The use of chemical products in restoration entails exposing the operator to more or less dangerous chemical substances. Many toxic substances used in the past are today removed from the market and have been replaced by different products, mainly water-based, thus reducing the risks for the operator and the impact on the environment.
Phase has always been researching products that could pass the tests of, and thus be approved by, the institutions entrusted with the preservation of historic heritage, that would be environment-friendly and safe for the restorer’s health. The most common procedures when restoring an artefact are cleaning, consolidation and protection:
- cleaning is a very delicate and irreversible procedure aiming at removing from the surface the extraneous materials (pollutants, encrustations, grime, organic substrates, etc.) that cause the degradation of the artefact. It can be carried out with mechanical or chemical tools;
- the consolidation treatment allows to improve the properties of cohesion and adhesion of the deteriorated material by increasing its mechanical resistance. Stabilizers can be classified into three groups: organic, inorganic and silicon-based consolidants;
- the final stage, protection, aims at creating a barrier against atmospheric agents so as to delay deterioration processes by saturating the artwork or by covering it with a superficial coating.
The procedures of (pre-) consolidation, cleaning and protection of cultural heritage request the use of specific chemical products having considerable impact on the environment and on the health of the operators themselves. Solvents, soaps, paints, varnishes, resins, enzymes, biocides, stabilizers, adhesives, stuccoes and additives, protectives and sequestrant compounds that are included in this catalogue are some of the products that restorers use for the conservation and restoration of cultural heritage.