Silica found in "do-not-eat" packets is a desiccant (I'm not sure about this); and so is activated charcoal. Would consuming it have the same effect if one were to have a stomach ache?

  • $\begingroup$ Activated charcoal does not have the effect as Silica- Silica is a desiccant- removes water from the air and anything else. Charcoal is not a desiccant- rather its a catalyst. For stomach gas, some of its effect is conversion of tiny gas to larger bubbles which can easily escape. $\endgroup$ Sep 10, 2014 at 10:16
  • $\begingroup$ oh i always thought charcoal was a desiccant- thanks for clearing it up @user2617804 $\endgroup$
    – Nick
    Sep 10, 2014 at 13:10
  • $\begingroup$ Activated charocal (Activated carbon) - is highly porous and it IS desiccant. The stomach tablets are created from activated charocal. $\endgroup$
    – clt60
    Sep 10, 2014 at 13:17
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is based on the wrong premises. $\endgroup$
    – Jan
    Oct 30, 2015 at 17:14

2 Answers 2


The silica gel granules are granular silicon dioxide (SiO2), the same matrial from what is the normal sand.

The pure SiO2 has the same effect to health as when you eat sand.

But because the granules are larger, may cause appendix problems (im not an doc). Anyway, this is not chemical related problem.

It can cause dehydratation or other problems, what is caused by it absorbtion capabality.

The bigger problem is, than the standard silica gel granules aren't pure SiO2. The common additivas are what causes color change when it is moistured, like cobalt chloride or others and thise compounds can be toxic!

So, don't eat it!

  • $\begingroup$ so...what happens when one eats sand? hmm- I never hope I do have to do that home-experiment $\endgroup$
    – Nick
    Sep 10, 2014 at 13:36
  • $\begingroup$ @Nick when you eat sand nothing happens (from the chemical-toxic) point of view. The SiO2 isn't toxic. $\endgroup$
    – clt60
    Sep 10, 2014 at 13:38
  • $\begingroup$ so it neither helps or harms you. it's redundant- alright! thank you $\endgroup$
    – Nick
    Sep 10, 2014 at 13:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Nick It may harm you mechanically. I mean, it may plug something, and since it is solid, it won't leave easily. In fact, solid sediments of some salts deposited in delicate places may be agonizingly painfull, especially when milled with ultrasound to purge them. $\endgroup$
    – permeakra
    Oct 10, 2014 at 14:25
  • $\begingroup$ silica gel is not like sand. Only an idiot would eat silica gel. $\endgroup$
    – MaxW
    Oct 23, 2015 at 15:07

Silica and charcoal are both adsorbents.

However, silica is polar thanks to its plentiful OH groups, it preferentially adsorbs water, and that's why it is encountered in desiccant packages. In the chemical laboratory one filters stuff through silica pads to separate polar materials out of solutions in non-polar solvents.

Activated charcoal is non-polar; it consists of aromatic rings, and it preferentially adsorbs non-polar molecules. It is used in deodorizing packages. In the lab, decolorizing charcoal is used in polar solvents to get rid of coloured impurities.

No, they are not equivalent.


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