Learn if the Memorabilia you collect is safe

Every scrapbooker knows that photos alone canít possibly tell the whole story.† We need memorabilia.† But what is safe and what is not?† Here are some guidelines to follow when determining the safety of using memorabilia in your scrapbook.

Wood and Other Natural Items

Wood items (such as sticks, bark, popsicle sticks or toothpicks) and natural plant fibers (leaves, dried flowers, seeds, thistles, etc.) all contain lignin.† You canít test plants or wooden items accurately with a pH-testing pen, and you cannot deacidify them with spray.† Be careful not to overlap these items on your photos, as the lignin will rapidly cause them to lose color and become brittle.† Lignin can even bleed through the paper and destroy the photos that are backed with it.† Always encapsulate natural items before adhering them to your page.

Hair, Feathers, Fur

Scrapbooking a lock from babyís first haircut is perfectly safe.† The difficulty comes with adhering strands of hair.† The best method is to encapsulate the hair or fur inside of a safe plastic envelope such as a memorabilia pocket.


All metal (wire, medals, foil, collectible pins, keys, coins and jewelry) are safe in scrapbooks unless they have been treated with iron oxide.† They do not need to be individually encased; however metal can be very abrasive to the emulsion of your other photographs.† Arrange the metal item so that it is not facing a photo.† Make sure that sharp edges donít poke your photo or documents.† Using page protectors will minimize the abrasion suffered by items on the facing page.


Most plastic items (buttons, hospital bracelets, toys, etc.) are perfectly safe to use in your scrapbook.† Avoid anything with vinyl, which gives off gases and plasticizers that can destroy your photos and documents.† You can identify vinyl by its unpleasant odor (it smells like a shower curtain).


Fabric (cotton, lace, embroidered badges, tassels, shoelaces, ribbons and more) is safe for your scrapbooks.† Fabric is acid free and needs no interfacing or encasement.† Even synthetic fabrics, such as polyester or rayon pose no threat to your photos.† You can also add string, yarn, felt and ribbon to your list of safe accents.† Even most raffias are colorfast and safe.

Paper Products

Paper items (napkins, certificates, matchbooks, diplomas, placemats, letters, cards, newspaper clippings, etc.) can be placed in photo sleeves, mounted with corners, or inserted in a pocket page.† Assume that all of your paper memorabilia is acidic and needs to be treated.† Newspaper can be washed by placing it in a glass pan filled with clean water for 15 minutes, removing it and letting it dry, then spraying with a deacidification spray).† Newspaper is the only paper that actually gets stronger after washing.† All other paper items should be sprayed on both sides with deacidification spray before placing them in sheet protectors in your album.

Sand, Rock, Shells, Ceramic & Glass

The above items are not acidic and will not discolor your photos.† However, they also can be extremely abrasive.† To prevent damage, use a memorabilia pocket for these items.


Ever left a crayon or candle on the dash of your car?† It melts!† The same thing will happen if you include any type of wax item (birthday candle, crayon, etc.) in your scrapbook.† Consider encasing the item in a memorabilia pocket.† It may still melt but it will not destroy your page!

Source:† Creating Keepsakes March 2000

For more tips like these read "Saving Our Scrapbooks" by Creating Keepsakes