How to Make Homemade Desiccant

by Erich

As preppers we all know the importance of keeping our firearms and electronics free from moisture when they are put away for storage. For this reason, before caching or storing items such as these for the long term its crucial you include some type of desiccant (or water absorber) in with your stored items.

Most preppers use silica gel, but what if you don’t have any on hand?

Well, here in the US, there is a huge supply of desiccant that you can readily use in a pinch if you can’t get a hold of silica gel.

What is it you ask? Well, it’s none other than drywall. Yup, common gypsum wallboard found in most homes throughout the US.

How to Make Homemade Desiccant

Similar to silica gel, if you want to activate drywall to become a anahydrate or desiccant you need to heat it up long enough to remove the moisture. Here’s the process:

Step 1: Preheat your oven to 450F

Step 2: Grab a 1/2 foot x 1/2 foot piece of drywall.

Step 3: Remove the paper (it helps by wetting the paper first) and break it up in 1″ square pieces, then place those pieces on a cookie sheet and into the oven.

Step 4: Let it heat for about an hour which will remove all the moisture.
Step 5: Remove from oven and while hot, immediately place in an air-tight container that won’t melt from heat (a mason jar is a perfect container for this).

How to Use your DIY Desiccant

To use your desiccant place a handful of it inside a sock and stash it in the storage container that is housing your electronics, firearms or other items you’re interested in keeping away from moisture.

Here are just a few examples of where to use your homemade desiccant:

  • In the bottom of your gun safe
  • In your survival cache tube (like a PVC pipe where you cache your firearms)
  • Inside a sealed Mylar bag that contains your electronics
  • In your gym bag to prevent mold, mildew, and odors
  • With silver jewelry or silverware to slow tarnishing
  • In your toolbox to prevent rusting
  • Inside containers holding stored clothes and blankets to prevent mildew
  • Inside of anything you store in the basement
  • In a safe with important documents
  • Inside of cases with seed packets to keep them from molding
  • and much more..!

The following pictures give an example of how effective this is as a desiccant. I threw a handful of these desiccants in a mason jar that just came out of the dishwasher. After a few minutes the homemade desiccant had absorbed all the water in the jar.

A Quick Related Tip

As a quick side note (in case you missed the reference above), be sure to hang onto any silica gel packets you come across that are packaged in various products you’ve purchased. They can also be reused by heating them up in the oven and storing them as described above.

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Comment by terdralyn
2015-03-03 19:41:46

Excellent idea! I don’t have any drywall here that’s not in use, but everyone else seems to have pieces laying around (in garages, porches, etc.). I guess I’ll be able to take some of the odd and broken pieces off their hands. I would think this would work in my basement, in a larger container or several small ones. It doesn’t seem/smell damp, but a tub of softener salt that sat down there for a while hardened due to moisture in the air. Thanks!

Comment by Gayle Champion
2015-03-03 20:25:34

Thanks for the info, especially the part about the silica gel packs that I’m always collecting from various products … I always figured they must be reusable, but I never knew how to reactivate them. Can you give any guidelines on how much to use by capacity of the container?

Comment by Erich
2015-03-04 02:42:17

Unfortunately there’s no hard rule since the performance of any desiccant depends on temperature and humidity.

Comment by diane
2015-03-03 22:01:16

I’m going to try this. so far I’ve been using kitty litter. But if I can’t be found or runs out or goes way up in price; this should work. thanks for the great tip

Comment by Arthur
2015-03-03 22:31:45

Good to know. I was gonna say flour or corn meal. That would probably work.

Comment by Donna
2015-03-04 00:21:58

Cat litter works the same way. After all, it’s clay!

Comment by Mark Krueger
2015-03-04 01:34:26

I bought a 3 pound bag of Fresh Step silica gel cat litter, and put it in a stapled cheese cloth bag. It’s lasted me 2 years so far. I still have a pound left.

Comment by Erich
2015-03-04 02:37:00

Cat litter is a great desiccant as well. Thanks for the comments guys!

Comment by cmac
2015-03-04 06:06:59

Go to a department store such as Kmart or Wal-Mart and talk to the folks that put out the shoes. There are always silica packs in the shoes and the employees that unpack and put the shoes out might save you some. Before I retired I worked at a job that occasionally required me to help unpack the shoes and I had quite a collection of the little packs.

Comment by cmac
2015-03-04 06:09:28

Oil Dry. It is the same thing as the traditional Kitty Litter just unscented and maybe a little larger particles.

Comment by Dana Christensen
2015-03-04 19:53:39

Silica gel can be found in many places. For years I collected from electronics, kids toys and new shoe either on birthdays or Christmas. I now work for a company that orders carbon fiber by the truck load and every roll has a packet in it. The directions they state for theirs is to heat to245deg for 16 hrs. As stated before though it all depends on mfg and type.

Comment by Keith
2016-10-13 17:43:16

Certainly silica gel can be regenerated. But, above 300C, silica gel chemically changes loosing it’s hygroscopic properties. If your silica gel contains organic indicator dyes, they are destroyed above 125C. The preferred temperature for regenerating silica gel is 120C or 248F. While the temperature maybe lower, the granules are smaller so the necessary time in the oven may change.

As for the oven, it is preferable to use an electric oven over a gas oven. Gas ovens combine oxygen and hydrocarbons in natural gas to form heat + CO2 + H2O. The increased water vapor (steam) inside the oven makes it take longer to dry the desiccant, and the desiccant will never be as dry as if it were regenerated in an electric oven, though for many, the difference may not be important. I am just saying, if you have a choice, an electric oven will give you a better desiccant and wont take as long to regenerate.

2017-06-02 05:24:45





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