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Subject: Soot


From: Barbara Appelbaum <aandh>
Date: Tuesday, August 6, 1996
Robien van Gulik <teyler [at] euronet__nl> writes

>... has anyone on
>the list any experience in removal of soot and smoke from objects? I
>need information about this for the disaster plan for Teylers
>Museum, and I have found it not easy to come by. I am interested in
>the removal of soot and smoke from paper, books (leather and cloth
>bound), oil paintings, coins, fossils, minerals, physical
>instruments and furniture.

In regard to the inquiry on removal of soot from mixed collections:  I
have removed both soot from fires and cigarette/cigar smoke from a large
number of objects but about two years ago had the opportunity to clean a
few dozen objects of many different kinds from the same fire.  I was
quite astonished at the variety of methods it took to get the soot off the

For different media, this would not have a been a surprise, but for
ceramics, for example, a wide range of treatments was necessary.
Heated air produces strong currents, and the temperatures of the air
in different places in a sooty building most likely contributes to
differences in the amount of soot on any one object or surface and
on the degree to which the soot penetrates into porous surfaces.
Certain kinds of objects which may or may not be coated will react
differently if heat softens coatings thereby incorporating the soot.
The greasiness of the soot is also a factor, depending on what the
material was that burned to create the soot.

In other words, the removal of soot--even in this case from a single
incident--will vary tremendously.  The probable cross-linking of
certain components of the soot contributes to noticeable changes
within the first few weeks after deposit, so time is also a factor.
In other words, it is unlikely that you will be able to predict
mitigation measures and will need to have someone to call in
immediately who is capable of performing whatever testing is
necessary. I would think that a compiled list of collections-holding
institutions that have been through fires would be very helpful in
both disaster prevention and mitigation.  Is there an international
group who might be willing to gather such a list?

Barbara Appelbaum

                  Conservation DistList Instance 10:16
                 Distributed: Wednesday, August 7, 1996
                       Message Id: cdl-10-16-004
Received on Tuesday, 6 August, 1996

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