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Scrapbooking is as much about preservation of your precious photos as it is about documenting your memories.
In order to understand how to keep your photos safe, you need to understand what to protect them from and why. Your photos are under assault from many everyday factors. Light, humidity, dust -- all these things can cause your precious photos to deteriorate . Modern scrapbooking is designed to preserve your photographs (and your memories) in as safe an environment as possible, in order to assure they will be able to be enjoyed for years to come.
Here are some of the factors that can damage your photos and some suggestions on how you can remove the threat or minimise the damage.
Acid is naturally found in paper, and over time it breaks down the fibre of the paper, causing it to become dry and brittle, eventually deteriorating into dust. The fact is that acid always migrates from an acidic material to a less acidic or neutral one. Protecting your photos begins with shielding them from acid naturally occurring in air, water or on your hands, as well as using acid free paper and plastic to store and display them in.
Paper made to the international standard ISO9706 is considered archival and permanent, and therefore called acid free.
Buffered paper has and alkaline substance (usually magnesium carbonate or calcium carbonate) added to it to prevent acid from migrating to the paper. It does not remove acid already in the paper. Acid free & buffered paper is best for your photos.
Dust is an abrasive, and getting dust on your photos can scratch and damage them. Putting your photos in protectors or in acid free albums can shield them from dust damage.
Heat will cause paper to decay more quickly -- and this includes photo paper. Store your photos someplace moderate, not in an attic or a garage.
Something we all know about! Humidity levels above 70% can promote the growth of mould, which will damage your photos. But fluctuating humidity levels also damage the paper by causing it to expand and contact as it absorbs and then loses moisture. Be sure to protect your albums from humidity, in a moderate climate.
Light can also fade your photos. Photos are printed on light-sensitive paper, so ultraviolet (UV) light will speed up the chemical reactions fade them. Unfortunately, they cannot be made completely stable because of this. Store your albums closed, on a shelf, away from sunlight, Some albums come with protective sleeves, which will keep light out, as well as dust. Black and White photos are more stable and longer lasting, so it is advisable you try to take a roll of B&W film once a year.
Lignin is a substance found naturally occurring in the cells of plants -- including trees. Lignin in paper can react with light and heat to make the paper acidic, causing it to yellow and deteriorate. Again, ISO 9706 paper is lignin free.
There are a number of plastic materials, some which are safe for your photos and some which are NOT.
Polyester: polyethylene terephthalate. Commonly known by names like Mylar, it is transparent, strong and chemically stable. It is safe for your photos.
PVC: Polyvinyl Chloride. Common, but vinyl releases fumes that are harmful to your photographs and will age and yellow them prematurely. You can often detect PVC in plastic by the smell.
Believe it or not, the natural oil on your hands are actually highly acidic, and merely handling your photos can transfer this acid to them! The best and safest course of action is to keep your photos in acid free photo albums and once you create a layout for your scrapbook to encase it in an acid free page protector.