How To Dry Out Water Damaged Books

If you have a wide variety of collectibles stored in boxes in your basement, then a flood can be devastating. This is especially true if you have a variety of books that are considered keepsakes, rare additions, or antiques. When books come into contact with flood water, they can deteriorate quite quickly. If you find yourself with many books that have become wet, then you need to act quickly.

Place Books In The Freezer

Books are printed with a variety of different types of inks. Inks contain ingredients that include organic pigments, waxes, lubricants, oils, and solvents. The different ingredients are mixed together and placed on a printmaking plate. The plate is pressed down against a piece of paper and this creates the page for the book. Once the page is printed, the ink is allowed to air dry or it is heated. As the ink dries, it seals into the paper. This helps to keep the ink from smudging as you run your fingers over it. While the ink will not bleed under normal circumstances, water can rehydrate the ink and cause it to run. Running inks can damage a book beyond repair. Also, since paper is an organic material, mold spores can build on the paper and grow. 

To prevent your books from becoming damaged beyond repair, you should try to prevent mold growth and ink bleeding issues. The best way to do this is to freeze your books. Place each one of your books in a plastic freezer bag and stick the bags in the freezer. Your books can stay in the freezer for quite some time. This is ideal if you have other flood damaged items to deal with. However, you should make sure that the freezer remains cold enough so that ice crystals are not able to form. These crystals can place stress on the book and cause damage. The same process can be seen when foods are freezer burned.

A freezer that is kept at or below -18 degrees Fahrenheit is best. Make sure to also squeeze all of the air out of the freezer bags so there is no room for crystals to form. You should try to keep the freezer door closed as much as possible too, or the temperature inside will rise every time you look inside the appliance. 

Place Books In The Oven

Books placed in the freezer will be stable and resist deterioration. However, you obviously cannot enjoy a book that is frozen. You will need to thaw out the books eventually. The best thawing process will allow the ice to turn into vapor quickly. Otherwise, the water can saturate the book again and this will increase the chances of the pages becoming wrinkled or distorted during the drying process. Also, pages are less likely to stick if water is removed quickly. 

You can remove water extremely quickly and efficiently from books by using a vacuum freeze drying machine. These machines are typically used to freeze dry food. The process involves freezing food and allowing the frozen water to sublimate. The water is removed from the food without damaging the food item. The same type of sublimation can take place if you put your wet books in a freeze drying machine. If you have one, then use it to dry the books in the same way you would freeze dry your food.

Many people do not have freeze drying machines on hand. If you are one of these people, then you can use your oven to heat the books so water can evaporate. You should use a low setting on your oven and place each book on a baking sheet that is covered with wax paper. This will keep the books from sticking to the pan. Place the books in the oven for about 10 or 15 minutes at a time. Remove the books when the pages in the middle no longer feel damp or cold to the touch. 

For more information on water damage restoration, contact a company like Accutech Restoration


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