Could the conception of desiccant packs ever be regarded as monumental? In 2009, British Science Museum curators selected 10 hugely significant inventions. They then asked the public to vote on which they considered the best invention of all time. The list boasted iconic feats of science, such as Stephenson’s Rocket, Penicillin, and Cooke and Wheatstones’s five-needle telegraph. Indisputably, these inventions have greatly influenced our past, present or will promote the future. However, because of their relevant lack of complexity, is it possible that commonplace objects, such as desiccant packs, were overlooked?
History of Desiccants
Despite their banal standing, desiccant packs have an exciting history. Silica gel, commonly used in the packs, has existed for around 370 years, so it has had ample opportunity to impact history. The horrific gas attacks of WW I were endured with the help of silica gel packs placed in gas mask canisters, enabling them to absorb the immobilizing vapors. Another impressive example is these packs were used to keep military gear and penicillin dry, during WW II. Deservedly, penicillin featured on the curators’ list of worthy inventions, so surely a contrivance which enables penicillin to remain effective, is warranted an honorable mention too? There is no doubt that innovations such as Reynold’s X-ray set and Crick and Watson’s DNA model have or will save lives, but desiccant packs have clearly preserved life too.
Desiccant Packs Role
Few contrivances compete with the versatility of desiccant packs. Everyone is familiar, and sometimes even slightly irritated, by the discovery of one of these unremarkable packets when they fall out of a new TV or pair of shoes. Generally, people throw them away, without giving them a second thought. However, these packs are recyclable and have an astonishing array of uses around the home. Believe it or not, silica gel packs can be employed to preserve crucial information and memories. Slip them into an envelope with essential documents and photos, and rescue them from the ravages of humidity or mildew. If that all important lifeline, the mobile phone, suffers a wet mishap, pull out the battery and SIM card; slip the phone into a container with several silica gel packs overnight, and the next morning you are ready to roll. These may not be singularly astounding instances, but if you stop and consider the range of applications as a whole, it is very apparent that desiccant packs can bring massive improvement into our lives.