Urea formaldehyde (UF)

Spectroscopy chart UF

Powder bowl, 1930s



Plastics Historical Society.


It is damaged in ways consistent with it being well used.


Entirely made of the featured material, urea formaldehyde.


Urea formaldehyde is a relatively stable material but changes chemically over time and has a tendency to become brittle. This object is however chipped and cracked in a manner consistent with physical damage.

The red additive has also faded from being in the light.

It has labels stuck to it and residue left from labels that have been removed. It is also spattered with paint.


Degradation typical of the material not visible in this example



It is not possible to repair the physical damage but correct storage and display conditions will prevent it from getting worse.

Solvents would be required to remove the paint spatters. These would be likely to further damage the object's surface so it is better to leave them alone.

Swabs dampened with de-ionised water could be used to try to remove the labels and the residue of those already removed. Urea formaldehyde is not filled with woodflour and cotton, so more moisture can be used than in the case of the phenol formaldehyde box with lid. Ensure the area has been thoroughly dried with a lint free cloth.

Display and storage

Follow standard practice: keep in a stable environment and, when not on display, in the dark.

Methodology and contributors >