Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Silica To Keep Your Gumpaste Dry

I recently started making sugar gems to sell in my Etsy shop, which opened me up to the problem of how to keep them from getting sticky while being stored and shipped.

Those nifty little packages of silica gel that come with shoeboxes can be purchased in bulk from Uline, but the problem is that you can't tell if they're still active or not because the gel is inside the packets and you can't see it. I use those to ship items, but for long-term storage I need to know if the silica is still dry or if it's saturated and not absorbing any more moisture.

So I went to the craft store and bought a package of silica gel in the floral arranging section. Then I got some of those little mesh gift bags that you can get from Wilton...If you time it right you can find them on sale after holidays when they're trying to get rid of the ones that are colored to match the holiday theme. These were used for Halloween treats, but I didn't care what color they are. I just needed them to have a way to let the air get in and out.

Keep in mind that even though silica gel is a natural substance and technically non-toxic, the blue ones are coated with cobalt chloride, which is toxic if you eat it in large quantities. While researching this, though, I found out that athletes use it to dope themselves because it does something to the oxygen-carrying capacity of your blood, and it's not illegal in sports doping yet. Which means that it's possible to have large-ish amounts of it in your body and you're not going to drop dead.

So since it's in the bag, not touching the gumpaste or sugar itself, and idiots apparently ingest large amounts of it to do better at sports, I'm not concerned about using it for this purpose. Just put it in a cupcake wrapper if you want to make sure it's not in contact with whatever you're storing. It will still absorb the moisture but the wrapper will keep it in it's own little section.

If you don't like the idea, though, you can get orange silica gel, which is totally non-toxic. Or you can put it in a small paper cup and cover the lid with netting and a rubber band to keep the net in place. that way the gel is totally enclosed. Overall, though, you're going to be fine unless you eat a lot of it. And if you do that it will be the plain silica that messes you up more than the blue ones, since there are so few of the blue ones by comparison.
But back to the task at hand...Put a little silica inside the bag...Be careful when you do this, because I learned the hard way that silica gel bounces and spreads out all over the place when you spill it. Wow.

You can either tie the top closed tightly, or fold it over and staple it shut, depending on if you need to replace the silica or not. Just make sure the beads can't get out.

When you see that the beads have changed color you can change the gel.


 Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com

3 comments:

Sweet Flamingo Cake Co. said...

Just to make sure, by silica gel, are talking about the beads that swell up when soaked? The ones you add to vases for a more decorative way to water cut flowers?

Thanks!

Kara Buntin said...

I think those are for releasing water into the vase?? The ones I'm talking about are to absorb moisture that's in the air. Like those little packets that come in boxes when you buy shoes or clothes. They absorbthe moisture so that it doesn't go into the gumpaste.

Anna said...

Isn't it wonderful that people are so stupid or litigation happy that you have to explain yourself so thoroughly, as to just about forget what you were talking about in the first place? Lol! One would hope that the masses wouldn't think you meant to sprinkle it on everything, or ingest it, and to please keep it off the cake, but you can never be too sure ;-)