How to unstick photographs

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Ever find a bunch of old photographs in a pile, and to your surprise find them stuck together? It's a shame, especially if they're of great sentimental value to you, but now you can learn how to get them unstuck without ruining them or wasting money on chemical treatments.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • Dental Floss
  • Microwave
  • Freezer
  • Oil
  • Toothpick
  • Something heavy

Steam: Bring a pot of water to a boil. Hold the pictures over the steam produced, and gradually pull them apart. Let them rest under something flat and heavy for a while.

Soaking: Place the photos into warm water, WARM, not hot, and let them soak for about 5 minutes, or until the pictures float apart. You can pry them apart in the water if you want, as long as you're careful not to damage them further. Let the photos dry, even if they curl.

To uncurl, just iron them on the lowest setting possible, just enough to warm them up and flatten them out, and then leave them under something flat and heavy for a little while.

Dental floss: Use a piece of unwaxed dental floss to gently pry apart the photos, being very careful not to rip or damage them. Work the floss inbetween the photos in a gentle sawing motion.

Oil and Toothpick: Put a drop or two of oil on a spot where the photos are the least stuck together, and, using a toothpick, slowly and gently work them apart.

Freezer: Leave the pictures in the freezer for about twenty minutes. Try not to overdo the freezing process, or condensation will form on the photos as they come back to room temperature. After they're frozen enough, gently work them apart with a butter knife, dental floss, or a toothpick.

Microwave: Put the photos in the microwave for 5 seconds. Let them cool down for 5 to 10, and then repeat. Check between heatings with dental floss or something thin to see if they're coming apart. Don't overdo the heating, or put them in for more than 5 seconds at a time, or the adhesive can burn and ruin the photos.

Un-du, a product commonly used by scrapbookers, is an adhesive remover that may help safely remove the photos. It comes with an attached tool to help you get the Un-du solution safely under the photo to help release it. It is safe for use on the back of the photos, but be careful not to get it on the images themselves.

Tips & Warnings

  • Be GENTLE!
  • Don't panic, you'll probably get them unstuck.
  • Only use chemical treatments as a last resort.
  • Experiment first with the photos which mean the least to you and see what works best for your particular album and photos.
  • Use tongs or a thick glove with the steam method, so as to avoid hurting yourself.
  • The soaking method may make the ink on your photos run, and destroy them.
  • Be aware that any or all of these techniques may damage writing on the back of the photos.

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