Reading on, I learned that Silica gel can irritate both the digestive and respiratory tracts, as well as the skin and eyes. Taking precautions is recommended. I'm picturing a face mask, safety goggles and gloves while shoe shopping and this does not present a pretty image.
That being scary enough, I further learned that some Silica beads include a moisture indicator called cobalt II chloride, which is toxic and considered to be carcinogenic. If your Silica beads are deep blue or pink, rather than white, they're likely doped with this dangerous stuff. Steer clear and don your safety gear.
Back in the days when we didn't worry about the safety of our foods, we used rice inside our salt and sugar shakers, to absorb excess moisture. This was a natural form of moisture absorption, and one of the safer forms of a desiccant. So why aren't they putting rice in those little packets, or simply dumping it into the shoe boxes? It wouldn't bother me to find a few grains of rice inside my shoes.
Desiccants are manufactured in little packets and included with many packaged products to maintain acceptable moisture levels. In addition to Silica gel, other commonly used desiccants are available, but may be used for various applications related to moisture level and food safety. I dug around in all of my shoe boxes and found the packets in the picture above. Nothing but Silica gel there.
Surprisingly, I found nothing about proper disposal of these little packages, so I'm creating my own set of rules. I started a new milk carton, labeled "Silica Desiccant Gel", to save for hazardous waste disposal. I can't say I'd want this stuff in the landfill, seeping into our groundwater. And that doesn't even begin to address the chemical reactions that could occur when these products react with others in the landfill. It's downright scary to imagine that this is going on right under our shoes and we're not noticing a potential safety issue. How many millions of these packets are there in our landfills?
Here is my new To Do List: Look for these packets in all boxes and shipping packages. Save them separately for a safer disposal than my curbside trash. Watch for other food grade desiccants in my packaged foods. What more can I learn?
Organic Jouney Online's Extreme Earth Day Offers:
Here's a start on what more we all can learn. In celebration of Earth Day, Amazon is offering information on how to go Extreme Green, Ease into Green, or be Eco-Chic. Your pick!