Keep Desiccant Away From Children: It Can Blind Them!

A bag with a white desiccant spilling out.

Packets containing desiccants are added when packaging products in order to protect them from moisture. (Image: via Adobestock)

A young patient was seen by a pediatrician and upon examination, it was found that the boy’s right eye was corroded with alkaline fluid. The surface of the eye had melted, resulting in permanent loss of sight. It was beyond repair. The parents were heartbroken and blamed themselves for it. The cause of the sad accident was the desiccant found in the packaging of everyday products to keep them free from moisture.

The child was a second grader and had just gotten a good report card. To reward him for his effort and hard work, the mother bought some of his favorite snacks from the supermarket. While he was enjoying them and watching TV, the mother was busy preparing dinner.

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Receive selected content straight into your inbox.

After 15 minutes, she heard a painful scream from the child. When she checked on him, he was crying and rolling around on the floor covering his eyes. A twisted plastic drink bottle was on the floor and its contents were everywhere.

The doctor’s diagnosis was like a clap of thunder to the mother. Looking at her child’s devastated condition, she collapsed onto the floor and could not even bring herself to cry.

When asked how it happened, the boy said he saw a small packet in the bag after finishing the snack. Trying to figure out what it was, he took it out and smelt it. Then for fun, he put it into a drink bottle. The instant he put it in, the bottle exploded. He felt something spit into his right eye. The eye felt like it was burning and he could not see anything anymore.

The packet the boy mentioned was desiccant.

A packet of desiccant.
The content of desiccant packets can be quite harmful. (Image: via Adobestock)

The mother deeply regretted her ignorance and carelessness. She knew desiccant was not edible but she never imagined that it could be that dangerous and could cause such serious harm.

Why desiccant can explode

Some media have done tests on desiccant’s destructive power. They put a bag of desiccant into a plastic water bottle, added water, and sealed it. About a minute later, the bottle exploded and the cap flew over 12 feet away.

Desiccant is often of the following types: quicklime, silica gel, montmorillonite clay, and calcium sulfate.

Most food products use quicklime as the desiccant. Food science experts explain that such a type of desiccant is mainly composed of calcium oxide, which reacts with water to produce calcium hydroxide and releases a large amount of heat during the process. The desiccant in the packet remains stable because the water content inside is low.

However, if put into a full water bottle that is normally wide in body and small at the mouth and relatively enclosed, it can cause the air inside to expand rapidly. When the pressure is more than the bottle can hold, it results in an explosion. The calcium hydroxide inside is a strong corrosive alkaline fluid. As it flies everywhere under pressure during the explosion, it can cause different degrees of damage to the human body. Experts warn that this kind of corrosive fluid is especially harmful to the eyes because its damage to the cornea is devastating.

Due to its remarkable moisture-absorbing function and low cost, quicklime is widely used in daily life for different types of products to maintain their condition once packaged, including food, drugs, medical and health care items, clothing, fabrics, tea, leather goods, bags, shoes, and electrical appliances and equipment.

Since desiccants can be found almost anywhere, exercise caution if you have young children at home. Make sure they stay away from desiccants, the quicklime type in particular, and that you store them in a safe place far out of their reach.

Desiccant made from silica gel may pose a choking hazard if swallowed by young children.
Desiccants made from silica gel may pose a choking hazard if swallowed by young children. (Image: via Adobestock)

First aid treatment

If any desiccant of the quicklime variety comes into contact with the skin, rinse the affected area with water continuously for at least 15 minutes. Then go to the hospital immediately.

If your eye is affected, don’t wait to get treatment at the hospital. Immediately rinse your eye with water and continue for at least 30 minutes. Make sure to pay attention to turning your eyes as you rinse. When the pain or discomfort is not as acute, go to a nearby hospital at once.

If eaten, the desiccant can burn the digestive tract. Drink water to dilute the lye in the proportion of one ounce for every pound of body weight with a total not over 3/4 of a cup (roughly 6.6 ounces). Then drink milk, water mixed with raw egg, olive oil, or another plant oil to protect the wounded surface from further corrosion.

For desiccants made from silica gel, they are usually in the form of little beads. These beads are typically used with textiles or leather goods to keep them free from moisture. The dangers of silica beads are less than with other types of desiccants. However, there is a risk of choking if these beads are consumed.

In all cases involving desiccants, it is recommended to seek medical advice or call an ambulance immediately.

Follow us on TwitterFacebook, or Pinterest

Recommended Stories

Global finances.

3 Ways Technology Is Changing the Financial World

The rapid advances in technology are changing everything about the world we live in, from ...

U.S. passport and flag.

U.S. Will Ban Visas for Chinese Human Rights Violators

The United States is looking to restrict the entry of Chinese officials who have been ...

Chinese students listening to a lecture in a classroom.

Why the U.S. Is Restricting Visas to Chinese Students

The U.S. administration has passed a new policy that restricts visas to Chinese students to ...

Fresh Look at Mysterious Nasca Lines in Peru

A scientific approach has been used to re-identify huge birds etched into the desert plains ...

Three-fingered mummy.

Three-Fingered Mummies Discovered in Peru Are Allegedly Not Human

The discovery of three-fingered mummies in Peru last year came as a sensational find. At ...

Taiwanese protesting 'one China, two systems.'

One Country, Two Systems: ‘No Thanks,’ From Taiwan

The mass protests in Hong Kong have become a major international news event over the ...

Ginger tea.

Medicinal Food: 4 Ingredients With Medicinal Value

Wu Guobin of the Chinese Medicine Clinic in Xinyitang describes the medicinal benefits of 4 ...

Fresh ginger.

How Ginger Can Help You Manage Colds and Flu

For thousands of years, ginger has been an important component in the medical practices of ...

The Senkaku Islands.

Why China Wants the Senkaku Islands so Badly

The Senkaku Islands, located in the East China Sea, are a group of islands administered ...

Send this to a friend