Storage Materials: Buffered vs. Unbuffered

Storage Materials: Buffered vs. Unbuffered

When shopping for archival-quality products, you'll encounter the terms buffered and unbuffered. It's important to determine which is the best for the items you are preserving. Gaylord offers a wide selection of both buffered and unbuffered storage materials.

Buffered Materials

Storage materials described as "buffered" have an alkaline substance, usually calcium carbonate, added as an alkaline reserve or buffer to counteract acids that may form in the material in the future.

Cellulose fibers such as cotton, flax, linen and jute, as well plant-based specimens, can be stored in buffered material. Storing cellulose artifacts in buffered materials will protect against migrant acidity from the artifacts.

Objects Best Stored in Buffered Materials

  • Paper
  • Newspapers
  • Photographs
  • Ceramics
  • Plant specimens

Unbuffered Materials

Any artifacts that contain animal proteins are best stored in unbuffered material.

Protein-based materials include wool and silk, as well as animal-based natural history collections, leather-bound books, and textile details such as pearls. When textiles have both cellulose and protein fibers, unknown dyes, or if the fiber content is unknown, choose unbuffered material. Blueprints should never come in contact with buffered material, and many archivists also prefer to store albumen prints and cyanotypes in unbuffered material. When in doubt, unbuffered is a safe choice for any object.

Objects Best Stored in Unbuffered Materials

  • Wool
  • Leather
  • Parchment
  • Silk
  • Pearls
  • Feathers
  • Animal specimens
  • Blueprints
  • Cyanotypes
  • Albumen and dye transfer prints
  • Mixed and unknown materials
  • Textiles with unknown dyes
  • Protein-based materials

Since buffering agents don’t migrate, a buffered box can be used if an unbuffered layer, such as unbuffered tissue or polyester film, surrounds the item.


Many archival storage materials come in buffered or unbuffered. Which should you use to preserve your object?

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