Silica Gel Can Help Eliminate Moisture Problems

It’s no secret that many of the problems collectors have with storing their coins can be traced to moisture in the air. It is everywhere, to one degree of another, and can be a real killer if coins are not given proper protection. Storing coins in a place with relative humidity controls can reduce some of the problem, but few of us have that luxury available either at home or in a bank vault. So some people rely on silica gel. It’s an effective solution, but one that is often overlooked.

Silica Gel

Silica gel is a porous, granular, non-crystalline form of silica. It is commonly used to help create a dry storage environment in numerous situations. Silica gel is cheap, easy to use, and will fit easily into cases and boxes. If it has a downside, it is because it needs constant attention. Silica gel will absorb atmospheric moisture until it becomes saturated. At that point, the gel is potentially detrimental to coins. It is like placing a wet sponge near them. If you use silica gel, it is important that you monitor it on a regular basis, and change it when it becomes saturated.

It is not always convenient to check on the silica gel stored with your coins. If they are in a bank vault, you may forget to look in on them for weeks at a time. A secondary consideration is that if you store paper money along with your coins the silica may do more harm than good by drying out the paper. Some forms of silica gel will change color from blue to pink to indicate that it is time to refresh the gel.

If you are storing coins, when you see the color turning to violet or rose it’s time for a change. Paper money collectors should not let the gel go beyond the rose stage. Once the relative humidity factor is in the 70 percent and up range, the gel will turn rose or a pale pink and indicate a range where mold can thrive. Mold is a big concern for paper money collectors, but it also grows on old coins.

Heating in a 250-degrees oven for several hours can rejuvenate silica gel. Use of a microwave oven also works, but is not as efficient, and not recommended by gel manufacturers. There are several suppliers of silica gel, and the product is not very expensive considering the protection it can give. The “indicating” form is the most expensive. That is the one that turns color when it absorbs moisture. A less expensive kind works just as well, but does not turn color. If you use that, you will have to check frequently on the condition of the gel, and be sure that you change it when it becomes saturated.

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