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Topic: Bad-smelling book

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Subject: Bad-smelling book
Date Posted: 5/28/2010 12:13 PM ET
Member Since: 2/16/2009
Posts: 483
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Just received a book that has a strong smokey/musty smell.  I don't have any Requestor Conditions, and the book is otherwise perfectly postable so I'm not complaining.  However... I'd like to read the book and I don't think I can stand to hold it for any lenght of time, lol!  Does anyone have any tips for de-smelling a paperback?  I will not be re-posting this book, I'd just like to read it.  Thanks!

Date Posted: 5/28/2010 12:25 PM ET
Member Since: 6/29/2007
Posts: 17,249
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I have found that setting them in sun helps tremendously.  I usually put something in between the pages to hold them open.  Others stick them in a zippy with either a dryer sheet or a box of baking soda.

Date Posted: 5/28/2010 1:13 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,476
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I use baking soda in a black plastic bag in the sun.  I use one of those fridge packs to keep the book free of dust.   The dark plastic bag color absorbs heat.  Heating the book slightly will cause the moisture to go into the absorbent material.  (Not too much heat as that damages the binding.  Too dry also makes the book brittle.)  Newspaper, kitty litter, activated charcoal would also work.  Drying a book out will usually reduce the smell. 

The dryer sheets are a chemical.  Can cause migraines and allergic reactions.  I do not recommend them. 

Date Posted: 5/28/2010 2:59 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2006
Posts: 6,436
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Also, the stink from the dryer sheets lasts *forever*.  I would take a smokey book over a dryer sheet book any day.

Date Posted: 5/28/2010 3:02 PM ET
Member Since: 8/15/2007
Posts: 3,044
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I usually use a combo of sunlight/natural air and dryer sheets.

I've never thought the dryer sheet smell stuck or anything. Usually my books come out smelling neutral. Not the good smell of new books, but not the nasty smoky smell either.

Date Posted: 5/28/2010 3:43 PM ET
Member Since: 2/16/2009
Posts: 483
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Thanks everbody, its sunny here in MN so that book is going to go sit out on the deck for a while!

Date Posted: 5/28/2010 6:58 PM ET
Member Since: 8/26/2006
Posts: 9,339
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My books will all be jealous.  They haven't been outside in months.

Date Posted: 5/28/2010 10:53 PM ET
Member Since: 2/16/2009
Posts: 483
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Patouie, you made me laugh!  Now for a book update, I put the book on the deck with 3 packets of dessicant tucked into the pages and left it out in the sun all day.  It smells much better, the smoke smell is gone and in its place is just that, "I'm a 20 year old paperback smell."  That I can live with.  Thanks again, everyone. 

Date Posted: 5/29/2010 6:54 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2006
Posts: 6,436
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Perhaps it depends on your brand of dryer sheet, or maybe I just have an extra sensitive smeller, but they have completely ruined books for me.

Date Posted: 5/29/2010 11:06 PM ET
Member Since: 4/10/2009
Posts: 1,691
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Last Edited on: 8/20/10 2:43 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/30/2010 2:31 PM ET
Member Since: 5/19/2008
Posts: 447
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(Clean) kitty litter works wonders.  I received a bunch of books once that REEKED of smoke.  They spent several months in a kitty litter bin, and were much better.  Now, I can barely smell the smoke on them.

Date Posted: 5/30/2010 3:06 PM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2007
Posts: 11,556
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I use an unscented dryer sheet and stick it and the book in a ziplock bag.  I had one that smelled badly of smoke when I got it.  A month or two in the ziplock with a dryer sheet (changed out once) and I can't detect any smoke on it anymore.  Even when I read the book, not a wiff of smoke.

It's rainy in my part of MN today but if it's sunny tomorrow I may set my current ziplocked book outside for a bit.  I'm usually not home to do that.  I suppose I could stick the book in my car for the day and leave it on the dashboard while I'm at work.  It certainly gets hot enough inside the car during the day and no harm if I forget the book for a few days.

Date Posted: 5/30/2010 4:02 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2006
Posts: 6,436
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My experience with smokey books is that the smell dissipates without my actually having to do anything at all.  But perhaps it takes longer.

Subject: out on the porch in the sun
Date Posted: 5/30/2010 5:07 PM ET
Member Since: 6/22/2008
Posts: 839
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I riffle the pages, stand the book up, and make sure all the pages are exposed to the air, and just leave it out on the screened porch  for a few days until the odor is gone.