Centripetal desiccation cracks in the Lower Jurassic Moenave Formation at the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm, southwestern Utah. A dinosaur footprint is at center.

Desiccation is the state of extreme dryness, or the process of extreme drying. A desiccant is a hygroscopic (attracts and holds water) substance that induces or sustains such a state in its local vicinity in a moderately sealed container.



A vacuum desiccator (left) and desiccator (right). Silica gel with cobalt chloride indicator placed in the lower shelf is used as the desiccant.


A desiccator is a heavy glass or plastic container used in practical chemistry for making or keeping small amounts of material very dry. The material is placed on a shelf, and a drying agent or desiccant, such as dry silica gel or anhydrous sodium hydroxide, is placed below the shelf.

Often some sort of humidity indicator is included in the desiccator to show, by color changes, the level of humidity. These indicators are in the form of indicator plugs or indicator cards. The active chemical is cobalt chloride (CoCl2). Anhydrous cobalt chloride is blue. When it bonds with two water molecules, (CoCl2•2H2O), it turns purple. Further hydration results in the pink hexaaquacobalt(II) chloride complex [Co(H2O)6]2+.

Biology and ecology

In biology and ecology, desiccation refers to the drying out of a living organism, such as when aquatic animals are taken out of water, or when plants are exposed to sunlight or drought. Ecologists frequently study and assess various organisms' susceptibility to desiccation.


In broadcast engineering, a desiccator may be used to pressurize the feedline of a high-power transmitter. Because it carries very high electrical power levels from the transmitter to the antenna, the feedline must have a good dielectric. Because it must also be lightweight so as not to overload the radio tower, air is often used as the dielectric. Since moisture can condense in these lines, desiccated air or nitrogen gas is pumped in. This pressure also keeps water or other dampness from coming in the line at any point along its length.

Desiccation cracks resulting as part of a flood deposit on the Mancos River near Towaoc, Colorado, as seen on September 25, 2003.

See also


External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • desiccation — early 15c., from M.Fr. desiccation or directly from L.L. desiccationem (nom. desiccatio), from pp. stem of L. desiccare to make very dry, from de thoroughly + siccare to dry (see SICCATIVE (Cf. siccative)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • Desiccation — Des ic*ca tion, n. [Cf. F. dessiccation.] The act of desiccating, or the state of being desiccated. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Desiccatĭon — (v. lat.), Austrocknung …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Desiccation — Desiccation, lat., Austrocknung …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • desiccation — [[t]de̱sɪke͟ɪʃ(ə)n[/t]] N UNCOUNT Desiccation is the process of becoming completely dried out. [FORMAL] ...the disastrous consequences of the desiccation of the wetland …   English dictionary

  • desiccation — The process of being desiccated. SYN: dehydration (4), exsiccation (1). * * * des·ic·ca·tion .des i kā shən n the act or process of desiccating or the state of being or becoming desiccated esp a complete or nearly complete deprivation of moisture …   Medical dictionary

  • desiccation — desikacija statusas T sritis ekologija ir aplinkotyra apibrėžtis Augalų antžeminės dalies džiovinimas cheminėmis medžiagomis (naudojamas debosas, magnio chloratas, reglonas), kad greičiau subręstų derlius. atitikmenys: angl. desiccation; drying… …   Ekologijos terminų aiškinamasis žodynas

  • desiccation — priešpjūtinis džiovinimas statusas T sritis augalininkystė apibrėžtis Augalų džiovinimas dirbtinėmis priemonėmis arba džiūvimas, augalui prisitaikant prie aplinkos sąlygų. atitikmenys: angl. desiccation rus. высушивание; десикация ryšiai:… …   Žemės ūkio augalų selekcijos ir sėklininkystės terminų žodynas

  • desiccation — desiccate ► VERB (usu. desiccated) ▪ remove the moisture from. DERIVATIVES desiccation noun. ORIGIN Latin desiccare make thoroughly dry …   English terms dictionary

  • Desiccation tolerance — refers to the ability of an organism to withstand or endure extreme dryness, or drought like conditions. Plants and animals living in arid or periodically arid environments such as temporary streams or ponds may face the challenge of desiccation …   Wikipedia

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