What is Document Freeze Drying and How Does it Work?

Tue, May 20, 2014
By: Jacob Gilmore
What is Document Freeze Drying and How Does it Work?

Below is a guest blog by Heather Shimala, Document Recovery Account Manager for BMS CAT. This is the third blog in a series of posts this month about preparing business documents for hurricane season and other natural disasters.

“If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself.”

― Albert Einstein

Have you ever had the pleasure of explaining something to a small child?  Where does rain come from?  Why do we need to eat our vegetables?  And the granddaddy of them all…where do babies come from? I have had that pleasure of doing just that and it taught me a valuable career and life lesson. If I can explain something without my answer provoking more questions, I’ve done a good job.

I’m going to attempt to explain the process of freeze-drying documents so that my 5-year-old-son and many adults that I work with will understand the process. You’ll have to tell me how I do.

Freeze drying via sublimation is the process that allows us to dry documents so they are never wet again.  Simple, isn’t it?  When paper gets wet from something as devastating as a hurricane or as simple as a pipe breaking, it needs to be stabilized, dried and cleaned.  Let’s talk about stabilizing the documents. When a document gets, wet we need to stop the deterioration of the paper. We do this by freezing the box, or boxes, of documents.  Documents are inventoried, palletized and placed into a refrigerator truck. 

The truck will be able to get the boxes to a temperature that will freeze the boxes and will stop the deterioration of the paper.  We then ship the boxes to our facility for freeze-drying.  When the boxes arrive at our facility, the next step is to verify the inventory and place the frozen boxes into the freeze drying chamber. 

When the documents are placed into the chamber, probes are inserted into the frozen boxes to track the progress of documents.  At this point, the chamber is closed causing a vacuum to be created and the process of sublimation begins. The moisture is pulled out of the documents as a gas so the documents are not damaged any further. This is the part I’ve been telling you about! The documents are NEVER wet again. The moisture actually left the document as a gas. With freeze-drying, your documents are returned in the same condition as we received them. Once removed from the freeze drying chamber, the documents are then cleaned and returned, back to business as usual! This process results in a document that is in good condition and safe to handle.

To summarize, and be ready for the question from my 5-year-old son, the next time I get asked “Mommy what do you do at work?” I will simply explain that I help people get their important paper back by removing moisture from their wet documents so that they are never “wet” again. 

Learn more about BMS CAT should a natural disaster affect your business. Be sure to join in on the third and final live webinar in our series, "Is Your Business Weather Proof? - Document Recovery" starting Wednesday, May 21 at 12:30pm Central Time.

Meet your disaster recovery team on Thursday, May 29 at So Gourmet Kitchenry, 407 South Palafox Street, Pensacola, FL. Take the opportunity to meet & greet your disaster recovery team in a relaxed setting before you have a crisis situation! Stop by between 5:30-7:30pm to meet BMS CAT and Gilmore Services, hors d'oeuvres and beer & wine provided.

Do you have questions? We welcome you to contact our records management company to find out more about document shredding and records storage and disaster recovery services.