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Buffered vs. Unbuffered Storage Materials

Storage materials described as “buffered” have an alkaline substance, usually calcium carbonate, added as an alkaline reserve or buffer to counteract acids that may form in the material in the future. Gaylord offers a wide selection of both buffered and unbuffered storage materials.

Buffered or unbuffered storage materials —how do you choose?

Cellulose fibers such as cotton, flax, linen and jute, as well plant-based specimens, can be stored in buffered material, with the exception of specimens that may be used in DNA research, which should be stored in unbuffered materials. Storing cellulose artifacts in buffered materials will protect against migrant acidity from the artifacts.

Any artifacts that contain animal proteins are best stored in unbuffered material. Protein-based materials include wool and silk, as well as animal-based natural history collections, leather-bound books, and textile details such as pearls. When textiles have both cellulose and protein fibers, unknown dyes, or if the fiber content is unknown, choose unbuffered material. Blueprints should never come in contact with buffered material, and many archivists also prefer to store albumen prints and cyanotypes in unbuffered material. Since buffering agents don’t migrate, a buffered box could be used if an unbuffered layer such as unbuffered tissue or polyester film surrounds the item.