Humidification to relax stiff old documents

IMG_0051Humidity relaxes the paper stiffness. This relaxation is important for flattening paper that is out of shape because of folds creases etc. But, there are some questions and doubts about humidifying in the right way:

  1. How to humidify without causing a shocking reaction to the paper which has been in dry environment for ages?
  2. What might happen wrong when we humidify a very large paper by spraying water?
  3. Is water vapour always a safer method as compared to spraying or providing a mist of water?
  4. Is there any other way to humidify very slowly in mild and subtle way ?
  5. Can ethanol help in controlling the wetting action?

Various methods of humidification:

  1. Spraying fine mist

2. Using humidification chamber with trapped vapours:


3. Slow and mild humidification through damp non-woven polyester

The basic sandwich set-up for humidification of objects using non-woven polyester:

  • Mylar sheet
  • Damp blotter
  • non-woven polyester  joined on a transpirable membrane (smooth side against object)
  • Document/Paper manuscript
  • non-woven polyester joined on a transpirable membrane (smooth side against object)
  • Damp blotter
  • Mylar


P.S.  It is not necessary that flattening always needs humidification. Dry flattening under pressure is also quite effective many times, and sometimes it is the only way because of sensitivity of the inks or colours on the paper.

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