Everywhere you look, you're being told what to do and what not to do. Even that little packet of beads you found in your new purse commands you not to eat it, despite the curiosity that inevitably inspires. So, what would happen if you decided to stand up to the packet tyranny and ingest it anyway? Well, rebellious souls, SciShow gives us the answer in its new video.
First, we should explain what's actually in them. Those little balls are made of silica gel (as the packet usually indicates), which has been in use since 1919. Silica is really silicon dioxide, found in nature as particularly porous forms of sand and quartz. It's known for its powers of adsorption, meaning that its surface attracts water. So, if it's in the bottom of something like a leather purse or a packet of jerky, its purpose it to keep the items dry by collecting all the moisture from them.
But, what would happen if you decided to live your own life, and try eating the beads — defying the very clear "do not eat" warning printed on the packet? Probably nothing. Actually, it turns out that we ingest silica a lot; it's often found in water and even sold as a mineral supplement. Silica gel is considered "non-toxic," meaning it isn't poisonous. Those warning labels are usually more driven by fear of small children choking on them than anything else.
But, silica isn't the only thing that could be in those packets. Sometimes, the beads are dipped in a moisture-indicating dye, which can definitely be harmful — especially to pets. So, if the packet says don't eat, maybe you don't need to be such a rebel this time. Just enjoy your jerky.