Acid-Free Scrapbooking: What It Is and Why It Matters

Did you know that the concept of scrapbooking can be traced as far back as 1821? Yep, it’s true!

While the exact date of the first scrapbook’s creation isn’t known, there is evidence that people have been creating these kinds of albums for over 150 years.

Even earlier than that, people such as Thomas Jefferson collected newspaper clippings, photographs, and handwritten notes to preserve for posterity in book form!

However, scrapbooking has massively changed since those early days. Acid-free scrapbooking became a significant (and necessary) development for scrapbook albums to last longer.

Read on to learn what acid-free scrapbooking is and why choosing the appropriate supplies and products is vital to your albums’ longevity.

If you’re just getting started scrapbooking you might be interested in this post we wrote: The Ten Tools You Need To Start Scrapbooking

An illustration of a woman sitting at a white desk working on her scrapbook.

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What Is Acid-Free Scrapbooking?

It wasn’t long after scrapbooking became a well-known past-time that people started noticing something happening to their scrapbooks.

After a few years, the pages would become brittle, their photos would fade, and clippings and other decorations would turn yellow.

Acid-free scrapbooking became the solution to prevent photographs and scrapbooks from getting ruined.

Generally, the wood that paper is made from is acidic. This is because it contains lignin, a chemical found in the paper that causes yellowing and fading. Acid-free paper has undergone processes that eliminate lignin from its constitution.

The end result is paper that is acid-free (also sometimes referred to lignin-free or archival safe) which simply means that it sits close to seven (or a bit higher) on the 1-14 pH scale. 

How Do I Know Which Are Acid-Free Products

Acid-free paper and scrapbooking products are found at most stores selling scrapbooking and paper crafting supplies.

Check for “acid-free” on the packaging of the product you’d like to buy; It should be clearly written on the label.

A photo of the label from a scrapbook ing kit stating Acid & Lignin Free
The label of this scrapbook kit tells us that its contents are acid and lignin free.

It’s pretty standard nowadays for scrapbooking paper and supplies to be acid-free. And the papers that you already own are more than likely good to go!

But if you have a few older papers in your stash that you’re not sure about, there’s a quick and easy way to find out if it’s safe to use!

Use a pH testing pen (like this one from Amazon). This will help set your mind at ease.

All you need to do is draw a line on your paper, if the line is blue or purple, then it’s suitable for scrapbooking! Yellow lines mean that there’s too much acid in the paper, and it shouldn’t be used for paper crafts.

Also, your local scrapbook store would be more than happy to help you find products that are safe for your scrapbook albums.

Why Are Acid-Free Materials Important?

Now that you know what acid-free scrapbooking is, it’s time to look a bit more into why acid-free is so essential for the long life of your albums.

Keep Pictures Safe

The entire reason for using acid-free products is to keep your pictures safe and looking good.

Using scrapbook paper that is acid-free ensures that your pages will stay beautiful for a very long time without suffering from decaying, yellowing or general deterioration.

Keeping your photos in an acid-free environment ensures that they’ll stand the test of time.

With ever-changing technology, digital images are so great, but there is something more meaningful about having a physical copy of your photographs, and even better when they are in a handcrafted scrapbook.

Keep your photos in great shape with acid-free scrapbooking and they’ll always be on your shelf, you won’t have to depend on technology to preserve your memories.

Create a Long-Lasting Scrapbook

All of us scrapbookers know how much time, energy, money and love we put into our scrapbook pages and projects.

Scrapbooking is about much more than putting pictures and memorabilia into an album; you put a tiny piece of yourself into them.

Acid-free products can have a lifespan of over 100 years (assuming that the scrapbook is well-taken-care-of). When you’re gone, your children and grandchildren can look back on the memories you cherish and the things you value.

Which is such an important reason to choose acid-free supplies.

Which Products Should I Choose For Acid-Free Scrapbooking?

Let’s take a look at some of the other items you’ll need to create your scrapbook!

Along with paper, choosing the right adhesive is very important.

Some adhesives may be luring because of their cheap price. But sometimes with low prices, you’ll get low pH levels; which put you at risk of damaging your photographs.

Luckily, there is a huge selection of adhesives that are designed specifically for papercrafts. Even some most popular adhesive companies like Elmer’s and Scotch offer acid-free adhesives.

Here are a few that we recommend:

Acid-free markers and pens are also essential for long-lasting scrapbooks and photos.

Using regular pens on your photos or scrapbook paper will cause the ink to leach or fade. An acid-free or archival quality pen will help your journaling and notes stand the test of time.

Make sure that you read the label and purchase the appropriate products and supplies for your project. Look for acid-free, archival quality and lignin free.

Get Started!

There are many different methods of scrapbooking. However, the goal remains the same throughout all of these projects: to preserve your family’s photos and special moments and create something to pass down throughout your family.

That’s why it’s important to purchase products that will last for a long, long time and not ruin your photographs.

Now that you know why acid-free scrapbooking is important in preserving your memories, it’s time to start creating!

Follow us for more information on products and supplies that are perfect for creating long-lasting scrapbooks. We’re also happy to give you inspiration so that you can design your next project with a unique and individual flair.

You might like to read our post that lists The Benefits of Scrapbooking

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2 Comments

  1. I have an older, never used, colorbok brand scrapbook. It does not say if it is acid free or not.
    How do I know if it’s acid free or not?

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