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Subject: Alternatives to cotton wool

Alternatives to cotton wool

From: R. Scott Williams <scott.williams<-at->
Date: Monday, April 8, 2013
Savannah Marlatt <savannahmarlatt [at] gmail__com> writes

>I am looking for materials that have similar properties and
>characteristics to cotton wool, but which leave behind few/no
>residues.  The primary considerations are absorbency, reaction to
>common solvents, and technical application.  Materials I am looking
>into presently include natural/synthetic sponges and non-woven

AIC OSG-L had a thread with the subject "cleaning with vellux and
other materials" around Jan 17, 2013.  I responded with the
following info. I recently analyzed a product called Qosmedix sponge
that was used to clean the surfaces of black and white photographs.
I do not know where the sponge was obtained.

Information is available at


Clean unused sponges and dirty used sponges and the dirt were
analysed. The sponge is composed of polyether polyurethane based on
poly(ethylene oxide). The sponge is very tough. It resisted cutting
with a new sharp scalpel. No sponge material was transferred when
the surface of the sponge was scraped to remove samples. No material
was transferred when the smooth and sandblasted portions of a glass
microscope slide were swabbed gently with the dry sponge. A small
amount of sponge was transferred to the sand-blasted glass when the
sponge was rubbed vigorously with force that most certainly would
cause damage to the photographic print. A tiny amount of polyether
based material was removed by extracting a chunk of sponge with
boiling water, but there was no evidence that this substance was
transferred during gentle swabbing with a dry sponge.

Scott Williams
Canadian Conservation Institute
1030 Innes Road
Ontario K1A 0M5

                  Conservation DistList Instance 26:45
                 Distributed: Saturday, April 13, 2013
                       Message Id: cdl-26-45-003
Received on Monday, 8 April, 2013

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