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Acid - A Scrapbook's Worst Enemy

Aug 17, 2007
Everyone advertises their scrapbooking products to be acid-free and photo safe, but what exactly do these terms mean and how do these types of products help protect your photographs? To put it plainly, photography is a chemical process, so the reintroduction of other chemicals to the surface of your photograph is what causes them to discolor, warp, and become brittle. If you've ever pulled yellowed photographs out of a shoebox from under your grandmother's bed, you know what I mean. Creating scrapbooks takes a long time and a lot of money, so using materials to protect your photographs will help save your album for many years.

Acidity is rated on a pH scale. Items that are pure and "acid-free" have a pH level of zero. Anything above zero indicates acidity. Of the items on your page must have a pH level of zero to fully protect your photographs. Acid migrates over time to neutral items, much in the same way as a cupful of hot water dropped into a bowl of cold water will disperse over time to create a medium temperature. Products that act as buffers between acidic items and photographs are available on the market, but these are not as safe as manufactures make them out to be. Over time, these papers cannot absorb the acid in most items, and it will eventually migrate to your photographs. A safe way to buffer acidic items from your photographs is with mylar, or polyester. This is the product most companies use to make page protectors, for that very reason.

One of the major problems in the scrapbooking market is that there is no set standard a product must reach before being termed "photo safe." Therefore, that phrase is used very loosely, often at the consumer's expense. Your best bet is to use products labeled "archival quality," but even then only buy products from manufactures you know and trust. When buying from a new company, it is important to research the company first and even call customer service to ask about their product quality. Don't be shy; doing this will help protect the investment of time and money you made in your scrapbook. If you want to test your products, pH pens are now becoming readily available on the market. By making a mark on the back of your paper and comparing its color to a guide, you can tell if your paper is truly acid-free or not. Bottom line is, consumer beware.
About the Author
Tom Ambrozewicz is one of the pioneers in using breakthrough audio technology on his web sites. You can read, you can listen to professional narrator reading to you or having MP3 files ready to download if you hate to keep printed files. You can check all scrapbooking tips at Ask-How.info now.
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