Protecting 35mm Slide

As you consider preserving your family's memories for generations to come, you probably are dealing with a box of slides. How do you store these so that they are less likely to be damaged? What can you do to prevent fading of these precious, irreplaceable images?


Understanding Slides

Just what are slides, exactly? Slides are actually pieces of film that were exposed to light in a camera. After the film is developed, it presents a positive image that can be projected onto a wall or screen. One side of the slide is an acetate base, and the other holds the image, which is made out of dye and covered in several layers of gelatin. Both sides of the slide are extremely fragile. Slides are typically placed in mounts to make handling them easier.



If the 35mm slide you are caring for are not mounted, this is the first thing you need to do. The mounting is like a frame for the picture, holding the film in place and giving you something to grab if you need to handle it. If your slides are mounted in cardboard, switch the mount for plastic or glass, because older cardboard mounts had acid and lignin in them. If you must use cardboard mounts, make sure they are acid and lignin free.



Slides that are not in use should be stored upright in a container that is acid free. Metal drawer storage cabinets work well if you are dealing with a lot of slides, but you can also purchase cardboard or plastic containers that are acid-free. Store the box in a cool, dry place, because too much humidity and too much heat can damage slide film.



When handling your slides, handle them by touching the mount, not the film. If you have to remount the slide, wear a lint free cotton glove so that you do not put a fingerprint on the slide. You can use a lens cleaning cloth or the cotton gloves to gently brush any lint off of the film as you handle it. Remember, 35mm slides should be handled only when absolutely necessary unless they are being handled by only touching the mount.


Labeling Images

If you do not label your slides, you are going to constantly be searching for the image you need, or you are going to never benefit from the images you have. Figure out an organizational system, and consider writing on the slide mount with an acid free pen. The way you label the images is up to you, but you need to do it somehow.


Digitizing 35mm Slides

If archiving your slide collection seems like a lot of work with little benefit, since you will still need to find a way to display the slides once you have them archived, consider having them digitized. You can send your slides to a company that specializes in scanning images, negatives, and slide films. They will take all of the images, clean them properly, and scan them with high quality scanners.

The resulting digital image is much easier to store, can be shared conveniently with other members of the family or group, and far less susceptible to damage. This is an ideal solution for dealing with boxes of slides, and is more affordable than you might think.