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Subject: Soot and odour removal after a fire

Soot and odour removal after a fire

From: Gary Saretzky <saretzky>
Date: Wednesday, September 4, 2002
Reni Teygeler <rene.teygeler [at] wxs__nl> writes

>Does anyone have any experience in removing soot and the pungent
>odour from monographs after they have been recovered from a fire?

As mentioned by Linda Roundhill in response to this post, zeolites
are useful for odor removal and I have used them frequently in a
closed chamber to eliminate musty odors from books and manuscripts.
Although zeolites, which are readily available in pet supply stores
in the cat and fish departments, would help reduce odors from smoke
damaged books, I doubt that they would be completely effective and,
in any case, this is not a very practical treatment for large

Since there are house fires daily, this is a very common problem
dealt with by insurance companies who work with disaster recovery
vendors.  Here in New Jersey, smoke-damaged books are often placed
in an ozone chamber for treatment.   The odor is completely removed
and there is no residue.  The process also kills any insects, etc.
If the book is wet, it is then freeze-dried and vacuumed to remove
surface deposits.  Dry chemical sponges are also used to remove

We have had hundreds of moldy, infested books and manuscripts
treated with the ozone process (though not smoke damaged ones) and
have noticed no problems.  While ozone may have some negative
effects on the long term longevity of paper and can damage
photographic materials (including original photos tipped into 19th
century books), it is an option that merits consideration.

Calling a property insurance company should lead to local vendors
who provide such services.

Gary Saretzky
Monmouth County Archives

                  Conservation DistList Instance 16:18
                Distributed: Thursday, September 5, 2002
                       Message Id: cdl-16-18-006
Received on Wednesday, 4 September, 2002

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