硅胶可以用来作干燥剂，而且可以重复使用。硅胶是由硅酸凝胶mSiO2·nH2O适当脱水而成的颗粒大小不同的多孔物质。具有开放的多孔结构，比表面（单位质量的表面积）很大，能吸附许多物质，是一种很好的干燥剂、吸附剂和催化剂载体。硅胶的吸附作用主要是物理吸附，可以再生和反复使用。 在碱金属硅酸盐（如硅酸钠）溶液中加酸，使之酸化，再加入一定量的电解质进行搅拌，即生成硅酸凝胶；或者在较浓的硅酸钠溶液中加酸或铵盐也能生成硅酸凝胶。将硅酸凝胶静置几小时使之老化，然后用热水洗去可溶性盐类,在60～70℃下烘干并在约300℃时活化，即可得硅胶。 将硅酸凝胶用氯化钴溶液浸泡后再烘干和活化，可得变色硅胶。用它作干燥剂时，吸水前是蓝色，吸水后变红色，从颜色的变化可以看出吸水程度，以及是否需要再生处理。硅胶还广泛用于蒸气的回收、石油的精炼和催化剂的制备等方面。硅胶还能用来做手机壳，具有极其高的防摔性
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