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Two books spanned open with spines touching. Emergency Preparedness and Response

Collection Recovery Methods: Metals


Recovery Priority during the first 24-48 hours

  • When handling metal objects, wear thin plastic (e.g. nitrite) gloves.
  • When moving objects, provide support.
  • Dry immediately. Metals – especially iron and archaeological metals – can corrode (rust) under damp conditions. Rust can also stain adjacent objects.
  • Salvage iron and archaeological metals first, especially ion and copper alloys.
  • Drain off water. If water is contaminated and object is wet overall, rinse in clear water, if possible.
  • After drying, re-house objects with a desiccant (e.g. silica gel), if available.

Freezing Procedures

  • Do not freeze metal items.

Air Drying Procedures

  • For items with a stable finish (paint, coating, enamel, etc.):
    • Immediately rinse or sponge off any debris.
    • Blot with a clean absorbent material and air-dry quickly to mitigate against rust.
  • For items with an unstable or damaged finish:
    • Do not blot. Air dry only, to avoid disturbing the surface any further.