Product and material evaluation services

The Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) offers product and material evaluation services to heritage institutions. CCI scientists employ methods of chemical analysis and physical testing to study products and materials used in conservation. CCI experts also advise on whether products meet current conservation standards and are suitable for conservation, storage and display purposes. CCI’s two main areas of expertise are chemical analysis of commercial products and library and archival materials testing.

Chemical analysis of commercial products

CCI tests only widely used products that are of general interest to the conservation community. For example, analysis may be undertaken to determine changes in formulation of important conservation products such as Skum-X or BEVA. Analytical techniques used for commercial product analysis include:

  • polarized light microscopy;
  • scanning electron microscopy and X-ray microanalysis;
  • X-ray diffraction;
  • Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy;
  • Raman spectroscopy; and
  • gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and pyrolysis-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.

Library and archival materials testing

Materials tested include paper, paper products (file folders, boxes, envelopes, etc.) and paper or plastic enclosures used for the storage of photographs. The purpose-built paper-testing facilities at CCI include a room with constant temperature and humidity which meets the TAPPI standard for conducting paper tests. A list of tests and analyses carried out on paper and paper products is provided below:

  • grammage;
  • caliper;
  • MIT folding endurance;
  • tensile properties: tensile strength, elongation, tensile energy absorption;
  • zero-span tensile;
  • Elmendorf tear;
  • cold extraction pH;
  • alkaline reserve;
  • moisture content and isotherms;
  • fibre identification;
  • brightness;
  • opacity;
  • colour measurements; and
  • photographic activity test (ISO 18916). (This test is used to determine whether or not the paper or plastic enclosures protecting photographic images are suitable for conservation and storage purposes. It can also be used to evaluate the effect of adhesives, inks, paints, labels and tapes on these images.)
Cold extraction test.
A cold extraction test is used to measure the pH of paper.
Many types of paper.
Many types of paper can be tested.
Instron tester.
The tensile strength of paper is measured using the Instron tester.
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