation process.
There are only a few items absolutely necessary to the reactivation process. These items include.
1) A cookie sheet
2) An oven (vented)
3) A timer or clock
1) Humidity indicator cards
2) Ziploc baggies or vacuum seal bags (For storage)
I have not used vacuum seal bags as of yet, but they are a viable option.
This is where we get our hands dirty. (So to Speak)
The process of reactivation is a simple one. Take silica gel add heat. That simple.
Well maybe not that simple. The goal here is to evaporate the moisture absorbed by the gel. Without damaging the Tyvek bags the silica beads are housed in.
NOTE: This process will only work for silica in Tyvek bags. If yours are not, simply remove the gel from its bag and place it directly on a cookie sheet. This processes will also work for humidity indicator silica gel. However, this type is usually in a clear plastic bag and will need to be removed as mentioned before.
Step 1) Place your silica gel packets on a cookie sheet with spacing between them. Then place them in a cold oven. The oven must be a vented to allow moisture released from the Silica to escape during the heating process. If your oven is not a vented model, simply prop open the door about an inch to allow the evaporating moisture to escape. Set your oven to 220F-240F.
WARNING: Tyvek bags have a melting point of 250F. So do not set your oven for a temp higher than 240F. Otherwise you WILL damage the bags. I personally set the temp to 220F. This temp is high enough to evaporate the moisture and low enough not to melt your bags.
Step 2) Allow the bags to "Bake" for a minimum of 2 hours. Depending on how saturated the gel and size of the bags. It is possible for reactivation process to take up to 4-6 hours +, depending on the moisture saturation and size of your bags.
Step 3) After you have allowed the silica to bake. Remove the cookie sheet and allow bags to cool off till you can safely handle with bare hands.
The final step
Once everything has cooled place your desiccant back in its rightful place protecting your items.
If you don't want to or can’t simply put them in a small air tight container or a Ziploc baggie for long term storage. You may also want to place a humidity indicator card along with the silica in the baggie or container. This will allow you to tell if your packets are active with a much greater certainty.
Placing these cards in with the gel is my suggestion, this will allow you to be certain that your silica is active and ready to protect your items. This is also a good practice for resale, as to show the quality of your product.
Humidity indicator cards and silica gel.
Humidity indicator cards and silica gel are readily available on eBay. The purchase or use, as mentioned earlier, is not a necessity. However, if you plan on storing your packs or selling them it is always a good idea to be able to see if your gel is still active at any time with just a simple glance.