I realise that this may seem like a perfectly pointless website to most of you, however there is a great need for a website on this topic.
During the day today, which happens to be November 1st 2004, I was sitting at my desk doing some study. I happened to have a small packet of silica gel sitting on my keyboard - for those of you who are wondering exactly what this is, its the stuff that comes in pill packets to keep them dry - now in my boredom, I started looking at the packet. I notice it had in capitals "Do not eat" written on it. The writing was not very big, nor was it ominous. I needed to know more.
After several minutes of intensive research on google, I had found many pages regarding silica gel, however only one strongly suggested I shouldn't eat it. Most of them claim it is a non-toxic, edible substance. Of course, me being one to experiment, downed a few of these pellets. To my great relief I did not die. I did not suffer any side effects. However this is still only about 4 hours later. Tomorrow may be another story.
Due to my great boredom I continued to research the topic of silica gel. I found one very interesting site which told me some of the pellets contain Cobalt Chloride. Of course I wondered what this was and what it would do. After some more serious searching, I discovered that some pellets are coloured, and sure enough, looking at my packet, I had a few coloured beads. These beads are coloured blue initally when they are dry, and then change to pink once they have absorbed some moisture. Needless to say, I was intrigued.
After more needless searching on google, the following information was obtained.
The blue form is cobaltous chloride dihydrate. The pink form is cobaltous chloride hexahydrate, [CoCl2(H2O)4].2H2O. When the dihydrate is exposed to water or moist air, it forms the pink hexahydrate, When the hexahydrate is heated, it loses four molecules of water, making the blue dihydrate.
Upon ever more research I found the following information on cobalt chloride
WARNING! HARMFUL IF SWALLOWED OR INHALED. CAUSES IRRITATION TO SKIN, EYES AND RESPIRATORY TRACT. MAY CAUSE ALLERGIC SKIN OR RESPIRATORY REACTION. CHRONIC EXPOSURE MAY AFFECT THYROID, LUNGS, HEART, AND KIDNEYS.
Potential Health Effects
Toxic. Causes abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, flushing of the face and ears, mild hypotension, rash, and ringing in the ears. May have cumulative toxic action where elimination cannot keep pace with absorption. Large amounts depress erythrocyte production.
Now as you can see, eating these pellets is a very very bad idea. So for all of you out there wondering if it is safe to eat, IT IS NOT. Do not, ingest silica gel. It is not dangerous itself, but contains a substance which could kill you. Although it is probably only the coloured ones which are dangerous, do not take the risk. Never, under any circumstances ingest silica gel, it could be very bad for your health.