Archival safe and photo safe means the items are free from chemicals that speed the deterioration process. This means that all items are free from acid, lignin, and PVC. Materials like newspaper clippings, ticket stubs, greeting cards and other wood-based products are not safe to be near your photos or even in the same page protector. Non-archival materials emit a chemical compound that will speed up the deterioration process. Non-archival materials can still be used but an additional de-acidification process will need to be used.
So what does all that mean? Acid free paper has a pH of 7.0 meaning that it is a neutral. Any type of paper can be acid free it simply needs to be treated properly during the manufacturing process so there is no acid in the pulp. During production, acid-free paper may be treated with a mild base to neutralize the natural acids occurring in wood pulp, and it may also be buffered to prevent the formation of additional acids. Many non-archival papers have high lignin content (such as newspapers) causing the paper to deteriorate and become yellow over time. Lignin causes acid to re-form in the paper over time. Any type of paper can be lignin free it simply needs to be treated properly in the manufacturing process so the lignin is removed. Lignin or lignen is a complex chemical compound most commonly derived from wood and an integral part of the cell walls of plants. PVC is used in plastics such as the clear protector in photo albums (the photo albums of our parents and grandparents with the plastic sheet that you peel back and place the photos on the little lines of yellow sticky stuff). PVC releases chloride over time which speeds the deterioration of photographs. When creating archival scrapbooks everything must be PVC free. Polyvinyl chloride is used in a variety of applications. As a hard plastic, it is used as vinyl siding, magnetic stripe cards, window profiles, gramophone records (which is the source of the term vinyl records), pipe, plumbing, and conduit fixtures. The material is often used in Plastic Pressure Pipe Systems for pipelines in the water and sewer industries because of its inexpensive nature and flexibility. It can be made softer and more flexible by the addition of plasticizers. In this form, it is used in clothing and upholstery. It is also commonly used in figurines.
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