Although somecan be dried successfully by the means described many more can be preserved in a desiccant. That is to say the flower is completely immersed in a material which gradually draws the moisture from it. There is a slight deepening of the red, blue and violet colours and a slight fading of the others, but apart from that the flowers look entirely natural.
There are several different types of desiccant and the one you use might well depend on local availability. The lightest in weight, and therefore the most suitable for delicate flowers, is household borax, available in 1-lb. Packs from chemists and hardware stores. This should not be confused with the medical quality of borax, which costs more. The principle when using borax, as with all other desiccants, is to cover the flower completely, shaking and working the material under, between and on top of all the petals so that there is not even a minute air pocket preventing the desiccant from coming into contact with the surface of the flower. Because of its lightness, borax is a little difficult to work into the flower and can be gently pushed into the cavities with a small camelhair paintbrush. It can be used with an equal quantity of cornmeal.
Sand is a readily absorbent material and has been used successfully to dry flowers for generations. However it needs thorough washing before it is ready to use. To do this, put the sand into a bucket, fill with water, stir well, and pour off the excess. Fill the bucket again, add a little household detergent, stir to distribute the cleaner, then pour off the water. Rinse the sand several times in fresh water, until finally the water poured away is clear. Spread out the sand on trays and dry in the sun or in the oven at a very low temperature. This will take 3-4 hours.
Sand is considerably heavier than household borax and will run freely and smoothly between the flower petals. Care should be taken to support the flower from underneath while this is being done, or the weight of the sand could be damaging.
Silica gel crystals are an effective desiccant, too. They are useful to prevent moisture from attacking metals; a few crystals kept in a camera case or tool box prevent rust. The crystals are rather large, however, and should be ground before being used to dry flowers. If you cannot buy ground silica gel crystals, you can easily crush them with a rolling pin. Since this material can absorb up to fifty per cent of its own weight in moisture, the granules must be dried before they are ready to use again. To do this, spread them in a baking tray in a low oven until the litmus paper indicator, sold with the substance for this purpose, turns blue.
Similar in effect to these crystals, is a desiccant called Cut