How to dry flowers using silica gel beads

colorful bouquet of flowers

How to dry flowers for use in resin

This is Part 1 of a series

I decided for 2015, I would focus on learning more about the things I have been postponing.  One of those things is using dried flowers in resin.  Many of you have asked me about techniques and such, but I have minimal experience in this area.  I decided learning more about this was going to be my first priority for the new year.

I bought a colorful bouquet of flowers from my local supermarket.  Disclaimer:  I know NOTHING about flowers.  In fact, I’m horrible with plants.  I will do my best to refer to their names, but I can’t guarantee that I will call it what it really is.

Christmas bouqet silica gel

I was also lucky that the bouquet for my Christmas dinner table fit so well into this experiment. 

silica gel beads

For the first experiment, I decided to try drying some of the flowers in the silica gel.  There were two sets of instructions; I decided to try packing them with the gel and waiting for them to dry (as opposed to heating them in the microwave).

As for the silica gel brand I used, I simply did a web search for ‘silica gel to dry flowers’.  What you see here is what came up.  The five pound bag cost less than $5 and another $10 or so to ship.  (Be sure to follow the safety precautions listed on the bag.)

hydrangea flowers and silica gel

I lined a plastic snap top container with approximately 1 inch of the silica gel beads.  I picked off full hydrangea flowers and placed them on the layer of beads.  I tried to arrange them so that they would dry in a ‘natural’ shape.

flowers covered by silica gel

After placing the flowers on the gel layer, I covered them with another 1/2 inch of silica gel beads, then closed the container tightly.  The directions on the bag said one week was enough, but I let them sit for two.

hydrangea dried with silica gel

How did the flower turn out?

Pros:

Definitely kept its shape.  That part will be nice if I want to use it in a three dimensional mold like one of our resin sphere molds.

Flower feels very dry.  I’m not worried at all that it needs more time to dry.

Cons:

The silica gel pellets left divets the same size on the petals.  I don’t know if that will correct itself in the resin or not.

The pretty pink color completely left the flower.  Not that anyone else would know, but I do.  Ugh.

So here’s what I’m tasking myself for future projects:

Try the silica gel heated in the microwave.

Cast the dried flower above in resin and see if the indentations remain.

What has been your experience using silica gel to dry flowers?

Next on the experiment table is using parchment paper to dry flowers.

 

Unpublished Blog Posts of Resin Obsession, LLC © 2015 Resin Obsession, LLC

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18 thoughts on “How to dry flowers using silica gel beads

  1. I’ve had success drying flowers using silica and subsequently using those flowers in resin pendants. However, I have simply collected (recycled!) the silica from the tiny packets that are included in medication bottles, packages, etc., over time, instead of purchasing it. I’ve also had better luck drying live flowers from my own yard than from drying purchased flowers (which are often dyed). The flowers from my yard have always retained their original bright colors in the silica… without microwaving and even when left buried in a styrofoam cup filled with silica for months and months on end.

    The silica I collected from the little desiccant packets did not have BLUE pellets in it, like the silica did in your photos. I wonder if that had anything to do with the divets/dents showing up in your flower petals… as I haven’t had that problem.

    I am still learning and experimenting, but I have dried flowers using a flower press, a microwave, an iron, between book pages, etc., and my success has differed with each technique. I think some of it has to do with they type of flower itself as well as whether it was purchased (and possibly dyed) or whether it was from a local garden or wildflowers from the side of the road. I’m sure the humidity and temperature at the times were factors, too.

    I recently made a large open-backed bezel resin ornament for my niece using a dried rose petal I saved (and dried) that had been sprinkled on the ground when she walked down the aisle for her outdoor wedding back in April. Unfortunately the petals came from a florist, so the pink color faded, but the petal survived. I dried that one pressed between 2 sheets of white printer paper, surrounded by 2 paper towels, and then between 2 pieces of cardboard, and finally with a cast iron teapot on top of that “sandwich” of layers.

  2. When I was a little girl my grandmother had a gorgeous hydrangea tree/bush and I tried to dry flowers from it. The color always faded, no matter what I tried. I agree with Amy that the silica gel from medicine packets works just fine, and it can be renewed by putting it in a warm (150 – 200 degree)oven for a few hours. The most beautiful rose I ever saw was pressed in my grandmothers Bible
    for over 100 years. If I still had the Bible I would try preserving it in resin.

  3. P.S. – The dents stay in the petals unless the petals are rehydrated and redried, and it doesn’t always work, as the petals may mold or turn brown while drying. A lot of work for little results.

  4. I tried to dry flowers in the microwave following the directions on the silica package this past weekend and found that the flowers turned out, for lack of a better word, crispy! Not to mention they were way more fragile that if you let them dry “naturally” over a few days.
    I dried carnations by setting them on top of the drying agent and after a day I just turned them upside down (because the center was still moist) to finish the process. I feel it was successful, but it did take a few extra days.

  5. I have been trying to dry roses in silica gel for a while now with the same crystals using the microwave. Each time the flower dried nicely (but was quite crispy?!) but just fell apart when I tried to remove it from the container. What could I be doing wrong?

  6. The best way to avoid the dents is to use the silica gel granules, not the pellets. The granules are like fine sand instead of little pellets like what’s in the dessicant packets. It’s a bit hard to tell in your photos, was your gel like sand or more like tiny pellets? If it was pellets, that’s what caused the dents and they won’t go away.

    I’ve found that drying flowers in the microwave works quickly but if the flowers are delicate, it does crisp them. It can also make them turn brown. It works well for hardier flowers, but again, it’s hard to keep the color.

    The best results I’ve ever had was to carefully cover flowers in the silica gel sand, then dry them for a week or more in the refrigerator. The cold makes the colors keep WAY better, especially for leaves. Heat accelerates the decaying process and breaks down the cells of the petals. The cold preserves them more.

  7. DBS is correct. The granules/sand is preferable to beads. I’ve tried the brand you have and got the same results… dents all over the flowers. Very disappointing.

    Also, I don’t recommend drying flowers in the microwave for a plethora of reasons. (Every microwave is different, every flower is different, flower placement, etc.) I finally gave up on microwave drying after a string of failures with daisies. The ends of the petals would be crispy to the point of crumbling, but because the center is so dense, it would still feel damp.

    If you’re not planning on using the flowers right away, it’s very important to seal them. I let a carnation and rose sit in a cool, dry, air tight container for months. When I checked on them, they were both much more brittle and the carnation was turning from a pretty pink to faded yellow.

  8. Hi all,
    I dried my flowers by paper . The first time, i bought 10 roses flowers inthe supermarket and cut the leaf and dry them in my books. Wait for 1 weeks, they dry but almost of them lost color. They are dark .. In 100 leaves, i chose for 20 leaves of rose. But color wasn’t good. So, I applied another way to dry flowers. Bring them on the table , below the sun near my window. Wait for 3 days, almost of them dried . The color is better but///
    I applied the third way: Dry flowers with silicat. Everything is ok, the color of flowers kept more

    Thanks,
    Ngoc Anh

  9. Hi I have cast stems of flower arrangements in glass vases with resin.
    It were successful, but now I have someone that want me to cast a life Protea from her wedding . This is large and hard, with middle fluffy tiny hair, what will you suggest as I never did this before, can be used a paperweight later or display. How will I dry this and keep color intact.

  10. Does anyone have issues with silicia gel residue affecting the resin? I try to shake off as much as possible before inserting dried flowers into the (polyester) resin but still get some bubbles and cloudiness.

    1. I would suggest trying 2 things. Maybe using a pressured air canister (like the ones to clean dust from keyboards) to blow off the tiny residue that a shake wont get. Also, after you get off as much ‘dust’ as possible, spray the item you had dried with a clear sealer and let that dry before casting in resin. Good luck! 🙂

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