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Drying flowers with silica gel and a microwave oven



dried flower wreath

  
The gentle art of drying flowers

I
have found that drying flowers is not an exact process and that even flowers
from the same plant, produce different results depending on the time of year
they are gathered.

Choosing flowers to dry

Choose
perfect blooms where possible, as drying tends to accentuate imperfections.
Gather your flowers late morning, when they are dry, but not yet wilted by the
heat of the day.

Orange,
pink and blue flowers tend to retain their colour best when dried, red roses
darken considerably but are still very lovely.

If
you are not able to start drying your flowers immediately after picking, keep
them in vases of tepid water in a cool place until you are ready. I have found
that drying flowers that are beginning to wilt produces disappointing results.

How to use Silica Gel

The
best results are obtained by using generous amounts of

Silica Gel
. Use an
air-tight container made of plastic, glass or tin. Pour a 3cm layer of Silica
Gel into the container and then arrange the flowers on this layer, the next step
is to cover the flowers completely with Silica Gel.

It
is important that this is done carefully, as simply pouring the granules onto
the blooms will flatten them. I have found that the best way to do this is to
pour the granules around the edge of the container, then shake it gently so that
the Silica Gel moves to the centre of the container, building up around the
flowers and filling up the spaces between the petals, until the flowers are
completely covered.

It
takes between two days and a week for flowers to dry, the length of time depends
entirely on the type of flower you are drying, and I have discovered the best
results are obtained by only drying one type of flower per container as those
with thick fleshy petals will take longer to dry than those with thin papery
petals.

It
is important to regularly check the state of the flowers, because if they are
left too long in the Silica Gel, they will become brittle and the petals will
break.

Once
your flowers are dry, remove them gently from the Silica Gel, either by hand or
using a slotted spoon, and remove any residual granules with a soft water-colour
brush.

Using Silica Gel in your Microwave Oven

The
drying time for flowers can be reduced dramatically by drying them in a
microwave oven. The technique is essentially the same, but it is better to dry
only a few flowers at a time.

Once
you have covered the flowers with Silica Gel, micro-wave them on high for one
minute and then let them cool undisturbed for 30 minutes, check that the flowers
have dried and if not repeat the process. Here again I am unable to give you
exact instructions, as drying using this method depends on the type of flower
being dried, and the power of your microwave oven.


ATTENTION
 


Silica Gel is not a
toy

please keep out of reach of
children.

Do
not eat Silica Gel. Once you have used Silica Gel in a container, wash the
container thoroughly if you intend using it for the preparation or storage
of food stuff.