What is the difference between Silica Gel and Oxygen Absorber? Which one is better?


The differences between Oxygen Absorber and Silica Gel are as following:-

  Oxygen Absorber Silica Gel (Desiccant)
  • Iron powder and salt.
  • An amorphous and porous form of silicon dioxide (silica).
Types Available
  • Sachets/Stick/pouches: depends on size such as 100 cc, 200 cc, 300 cc, 500 cc, 800 cc, 1000 cc, 2000 cc.
  • Two 500cc oxygen absorbing agents can suffice 5-6 gallon buckets of goods.
  • For packaged dried food applications:  tear-resistant permeable plastic sachets (Dobrucka & Cierpiszewski, 2014).
  • For high water activity (aw) foods such as meats, fish, poultry, fruit and vegetables:  moisture-drip absorbent pads, sheets and blankets are often used (Dobrucka & Cierpiszewski, 2014).
  • Safe and non-toxic.
  • They are used in food packaging to prevent colour change, inhibit oils from becoming rancid, help to retard the growth of microorganisms such as fungi, and prevent infestation (Washburn, 2011).
  • These packets absorb oxygen and effectively reduce the aerobic environment to 0.01% oxygen (Washburn, 2011).
  • Alone, silica gel is non-toxic, non-flammable and chemically unreactive.
  • Often included in dry food packages to absorb any humidity that might cause spoilage of the food.
  • Reduce condensation and allows the stored item to stay dry even during humid, damp conditions (Apartment Prepper, 2014).
  • Reused by regenerating – heating the gel will stave off absorptions (Bry- air, n.d.).
  • Can be conveniently packed and is available in a many sizes for various applications (Bry- air, n.d.).
  • Can absorb up to 40% of its own weight (Bry- air, n.d.).
  • Shelf life is indefinite – if stored airtight (Bry- air, n.d.).
  • Eliminate odour problem.
  • Can only be used on dry foods (10% moisture or less) and food with low oil content.
  • Only a small amount of oxygen can be efficiently removed from each piece of packaging. This means that the size of the sachet must be optimized for each pack, taking into account the expected shelf life, the free space inside the pack, and the amount of oxygen that must be removed (Nerín, 2010).
  • The chemical reaction also requires moisture to be effective, which means that the moisture must be supplied either by the food or by the internal atmosphere (Nerín, 2010).
  • They are single-use, and cannot be reused (Eggimann, 2011).
  • Dust from the silica gel beads might cause irritation and redness when contact with the eyes and skin (Reinstein, 2017).
  • Inhaling silica gel might cause severe lung irritation, shortness of breath, and coughing (Reinstein, 2017).
Typical Uses on Food Products Foods prone to rancidification, including:

  • Nuts and snacks
  • Whole fat dry foods
  • Processed, smoked and cured meats (including jerky and dried meat nuggets)
  • Cheeses and dairy products
  • Spices and seasonings
  • Flour and grain items

Other foods, including

  • Fresh and precooked pasta and noodles
  • Birdseed and pet food
  • Breads, cookies, cakes, pastries
  • Candies and confectioneries
  • Coffee and tea
  • Dried fruits and vegetables
  • Dehydrated foods and nuts
  • Vitamins & Nutritional supplements (whey protein)
  • Keep Spices, Herbs, Bakery products in good condition
  • Snacks and Crackers
  • Tea & Coffee
  • Pharmaceuticals Products
  • Pet food and fish food
  • Grains and flours


Oxygen absorber absorbs oxygen but not air or moisture whereas silica gel absorb moisture. Therefore, oxygen absorber is recommended if we want to maintain the level of humidity in the packaging and extend the freshness of food product. On the other hand, silica gel helps to reduce the humidity level in the packaging and enhance the life span of food products.



Apartment Prepper. (2014). The Difference Between Oxygen Absorbers and Silica Gel.

Bry- air. (n.d.) What Is Silica Gel And What Are The Advantages Of It As A Desiccant.

Dobrucka, R., & Cierpiszewski, R. (2014). Active And Intelligent Packaging Food – Research And Development – A Review. Polish Journal Of Food And Nutrition Sciences, 64(1), 7-15.

Eggimann, L. (2011). Oxygen Absorbers for Food Storage.

Nerín, C. (2010). Antioxidant active food packaging and antioxidant edible films. Oxidation In Foods And Beverages And Antioxidant Applications, 496-515.

Reinstein, R. D. (2017). Harmful Effects of Silica Gel.

Washburn, C. (2011). Oxygen Absorbers. Washington: Utah State University.

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