Smelly Slabs?
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Hi, everyone.

The short version: Has anyone ever noticed that their slabs have an odor?

The long(er) version: After storing my slabs in Mylites for awhile (with microchamber inside the Mylite) I noticed a sharp odor inside the Mylite and on the microchamber paper itself.

The very long version:

In order to prevent my slabs from scratching each other, and to keep them clean of fingerprints, dust, etc., I keep all my slabs in large Gerber Mylites. 

A few months ago I purchased some microchamber paper for my raw books. I had some extra sheets left over, so I figured "what the heck?" and stuck a piece of microchamber

paper in with each slab (between the Mylite and the slab). I thought this would help add an extra layer of protection in case there was any off-gassing from the case. 

 

That was probably 6 months ago. Well, I have gently handled my slabs from time to time since then and never noticed anything until yesterday.

I was taking a book out of the Mylite to admire it, and I decided to take a whiff... and call me crazy, there did seem to be a brief smell on the microchamber paper. I smelled inside the Mylite with the book still inside, and there was a (brief) sharp plastic-y odor. 

 A few minutes later I went back and smelled both the paper and the inside of the Mylite (with the slab still in it) and the smell seemed to dissipate.

I pulled out a few more slabs from various years and various third party companies, and the ones with the microchamber paper all had the similar smell. A competitor's slab had a much stronger odor, and no I'm not trying to be cute here.

I'd like to think I'm overly cautious in how I store my books, but who knows?  I'm also wondering if:

1) Slabs are made of material that will off-gas? If so, is this harmful to the books inside?

2 ) Was it a bad idea to put microchamber in with the slab, or was it a good idea because it is capturing some of the off-gassing? Or...

3) Is it bad to keep slabs in sleeves, regardless of material. I know CGC and the major auction houses ship slabs in sleeves, but these sleeves are usually open at the top, or sort of loosely taped. Maybe long term storage of slabs in any kind of sleeve is just a bad idea?

Thanks for reading this far. I look forward to hearing your advice...Perhaps someone else could try this and see if you have similar results?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by thewritestuff

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3 hours ago, thewritestuff said:

...1) Slabs are made of material that will off-gas? If so, is this harmful to the books inside?...

No.

I don't store my slabs in anything other than a box. None of them have an odor.

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Might be on the nose here lol but I would assume plastic would smell like plastic the Microchamber paper is just probably doing its job of absorbing gases and probably absorbed some "plastic" smell. I would be worried if it started to smell like pizza or rot. But I would assume plastic encased books would smell like plastic. just my 2c

My question is it overkill to put microchamber paper in with the slabs in with a mylar as I know the books have paper in them from CGC etc..  but might buy some and toss it in I guess it couldn't hurt.. 

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I think these are very solid questions based on personal observation, and nothing to be joked about. Just because the slab-makers say they don't off-gas, doesn't make it so. "Follow your nose" is often great advice. :smile:

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Given the increasing amount of reporting on "microplastics" none of this is really surprising to me.

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1 hour ago, seanfingh said:

Given the increasing amount of reporting on "microplastics" none of this is really surprising to me.

but I believe the microplastics are usually found in the ocean as the cheaper plastic breaks down and degrades over time leaving tiny particles of plastic called "microplastics" which are harmful to fish/aquatic life as they eat this plastic piece and die.

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43 minutes ago, Krishosein said:

but I believe the microplastics are usually found in the ocean as the cheaper plastic breaks down and degrades over time leaving tiny particles of plastic called "microplastics" which are harmful to fish/aquatic life as they eat this plastic piece and die.

Agreed. It also breaks down from water bottles left in hot cars etc. Knowing nothing about the molecular particulars of all these different plastics (Barex, mylar etc.) I remain unsurprised that they are potentially shedding molecules and creating strange plastic-y scents.

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41 minutes ago, seanfingh said:

Agreed. It also breaks down from water bottles left in hot cars etc. Knowing nothing about the molecular particulars of all these different plastics (Barex, mylar etc.) I remain unsurprised that they are potentially shedding molecules and creating strange plastic-y scents.

 

10 hours ago, thewritestuff said:

Hi, everyone.

The short version: Has anyone ever noticed that their slabs have an odor?

The long(er) version: After storing my slabs in Mylites for awhile (with microchamber inside the Mylite) I noticed a sharp odor inside the Mylite and on the microchamber paper itself.

The very long version:

In order to prevent my slabs from scratching each other, and to keep them clean of fingerprints, dust, etc., I keep all my slabs in large Gerber Mylites. 

A few months ago I purchased some microchamber paper for my raw books. I had some extra sheets left over, so I figured "what the heck?" and stuck a piece of microchamber

paper in with each slab (between the Mylite and the slab). I thought this would help add an extra layer of protection in case there was any off-gassing from the case. 

 

That was probably 6 months ago. Well, I have gently handled my slabs from time to time since then and never noticed anything until yesterday.

I was taking a book out of the Mylite to admire it, and I decided to take a whiff... and call me crazy, there did seem to be a brief smell on the microchamber paper. I smelled inside the Mylite with the book still inside, and there was a (brief) sharp plastic-y odor. 

 A few minutes later I went back and smelled both the paper and the inside of the Mylite (with the slab still in it) and the smell seemed to dissipate.

I pulled out a few more slabs from various years and various third party companies, and the ones with the microchamber paper all had the similar smell. A competitor's slab had a much stronger odor, and no I'm not trying to be cute here.

I'd like to think I'm overly cautious in how I store my books, but who knows?  I'm also wondering if:

1) Slabs are made of material that will off-gas? If so, is this harmful to the books inside?

2 ) Was it a bad idea to put microchamber in with the slab, or was it a good idea because it is capturing some of the off-gassing? Or...

3) Is it bad to keep slabs in sleeves, regardless of material. I know CGC and the major auction houses ship slabs in sleeves, but these sleeves are usually open at the top, or sort of loosely taped. Maybe long term storage of slabs in any kind of sleeve is just a bad idea?

Thanks for reading this far. I look forward to hearing your advice...Perhaps someone else could try this and see if you have similar results?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I would wonder if this plastic smell could be improper storage maybe where you are storing it there is too much heat and the plastic is starting to break down. As most plastic will break down with heat. So if you don't already have one get a thermometer in there and check the humidity and temperatures get one that tracks 24hrs or all time and see what range of temperatures your books get to. 

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also mylar is resists gases maybe what your smelling could be the gasses trapped inside the book when so when you open you get a whiff of the gasses trapped inside and it seems to smell like plastic to you? 

Just some theories or guesses. 

But check the temps and humidity of where your books are stored.

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Thanks for the replies so far. I keep my books in a temp controlled environment around 68-69 degrees year round, along with a dehumidifier and fan (to prevent micro-environments... I don't know, I read about that somewhere :). All my raw books have microchamber paper inserted and are stored with Gerber Fullbacks and Mylites, and kept in acid-free Gerber boxes. My graded books are stored in the legal-sized Gerber Mylites with microchamber paper and kept in the official Gerber CGC boxes. Additional micro paper was placed on the bottom inside the box and on top of the slabs. The windows are completely blocked so that my books are never exposed to sunlight.

Just for the heck of it, I just took a whiff of a few raw books I've had for awhile in this environment and they just smell like regular comics. I've purchased raw books that had a slightly stronger odor than the norm, and found that after a few weeks the microchamber paper absorbed the smell, so I would then switch the original mc paper for a fresh one.

 

A few observations:

1. The smell to which I was referring in my original post is definitely not the same smell as an old comic. In fact, some of the slabs contained Golden Age, some contained Bronze; some I've had for ten years or so (though not stored with the mc paper), some less than a year.

2. I just checked a few more slabs for a larger sample size. Recently purchased books stored in this manner had no smell or far less of a smell. I'm guessing the microchamber paper hasn't had a chance to absorb the odor yet...?

3. One slabbed book stored in a Mylite, but without microchamber paper, had no notable smell at all. I have had this book for about 6 months, stored right alongside the other books. 

4. I only own 2 or 3 slabs from "the other guys", and those both presented a much stronger, yet similar, smell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by thewritestuff

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50 minutes ago, thewritestuff said:

fan

Forced air around comics is gonna age them real bad, probably making the slab plastic stink too as you're oxidizing it.

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(shrug)

 

Edited by The Lions Den

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2 hours ago, vheflin said:

Forced air around comics is gonna age them real bad, probably making the slab plastic stink too as you're oxidizing it.

I am not doubting this is possible, but in this case it's just a small oscillating fan about ten feet away from the books. Would the air really circulate that much into the sealed boxes (I have Fullbacks covering the handle holes, and the lids are very snug), penetrating through the Mylites that cover the slabs, through the slab, the inner well, and into the book? 

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8 minutes ago, thewritestuff said:

I am not doubting this is possible, but in this case it's just a small oscillating fan about ten feet away from the books. Would the air really circulate that much into the sealed boxes (I have Fullbacks covering the handle holes, and the lids are very snug), penetrating through the Mylites that cover the slabs, through the slab, the inner well, and into the book? 

You've done everything to keep air off the books but then introduced unnecessary airflow.  The slabs aren't airtight.  You said the room is temp controlled, I assume that means AC so why do you have a dehumidifier and a fan?  Just put some dessicant packs in the box; they'll take care of any humidity that the AC doesn't remove.

I guess that the books are ok as they are sealed under many layers.  The slabs have fewer layers - a bag and a box and the increased airflow is getting to them and oxidizing the soft plastic.

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20 minutes ago, vheflin said:

You've done everything to keep air off the books but then introduced unnecessary airflow.  The slabs aren't airtight.  You said the room is temp controlled, I assume that means AC so why do you have a dehumidifier and a fan?  Just put some dessicant packs in the box; they'll take care of any humidity that the AC doesn't remove.

I guess that the books are ok as they are sealed under many layers.  The slabs have fewer layers - a bag and a box and the increased airflow is getting to them and oxidizing the soft plastic.

I guess I was overthinking by adding the fan and dehumidifier. As a start, I will remove the fan from the equation and see if that changes anything. Thanks for the input!

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Are you positive that it's not the mylites that are giving off the smell?

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I am wondering if the overkill on the sealing slabs in mylars and covering box in mylites and covering handle holes is creating a environment where the heat or temperatures are higher than the room and causing the books to not breath or the box and kind of acting like a oven where the trapped heat as I am assume the temp increases during the day and cools a bit in the night unless your running your AC non stop 24hrs 7 days a week. 

As I can see heated plastic giving off a smell more logical. 

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6 hours ago, Mr. Lady Luck said:

Are you positive that it's not the mylites that are giving off the smell?

I am not 100% positive, although I only had two books stored without the mc paper and there was no detectable smell. Just for the heck of it, I replaced the Mylites on the ones where I detected a smell,. I also removed the mc paper from a few of them. The ones that have the mc paper still smell after 24 hrs. The ones without the mc paper do not. I guess that brings me back to the question of whether the mc paper is a good thing because "it's doing its job" as one person put it here. 

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