JACKSON COUNTY CHRONICLES, dated JAN 2006, page 8, CLEANING OLD GRAVEMARKERS
- Cleaning Basics
Cleaning Basics.for OlderGrave Markers..
"Enough with the wire brushes! Do you clean your teeth with a wire brush? Bleach? No!"
Wire brushes, metal instruments and abrasive pads may give you instant satisfaction but, if you clean with anything that is harder than the stone, you risk scratching the face of the stone and causing more damage in the long run. The same goes for acidic cleaners, which includes most household cleaners. Powerwashers are also NOT recommended. Anything that puts out greater than 60 psi is too much force to use on older fragile stones. A garden hose putting out a gentle soaking spray is enough to clean and flush the stone (garden type sprayers also work well). If you're talking about stones from the 20th century and not marble, that's a different story."
"Before"... covered with lichen
Cleaning a gravestone...
Stones are composed of minerals and salts. Adding chemicals to them can often cause chemical reactions that will erode the stone faster than if you just left it alone. This damage is not immediately evident, as in the case with bleach being used on marble. The stone is exposed on all sides to the elements. Using bleach will not only give you instant brightness but will cause the stone to change in pallor and most often become rough to the touch. This is because the sodium chloride in the bleach has dissolved the binding minerals and caused the quartz crystals to start to exfoliate. When this process is used on particularly soft marble and limestone, the lettering is the first to disappear. Something that is over 100 years old shouldn't look bright and new.
NEVER use paint on old grave stones..
NOTE: TO CLEAN THE MARKERS IN BELLEFONTE CEMETERY, THE JCHA PURCHASED (at the local Farmers Co-op)
A CREAMY SOAP USED TO WASH HORSES. IT IS VERY GENTLE BUT HAS A LOT OF CLEANING POWER. Its creamy base is easy to apply on the stone by using a damp sponge and/or a soft bristle tooth brush. HAVE PLENTY OF WATER NEARBY TO THOROUGHLY RINSE THE CLEANED STONE..
Cleaning with plain water and soft brush
Remember, with all due respect to our monument dealers, many do not understand the concerns we have about OLD stones. They are mostly familiar with the dense granites that has been used for the past century. The techniques they use for modern stone is not safe for these fragile 100 - 180 year old markers. Each stone needs its own diagnosis; what is good in one situation is not necessarily good for all. 8
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