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Subject: Odor removal

Odor removal

From: Bas van Velzen <eland>
Date: Friday, November 11, 1994
>A patron has some books (number do not know how many) which were sprayed
>by a skunk (I don't know how long ago) and patron wants to know how to
>remove the skunk odor.

In the Amsterdam area we have a more or less regular meeting with
colleagues to discuss matters of interest. This is the occasion to have
questions answered by the collective knowledge gathered, no matter how
simple, complex or weird for that matter a question is.

About two years ago one of us had a problem of a similar kind. Not
having skunks outside zoo's on the European continent in this case the
animal was a cat. This male cat sprinkled a drawing in his typical macho
cat behaviour. The paper was stained and had taken on male cat odor.
Previous washings did not help to remove the odor, the stains where gone
though. No one knew how to remove the residual smell. A few people
(obviously cat owners) did some experiments and at the next meeting the
answer was given: wash the paper in a solution of calcium
hydroxide--warning: strong alkali--to remove the smell. How the
hydroxide removes the smell is not clear to me but the result of the
washing was satisfactorily. If this will work on books is questionable
since washing of whole books is a complex operation that should not be
performed by non experienced persons. Also a strong alkali will swell
cellulose fibers and therefore one must take several precautions to
control this swelling. Not all papers (or techniques) will survive such
a treatment. Maybe this anecdote will put you on a (smell) track of some
kind, yours

Bas van Velzen
Jonge Eland papierestauratie
Oude Looiersstraat 65-67
1016 VH Amsterdam
tel 31 20 623 79 89
fax 31 20 627 32 23
VeRes (Dutch Association of Professional Restorers)
postbus 11503
1001 GM Amsterdam

                  Conservation DistList Instance 8:37
                 Distributed: Sunday, November 13, 1994
                        Message Id: cdl-8-37-002
Received on Friday, 11 November, 1994

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