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Acid Free Mats?

Buffered pH Neutral vs Acid Free vs Conservation Acid Free

What does Acid Free mean? The term "Buffered pH Neutral" and "Acid Free" are often used interchangeably. They mean the same thing.

  • Buffering = the process of treating naturally acidic paper
  • pH = acid
  • Neutral = without/removed

So a Buffered pH Neutral mat is a mat that has been treated to remove the acidic nature of the paper. These mats are acid free. That does not mean they are 'Conservation Grade, Acid Free'. 

Conservation mats are treated to remove the acid from paper and another harmful component called Lignin. By removing both the acidic properties and lignin from the mats, they now meet the standards for being a Conservation Grade, Acid Free mat. 

All of the mats we sell are acid-free, pH neutral. Economy and Standard mat products are acid free with a protective lifespan of 7-12 years in most cases. Conservation Mats are acid free & lignin free and have a protective lifespan of 50+ years.

NOTE: Economy mats have a Cream Core (a cream colored beveled edge). Many think that this means they are not acid free (buffered pH neutral). They are in fact an acid free mat board. However, since the core, or paper fibers, are in their natural state (not bleached white, to make it a white core mat) the tendency of the unbleached paper fibers will darken over time. The beveled edge on cream core mats will start as a mild off-white or light creamy color and over time will darken to a dark yellowy or even light brown color. The Standard mat products, with the white beveled edge, will not darken over time. The white beveled edge will stay white. The darkening of the Economy, cream core, beveled edge has nothing to do with the mats being acid free or not. see also Economy vs Standard Mats