Techniques For Drying Flowers

When searching for a way to dry flowers you will find four basic techniques. They are: air drying, microwave, drying agents and glycerine solution.

If you are searching for a way to dry flowers you will come across four basic techniques. They are air drying, using the microwave, using a drying agent such as a dissicant or silica gel, and using a glycerine solution.

The best time to gather flowers to be dried is right before they bloom and preferably when the weather is dry. If you must pick them when wet, gently blot off excess moisture with a soft paper towel or tissue.

Air drying is the oldest and easiest method, as there is no special equipment needed. Simply gather your bunches of flowers, tie their stems together tightly with a string or rubberband and hang them upside down. The flower bunches should be hung in a warm, dry, preferably dark place with good air circulation. Although this method is the easiest, it is also one of the longest. Flowers can take up to three to four weeks. When they are dry to the touch, they can be taken down and then sprayed with hair spray or a clear lacquer to help them hold their form and give them shine.

There are many variations for drying flowers in the microwave, and since all microwaves are different, to find the one that works best for you requires experimentation with techniques and times. Before any microwave drying, place a small dish of water in the microwave to prevent overdrying. for flat faced flowers, such as pansies or Queen Anne's lace, simply wrap the flower in a paper towel and set a small plate on top of it to keep its shape. Drying time in a microwave can take anywhere from one to three minutes. This is where you must experiment with your microwave.

Other microwave drying techniques involve the use of a drying agent such as sand or silica gel. Again, be sure you have a dish of water inside. Using a microwave container, put in enough of the drying agent to surround the flowers for support. Dig spaces in the sand or silica gel that are only big enough for you to place the flowers in, right side up. flowers should be supported on all sides by drying agent. Do not cover the container. Again, drying time can be from one to three minutes so experimentation is necessary.

It is recommended by veteran microwave dryers that you let the flower sit in their containers for another 24-48 hours before removing from the drying agent.

Drying flowers with dessicants or drying agents, without the use of a microwave, has become the most common way of drying.

Commercial dessicants, such as silica gel, can be found in most craft stores. Instructions, along with a list of flowers and their drying times can also usually be found on the containers. A popular homemade drying agent is created by mixing one part borax to one part white cornmeal. To dry flowers in this manner you can use a shallow box such as a shoe box. Spread the dessicant on the bottom of the box and position the flowers according to their shape. Flat flowers, such as daisies, should be placed face down; cup flowers such as tulips or roses, should be face up, sides supported by drying agent; sprays of flowers should be laid down on the mixture. Once flowers are in place, gently add more mixture until they are fully covered. Be sure to fill spaces between petals, and also be sure no petals are touching each other if at all possible.

If you are using a homemade borax mixture, boxes can be left uncovered, and the drying process can take two weeks or more. If you are using silical gel, flowers should be in airtight containers, and flowers should be dry in four to ten days. The thicker the flowers the longer the drying time. When flowers are dry, gently remove them from the mixture. If any dust or resin from the drying agent remains on the flower, it can be removed with a soft, small paintbrush.

The final method usually found for drying flowers is using a glycerine solution, which is one part glycerine to two parts very hot water. This method is best for ornamental grasses and foliage. Cut the desired foliage or grasses at a length of no more than 18". If bark happens to be on the stem it is best to remove as much of it as possible. Split the bottom of the stems and put them into 4" of the glycerine solution. When the colors start to change and the leaves, branches or grasses seem more supple, they can be removed from the solution. This process usually takes up to 3 weeks.

Drying flowers can be great fun and the finished product very rewarding. Most dried flowers will last well for at least a year, but once you dry them the first time you'll enjoy it so much you'll probably make a continual supply.

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