For the conservation of monuments, quantitative analyses of salts in the original materials help to predict their destructive behaviour and to estimate the least harmful environmental conditions for preventive conservation of the object in question. Salt analyses can also be used to monitor the results of salt reduction treatments or to compare diverse methods of conservation treatment. Further, it can be necessary to test new building or conservation materials for their soluble salt content and hence their suitability for use in historical monuments. The analytical procedure consists of three steps: sampling, actual analysis and interpretation of data. It will be more or less complicated depending on the materials considered and needs to be adapted to the specific case. The article discusses frequently encountered questions regarding salt analysis in the context of historical monuments preservation. The types of materials that are often tested for their salt content are historical mortars, stones, repair mortars and materials used to extract salts from salt loaded original materials, such as poultices. A definition of these different material types and their sub-groups is given from the point of view of salt analysis, the questions asked regarding the different groups of materials are elaborated, sampling strategies and analytical procedures are discussed and finally some hints towards the possible interpretations and their difficulties are given. Special emphasis is put on the water extraction method, as this seems by far to be the most frequently used method for quantitative salt analysis.
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