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Subject: Removing water soluble ink from paper

Removing water soluble ink from paper

From: Nicholas Burnett <mcs<-at->
Date: Monday, March 18, 2013
Diana McCormack <diana.mccormack [at] english-heritage__org__uk>

>I am currently conserving a large number of archaeological objects
>for exhibition, in the process of which I need to remove some
>accession numbers/labels that have been applied to objects in
>water-soluble ink. ...

My experience is in paper and photograph conservation rather than
archaeological material but we do encounter a lot of inks.  Most
inks contain several components which may well have different
solubilities.  The residual yellow stain may be a component that is
less soluble in water than the other constituents.  The stain may be
more soluble in alcohol than water for example.  You could try IMS
or a mix of IMS and distilled/deionised water.  Other alcohols such
as iso-propyl alcohol could be useful too.

Applying the solvent and then immediately pressing some filter paper
to the surface (assuming it is strong enough to accept some
pressure) may help to draw the ink out using capillary action and
thus reduce the tendency to drive it into the surface, leaving a
stain.  Filter paper may be better than blotting paper for this as
is has less of a tendency to shed paper fibres on a rough surface.

Another possible approach to preventing residual staining caused by
ink being driven into a porous object relies on first creating a
barrier beneath the ink.  To do this you could try applying
cyclododecane first so that it penetrates the surface.  You will not
be able to treat the ink at this stage as the cyclododecane is water
repellent.  However, once the outermost layer of cyclododecane has
sublimated the ink can then be treated and the cyclododecane within
the body of the object will prevent the newly dissolved ink from
penetrating further.  Finally the remaining cyclododecane should be
allowed to sublimate.

Risk assessments should of course be carried out before trying any
of these techniques.

Nicholas Burnett ACR
Museum Conservation Services Ltd

                  Conservation DistList Instance 26:43
                 Distributed: Saturday, March 30, 2013
                       Message Id: cdl-26-43-004
Received on Monday, 18 March, 2013

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