July 2020 blog for First Choice

Are you considering freezing documents? When you hear the term “freeze dried”, most probably think of food. (Some of us don’t need that excuse). Yet freeze drying is also how valuable documents can be saved from water damage. This process removes water from books and important papers after they’ve been frozen, thus allowing them to keep their structural integrity and avoiding further deterioration.

This is not a guaranteed fix as the quality of the restoration depends on the materials being freeze dried. Since dissimilar materials have different absorption rates, some documents may become bent or warped due to expansion occurring at an uneven pace. Also, if the materials are not processed quickly, mold growth or bleeding ink may occur, making freeze drying ineffective.

Here are the steps taken in the freezing process:

  •  Documents are frozen solid quickly to eliminate any further damage.
  • The materials are then placed in a freeze dying chamber that a high-pressure vacuum turns into a negative air space.
  • Once correct pressure and temperature are attained, ice converts to vapor without going through a liquid state that would cause further damage. The vapor then collects on a condensing surface outside the chamber that’s typically colder than -40°F, turning it back into ice.
  •  The temperature in the chamber is then raised gradually to drive off the remaining vapors and remove bound water left in the documents.

Besides books and manuscripts, freeze drying can also save a wide range of materials including stamp collections, pictures, leather items, textiles and artwork.

If you don’t have the equipment to do this work, don’t get frozen out of the job. Partner with a company like First Choice Equipment Sales and Service that can help make sure you have everything you need for the job.