Desiccators are devices that remove moisture from the air. They provide a convenient and affordable method of preserving biological samples when humidity is not desirable. Desiccators are used extensively in laboratories. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes. These devices have been around since the 18th century when they were used to protect gunpowder from exposure to moisture. Today they are used to protect samples from moisture and prevent deterioration, contamination, and breakage.
Desiccators are often used in health care facilities. For example, many doctors and nurses in the hospital use them to protect elective surgical tissues and tissues that need to be stored for long periods, such as bone fragments. In addition, many other prominent institutions store biological samples in desiccators. Desiccators also come in handy to preserve historical artifacts and specimens at museums or in archives.
Different Types of Desiccators
Desiccators mainly come in three types: chemical, mechanical, and vacuum. These devices function within a range of temperatures. Some are designed to work at room temperature, while others must be kept in subzero conditions.
- Mechanical Desiccators
There are two main styles of mechanical desiccators: vertical and horizontal. The difference between the two is their orientation to the ground. Vertical units sit on the floor, while horizontal units sit on top of desks or countertops. Mechanical desiccators are made of plastic, stainless steel, and rubber materials. They have a built-in mechanism that keeps the sample dry. Mechanical Stainless Steel Desiccators have vents to allow moisture to escape. They can be opened and closed manually or using a mechanical release device.
- Vacuum Desiccators
Vacuum desiccators are used in low-temperature environments only. In the laboratory, they use vacuum pumps to remove the humidity from the air and freeze moisture on collection surfaces such as glass slides, glass tubes, and Petri dishes. These devices are used to preserve surgical tissues which may be damaged if frozen or frozen directly after storage under ambient conditions with ice packs or dry ice. These types of desiccators are typically used in hospitals and labs that must maintain deficient humidity levels.
- Chemical Desiccators
Chemical desiccators are used in a range of environments and temperature ranges. They are usually housed in ice-cold cabinets that maintain a low temperature of 13°C (55°F) to -10°C (14°F) or below. They usually have fans that circulate air, which keep the devices clean and dry. Chemical desiccators have an absorbent material inside to absorb the moisture and then use this material as a desiccant to remove the moisture from the air.
The necessity of Using Stainless Steel Desiccators
Aside from removing moisture and keeping our samples free of contaminants, we also need to check the temperature of our items periodically. Also, if you’re working with volatile substances, you’ll find that they evaporate quickly when exposed to ambient light and heat. Again, this is why it’s best to work with samples in a cold environment. The most popular desiccators are those that are made of stainless steel because they’re easy to clean and maintain
You should remember that there are many different desiccators, and they all have different functions. Therefore, your choice will depend on what your desiccator needs to do. For example, the way you use the product may vary depending on whether you’ll be using it at a subzero temperature or in an environment that is not very cold.
The Advantages of Using Stainless Steel Desiccators
- Stainless Steel Desiccators are easy to clean and maintain. Since the devices are made from stainless steel, they can be cleaned with soapy water and rinsed with distilled water. Lastly, you can use bleach to clean off any bacteria accumulated on the device.
- Stainless steel desiccators will not react with your samples or contaminate them in any way. For this reason, stainless steel desiccators should be used as temperature-controlled storage units for biological materials that must remain stable and free of contaminants at room temperature (20°C – 30°C).
- Stainless steel desiccators can be transferred between rooms since they do not have the same odor as other storage devices. Also, their easy portability makes stainless steel desiccators a better option.
Although desiccators may be seen as simple and inexpensive products, they are helpful in several situations. Furthermore, the devices help preserve precious samples and artifacts so that they do not degrade.