Are your sheet protectors acid free and lignin free ?
Is it safe to file my 100 year old document in these sheet protectors ?
We receive this question over and over again and it is quite understandable. Who wish to make any mistakes when storing old document perhaps received true generations of family members who passed them on carefully. Before I answer this question I did like to look at the document or photo you wish to store.
Lets face it. There are acid all around us. In the air (toxic steam from volcanoes, pollution from cars), inside the earth (some places you can see it come out of the ground with hot water as in Yellowstone National Park and make pretty colorful streams) and even on our hands there are natural acid. It is in other words a natural part of our environment. Part of our natural defense mechanism against the germs that attack us every single day as well as part of the germs that attack us.
In short we can conclude it is impossible to stop natures degrading of our memorabilia's as photos, documents, books, etc. etc it is part of the natural recycling process lead by natures.
However what we can do is to slow down this process by using our knowledge about archival safety and the use of sheet protectors and page protectors.
Lignin is a natual material found in the wood used for manufacturing paper products. It have to be removed during the production process for the paper to become lignin free paper. In other words lignin does not even come close to a standard top loading plastic sheet protector. Just avoid the use of the sheet protectors with the black inserted paper and you are safe and the question: Are your sheet protectors lining free -almost becomes redonded.
Use only 100% polypropylene sheet protectors then you are on safe ground. The material inside the sheet protector is protected against the closed environment as hands, fingers and the binder itself. Polypropylene sheet protectors are considered acid free. You can also use acetate sheet protectors they are also considered acid free. The only problem with acetate sheet protectors is the price. They are outrages expensive. Looks great but even gold can be purchased too expensive as they say. Stick to the polypropylene and never use vinyl or PVC sheet protectors.
Polypropylene is available in different types of quality and there are a lot to look after when choosing the texture of the material but that is for another post.
Here is a couple of likes that might help you with further research on archival safety and sheet protectors