Desiccant for automatic feeder


TCS Member
Thread starter
Alpha Cat
Jun 4, 2005
I recently started using an automatic feeder. It recommends you replace the desiccant pack (charcoal) every two weeks. I’m wondering how necessary this really is or if it’s a waste of money. I’ve always stored dry food in the simple human pet food bin or a plastic container with a snap on cover and as far as I can tell it’s always been fine. Seems like storing some in this feeder wouldn’t be much different.

Caspers Human

TCS Member
Top Cat
Feb 23, 2016
You can put activated charcoal in the oven and bake it at 250º F. for a few hours and that will rejuvenate it so that you can use it again.

You should be able to reuse it several times before it starts getting icky and needs to be thrown away. There is no need to buy new packets every time. It's a waste of money.

You can also use silica gel packets that are often found in containers of food to protect the product inside from moisture which might cause sogginess or caking. You'll also find them inside packages of computers, home electronics devices or camera equipment because they protect sensitive instruments from moisture as well. You can also "bake out" silica gel the same way as charcoal and reuse it just the same.

Silica gel is that stuff that kind of looks like tapioca beads. It is not toxic and is generally non-harmful, provided you obey a couple of caveats:

1) Do NOT use any kind of silica gel that has colors in it. The substances used to make colored silica gel ARE harmful! The kind that has blue or pink specks in it is NOT intended to be used near food. Use ONLY the kind of silica gel that is snow white.

2) Keep the silica gel beads sealed inside their little "pillow" so that kids or cats can't get the contents. The beads, themselves, are not harmful. They are just made of very pure glass. They won't hurt you if you swallow a few of them but, if you eat a lot, they can cause choking.

Here is what has to say about silica gel:

If the package you store your cat food in is generally sealed and moisture resistant, charcoal or silica is probably not needed.

We buy Casper's cat food in bags then transfer it into plastic Tupperware containers with a snap-top lid. If you do the same, you shouldn't need anything else to keep cat food fresh.

If you use an automatic cat feeder that is open to the air, you might want to put some kind of desiccant inside. It is my guess that, if the automatic feeder has a chute for the food to come out of, there is probably a path for moisture to get inside. If it does, the food might cake up and clog the feeder mechanism. That's probably why the manufacturer recommends using a desiccant.

Use either charcoal or silica. Just be sure to check that the packages are not damaged so that the silica beads or charcoal inside don't spill out. Double check to see that the silica gel beads you use do not have any kind of color to them. They must be completely snow white and maybe a little bit translucent.

If you already have a packet of activated charcoal use that. Just bake it out every so often. Maybe weekly. Use your judgement. It's not hard to tell.

If you want to use silica gel beads, you can buy it on-line. The place I work makes electronic components for military and medical applications. When we ship out our finished product, we often put packets of silica gel in with the goods.

IMHO, why buy silica gel packets when you can get them for free in the packages of food or other stuff you already buy?

I often save up those packets to use in other things around the house that I want to protect from moisture. :)