Salt stains from evaporating droplets

Sci Rep. 2015 May 27;5:10335. doi: 10.1038/srep10335.


The study of the behavior of sessile droplets on solid substrates is not only associated with common everyday phenomena, such as the coffee stain effect, limescale deposits on our bathroom walls , but also very important in many applications such as purification of pharmaceuticals, de-icing of airplanes, inkjet printing and coating applications. In many of these processes, a phase change happens within the drop because of solvent evaporation, temperature changes or chemical reactions, which consequently lead to liquid to solid transitions in the droplets. Here we show that crystallization patterns of evaporating of water drops containing dissolved salts are different from the stains reported for evaporating colloidal suspensions. This happens because during the solvent evaporation, the salts crystallize and grow during the drying. Our results show that the patterns of the resulting salt crystal stains are mainly governed by wetting properties of the emerging crystal as well as the pathway of nucleation and growth, and are independent of the evaporation rate and thermal conductivity of the substrates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't