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Information About Archival Paper

Prachi Patkar
Archival paper is an acid-free paper known for its permanence. This type of paper is being widely used in fine art, archivists, and so on for addressing the need for storing artworks for a longer time span.

Revolution for Quality Improvement

The type of paper used for books in libraries during the 1930s was of the conventional type (acidic). This resulted in the discoloration and deterioration of the paper. A librarian and Chemist, William Barrow promulgated this issue. Since then, measures have been taken to create paper that is strong and durable.
All of us have observed that the newspaper that we read every day is made of a weak paper material. It gets discolored easily and is prone to being torn apart. This is because it is made up of low-quality conventional paper.
Newspapers are useful only for a day, after which they are sent in for recycling. Thus, using a low-quality paper seems to be all right.
But which paper can we use when we have to store records over them for a longer period of time to serve a significant use? The answer to this question is a special quality paper called archival paper. Let us learn more about the acid-free archival paper.

What Does Acid-free Paper Mean?

The pH value refers to the concentration of hydrogen ions. The value 7 refers to neutral pH. A value lesser than 7 indicates acidic nature, whereas a value greater than 7 indicates basic nature.
The conventional paper is said to be acidic in nature and, thus, wears off easily. The pH value of acid-free paper is 7 or greater. This can be tested by infusion of this paper in water. The pH value indicates that the paper that is devoid of acid is basic in nature. This paper doesn't contain any amount of sulfur or lignin.
The very important procedure that is followed during the production of paper is that paper can be treated with a base such as calcium or magnesium bicarbonate. This prevents environmental elements such as sulfur dioxide from reacting with the paper.
The symbol used to represent a paper which is acid-free contains an infinity symbol enclosed in a circle. This type of paper can also be termed as alkaline paper and lasts as long as 1,000 years. Having an acid-free paper is now considered a standard in the paper industry.

What is Archival Paper?

The simple definition of archival paper encompasses a type of paper that can last for centuries. The advantage of using this paper is its environment-friendly nature, which helps prevent pollution or any kind of hazards to nature. It is also easy for such a type of paper to be recycled after use. It is free from lignin, which acts as a discoloring agent.
Archival papers have an alkaline value of about 2% calcium carbonate and a pH value of more than 7.5. They offer high resistance to wearing, are tear-proof, and hold colors and ink efficiently.
Archival papers usually come in two varieties: conservation and archival grade. While the earlier is acid-free and made from wood pulp, the later is acid-free and made from cotton pulp. Archival grade is also known as museum grade of paper.

Why Use Acid-free Paper?

This section depicts the advantages of acid-free paper, and tells us why paper free from acidic content is anytime a better option. Unlike acid-free paper, conventionally used paper is made from the pulp of wood obtained from specific trees.
This pulp contains lignin, which is a polymer. The lignin present in the pulp is responsible for the yellow coloration of paper. This reduces its strength and, thus, the paper is quite feeble.
Acid-free archival paper, on the other hand, is quite strong and durable paper. It is apt for archivists, artists, historians, librarians, etc. Another very important vantage point of this paper is its ability to remain free from fading or bleeding.
For painters or artists who want their images to last for ages, archival paper is certainly the best option. The lifespan of photographs or any artwork is decided by the type of paper used.
Thus, using archival paper is a viable option. Another benefit in addition to this is that producing acid-free paper reduces the making and maintenance cost of the machinery as no acids or corrosive compounds are involved in the process.