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The effect of several paper characteristics and application methods on the sublimation rate of cyclododecane


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Piotrowski, Kelli 


Cyclododecane (CDD) is a waxy, solid cyclic hydrocarbon (C 12 H 24 ) that sublimes at room temperature and possesses strong hydrophobicity. In paper conservation, CDD is used principally as a temporary fixative of water-soluble media during aqueous treatments. Hydrophobicity, ease of reversibility, low toxicity and absence of residues are reasons often cited for its use over alternative materials, although the latter two claims continue to be debated in the literature. The sublimation rate has important implications for treatment planning as well as health and safety considerations, given the dearth of reliable information on its toxicity and exposure limits. This study examined how the rate of sublimation from paper is affected by fibre type, sizing and surface finish as well as delivery in the molten phase and as a saturated solution in low boiling petroleum ether. The effect of warming the paper prior to application was also evaluated. Sublimation was monitored using gravimetric analysis, after which samples were tested for residues with gas chromatography with flame ionisation detection (GC–FID) to confirm complete sublimation. Results suggested that the sublimation rate of CDD is affected minimally by all of the paper characteristics and application methods examined in this study. The main factors influencing the rate appear to be the thickness and mass of the CDD over a given surface area, as well as temperature and ventilation. The GC– FID results showed that most of the CDD sublimed within several days of its disappearance from the paper surface regardless of the application method.


This paper is published in the book ‘Subliming Surfaces: Volatile Binding Media in Heritage Conservation’, ed. Christina Rozeik (University of Cambridge Museums, 2018), pp. 39-52.


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University of Cambridge Museums