Photographs have been important to our society for generations but only in the last decade have we learned correct ways to store and care for our photographs. Many families still have photo’s stored in sticky magnetic photo albums that are very damaging. If pictures are stored correctly they can be a valuable history, record and geneology of our families for other centuries to enjoy.
Photographs should be shared. Boxing them away can prevent them for being seen often and enjoyed. As soon as pictures are developed you should start by labeling them with an acid free pen. Even pencils can do long term damage.
After labeling who, when and where the picture was taken you have several options for sharing your photo’s. They can be safely stored in albums if you learn what papers and photo storage containers are made of. One way to protect your photos would be to surround your photos with safe products.
As you may remember in chemistry, the PH scale runs from 0-14. 7 is considered neutral. The lower the number on the scale, the more acidic with 1 being the strongest. When choosing photo safe pens, paper, glue, and other products that will touch your photographs, you should choose products with a pH level between 7.0 and 9.0. If you are unsure of the product’s pH level check the label or ask for assistance.
LIGNIN FREE PAPER
Lignin paper is readily available but can harm photos. It is a natural substance that is found in wood and plant matter. It can turn brown over time and deposits acids and peroxides on your photo’s. It is often found in newspapers or cardboard. Check to make sure that the paper around your photos is Lignin Free which will mean it less than 1% Lignin.
When paper often forms an acid that can damage your photos. Buffered paper is paper that has calcium carbonate added to counteract the acids that may form later. It works as a type of neutralizer for the acid and “Buffers” them from migrating. Using buffered paper to mount your pictures on will increase the life of the paper and help protect them longer.
OTHER BUFFERING METHODS
Even when you are using paper that is acid-free your photographs can become contaminated by other products that are not safe if you are scrapbooking or embellishing your album pages. These acids can spread throughout your entire photo album. The buffering process mentioned above can help but another way to protect the page would be to use acid-free sheet protectors. They are available in several types from heavy-duty to lightweight and can be non-glare according to your personal preference.
After you have surrounded your photo’s with safe products, the next step is to keep in mind what other things are the most damaging to photographs so that you can avoid them also. Keep photo’s away from direct sunlight and ultraviolet light. Water and high humidity is also damaging. Photographs like consistent tmeperatures so if you have been storing photo’s in the attic, basement or garage you will want to find a safer location.
Pictures that are enhanced with other memorabilia have great sentimental value but do not use rubber bands, paper clips, scotch tape, or masking tape to attach them with. Even some plastics are not sage for photo’s because they contain PVC’s. (polyvinyl chloride) Most craft stores carry acid-free, see-through pockets that can store the locks of your baby’s first haircut, hospital id bracelets, or other mementos safely.