12
$\begingroup$

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

$\endgroup$
2
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ did.... did you ask this question after ingesting a packet of silica gel? $\endgroup$
    – JamesENL
    Sep 11 '14 at 4:18
  • $\begingroup$ @jamesmassey uhm...just asking for a friend- $\endgroup$
    – Nick
    Sep 11 '14 at 13:43
17
$\begingroup$

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.

$\endgroup$
1
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Also, even if no additives were added deliberately, the silica may contain traces of harmful substances left over from the production process. It's a legal/regulatory issue that silica meant for consumption is strictly controlled and of high purity, just like other food additives, while silica for technical uses is regulated differently. So the warning tells you that this particular silica is not licensed as food additive, but it's not necessarily poisonous. $\endgroup$ Apr 5 '16 at 19:57
3
$\begingroup$

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.

$\endgroup$
2
  • $\begingroup$ it is the same as eating sand right? $\endgroup$
    – Nick
    Sep 10 '14 at 14:47
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The main problem is that small kids get hand on this and get it into the airways. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Sep 10 '14 at 14:52

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.