Silica gel

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Silica gel
Silica gel packet


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; dessicant


  • Noncombustible.
  • Hygroscopic.
  • Contact may cause irritation.
  • ThermoFisher: SDS

Resources and Citations

  • R. Lafontaine, "Silica Gel", Technical Bulletin No. 10, Canadian Conservation Institute, October 1984
  • 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  • Marie Svoboda, Conservation Survey Index, unpublished, 1997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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