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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Not very magical, still... » » Getting the smell out of books/magazines (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Profile of Banester
I have bought some magazines and recently some books that are vintage and my question is, how do you get a musty smell or other strange smells out of them? I was thinking about putting them in a box with some charcoal on the bottom covered with newspapers (so I don't get soot all over them). Anyone have some suggestions? Thanks!
The art of a magician is to create wonder.
If we live with a sense of wonder, our lives
become filled with joy
-Doug Henning-
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London, England
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Profile of Celloboy
WHat is wrong with you???? Lol. The musty smell of old books is what is great about them!!! I wish all my books smelled old. lol. Just my input. lol.
Many Thanks
Peter Antoniou
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Profile of Banester
Ya, but I am allergic to mold and things like that so while I am reading the book I need to keep a box of tissues with me lol. You would think I was reading some heart wrenching story !
The art of a magician is to create wonder.
If we live with a sense of wonder, our lives
become filled with joy
-Doug Henning-
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Roseville, CA
725 Posts

Profile of ftlum
The musty odor can be very hard on people, especially ones with asthma. Sometimes, I can't even read the book for very long becuase of such smells. I've tried many, many things. The best is to keep your books from getting that moldy / musty smell in the first place. Keeping the humidity down seems to be important and I've gone as far as buying a dehumidifier when I lived in wetter climates. If your dehumidifier does not come with a humidistat, you can get one from a cigar store.

For your books that already have the mildewy / musty odor, my best success has been with Odorzout pet graunules ( Sprinkle this stuff between each page and let it sit for a week or so. It's a painstaking process, but if you have rare books you want to enjoy, it's worth it. You'll also need some compressed air to spray out the residual granules.

Another alternative is putting the books in a large box with along with a capful of a deodorizing substance (OdoBan (I think), at Sam's club). The books are left with a perfume-like smell, but it's pleasant and better than the musty smell. This also works well to cover up cigarette smells. I'm not sure about the long-term effects on the books, though, so I prefer the first method.

- Frank
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Profile of Art-Fantasy
Great, someone here has a fetish for the smell of old books.

Anyway, I think sometimes putting the books somewhere where its exposed to open air such as your balcony, verandah....make sure when it rains, it dun get into your book. make sure the books are unreachable by ur pets, children, wandering birds (if at balcony of apartment). leave it there for like 3 days.

Fresh air can get rid of ther smell. Otherwise, Frank L. suggestion, can be wirht it. painstaking but will do just fine.
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Profile of Payne
I've heard that putting them in a Microwave set on low for thirty seconds will kill the various mold spores that have infested your books.
A web page about this technique (which I have never tried) can be found here
"America's Foremost Satirical Magician" -- Jeff McBride.
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Profile of reese
If it's mold on the cover, put a bit of lighter-fluid on a paper towel and wipe it off. Lighter fluid will also clean 'gunk' off of covers. The fluid will evaporate but DON'T apply it to anything you think might stain, like rough cloth covers.

(Mold will spread to neighboring books on your shelf, it's a good idea to try and get rid of it)

The micro-wave idea doesn't seem to work so well but you should try it yourself and see...
Mark Rough
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Ivy, Virginia
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Profile of Mark Rough
I'd pay extra for that lovely musty book smell, but anyway. . .

If you're asthmatic, then using a deoderizer like Odorzout or OdoBan isn't going to do anything but cover up the smell. It won't help with the effects on your respitory system. You need to do something that will actually kill the mold, not just cover up the smell.

What would Wavy do?
Freak Prodigy
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Profile of Freak Prodigy
The smell adds character, screw the asthmatics.

I you are an asthmatic
and you are reading my
post...I'm sorry, don't
be upset.

Jonathan Townsend
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Eternal Order
Ossining, NY
27073 Posts

Profile of Jonathan Townsend
I know that problem well

Comics succumb much more quickly than books, even paperbacks.

Have a look at book restoration and preservation materials.

The acid paper decay can be stopped. And the mold too. Not easy or all that cheap though. all the coins I've dropped here
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Profile of Brent
Not a direct answer to your question, but looking at this from another angle, is all the effort and resources and discomfort and worry you're investing into solving this problem really worth it? Obviously, this is a personal question, but to me, my health comes first! So, of course checking-out (no pun intended) would have helped avoid this in the first place. At this point, perhaps you can unload the musty books (for a price of course) to someone else who won't mind dealing with them! I hope that doesn't sound mean; I'm really just trying to be helpful. Just trying to point out another solution that you might not have already thought about, or at least seriously considered. Whatever you decide, good luck!
Joe McIntyre
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New jersey
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Profile of Joe McIntyre
Have you tried baking soda?that works with some odors.
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Profile of gsidhe
The microwave thing...
Watch for books with gold leaf inlay in the covers or on the edges of pages or magazines with staples.
You'll light the cover on fire.
Then ya gots a smokey smell.
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In my day, I have driven
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Profile of airship
Do NOT microwave old books or magazines! I tried this method and after only 20 seconds a rare and precious pamphlet started to smolder! The pages were all scorched, and the book was ruined. It might work for you, but it's just not worth the risk.
'The central secret of conjuring is a manipulation of interest.' - Henry Hay
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