Brush Up On Scrapbook Safety

Chances are you have already removed any photo’s you have left stored in sticky magnetic photo albums, but are you remembering to practice the other safety tips when scrapbooking your photos and memorabilia? Perhaps you are still using a ball point pen to label your pictures? Don’t forget that even pencil can do long term damage.

As an avid scrapbooker I was always very careful to use only acid free paper and glue, and then I found myself storing the pictures in a PVC container prior to Scrapbooking….what’s wrong with that? Read on! This article offers some tips for scrapers to brush up on archival safety!


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 products pH level check the label or ask for assistance.


Lignin paper is readily available but can harm photo’s. 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 photos. It is often found in newspapers or cardboard. Check to make sure that paper around your photo’s are Lignin Free which will mean it less than 1% Lignin.


When paper often forms acid that can damage your photo’s. 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.


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 light weight 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 temperatures 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 safe for photo’s because they contain PVC’s. (poly-vinyl 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.

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