Soaking Your Stamps

Soaking Your Stamps
Soaking stamps might seem to be an oxymoron idea, but in reality, it isn’t. This refers to the process of removing stamps that have been used for postage from the envelope they are attached to. Whether the stamp is a self-adhesive or has the traditional gum determines how the stamp will be soaked off the envelope. Before you attempt to soak off a stamp, separate the self-adhesives from the gummed stamps.

Stamps with traditional gum require a different approach than self-adhesive stamps. You tell if a stamp is self-adhesive in two ways:
• By the stamp design.
• By the perforation--the self-stick perfs have rounded edges.
You can follow these steps to soak stamps with traditional gum free from their envelopes or package paper:

• Using scissors, trim the envelope paper close to the stamp without damaging any part of the stamp.
• Fill a shallow bowl or sink with several inches of lukewarm tap water. Do not use hot water, which could affect the ink on some stamps. Also change the water for the next batch you plan to soak off.
• Float the envelope corner face up, with the gummed side of the stamp below the water level. Do not attempt to soak too many items--at least at the beginning of the process. If the envelope corner sinks, don’t worry.
• Leave the item in the water until it soaks through the backing paper and loosens the gum. Test carefully so that you do not tear the stamp. First see if the stamp slides away from the envelope paper.

• Allow the stamp to float until the envelope paper easily slides away. If after you retrieved all the stamps that have fallen off in the water and those that slid away from the envelope paper, some stamps remain, then work with each one individually. You may need to carefully peel the stamp away from the envelope paper. The stamp may not budge, because the stamp was applied to the paper envelope with some type of glue rather than the stamp’s own gum. Your options here are to:

1. Work with the stamp some more.
2. Give up and throw the stamp away.
3. Stop the process and allow the stamp/envelope paper to dry and then cut around it.

• Rinse the stamps in fresh lukewarm water to make sure all the glue and envelope paper are removed.
Self-adhesive stamps present a different set of circumstances. All stamps are not created equal. Not all stamps can be soaked from the envelope or wrapper. There are two approaches you can use:
• Clipping--Neatly clip away the envelope from around the stamp and save it that way. This is the easiest way.
• Soaking--Self-adhesives require more time to soak free from envelopes. Soaking curls self-adhesive stamps more easily than traditional stamps.

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This content was written by Gary Eggleston. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Gary Eggleston for details.