How to Make Acid-Free Paper

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Acid-free paper is used in scrapbooking to protect photographs as well as to print important books and documents that need to be preserved for a long period of time. Unlike ordinary paper, acid-free paper has a pH of seven, making it a neutral base. The wood used to create paper contains lignin, an acidic compound which causes the paper to turn yellow and fall apart over time, especially when exposed to everyday elements such as sunlight. With acid-free paper, the lignin has been neutralized so the final product resists yellowing and withstands deteriorating much better than regular paper products.

Things You'll Need

  • Old paper
  • Blender
  • Wood frame
  • Screen
  • Basin
  • Liquid starch
  • Calcium carbonate
  • Felt
  • Cookie sheets
  • Sponge

Begin making your paper pulp. Tear pieces of old newspaper or copy paper into small pieces. You could also use old phone book pages or junk mail. This is an excellent opportunity to recycle without ever leaving your home.

Put the paper pieces into a blender until it is about half full. Fill the blender with warm water. Blend the pieces on low speed until there are no bits of paper left and you are left with only a liquid pulp.

Make your mold. Take apart a wood picture frame, preferably at least an eight inch by ten inch frame but size depends on what size paper you intend to make. Stretch a screen (used for windows and screen doors) across the frame, making sure to pull it as tight as possible. Nail the frame back into place now with the screen in the middle instead of glass and a backing.

Fill a basin halfway with water. Add about three to four blenders of the pulp you prepared. The amount of pulp you use ultimately dictates how thick your paper will be when finished.

Add two teaspoons of liquid starch to the pulp water and stir. The liquid starch is used to make the paper less permeable to stop ink from bleeding through. Add calcium carbonate, which will neutralize the lignin. You will need about 3 1/2 ounces of calcium carbonate for every sixteen ounces of pulp. You can buy the chalky powder at many craft and health food stores as well as online.

Submerge the mold into the basin. Move it around until the pulp evenly coats the screen on top of the mold.

Remove the mold from the water allowing it to drain into the basin until almost all the water has stopped dripping. Set the pulp side of the mold directly onto a piece of felt you have pre-cut to be the size of the mold. Wring out the excess water by pressing firmly and using a sponge to mop up the remainder of the water.

Hold the felt square flat and lift the mold from the fabric very slowly. The paper substance should remain on the felt. If it sticks to the screen on the mold you need to wring out more water.

Place the felt square on a cookie sheet. Place another cookie sheet over the top and press firmly to squeeze out any more excess water.

Remove the fabric sheet from the pan. Allow it to dry completely. Once it is dry you can take the fabric backing off of your paper. The paper is now acid-free and ready for use.

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