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Subject: pH test

pH test

From: Terry Conners <tconners>
Date: Monday, February 2, 2004
Richard Aitken <raitken [at] wyjs__org__uk> writes

>I have an unusual enquiry. I have been trying to devise a way to
>test paper for acidity without the use of pH strips. I have seen the
>same enquiry I am asking from college students. There are the usual
>meters and electrodes and to stand over a paper for 150 years to see
>if it becomes brittle. This test is aimed at school children between
>the ages of 7-11 years old (key stage 2).

Have you thought about using those pens that indicate pH or the
presence of lignin (i.e., groundwood)? The pH pens pretty much only
indicate acid, neutral or basic and perhaps you need more precision,
but that might be a reasonable option considering the age group.

>From <URL:>:

   "The important issue regarding the pH of album pages is that we
    need to be aware of what the pH is for pages we use. The pH of a
    paper can be determined in the laboratory, but an alternative is
    a pH pen, with which, from its mark on a paper, one can measure
    pH. Abbey Publications, 320 East Center Street, Provo, UT 84660,
    U. S. A., markets such a reasonably accurate pH pen."

   "University Products Inc., 517 Main Street, Box 101, Holyoke, MA
    01041, U. S. A., sells a pH pen which is excellent for
    distinguishing the acidity or alkalinity of uncolored papers
    above or below pH 6."

   "Light Impressions Inc., 489 Monroe Avenue, Rochester, NY 14607,
    U. S. A. sells a pH pen that is a good indicator of whether or
    not deacidification of a paper is needed."

Here's a comparison of the various pH pens from the Alkaline Paper
Advocate web site (1990 review):

    **** Moderator's comments: The above URL has been wrapped for
    email. There should be no newline.

I understand that University Products makes a lignin-indicating pen
as well. I suppose that the indicator is probably phloroglucinol.

Terry Conners, Ph.D.
Extension Specialist in Forest Products
Department of Forestry
202 Thomas Poe Cooper Building
University of Kentucky
Lexington, KY 40546-0073
859-257-2463 Voice
Fax: 859-323-1031

                  Conservation DistList Instance 17:53
                Distributed: Wednesday, February 4, 2004
                       Message Id: cdl-17-53-005
Received on Monday, 2 February, 2004

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