PREPARATION FOR FREEZING
Before freezing, it may seem tempting to wash away accumulated debris particularly if this is the result of a river flood, but this is rarely advisable or safe because of lack of time, skilled workers and a pure water supply, and the quantity of material to be handled. (Aqueous washing to remove smoke damage should never be attempted under any circumstances).
Washing should never be attempted by untrained persons as this will cause further damage, nor should time be taken for this purpose if so little skilled help is available that any significant delay in freezing the bulk of the materials would result. The washing of materials containing water-soluble components, such as inks, watercolors, tempera or dyes should not be attempted under any circumstances.
Experience has shown that such materials, as well as those that are fragile or delicate, can be seriously or irreparably damaged by untrained workers attempting to clean and restore on-site. Such materials need expert attention and hours of careful work if damage is to be kept to a minimum. The period of emergency action and first aid is a dangerous and unsuitable time for the careful work required to restore materials to near-original state. The general condition of the damaged material will determine how much time can be spent in preparation for freezing. At the very least, bound volumes should be wrapped with a single fold of freezer paper, or silicone paper, if it is likely that their covers will stick together during the freezing process.
All rare, intrinsically valuable and delicate material should be prepared for freezing separately from other materials and also in separate categories so that each can be located and identified before they are dried. Each category may require a different type of drying than used for the other less sensitive materials. For instance, early printed books and manuscripts are made up of a variety of material including vellum, leather, paper, wood metal, ivory, inks and water color media. Others will be delicate and or highly water sensitive. These will need to be dried very carefully and if freeze-drying is used it should be undertaken with the minimum amount of internal chamber heating. If only a few items are involved it may be preferable to send them directly to a certified conservator for immediate treatment.