Thursday, October 23, 2008

Where There's Smoke ...

You've won that book you've been searching for on eBay. You shiver in anticipation when the package finally arrives. Ripping it open, you can see the book is everything you hoped it would be, except ... What's that smell?

You employ the sniff test, and discover that the poor volume has been subjected to the smoke of a thousand cigarettes. Every molecule of paper has bound with one of Chesterfield's™.

What to do? You don't want to return the book, but you can't abide handling something that smells like an ashtray.

There are different solutions to this problem, but one of the easiest and least expensive involves the following materials:

  • A large box of baking soda
  • A "refrigerator box" of same
  • Two rectangular plastic storage containers into which the book(s) will fit without touching the sides, one smaller than the other
  • A lid to fit the larger box -- one that will provide an airtight seal.
  • Time

1. Open the large box of baking soda, and spread some in the bottom of the larger container; about a 1/2 inch to an inch (2.5 to 4 cm) deep will do.

2. Place the smaller container on top of the baking soda.

3. Place the book(s) inside the smaller container.

4. If there is room, you may place a refrigerator box of baking soda in with the books (these boxes have a peel-away piece of cardboard that reveals a thin fabric; it allows the baking soda to absorb odors without spilling into the box).

5. Place the lid on the larger box and seal tightly.

6. Wait 4 to 6 weeks; check the odor of the book(s) periodically and replace the baking soda as needed.

This method's chief advantage is its cost-effectiveness. While it may not remove all the offensive odors, it will certainly mitigate them. Airing the book on your own smoke-free shelves after this treatment will also help.

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