Silica gel

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Silica gel


Amorphous powder or granules of Silica. Silica gel is chemically inert, very porous and hygroscopic. It is used as a pollutant sorbent and as a humidity buffering agent. Silica gel absorbs moisture in humid environments and releases water in dry air. Once equilibrated to set moisture level, silica gel will maintain that humidity level in a closed environment. Examples of silica gel products preconditioned as humidity buffers are Art-Sorb®, Arten gel and GORE-TEX® silica tiles. Silica gel that is saturated with water can be dried by heat (110-200 C) and used again. Some brands of commercial silica gel include cobalt chloride as a humidity indicator (blue when dry and pink when moist). Silica gel has also been used as a desiccant in Dri-die cockroach formulation.

Synonyms and Related Terms

amorphous silica; gel de silice (Fr.); Britesorb [PQ Corp.]; Dri-die; Art-Sorb® [Fuji Silysia]; GORE-TEX® silica tiles; Arten gel; Arten tiles

Hazards and Safety


Hygroscopic. Contact may cause irritation.

Additional Information

R. Lafontaine, "Silica Gel", Technical Bulletin No. 10, Canadian Conservation Institute, October 1984

Sources Checked for Data in Record

  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 710
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • Marjorie Shelley, The Care and Handling of Art Objects, The Metropolitan Museum, New York, 1987
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • Hermann Kuhn, Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art and Antiquities, Butterworths, London, 1986
  • Lynda A. Zycherman, J.Richard Schrock, A Guide to Museum Pest Control, FAIC and Association of Systematics Collections, Washington DC, 1988
  • Matte Paint: Its history and technology, analysis, properties and conservation treatment, Eric Hansen, Sue Walston, Mitchell Bishop (ed.), J. Paul Getty Trust, Los Angeles, Vol. 30 of AATA, 1993
  • Matt Roberts, Don Etherington, Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: a Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 1982
  • Pam Hatchfield, Pollutants in the Museum Environment, Archetype Press, London, 2002
  • Marie Svoboda, Conservation Survey Index, unpublished, 1997
  • A Glossary of Paper Conservation Terms, Margaret Ellis (ed.), Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts, New York City, 1998

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