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Why Acid Free?

What is Acid Free and why does it matter?

If an acidic product comes into contact with paper, photos, textiles or other similar items, the acid can migrate, causing permanent damage and decay. This is why it is so very important to use good quality Acid Free and archival materials for the preservation of your treasured memories.

Storage in archival products will slow the aging process and add years of life to the items you value. It is better to prevent damage and deterioration, than try to repair or correct it.

If you don’t use true acid free materials you will find that your artefacts ,papers and photos may discolour or disintegrate more quickly than they would naturally.

For the storage of photo’s you additionally need to check that the materials you use are photo-safe or have passed the PAT test .

Archival Quality

This is a term used to indicate that materials have undergone laboratory analysis to determine and confirm that their acidic and conservation properties are within safe levels.

pH Factor

This refers to the acidity of a paper. The pH scale is the standard for measurement of acidity and alkalinity. It runs from 1 to 14 with each number representing a ten-fold increase; pH neutral is 7. Acid-free products have a pH factor of 7 or above.

PAT Test (Photo Activity Test)

This is a term similar to archival quality but more specific to materials used with photographs.

Why does paper deteriorate?

Until the mid 19th century, most papers were made of rag or cloth stock. Around 1860 the paper mills started using ground wood with acids, bleach, and alum-rosin sizing resulting in papers with a high acid content (low pH). These papers react with water and the atmosphere to produce self-destructive acidic compounds. These acids act on the paper, shorten the fibres, causing them to become brittle, discolour, and crumble into dust.

What can I do to prevent my valuables being damaged?

You need to store your items in a safe environment (See Preservation Tips) but equally important you need to keep your artefacts in safe genuine acid free box’s, like The Family History box or any of the other products in the TheSpecialBoxCompany Collection.

If you are in any doubt about how to care for and store an item, please consult a professional conservator for specific advice.