The physical risk of ingesting silica gel beads is very low when consumed in small amounts. It can temporarily dry your mouth or lead to a reaction in the throat if not consumed with water.
Silica gel is chemically inert. This means it won’t break down in the body and cause poisoning. However, because it won’t break down, the gel or packet and gel can cause choking. That’s why manufacturers often label them with “Do not eat” or “Throw away after using.” If accidentally swallowed, drinking with water prevents the silica from causing choking. Silica gel is a form of the naturally occurring mineral silicon dioxide, better known in its granular form as sand or in crystals as quartz. Its most notable trait is its porousness, which allows it to absorb up to 40 percent of its weight in water.
Eating silica gel shouldn’t make you sick. Most often, it’ll pass through your body and exit without any harmful effects on you, as it is a non-toxic substance. Indigestible, it passes through the body and comes out looking much the same as when it was consumed.
If you believe you are having any adverse reaction after consumption, please contact your health professional. In the case of an emergency, contact 911 (USA) or your local emergency line.