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Re: Help with Newspaper

Mary's response is accurate; it is also an example of the problems
inherent in responding to questions via the internet, snail-mail, or

Baking soda is a refined form of natron.  Natron is a naturally occuring
form of alkali which was used to treat linen cloth which was used to wrap
mummies in Egypt, thousands of years ago.

The linen lasted long enough to be snapped off the mummies and be shipped
to Europe to be made into paper during the late 18th and early 19th
centuries.  The mummies, embalmed with a lot of gums and resins, were
stuffed into train engines to fire the boilers.  Some mummies were ground
up and sold as a water color pigment, but I digress.

The main reason the natron treated linen lasted so long is that their
environment was very stable.  If the treated newspaper noted below was in a
stable environment for 30 years, it should have remained, more-or-less,
unchanged, and if it was stored between sheets of 'acid free' paper, that
is even more reason to assume that it would remain stable, because acids
and alkalies would interact over time, in the presence of atmospheric
and neutralize each other.

Natron is not used in conservation because it is too agressive.  Paper treated
thus, and exposed to an environment which is high in relative humidity,
will become soft and punky.

Excess acid makes paper brittle; excess alkalinity makes paper punky.

It is, as I've mentioned before, not a simple equation.  What works in one
place, at one time, can not be assumed to work in all places at all times.


>About thirty years ago, we treated several newspaper articles by dipping the
>clippings in a solution of 1T baking soda : 1 QT distilled water. We
>squeegeed the excess water against a window pane, then dried them. They have
>never yellowed. They've been stored between paper that was "acid free" at the
>Mary Crest

Jack C. Thompson
Thompson Conservation Lab.
7549 N. Fenwick
Portland, OR  97217

503/735-3942  (voice/fax)


"The lyfe so short; the craft so long to lerne."
Chaucer  _Parlement of Foules_ 1386

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