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Home Blogs Adsorb and Absorb: The differences in Definition

Adsorb and Absorb: The differences in Definition

Adsorb and absorb – two words that sound similar but mean different things. Those in the industrial sector will have encountered these two words at least once, and may have mistaken one word for the other.

Adsorb is the correct word to use when describing what silica gel does with moisture. Adsorption is the process by which a substance adheres to the surface of the adsorbent. In this case, the moisture (water molecules) adhere to the surface of the silica gel. The moisture does not actually penetrate into the silica gel.

So, the terminology is as follows: the silica gel is the adsorbent, and the water molecules are called the adsorbate.

If silica gel, e.g. e-Gel, is re-generated the water molecules are removed from the e-Gel surface. However, the silica gel loses approximately 20% of its capacity as a number of the pores do not re-open. Some companies view the best practice to be the disposal of the gel.

Meanwhile, absorption is the process in which the absorbent, (which could be a liquid or a solid) dissolves a fluid. An example of absorption would be when a towel is used to soak up a drink that has been spilled. Another example is that of a sponge that absorbs – not adsorbs – moisture.


Daywalk e-Gel silica gel comes in range of packages and quantities, from desiccant bags for use inside wrapped spares to bulk desiccant for use in transformer breathers.

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