When you buy new bags, shoes, vitamins, or even beef jerky, they come with strange little silica gel packets. Most of us toss them away as instructed. We don’t know anything about these packets, aside from the warning “do not ingest” written on them. However, they can actually be extremely useful.
Silica gel is a desiccant, which means the packet absorbs water vapor. Manufacturers use these gel packets to prevent their products from becoming musty or spoiling. And they give them to their customers for free with their new bags and shoes, ready to be recycled in many creative ways.
Here are 17 ways to reuse silica gel packets
- Place them in a camera bag to keep out moisture and prevent the lens from fogging or streaking.
- De-fog windows by placing silica on the sill.
- Remove the battery and memory card from a wet phone and place them in a bag with a couple of silica packets to draw out the moisture. Let it sit for at least overnight. (Remember: Do not try turning on the phone before it dries out.)
- If you’re concerned about your luggage getting damp, pack some silica to keep out the mustiness.
- To extend the life of razors, store them in a sealed container with a silica packet.
- Keep a packet where you store documents to save them from humidity.
- To keep old photos in good condition, tuck some silica in the bin where they are kept. You can also use a packet to protect framed pictures on the wall.
- Keep your yoga mat dry by packing some silica into your gym bag. 
- Place some packets in a tool box to prevent rust.
- Use the packs to speed up the drying of flowers.
- To prevent the molding of seeds, add a packet to the container.
- Tape a pack into your spice cabinet to prevent humidity and molding.
- Slow the process of silver tarnishing by placing a silica pack in your jewelry box and silverware drawer.
- Keep pet food dry by placing it in a container with a silica packet taped to the lid.
- Place some silica packets wherever you store leather coats, purses, and shoes to keep them fresh while in storage.
- If you collect video tapes, keep a few packets nearby to keep them dry.
- Keep some silica packs on the dashboard in your car to keep the windshield and fog-free on humid days. 
How to “recharge” silica packets
Unfortunately, silica packets are limited in their water-absorbing abilities. The good news is when they become ineffective, they could be “recharged” in the oven or microwave and be ready for use again. Here’s how:
Using an Oven
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place the silica gel packets onto the foil-lined baking pan. For loose silica gel, spread the granules across the sheet, but ensure the layer is no more than two inches thick.
Place the baking sheet inside the preheated oven and bake for several hours. The baking time can range from 1 to 12 hours depending on the thickness of the silica gel. The general rule is baking for 1 ½ hours for every 30 ounces of silica gel.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Allow the silica gel to cool to room temperature on the baking sheet. DO NOT touch the gel until they are completely cool as they are hot enough to burn when they come out of the oven.
Store the cooled and now moisture-free silica gel packet in an airtight container until they are needed.
Using a Microwave
Place the silica gel into a microwave-safe container and place it into the microwave.
Heat the silica gel for three to five minutes on medium to medium-high heat.
Examine the silica gel for some color change, which is a sign that the gel is recharged or dry. If it is not dry, stir the gel with a spoon (careful not to touch the hot silica) and place the container back into the microwave for another three to five minutes.
Continue checking the gel for that color change and microwaving for another three to five minutes until the gel is completely dry. Let the silica gel cool to room temperature before use.
Store the cooled and now moisture-free silica gel packet in an airtight container until they are ready for use.