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Subject: Steel wool

Steel wool

From: Victor von Reventlow <reventl>
Date: Tuesday, July 20, 1999
Judy Jacob <Judy_Jacob [at] ccmail__itd__nps__gov> writes

>I am looking for information on the manufacture of steel wool.  Does
>anyone know when it was first used and when use became widespread?
>Does anyone have early 20th c references for its use?  I am
>especially interested in the history of its use for cleaning stone.

I would like to respond to the latter with a technical warning.  I
hope that you are not contemplating the use of steel wool (fine iron
shavings) for the cleaning of stone. Generally speaking, when you
use steel wool for any cleaning, the steel wool is a cutter of
softer materials; if viewed enlarged, the wool would be seen as
numerous "curly" knives or scrapers, which cut or scrape the
softer materials such as wood, paint, non-ferrous metals, or even
rust on iron. When steel wool is used on stone, the stone surface
is more likely to become an effective abrasive acting upon the iron
material of the wool, and the results can be very dangerous.  It
will very likely  leave deposits of iron (ground off the the iron
"steel" wool), wedged in the microscopic cavities in the gritty
topography of the stone's surface. These iron deposits will render a
grey dirty surface. The surface is further endangered by the threat
of moisture, which would cause the iron 'dirt' to rust, resulting
in deeper more intrusive staining of the stones surface.

Victor von Reventlow, CIP, AIC Fellow
Conservator of Furniture and Decorative Arts
426 Griffith Farm Road
Sequim WA, 98382

                  Conservation DistList Instance 13:9
                  Distributed: Thursday, July 22, 1999
                        Message Id: cdl-13-9-003
Received on Tuesday, 20 July, 1999

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