Desiccators are sealable enclosures containing desiccant
A desiccant is a hygroscopic substance that induces or sustains a state of dryness in its local vicinity in a moderately well-sealed container....

s used for preserving moisture
Humidity is the amount of moisture the air can hold before it rains. Moisture refers to the presence of a liquid, especially water, often in trace amounts...

-sensitive items such as cobalt chloride paper for another use. A common use for desiccators is to protect chemicals which are hygroscopic or which react with water from humidity
Humidity is a term for the amount of water vapor in the air, and can refer to any one of several measurements of humidity. Formally, humid air is not "moist air" but a mixture of water vapor and other constituents of air, and humidity is defined in terms of the water content of this mixture,...


The contents of desiccators are exposed to atmospheric moisture whenever the desiccators are opened. It also requires some time to achieve a low humidity. Hence they are not appropriate for storing chemicals which react quickly or violently with atmospheric moisture such as the alkali metals. A glovebox
A glovebox is a sealed container that is designed to allow one to manipulate objects where a separate atmosphere is desired. Built into the sides of the glovebox are gloves arranged in such a way that the user can place their hands into the gloves and perform tasks inside the box without breaking...

 or Schlenk
Schlenk line
225px|thumb|Vacuum gas manifold set up: 1 inert gas in, 2 inert gas out , 3 vacuum 4 reaction line, 5 Teflon tap to gas, 6 Teflon tap to vacuum 225px|thumb| Vacuum gas manifold set up: 1 inert gas in, 2 inert gas out , 3 vacuum , 4 reaction line, 5 double oblique stopcock...

-type apparatus may be more suitable for these purposes.

Desiccators are sometimes used to remove traces of water from an almost-dry sample. Where a desiccator alone is unsatisfactory, the sample may be dried at elevated temperature using Abderhalden's drying pistol
Abderhalden's drying pistol
Abderhalden's drying pistol is a piece of laboratory glassware used to free samples from traces of water, or other impurities. It is called a "pistol" because of its resemblance to the firearm. This apparatus was first described in a book edited by Emil Abderhalden...



In laboratory use, the most common desiccators are circular, and made of heavy glass
Glass is an amorphous solid material. Glasses are typically brittle and optically transparent.The most familiar type of glass, used for centuries in windows and drinking vessels, is soda-lime glass, composed of about 75% silica plus Na2O, CaO, and several minor additives...

. There is usually a removable platform on which the items to be stored are placed. The desiccant, usually an otherwise-inert solid such as silica gel
Silica gel
Silica gel is a granular, vitreous, porous form of silica made synthetically from sodium silicate. Despite its name, silica gel is a solid. It is a naturally occurring mineral that is purified and processed into either granular or beaded form...

, fills the space under the platform.

A stopcock
A stopcock is a valve used to restrict or isolate the flow of a liquid or gas through a pipe.In Great Britain a stopcock, not to be confused with a gate valve or a DiCiaccio branch, is used to prevent flow of water into a domestic water system. There are usually two stopcocks for a home...

 may be included to permit the desiccator to be evacuated. Such models are usually known as vacuum desiccators. When a vacuum is to be applied, it is a common practice to criss-cross the vacuum desiccator with tape, or to place it behind a screen to minimize damage or injury caused by an implosion. To maintain a good seal, vacuum grease
Grease (lubricant)
The term grease is used to describe semisolid lubricants. Although the word grease is also used to describe rendered fat of animals, in the context of lubrication, grease typically applies to a material consisting of a soap emulsified with mineral or vegetable oil...

 is usually applied to the flange
A flange is an external or internal ridge, or rim , for strength, as the flange of an iron beam such as an I-beam or a T-beam; or for attachment to another object, as the flange on the end of a pipe, steam cylinder, etc., or on the lens mount of a camera; or for a flange of a rail car or tram wheel...

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