Giant Posthole Follow-Up


When last we met, conservators were in the field treating what remains of a wood post discovered in an 18th-century posthole on JPPM property. How is that treatment accomplished, you ask? In this case, a wax-like material called cyclododecane was applied directly to the wood with a brush. Cyclododecane has the unique property of sublimating at room temperature (meaning, at around 72 Fahrenheit, it transitions from a solid to a gas without going through an intermediate liquid phase). SO, that means that this wax-like material can be melted or sprayed onto an object where it will solidify and provide physical support so that we can handle the object without causing any damage. As the outdoor temperature get warmer, this wax coating will disappear as it turns from a solid to a gas, leaving no residue behind. In this way, we protect the artifact without impacting any future analysis, such as wood species identification. Pretty cool!


Nichole explaining the treatment process while waiting for
the next batch of cyclododecane to melt (it starts out as
little irregular pellets that must be melted before applying).


Applying the cyclododecane to the remains of the wood post.

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