Water Incidents Don't Have To Ruin Your Day

Feb 15th 2014

Water Incidents Don't Have To Ruin Your Day

High Tech Chemistry Married to Low Tech Implementation

Zorbix proves that the old adage "There’s nothing new under the sun” is not always accurate.

Conservators, collections care librarians and archivists employ a wide range of pre-emptive measures to keep materials dry and safe. Prevention plans for floods, leaks and spills anticipate emergenies, but not their timing: these often happen at midnight on the first day of a 3 day weekend. Some water incidents are small scale; some catastrophic. Disaster preparedness at least outlines a plan of action. The tried-and-true method of water damage triage calls for many hands, paper towels and fans. The labor and facilities required are a disruption that Zorbix can minimize to a few hours or days.

Zorbix has proven to provide effective, efficient recovery, requiring far fewer staff and resources, which results in quicker recovery time. Books dry flat, often with the original boards intact. A sheet of Zorbix will absorb water for years, performing more as a tool than a disposable item like blotter paper. Sheets have been in use for a decade at university libraries where water incidents are common. Practicioners have reported using Zorbix 25 times with no diminishing absorption. Zorbix chemistry does not degrade unless placed in contact with salt water. In the presence of salt, the chemistry will clog and not be able to absorb or give up water as easily.


Zorbix is designed to be used in the field with simple tools at hand. Water can be absorbed through paper, cloth and other porous material by osmosis. Direct contact and pressure alone promote water absorption by the Zorbix sheet, which supports 50x its weight in water.

Using tools and materials at hand for weighing books and documents, water can be removed from the damp item with pressure to draw moisture to Zorbix’s 50x water capacity. With as little as three changes of Zorbix, a book can be 95% dry in a day. By leaving the book under weight, its moisture content equalizes to the surrounding atmosphere leaving the book flat and ready to reshelve. The weight can be other books, bricks or screw presses if available. Less weight means that the drying rate is slower, but still effective.


Zorbix is a laminate of a super absorbent vegetable starch nanoparticle in an alpha cellulose filter paper sheath. Designed to use moisture’s natural properties, Zorbix can be used to dry a damp item, or one purposely wetted for humidification purposes, Zorbix’s chemistry will not wear out.

The Zorbix laminate cannot be cut to make smaller sizes without exposing its absorbent medium at the trimmed edge, so it's best to use sheets of Zorbix sized proportionately to your project. Zorbix Humidity Strips come in various small sizes for spot humidification or drying purposes.

Because Zorbix filtration paper is designed to trap particles such as dirt and color bleed from damp books, some visible material may remain on the sheets of Zorbix after use. This material is not likely to come out on a subsequent use; however, a sleeve of hollytex or waste paper separating the Zorbix sheet and the book or document will address any concerns.

To keep Zorbix at its maximum usefulness after use, allow it to air dry and stack and put a platen on top with a weight to flatten it. A slight cockle may develop when drying loose, but can be smoothed with a very light misting. Zorbix may be placed in a dry mount press and dried using pressure and heat flattening the sheets. Zorbix can withstand up to 451ºF without damaging the paper substrate. A clothing iron will also works well in drying and flattening Zorbix.

A conservative estimate of sheet viability is 20x per sheet, or less than a nickel per use. On average, 10 sheets of Zorbix will dry a book in a day’s time and 30 minutes of labor. Compared to the paper towel/air drying method of 2 weeks and 3 hours per book plus the book or document will dry nearly flat. Zorbix proves a cost-effective investment.

Please contact me if you have any questions,

Nicholas YeagerEmail:info@zorbix.info