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Electrical conductivity as well as dielectric and microwave absorption properties of yellow dextrin were described. The studied material was in the form of milled and pressed tablets. It was found that the minor addition of water (5.4 wt% of water content) significantly changes the properties of tested absorber. The shift of γ-relaxation was observed for water-saturated amorphous yellow dextrin. It was also confirmed, that the activation energy of this process has been significantly increased by a slight addition of water (0.45–0.62 eV). Mobility of water in the yellow dextrin–water system is also related to the increased conductivity of the sample. The yellow dextrin was found to be a great microwave absorber. Addition of water causes also the increase of microwave absorption properties (decrease of reflection loss from − 2.37 to − 17.29 dB and shielding efficiency from − 9.09 to − 36.84 dB for 1 cm sample thickness). Moreover, the highest absorption frequency region is being shifted by water towards lower frequencies (from 4.78 to 2.83 GHz).